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Body and Soul/Spiritual and Physical

“Of all the gifts of God, one of the most precious and yet neglected and mistreated is the body. Yet in our reading of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, the apostle writes, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own” (vs. 19). Today the apostle teaches us the proper reverence for the body that Christ has “bought with a price” (vs. 20). Many people have a complex relationship with their bodies. When it comes to the treatment of their bodies, many vacillate between self-indulgence and self-punishment.” (Fr. Basil)

“The Scriptures do not elevate the soul over the body, as though the soul were somehow the “real” person and the body merely a husk to contain it. Rather, they teach that a human person is a union of body and soul and that the separation of the two at death is unnatural.” (Fr. Stephen De Young)

“Those who are eager on the basis of some of St Paul’s Epistles to find in Scripture some form of dualism and a hostility of the spirit towards matter, should bear in mind that the word ‘flesh’ does not mean matter and the body, nor does the term ‘spirit’ mean the soul (Galatians 5:19-21). The word ‘flesh’ simply means man in his fallen state, while the word ‘spirit’ means man in communion with God. In consequence, it is possible for the soul to become ‘fleshly,’ like the body; but it is also possible for the body to become spiritual, like the soul. It is also characteristic that St. Paul does not exhort the Galatians to crucify the body, but to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Anestis Keselopoulos)

“The spiritual life for Christians does not consist in our attempt to escape our bodies, but rather our goal is to transfigure and transform our bodies (or have them transformed by Christ). Even the ascetic, self-denying emphasis of monasticism is not to escape the body but an effort to master the body and have spiritual dominion in and of the body. Becoming spiritual does not mean becoming disembodied spirits, but fully uniting our spiritual and physical selves with Christ. Life in the world to come is life in which the physical and spiritual are made whole, that is salvation.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“The Fathers of the Church, following the biblical anthropology, steered well clear of any sort of dualistic view of man. Even when in some cases they seem to talk about the body in hostile terms, it is understood that they mean the mind of the flesh. This is why they maintain that man is an unified psychosomatic whole: ‘It is not a soul on its own or a body on its own, but the two together that are and are called man’ (Irenaeus). The soul and the body form parts of man, but not the whole man. The complete man is the union of soul and body. Furthermore, the whole of Orthodox theology highlights very clearly the importance of the human body in God’s plan of redemption, while at the same time showing us the potential offered by man’s physiology for a foretaste of good things to come even in this life…The apostle [St. Paul, Romans 8:8] does not repudiate the substance of flesh, but shows that the Spirit must be infused into it.” (Anestis Keselopoulos, St. Irenaeus)

“… to follow our Risen Lord into the joy of the resurrection, we must also open our deepest personal struggles and wounds to Him for healing. Our bodies are not evil, but we have all distorted our relationship to them. Instead of pursuing a disembodied spirituality that ignores how God creates and saves us as whole persons, we must embrace the joy of His victory over death by living as those who are in a “one flesh” communion with the Risen Lord in every dimension of our existence…we are members of His Body, the Church, and nourished by His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. We must live accordingly with our bodies every day of our lives. All our relationships, actions, and desires must be healed and reoriented to the Kingdom in order for us to enter into the joy of our Lord’s resurrection as whole persons. That is why we must offer our time, attention, and resources to Him for restoration in fulfillment of our calling to become like Him in holiness. That is not a disembodied or abstract vocation, but a tangible calling that hits us very much where we live every day of our lives.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“We are embodied beings…we cannot experience the world in a disembodied form. To describe our bodies from the outside (scientific knowledge) says nothing about what it is like to actually be that embodied person. This becomes yet more complex when the reality of who and what we are extends beyond my body and encompasses the bodies that are around me. For the terms “male” and “female” have no meaning in and of themselves – they are relational terms…men cannot know what it is to be male without, in some manner, knowing what it is to be male-in-relation-to-female. The same is true of women. In perhaps the most tortured passage in all of St. Paul’s writings he says (profoundly): … man [is not] independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman is from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. (1 Cor. 11:12)” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“…the “religion” of this impersonal order is also de-¬Communion--ed, de-¬ritualized, and disembodied….this as a process of excarnation. In contrast to the central conviction of Christian faith — that the transcendent God became incarnate, en-¬fleshed, in Jesus of Nazareth — excarnation is a move of disembodiment and abstraction, an aversion of and flight from the particularities of embodiment (and communion).” (Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith)

