Elyssa J. Salinas
When I hear someone say, “the body is a temple,” referring to how I should act toward my body in reference to God, I find that my entire body tenses up, my hands ball up into fists and I resist the urge to roll my eyes or cause physical harm to that person.
One reason is that this reference usually comes up when talking about exercise and healthy eating. Even though it comes from a passage from 1 Corinthians that refers to fornication, today we cite it casually when somebody forgoes that extra dessert or spends hours at the gym. When I hear that phrase, I feel that others make an automatic assumption that because of my size, the concept is foreign to me.
Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:13-20)
There is a lot in this passage, but I come to verse 19 where we find that verse about the body being a temple. This verse and really the whole section is a rhetorical question and an angry one at that.
When I read this with a lens of body image I find that I want to say, “Yes! I do believe my body is a temple!” My body is a temple that is of a different size and has a lot more comfortable seating. My body is a temple that enjoys food like cheese, bread, chocolate, oranges and even Brussels sprouts!
My body is a temple that enjoys hearty exercise like hiking up a mountain trail or swimming laps. My body is a temple, just like yours–only my temple is a little different.
God made each one of us and we will never all look the same. What “healthy” looks like on you will inevitably look different on me, but that does not mean that I do not consider my body a temple. I love my body as the temple that God made.
1. How do you treat your body as a temple?
2. What is your interpretation of the Scripture text about one’s body as a temple?
3. What kind of temple is your body?
God of the temple in each of us, be with us through our journey of loving our bodies and walk with us as we remember to treat our bodies with respect and love. You made us and love us exactly as we are, help us to remember and live in your love. Amen.
Elyssa J. Salinas is a seminary student pursuing a Masters of Divinity for ordained ministry at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. She is originally from the Chicago area. As a fervent lover of the arts she has her undergraduate degree in theatre, a passion for music and has currently been performing slam poetry in both Philadelphia and Chicago. If you care to read more, read her blog at coffeetalkwithe.blogspot.com.