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What Can I Do with My Body? – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Jun 162008

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my body. You’d think that wouldn’t be a problem at 38. You’d think wrong. Of course Christianity really hasn’t known what to do with bodies. It’s not something we’ve ever been good at it. We’re good with the don’ts: Don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t have sex. But we’re never told what to do. As Barry Taylor told John Morehead:

A problem a lot of people have with Christianity is that it externalizes the spiritual experience that basically de-emphasizes the importance of this life but the real importance is where you go after this life. So you want to be ready for heaven. But there is very little advice about what to do with your body while you’re waiting for that experience: don’t do anything wrong, don’t be bad, accept the decay.

Barry goes on to say that this is strange considering that Christianity is “one of the most material spiritualities out there where we celebrate that God puts on flesh and lived as one of us.” Not only is it “a problem a lot of people have with Christianity,” it’s a problem a lot of Christians have with our own religion. Including me.

It doesn’t help that I grew up with a contradictory view of the body. On the one had i heard my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit. God lived in me. But I heard things like this a lot more: “The body is sinful flesh.” “The flesh is evil, and the Spirit is good.” “The body is the devil’s playground (or the mind depending on the preacher). And then there was “one day we’ll shed these evil, sinful bodies and go to heaven.” I don’t think I’ve ever quite believed the body was a temple, let alone my body. After all how can the flesh (i. e. the body) be evil, and the Spirit good, and my body be the temple of the Spirit?

But I am coming to see and believe that my body is good, Spirit-filled, and even holy. I am coming to believe that my body is the temple of the living God. Here are some of do’s:

Do be nice to your body.

Do tell your body it’s beautiful just the way it is.

Do get enough sleep.

Do yoga.

Do walk.

Do eat when you’re hungry.

Do rest when you’re tired.

How do you see your body? How has your relationship with your body changed? What are some of your do’s?

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  4 Responses to “What Can I Do with My Body?”

  1. I’m with you on being kind to the body! Interesting post….I’ve had similar thoughts about my own upbringing and relationship to body. I think I had a liberating moment about my body and getting rid of all the “stuff” of contradictory moments 8 or 9 years ago…but of course some of that “stuff” still lingers on.

    I am being especially kind to myself in the wake of a nasty bout of food poisoning! Lots of rest and electrolytes.

  2. So many of the topics that I face as a woman all seem to stem from the “flesh is evil” stand. I have to hide my body to be modest. I have to resist my evil fleshly temptations. I have to whip my body into shape. All the sensual enjoyable things I might do with my body all seem to be bad in some place or another.

    What a great idea for conversation! Let’s talk about the “do’s!” Great post!

  3. I like this post and your questions a lot (as well as the more recent one about women in ministry). Aside from playing most Friday 5’s, I’ve been blogging very little, but I’m going to use both these posts as prompts for working through and celebrating where I am in my body and in my ministry right now, and I’ll be sure to post links on Facebook or WedFest. Abundant Blessings to you!

  4. Thank you everyone. This is something I plan to post more on. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

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