“A disembodied spirituality many adhere to today that creates a false dichotomy between the spiritual and material and treats the body almost like an evil prison we seek liberation from is nothing new. It’s just old heresy endlessly recycled. The Gnostics preached this in Christ’s time and many new age and other spiritualities preach it today. It’s false. We don’t exist apart from embodiment and in the age to come when all is restored as it should be we will have, as Christ’s resurrection and teachings show us, an incorruptible body.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“The Gnostic gospel proclaims Christ as a kind of disembodied messenger who opposes the work of the Old Testament God. The Christian gospel proclaims an incarnate, crucified, and risen Christ in complete harmony with the same God who is his Father. The Gnostic message views the human body as virtually evil, something to discard. The Christian message holds the human body as holy, redeemable, destined for glorious transformation through resurrection. The Gnostic way of salvation is one of inward meditation toward self-realization. The Christian way of salvation is taking up the cross in obedience to Christ and in communion with his body, the Church, which has a vital mission in part to work for justice and peace in this world that God loves.” (Rev. Dr. Theodore Stylianopoulos, Th.D.)

“Human biological life is a gift from the Creator, not the negative consequence of sin. St Paul’s words about the first Adam becoming a ‘living being’ can be interpreted to mean a ‘biological being.’ Adam was created with a physical, even mortal nature like all other biological creatures, but had the potential to be a spiritual being. But as St. Paul notes, the physical/biological was first. The spiritual nature needed to be developed by humanity, but sin is the roadblock to that development. It is God incarnate in Christ who truly ‘restores’ the human to our full potential by becoming incarnate, taking on a body and then elevating that body to its full spiritual nature.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“The most fundamental experience of being human is biological. We enter the world in a state of biological dependence, having left an utterly symbiotic existence in the womb. Parents’ first thoughts about a child are consumed with biological issues. Nursing, digestion, sleep, and various discomforts rightly occupy the often sleep-deprived parents of newborns. Conversations among young mothers tend to circle around those issues. Biology is primary. When something is biologically amiss, everything else has a way of being diminished. As years go by, our biological attention sometimes wanes, particularly when things are physically going well. We take our bodies for granted and begin to imagine that the world of thought and social interaction are primary.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“One of the ancient heresies of Christianity is the dualism that the material world is morally evil, and the spiritual world is good. This notion denigrates the goodness of God’s creation and permits the human race to abuse it. We think that after all, the physical world is a burdensome weight that ties our souls down to the earth. How different is the attitude of the psalmist: “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). God is known in His creation. From this perspective, science is not the enemy of faith, nor medicine the anthesis of divine healing. Instead, everything in creation praises its creator.” (Fr. Basil)

“We will never “see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” if we refuse to make our daily physical actions tangible signs of our union with Christ in holiness. In fasting, we limit our self-indulgence in food in order to gain strength to redirect our desires for fulfillment to God and away from bodily pleasure. In almsgiving, we limit our obsession with our own physical comfort in order to help the needy with the basic necessities of life. In prayer, we use our bodies to stand, kneel, and otherwise comport ourselves in ways that help us to open our hearts to God. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and destined for resurrection in the heavenly kingdom. In order to become beautiful living icons of the Savior, we must offer our embodied selves to Him through lives of ascetical struggle for our healing from whatever passions beset us….He who avoids physical work, cannot succeed in his spiritual work because the second is born from the first…Something physical and tangible opens up a spiritual landscape.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters, Elder Efstratios of Glinsk, Jonathan Jackson)

“Note, in particular, how the Evangelist describes the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law. The Lord Jesus “came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her” (Mark 1:31). We are created with spiritual, psychological, and physical dimensions, and sin ravages all three. The Lord Jesus affirms the importance of physical means for ministering to those who are ill, no matter the type of illness. Hence, in this instance, He extends His hand physically to raise up Simon’s mother-in-law.” (Dynamis 8/27/2020)

