Have you ever wondered why the gospel of John emphasizes that Jesus “became flesh”? Well, maybe that’s not the kind of stuff that keeps you up at night. But if you want to know what the Bible has to say about abortion, transgenderism, and sexuality, I think you’ll find this interesting. In her book, Love Thy Body, Nancy Pearcey argues that the Bible has a positive sexual ethic because all throughout the Bible, the body is treated as a good part of God’s creation.
The Body Matters to the Gospel
Think about it. Each one of the gospels emphasize the incarnation, that Jesus was human. He had a human body. His feet were dusty after a long day’s walk. He could smell the sweet aroma of that alabaster perfume. He felt the pain of losing a loved one and probably had to make awkward small talk at times. He and ate and drank. He even napped on a boat. Jesus knew what it meant to be human.
Even after His resurrection, He returned to His physical body. The gospel writers described how the apostles felt the scars in Jesus’ hands. This emphasis on His physical humanity was an important contrast to Gnosticism, a rampant philosophy during the early church that thought the point of life was to escape the body. They claimed that God would never have become man because the body was evil and the soul was all that mattered.
Unfortunately this kind of thinking is still around today in the philosophy known as Cartesian Dualism. Rather than the soul, it is the mind/will/emotions that are considered more important than the body, the mental greater than the physical.
The ways We Hate our Bodies
In sharp contrast to Gnosticism, scripture tells us that our bodies are part of God’s good design. They are part of what it means to be human. And they are meant to be treated with respect as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19)
Yet we as people mistreat our bodies all the time. We starve them to achieve a certain image. Irresponsibly bond them to a stranger for one night of pleasure. Alter their natural anatomy through reassignment surgeries. Discard a child’s body through abortion.
When the body and soul (mind, will, emotions) are seen as two separate parts instead of a whole, it’s the natural result that the body is mistreated. This is what Nancy Pearcey breaks down in each chapter of her book, demonstrating the effect that dualism has had on our sexual ethic today:
From the moment of conception, a human being is growing in the mothers womb. No respectable scientist denies that. It isn’t any other creature or alien lifeform. The fetus is undeniably human, so how can the world justify abortion? Because it isn’t considered a person under the 14th amendment. That’s how the case of Roe V. Wade was ruled. The problem is, no major bioethicist agrees on when you become a person with an autonomous will. Is it the third trimester? When the baby is fully formed? The moment we are born? Or when we can survive on our own? Modern science doesn’t give us a definitive answer. So in the meantime, it simply disconnects the human body from the whole person and treats it as an expendable biological organism. (pp. 47-82).
Bodies are used and often abused as instruments for physical pleasure, disconnected from the deeper person with an emotional need for love. Sex Ed classes teach how to use contraceptives and prevent disease but say little about protecting the heart or fostering romance. Our culture tries to create a distinct line between the physical and emotional ramifications of sex, acting as if one night stands and multiple sex partners have no effect on the person as a whole. Those who can separate sex from love are seen as sophisticated. Conversely those who still dream of love are immature and should return until they are callous enough to seek sexual non-intimacy. (pp. 117-154).
Homosexuality and Transgenderism:
Anatomically, heterosexuality is normal for humans. But our heart’s desire for same-sex attraction silences the design of the body in favor of following the heart. This narrative refuses to admit that the body could be correct. Likewise, transgendersim favors feelings over the body’s inherent design, choosing to trust the heart over and above the testimony of creation. (pp. 155-192).
In each area, the conclusion is the same: the mental is more important than the physical body. But, as Christians, we know that our bodies are an important part of God’s creation, and they matter deeply to the gospel. Rather than hate our bodies, we should Love Thy Body.
I like this quote by C. S. Lewis. He responds to the physicality of Christian spirituality in Mere Christianity by writing, “There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature… He likes matter. He invented it.“
Our Bodies Speak to Their Purpose
Let’s make this clear. As Christians, we believe that physical things were created for a purpose and speak to that purpose. We have legs to run. Birds have wings to fly. We were given bodies for a reason. So we can assert that the body itself reveals something about what it means to be human.
