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Embodying the Divine

Day 1 of 5: Your Body is a Temple

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?
-1 Cor. 6:19 (NRSV)

I am a mother of three. From the moment I discovered I was pregnant with my first baby, questions about my relationship with my body began to surface. It felt uncomfortable to have something happen to my body that was beyond my control. I don’t recall thinking about my relationship with my body before that point in my life. I think most of that is due to privilege–my white skin, my thin, able body that moves through the world with ease. Yet, a question continues to nag at me that I’m not sure how to answer: Was I comfortable with my body before getting pregnant, or was I just disconnected from my body?

Over the past decade, I have worked to build my life around an embodied, practice-based expression of my Christian faith. I first experienced embodied spirituality through my yoga practice and then realized that, surely, the wisdom of embodiment must exist inside the ancient traditions of Christianity as well. Spoiler alert: I found it there, too. We cannot divorce our spirituality from our bodies, and as this verse states, our bodies are the home for all of our spiritual experiences.

It’s hard to believe that a religion based around the embodiment of God in the person of Jesus became a religion that villainizes the body, yet many of us grew up with an inherent distrust of our bodies and the accompanying baggage. Many of us learned a very cerebral, belief-based version of Christianity, developed around the idea that a fundamental split exists between soul and body.

Although people have been creating systems for connecting with God since the beginning of time, Latin was the first language that had a word for religion. It’s interesting to think about a time before this named split between religion and life. Perhaps before we had a word to define the concept of religion, all of life was seen as a way to try and restore our connection with the Divine.

Christianity’s relationship with the body has been tumultuous from the start. “Mortification of the flesh” (stemming from an interpretation of Romans 8:13) is a long-standing and varied practice ranging from self-denial (fasting, vows of celibacy, practicing Lent) to various forms of self-harm to help the practitioner “share in the suffering of Christ.” (1 Peter 4:13)

Yes, there are a handful of verses about … Continue Reading in the App

Chelsea Long

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