“You are body and soul. I make that claim about you because I am a Christian. An atheist would say that you are just a body, and the word "soul" is a kind of metaphor for a bunch of chemicals combining to produce thoughts and feelings. No God, no soul. But a Christian believes that she is body and soul.” (Rev. Christopher H. Martin)

“Everything is created by God and has a God given meaning and purpose. Christianity is endeavoring to discover and reveal the God-given nature of everything. This is not pitting the spiritual versus the physical but showing how they represent one reality – the created order which because it was called into existence and designed by God has not only an empirical nature, but a spiritual one as well.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“Of all the visible and invisible creation, man alone is created dual. He has a body composed of four elements, the senses and breath; and he has a soul, invisible, incorporeal, joined to the body in an ineffable manner; they interpenetrate and yet are not compounded, combine and yet do not coalesce. This is what man is: an animal both mortal and immortal, both visible and invisible, both sensory and intellectual, capable of seeing the visible and knowing the invisible creation.” (St. Simeon the New Theologian)

“To insist that Christians are to be spiritual is indeed quite proper, but to be spiritual is not to renounce the body per se (though it is to renounce immoral uses of the body). It is rather to be Holy Spirit inspired, an inspiration that encompasses the body—indeed, liberates the body—and as such grants a foretaste of what it will be like to have a spiritual body beyond death (a body animated by the spirit, 1 Cor 15:42-49; cf Rom 8:11). There is a proper bodily involvement in the world that enhances the inherent value of our bodies in the process.” (Jeremy Begbie)

“What did the Savior say? He appropriately rebuked them, saying, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but what is in you is full of looting and wickedness.” It would have been easy for the Lord to use other words with the view of instructing the foolish Pharisee, but He has found an opportunity. He connects his teaching with what was before their eyes. Since it was the time for eating and sitting at the table, He takes as a plain comparison the cup and the dish. He shows that those who sincerely serve God must be pure and clean, not only from bodily impurity but from what is hidden within in the mind. Utensils that serve the table must be cleansed from those impurities that are on the outside as well from those that are within. [Jesus] says that He who made that which is on the outside also made that which is on the inside. This means that he who created the body also made the soul. Since they are both the works of one virtue-loving God, their purification must be uniform.” (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

“When we desire to grow in the spiritual life, we might be tempted to disregard and even denigrate the body. We might treat it as the seat of the passions and the source of the corruption of our soul. However, Paul says that we should “glorify God in your body and your spirit” (OSB 1 Cor. 6:20). In itself, the body is neither moral nor immoral. But the body can be either sanctified (1 Thessalonians 5:23) or defiled (1 Cor. 3:17). The body is God’s creation meant to be the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” the “dwelling place of God.” (Fr. Basil)

“The human body is a temple. Heaven and earth are full of His glory. Though our altars have a special significance and a rightful place in the sacramental life of the Church, they are not islands of holiness in a sea of secularity. The altar of God is first, and foremost, in the heart, and can be found everywhere at all times. We don’t therefore destroy the altars of the Church, nor neglect them, but we go to them that we might go to the altar of God elsewhere as well.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The ways of the body develop from how we treat it. For instance, if we treat the body as the vile source of temptation, then it will become a primary tool of the tempter. If we treat it as our enemy, it will become a nemesis that we cannot control. Yet, the way we treat it depends on our attitude to it…It is a gift of God to be cherished and used to serve our Creator. From this viewpoint, we can use moderation and good sense better to manage the needs and desires of our bodies.” (Fr. Basil)

“…the body belongs to God, and everything is relevant to the spiritual life. Therefore, dealing with sin means controlling our bodies.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:13)

