Marriage, Human Sexuality, and the Body: God is Not Just Saving Souls (Part X)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

This is the tenth part in this series highlighting key insights from John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

The word “incarnation” is taken from John 1:14: “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  The word incarnation simply means “in the flesh.”  At a particular time—in the fullness of time—the eternal Second person of the Trinity became a man, i.e. he entered into human flesh and became fully man with no compromise in His full deity.  Colossians 1:19 and 2:9 really drive this point home.  Col. 1:19 says, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,” and in 2:9, he says, “in Christ all the fullness of the deity dwells in bodily form.”  This means that the body is designed to be the recipient of divine fullness.  God believes in bodies – he designed them with functional and spiritual capacities.  As we have noted throughout this blog series, all the means of grace are mediated through the body:  bodies are baptized, bodies take sacraments, bodies read or listen to God’s Word, Bodies express self-donation in the world, and it is a body through which God supremely made Himself manifest in the world.

If you know anything about the early church, you will know what a radical truth this is.  The gospel came into a cultural setting which did not trust the body.  There were many gnostic movements at the time which taught a secret “knowledge” or “gnosis.”  The theme through much of it is that the body is evil and cannot be trusted.  In short, the body is a trap which must be overcome to release the light within and discover the real you within.  This is still a dominant motif in Buddhism and Hinduism which, in different ways, do not share the Christian view of the body.

Today, we are seeing the resurgence of a lack of confidence in the body.  We are told repeatedly that the body cannot be trusted.  This is particularly evident in the recent attention given to gender reassignment.  Today, it is said that you might be a woman trapped inside a man’s body, or a man trapped inside a woman’s body.  This Christian and contemporary view might best be contrasted by three statements.  In the Christian view, the heart is deceitful, the mind needs renewing, and the body is trustworthy.  In the contemporary view, the heart must always be followed, your mind is clear and your body cannot be trusted.  This is an inverse of the Christian vision.

We must reclaim a Christian view of the body.  We must reclaim the truth that there are ethical boundaries inherent in our creation as “male” and “female” because we were declared “very good.”  St. John was so insistent on this point that he boldly declared that anyone who did not confess that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh is the antichrist (I John 4:1-3).  We have been painfully slow in recognizing this.  This is why we must be more precise when we refer to the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Resurrection—to say it more accurately, the bodily Incarnation and the bodily Resurrection.  This is at the heart of the Christian proclamation.  Christ’s bodily resurrection, as I Cor. 15 argues, is the first-fruit of our bodily resurrection.  The two are linked.

Despite the language of popular Christian discourse, God is not saving our souls so that they may someday dwell in some disembodied state for eternity.  Salvation is about all of creation being healed in its full embodiment.  This is why truly evangelical preaching must embrace not only inward faith leading to justification, but full bodily redemption.  Our vision of sanctification is extending the holiness of God into all the world.

This is why we care about creation; this is why we cannot turn a deaf ear to the bodily plight of desperate Syrian refugees.  This is why we must rescue women trapped in human trafficking, feed those who are hungry, and a thousand other things.  These are not ancillary tasks of the church which we squeeze in on the side, but they are our fleshly demonstration of our confidence in the bodily incarnation and the bodily resurrection.  The gospel must never lose its earthiness, its enfleshment, its embodiment. There are thousands of ways in which this world dis-incarnates human existence and the gospel reverses them all!

Comments

  • PRESIDENT TIMOTHY,
    Greetings to you in the majestic name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this humble and friendly message finds you walking in the favor of God.
    Pastor, God wants to increase you.He wants to enlarge your work and ministry,your vision and mission,your success and strengthen you to fulfill your destiny.
    Pastor, God has called you,chosen you and approved you for his great job of preaching the gospel and win more souls to God.
    God wants you to bring the un-compromised word of God to all who will hear, proclaiming the the Good News to all who will receive it.
    Pastor, No matter ,what you are doing,you are on a mission for God,with God there is no such thing as a mission impossible.when He send you to a mission He makes sure you have the means to succeed very well.
    Pastor, God has a task and a purpose for you.He will be with you and He will accomplish the task through His power , He will equip you and give you the power and courage to accomplish it.
    God is faithful.if He calls you to a task that is greater than your own abilities,He will also give you the people to support the good work you are doing for Him.
    God has a wonderful plan with your life.yes! even before you were born,He planned you in the finest detail.
    God commands us to make more disciples of all nations. that means developing people who are walking behind him,learning from him and seeking to become like him[Colossians 1;-28]
    This specific task which God has for you and nobody else!
    A servant of God is called by God-and is a call from Himself!
    Pastor, God had chosen you for a great commission and solemn work.
    We are requesting you to pray for us and send us teachings.
    Pastor, we are inviting you to come to Africa for the word of God. We need you to minister to our Revival and Reformation conference next year 2016.
    May the Lord be with you, be blessed abundantly. i hope to hear soon from you in Jesus Name.
    Thank you,
    Pastor Stephen and flora

  • Dear Brother,
    thank you so much for reveling these truths.
    blessings !!!

  • […] God is Not Just Saving Souls (Part X) Despite the language of popular Christian discourse, God is not saving our souls so that they may someday dwell in some disembodied state for eternity. Salvation is about all of creation being healed in its full embodiment. This is why truly evangelical preaching must embrace not only inward faith leading to justification, but full bodily redemption. Our vision of sanctification is extending the holiness of God into all the world. […]