A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 1: Biblical Foundations: Human Body, Fitness and Care 6 Theology of the Human Body In light of those misconceptions about the human body, it is appropriate to ask how the Bible defines the human body. The body is the material aspect of our human nature, which is distinct from, but intimately linked with, the immaterial aspect (soul/spirit). God has ordained that the human body be an essential aspect of humanity during our earthly existence, as well as in the new creation where we will exist in a glorified, embodied state. Only between physical death and the return of Christ (i.e., the intermediate state) will human existence be a disembodied one. The soul/spirit will survive death and continue to exist, either with Christ in heaven (Phil. 1:20-24) or in Hades (Luke 16:19-31), but this is a temporary condition (2 Cor. 5:1-10). Embodiment is the state of human existence between conception and death, as well as after the resurrection of the body throughout eternity. The normal state of human existence, therefore, is an embodied existence. Human beings are embodied beings because God purposed to create them in that fashion. He created Adam out of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7) and Eve out of the rib of man (Gen. 2:22), and every human being since has existed as an embodied being, whom God fashioned and formed (Ps. 139:13-16). By divine design we live and operate in human bodies, made up of both material and immaterial aspects. Embodiment, thus, is God’s creation design for human beings, and thus we should be grateful for our bodily existence. As people made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28) we represent God on this earth as we subdue and have dominion over creation, and as we are fruitful and multiply. Even as God calls us to exercise certain functions as his image-bearers, one can see that such tasks are bodily in nature, and thus God created us with the capacities (body, mind, affections, will, soul/spirit) to accomplish the purposes he has set out for us. Genesis 3 details the foolish rebellion of humanity against the decree of God, and because of this rebellion we are reaping the consequences. These consequences include guilt and shame (Gen. 3:7), distortions in relationships (Gen. 3:8-19), pain in childbirth (Gen. 3:14), cursing of the ground (likely work in general; Gen. 3:17), knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:22), original sin for Adam’s descendants (Rom. 5:12-21), and death (Gen. 3:22-24; Gen. 5:1-32; Rom. 6:23; Rev. 2:11; 20:14-15). Within these ramifications for sin, one can observe how the human body has been affected by sin, particularly in the consequence of death, and, by implication, aging, disease, and decay. Accompanying these bodily realities, sin causes us to engage in self-deception (Ps. 36:2), dulls the conscience (1 Tim. 4:2), and hardens the heart (Heb. 3:12-13). Additionally, because of sin the body has become an instrument of wickedness