“As Christians it is unthinkable to graffiti and vandalize a Church. Yet if we do not truly believe the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we do things with our bodies that we should not, this in essence is what we are doing. Further, if we understand we are the Body of Christ, we may sin alone but the effect is not just on us. It’s like poisoning a reservoir. If I poison it, it is my sin and my sin alone. But people who drink this water become poisoned due to my sin. That is why as spouses, parents, family, and friends, we need to treat our bodies in a way that honors God, and when we do not we need to repent with all of our hearts and confess to receive forgiveness, restoration, and cleansing. No sin is beyond God’s forgiveness. If not for ourselves, we should do this for our loved ones and especially for our children. Sin is like a virus and we can spread it those we love most if we do not live in accordance with righteousness and love.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“God became man, making Himself accessible in a manner that acknowledged the primacy of our embodied existence. God did not become an idea, a mere expression as a message from a prophet. He became a biological human being. St. John wrote: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us…(1 John 1:1–2) or, most famously: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Many resisted John’s apostolic confession of “Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 Jn 7). Writing in his old age, the apostle faced many teachers who claimed that the eternal Word of God merely appeared to be a flesh-and-blood human being. These heretics could not understand how God, as pure Spirit, would contaminate Himself with our physical existence. For them, our physical nature formed the source of mankind’s deepest problems. Yet “God formed the man of dust of the earth” (Gn 2:7) and declared we were made in His image: man was “very good” (Gn 1:27, 31).” (Dynamis 3/5/2021)

“One of the ancient heresies of Christianity is the dualism that the material world is morally evil, and the spiritual world is good. This notion denigrates the goodness of God’s creation and permits the human race to abuse it. After all, the physical world is a burdensome weight that ties our souls down to the earth. How different is the attitude of the psalmist:  “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament showed forth His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). God is known in His creation.” (Fr. Basil)

“As a result of Christ’s resurrection, the world, even the entire universe has been changed forever. Christ makes present the Kingdom of God in the world and in our lives. The resurrection is showing that God claims Lordship over the living and the dead, over the spiritual and the physical, over heaven, earth and hell itself. The spiritual world (heaven, hell, angels, etc.) has been united to the physical world. We experience the spiritual world in and through our bodies and we experience the physical world through our spiritual lives.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“In order to follow our Risen Lord into the joy of the resurrection, we must also open our deepest wounds to Him for healing. Our bodies are not evil, but our spiritual brokenness has distorted our relationship to them and to every good thing. Instead of pursuing a disembodied spirituality that overlooks the reality of how God creates and saves us, we must embrace the joy of His victory over death by living in the flesh as those who are nourished by His Body and Blood.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“It is an error that assumes that God once did something quite specific that He might finally do something completely general. At its root is a notion that material things are contrary to, even exclusive of, spiritual things. “If it’s physical – it must be inferior and carnal.” It’s a modern form of Gnosticism.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

"Christianity recognizes that we are truly physical as well as spiritual beings. Therefore our salvation requires us to have a proper attitude and treatment of the body in life and death…it is through the body that the soul is redeemed. For example, in baptism, it is the body that is washed so that the soul may be purified. The body is fed at the Eucharist so that the soul may be illuminated. The body is anointed that the soul may be consecrated." (Father Spyridon Baily)

“This present body is only a seed (1 Corinthians 15:38) of the body to come. The “spiritual” body is not a pale shadow of the material world we now know; the opposite is true. The resurrection body is the fulfillment of what God intends for our present body. It is the material fulfilled, not dematerialized.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:35-54)

“Our bodies will one day be reunited with our souls and we will be whole persons again but in some gloriously transfigured, spiritualized way. This is not only our destiny as human beings but it was our very origin. It is only because of sin that we have come to think of ‘reality’ in terms of our bodies dying and being buried and our souls going on to the next life and hopefully ending up in Heaven." (Father Thomas Loya)

" be alive in the body is to express one’s soul." (Lisa Coutras)

“…body, mind, and soul are actually one entity. Together they form a human being, made in the image and likeness of Our Creator.” (Marianne Sailus) “

God formed Adam's body out of dust from the ground. The breath of life is the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life (the Creed). God breathed the breath of life into man's body, and he became a living soul. Therefore, Adam was a living soul because he possessed a body, a soul, and the grace of the Holy Spirit.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Genesis 2:7)

“Our mind is the pilot of our bodies and souls. It’s designed to be inspired and moved by God’s Spirit, which directs us naturally and freely toward God.” (Kevin Scherer)

