Do you rightly value your body?

A Christian view of our embodied existence that enables us to speak to our culture

June 9, 2022

The way in which believers think about their bodies is more important now than ever. The church cannot hope to be effective in a culture confused by issues relating to our bodies and plagued by an anti-body mindset. If believers hold a low, misunderstood view of physical existence, how can we be salt and light in a world that does the same?

While the culture claims that physical, biological realities are inconsequential or that a baby’s developing body is somehow detached from her personhood, the church must be equipped to articulate a biblical worldview on the body. It is imperative to confirm from Scripture that the body is not only valuable, but that God has ultimate authority over us as those who are made in his image. By standing on a biblical understanding of physical existence and building a corresponding theology, we can confidently address the most pressing issues of our day.

How should Christians view their bodies?

While there are multiple approaches to constructing a robust theology of the body, I believe the best starting point is Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. These Corinthian believers were highly influenced by the Gnostic and Platonic dualists around them. Viewing the material world as evil, the physical realm was considered bad while the spiritual realm was good. As a result, the Corinthians likewise elevated immaterial over material and became very anti-body. This thinking fueled their licentious behavior and allowed them to justify all types of sinful activities as they believed that, ultimately, the body did not matter.

So, what does Paul do? To combat their ungodly actions and immoral bodily treatment, he confronts and corrects the way they thought by establishing right beliefs about their bodies. They could only exhibit proper actions with the body by holding proper beliefs about the body. His correction flows from an argument for the body’s value and God’s authority over it by establishing Trinitarian involvement with corporeal experience—the ways in which Father, Son, and Spirit participate in and with embodied spiritual and physical existence of humanity. Paul specifically highlights resurrection (v.14), redemption (v.20), and indwelling (v.19) to show that the body was not too insignificant or sinful to warrant the Corinthians’ destructive actions.

We understand from Paul that the body is valued in our future resurrection and re-embodiment (v. 14), a promise that harkens back to the creation of embodied men and women made in the image of God. If the body is to be resurrected and the imago Dei fully realized, then the eschatological experience of embodied existence in the New Heavens and Earth holds meaning for the body now. Also, the reality that we were bought (body and soul) by Christ’s atoning work of redemption (v. 20) and our bodies joined to him as part of his body (vv. 15-17) signifies a definite worth to our material existence. Even more, the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in our corporeity confirms the body’s sanctity as his temple (v. 19).

Paul also asserts God’s authority over the body in highlighting Trinitarian involvement with resurrection, redemption, and indwelling. These realities convey accountability for believers because through them we see God’s right over physical form. You are not your own; your body belongs to God (v. 19). His authoritative power is clear in resurrecting us from the dead (v. 14). Life belongs, body and soul, to the one who possesses power over the grave. Likewise, Christ’s sacrifice redeemed our embodied existence, which is to be comprehensively submitted to him (v. 20). The Holy Spirit also claims the believer’s body as his temple, demanding recognition of and respect for his ownership (v. 19). By mentioning each of these truths, Paul calls on the Corinthians to cease living by their own desires and submit to God’s role as the sole authority over their bodies. Each of these Trinitarian works should guide what Christians believe about their bodies, as our bodily actions and behaviors manifest those beliefs.

At the end of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Paul concludes that believers should glorify God in their bodies, which transpires in the way we think about and treat our bodies (v. 20). This final overarching, all-encompassing command for God’s glory flows from a foundation of right beliefs about physical existence; beliefs that, again, recognize the body’s value and God’s authority over it.

So what?

Today’s Christians, like the Corinithians, may sometimes operate out of an anti-body philosophy. Here are some diagnostic questions that may indicate you wrestle with this mindset. Do you:

Whether intentional or unintentional, this mindset will affect other areas of life. And believers cannot afford to propagate or echo the world’s low view of the body. Whether it’s an obsession with physical fitness, addiction to pornography, rejection of the bodily realities as in transgenderism, etc., we will never treat our bodies rightly until we begin to think about them accurately.

So, before the church can speak to these cultural issues regarding corporeal existence, we must confront our own bias toward the body. Once we do that, we will be effectively equipped to speak into the culture on a whole host of issues, because after all, our theological beliefs should lead to practical application. Indeed, through a proper theology of the body, Christians will be able to:

The list could certainly go on, but, clearly, believers are able to address a host of cultural issues, and any others that should arise, through a right theology of the body. In the end, we value physical existence and recognize it as belonging to our God who promises bodily resurrection, became embodied to secure our redemption, and indwells our bodies as his temple. As the church, we proclaim through our lives that it is our aim and purpose to glorify God with our bodies because we are not our own, for we were bought with the highest price (1 Cor. 6:20). 

Lainey Greer

Lainey Greer, Ph.D., is a speaker and author whose passion revolves around theology and the physical body. Years of theological education, personal training, and church ministry provide her the unique ability to connect doctrine to everyday life. You can find more of her writing at forsakenbody.com. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24