While evolutionists believe that everything is random, by chance, without a plan or a purpose. We believe God has an intended purpose behind everything He has designed. Early church fathers called this the general revelation of creation. The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1)! We can learn truths about God through his created world.
Romans 1:20, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made“
A Brief Case Study
So let’s take a moment to think about homosexuality within the context of purposeful design. The way that we, as women, were anatomically designed complements a man’s body. When a woman pursues same-sex attraction, she blatantly ignores her body’s design and instead follows her heart’s desire.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
This is a major problem. Because the Bible tells us our hearts are deceptive, but our bodies aren’t perfect either. So what do we do when our hearts are in disagreement with our bodies? We aren’t called to simply choose one over the other; we are called to follow God’s Word.
In this case, the general revelation of our anatomical bodies agrees with the special revelation of God’s Word. It is a consistent design that testifies to His truth: male and female were created, one for the other. The anatomy and physiology of our body actually points toward the heterosexual monogamy that God intended. Kinda cool, huh?
In her book, Nancy Pearcey concludes the conversation on homosexuality and every other area of sexual ethics with the same premise: You were made with a purpose for a purpose. And our human bodies, as a part of God’s created order, have a built-in design that shouldn’t be silenced. We shouldn’t hate our bodies or tell them to shut up. We should love our bodies and treat them with dignity and respect, and we should extend that same love toward every other human, male or female, black or white, elderly or unborn.
“The goal is not to win a culture war or to impose our views on others but to love our neighbor which means working for our neighbors good.” (Pearcey, 46).
The Call to Live out God’s Design
We are holistic beings. We aren’t just a soul with a body. We are bodies and souls, united as one (Ps 63:1, Ps 44:25). Therefore, every sexual decision is a spiritual one.
What we do with our bodies matters deeply to the gospel. When we submit to Him, body and soul, we are demonstrating total surrender to His Truth, and as holistic beings, giving testimony to God’s authority to speak into every aspect of who we are. That’s the best way to love your body.
JOIN US AT OUR 2021 WOMEN’S CONFERENCe
We hope you’ll join us March 19-20, 2021 for worship, teaching, food and fun as we uncover why God created sexuality, what it reveals about the gospel, and how purity brings clarity to our everyday lives.
Looking for other books to read? CHECK OUT OUR BOOK REVIEWS!
Modesty is a hot topic! No one wants to be told what they can and cannot wear. As a ministry that tackles these tough topics, believe me, we know.
But the seductive, tight-fitting clothes aren’t the true problem. It’s the heart behind them, the heart that says to God… “I don’t care what you have to say about my body.” But God does care. He wants what is best for us in all areas of life…. even our wardrobe. And modesty is about so much more than the outfits hanging in our closet. In the book “What’s Up with the Fig Leaves?”, Heather Thieneman uncovers the purposes and practices of modesty. I read the book this summer, and it answered so many questions that I, frankly, didn’t know how to address. Rather than asking what to wear and where to draw the “hemlines”, she challenges us to consider why we wear the clothes that we do.
There are so many sources out there feeding curious minds with unhealthy and damaging perspectives on sexuality. I loved reading Phylicia’s book because I think a lot of us have been where she was, wanting to know more but uncomfortable with asking questions.
Deep inside our hearts is a longing to be loved – a longing that’s not sinful. In fact, it’s a longing that God has placed within us. But if we’re not careful to lay this longing down before our Lord, it quickly turns into a craving. Dannah calls it the “Violent Craving.” She writes in her book, “I believe that every daughter of Eve is burdened by both a Craving for a husband and a rebellion against God’s design for marriage.” It was the Fall that warped the good and beautiful longing for love into a violent craving and created in us a spirit of defiance.
Sitting in the church pew, Mo admits that she looked every part “good girl”. She wasn’t trying to lose her virginity before prom night like so many of her classmates. She didn’t even feel the need to have a boyfriend. No. She admits that it all felt beneath her. Like a judgmental prude in her ivory tower, she pompously promoted abstinence knowing she still had her own virginity vow intact. But her self-righteousness lacked the humble reverence for God’s ways. And it didn’t take long for her heart to shatter under the weight of her pride.