Opinions regarding our bodies, gender, and sexuality dominate our headlines today. We’re told to love our bodies, but in the same breathe we’re told we should change them if we want. We should have a healthy body image, but the media tells us that there’s an epidemic of obesity. The confusion goes on and on. Thankfully, Sam Allberry gives us biblical clarity and points us to the gospel in What God Has to Say About Our Bodies.
Fearfully & Wonderfully Made
Allberry structures What God Has To Say About Our Bodies in three parts: created bodies, broken bodies, and redeemed bodies. In the introduction, he points out a really interesting truth. We tend to want to separate the physical from the spiritual. When we think of our physical bodies, we often detach them from our spiritual selves, and vice versa. When we think of our spiritual lives, we often ignore our physical bodies or worse, we think we need to punish our physical bodies in order to be spiritual. That thought seems to weave throughout the book, at least it did in my mind as I was reading.
Allberry does a fantastic job connecting our physical bodies with our spiritual selves throughout, but especially in part one. Our bodies have always been an intentional part of God’s plan. Christianity is one of the few, if not the only, religion that views the body this way. Jesus Christ became flesh. He suffered and died in the flesh. He was physically resurrected and appeared to many in the flesh.
The Highest Compliment
Allberry writes, “Jesus’s incarnation is the highest compliment the human body has ever been paid. God not only thought our bodies up and enjoyed putting several billion of them together; he made one for himself.” That’s an amazing thought. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God in that human body. Allberry quotes C.S. Lewis to summarize:
Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body––which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty and our energy.
The Body, Gender, & Sexuality
What God Has To Say About Our Bodies goes on to address some of the most pressing questions today in regards to our bodies biblically and with the grace of the gospel. For example, identity is currently a hot button issue. Honestly, identity has always been an issue. It’s one of the core questions of human existence. Who am I and what am I supposed to do?
The Bible gives us unique insight. To those who tend to see themselves—the “real me”—as the person they feel or believe themselves to be deep down inside, the Bible shows that their body is not incidental to who they are. And to those who have a ton of their identity invested in their body, the Bible shows that there is more to them than how they physically appear to others. Your body is not nothing. Nor is it everything. Is your body you? Yes. It is intrinsic to who you are. But it is also not the totality of who you are.
Allberry goes on to address sin and our bodies, including sexual sin, which the Bible describes as unique because it unites the body to someone else. He discusses the brokenness and death of the body. Then he tells us the good news—the gospel of Jesus Christ. He explains the implications of Christ taking our brokenness, shame, and suffering onto Himself in His physical body. He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
What God Has To Say About Our Bodies
What God Has To Say About Our Bodies concludes with how we should live in light of that good news. Our bodies are called a temple and a living sacrifice. Ultimately, through Christ we have the promise of new bodies like His glorious body.
Allberry’s writing is witty and conversational. Though some of these topics are controversial and difficult, he handles them with a tremendous amount of grace. He includes several personal examples of people he has counseled, pastored, and befriended through the years who struggled with some of the most difficult of these situations. This is a timely book dealing with important issues at the heart of our culture today, and Allberry points us to the gospel for answers. You can get a copy here.