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by Dave Bruskas
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Sat Mar 08, 2014
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Fri Mar 07, 2014
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Thu Mar 06, 2014
by Bubba Jennings
What Is Embodiment?
What Is Embodiment?
Let me begin with a definition of embodiment. The human body is an essential aspect of human beings during their earthly existence and, following Christ’s return and the resurrection of their body, in the age to come. Specifically, the body is the material component of human nature distinct from—but intimately linked with—the immaterial component, commonly called the soul (or spirit). Only between physical death and the return of Christ will human existence be a disembodied one. The soul (or spirit) will survive death and continue to exist while the body is sloughed off, but this is an abnormal condition (2 Cor. 5:1-10). Embodiment, therefore, is the state of human existence between conception and death, and again after the resurrection of the body and for all eternity. The normal state of human existence is an embodied existence.
Your Body: God’s Design
Human beings are this way because God designed them to be embodied. This was true of the first man (Gen. 2:7) and the first woman (Gen. 2:22), and it continues to be true of each and every human being since the original creation, as God is intimately involved in fashioning human life from the moment of conception (Psa. 139:13-15). Moreover, human beings are created holistically, so that in this earthly existence, soul and body are an inseparable unity. Indeed, being made in the image of God entails the embodiment of the image bearers. Human embodiment, then, is according to divine design.
Your Body Is a Gift
Accordingly, people should embrace embodiment as a gift from God. C.S. Lewis presents a common viewpoint that people have of their bodies: “The fact that we have bodies is the oldest joke there is.” Such disdain for human embodiment is not in accord with Scripture. Frederica Mathewes-Green offers a corrective insight: “The initial impression that we stand critically apart from our bodies was our first mistake. We are not merely passengers riding around in skintight racecars . . . we are our bodies. They embody us.” Embodiment is God’s creative design for human beings, who should be grateful for their physical existence.
Implications of Divine Creation
Divine creation of the body has important implications in the ethical realm. Both abortion at the beginning of human existence, and euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide at the end, are ruled out; so are experimentation to develop human cloning, genetic engineering to produce perfect children, and transhumanist experimentation to develop superhuman beings or cyborgs (man-machine complexes). Moreover, the church is called to minister to people as holistic human beings created in the image of God. This worldview entails treating all people—both Christians and non-Christians alike—with respect for their inherent dignity. Furthermore, the church should be engaged in helping the poor and marginalized through deeds of mercy, communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone, and discipling Christians by addressing their many needs—intellectual, emotional, volitional, physical, educational, and socio-economic. To be continued.