“Our bodies were designed to push, pull, rotate, extend, and flex; our souls were designed to orient, commune, worship, obey, sacrifice, and witness. With time, these repetitive movements lead to normal spiritual development and maturity. When there’s an injury to the human body that disables movement, most people elect to undergo all the necessary procedures, including surgery, hospitalization, and extensive physical therapy, to regain their personal freedoms. The Church exists to provide this same healing and rehabilitation for our disabled souls.” (Kevin Scherer)

“We, human beings, were and are created as body and soul. We become fully human through the grace of the Holy Spirit. By the will of the Father, Christ the Son, sends us the Holy Spirit (John 20:22, Acts 2:1-13) so that we may receive grace and become Christ-like over the course of our lifetime. The tragedy of today’s society is that many engage in what they think are spiritual activities (e.g., new age religious practices, spiritual but not religious practices) but they have nothing to do with acquiring the Holy Spirit. They are simply exercises that feel good for the soul but are not formational because the lack the Spirit.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Sensual (Gr. psychikoi) means operating by the powers of the human soul alone without the indwelling power of the Spirit, that which makes one “spiritual.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Jude 1:19)

“God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.” (C. S. Lewis)

“Christianity is not a disembodied faith but an incarnational one. God came to us in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, and redeems us body and soul. The way we treat our bodies (and indeed all of Creation) says something about the way we regard the One Who gave it to us and Whose presence fills all things. That’s the Gospel." (Rod Dreher)

“Unlike the religion of Gnosticism—which teaches the separation of soul and body, with the physical world seen as evil and something to be overcome—historic Christianity teaches the unity of body and soul, with the physical world being transformed and made new in Christ.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“The most powerful rituals involve the body…They make use of all the senses to impress the sacred story upon the individuals gathered. For example, when worshippers kneel or prostrate themselves at a certain point in a ritual, they learn in their very muscles the awe-filled meaning of that sacred moment—and it helps them remember.” (Paul Connerton, Rod Dreher)

“We are material beings. We are not souls that have bodies, or bodies that have souls. The soul is the “life” of the body, but is not, strictly speaking, a thing in itself. Most moderns mistake the soul for consciousness, and they imagine that at death their consciousness migrates somewhere else (to heaven, etc). And, we do not care very much about what then happens to the body, so long as our precious consciousness abides. This, I might add, is the mythology of Star Trek, where in at least several episodes, Spock’s consciousness is deposited in various other places. It is not, however, true Christianity.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Our bodies are our temples…We desecrate our bodies when we fill our minds with hateful thoughts, and our mouths with hateful speech. We neglect our bodies when we fill them with bad food and when we are inactive and indifferent to others. We honor our bodies when we maintain good hygiene, good diet, when we exercise, and when we love and serve others. Then our temples are in pristine condition.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

“Our bodies were meant for healthy food, exercise, and rest. Today’s frenetic pace creates costly consequences for us all. A similar reality is at work in our spiritual lives. A well-rounded balance of spiritual food is necessary if we are to have healthy and happy souls. While it is truly tragic that you and I destroy our physical bodies with junk food, our destructive neglect of our spiritual food has eternal consequences.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“...a church that neglects to involve the body in worship is going to find it increasingly difficult to get bodies into services on Sunday morning as America moves further into post-Christianity.” (Rod Dreher)

“Christianity does not share in the modern American body-obsession. We have a tendency to go go to extremes – obsessing about our bodies or neglecting them…Christ said, “Do not fear them that can only kill the body. Fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matt. 10:28)…The true Christian approach to the body is based on the wise principle of moderation…the proper care of our bodies is a divine responsibility given to us by God…They are temples —dwelling places of the Holy Spirit!...If God dwells in them, they must deserve our care and respect, and neglect of them can only be called sin.” (Fr. Paul O'Callaghan, Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Let us not neglect our hearts. As good stewards of our physical bodies, it is important to attend to the precious organ of the heart. But it is also essential that we affirm the orientation of our inner being. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:20). Renewal of the heart directs our lives toward God and heaven. In Him we will find what is true and eternal, and in Him our hearts will rejoice and live forever.” (Archbishop Demetrios of America)

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