THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN BODY
THE SACREDNESS OF THE BODY
The Bible teaches that humans were made in God’s ‘Image and Likeness’ (Genesis 1:26).
‘Likeness’ is the group of faculties that are reflection of God’s natural abilities, like the faculty to create, govern, organize, learn, love, morality, etc. These faculties were not given to any other creature in our creation, except humans, the only ones created ‘in the Likeness’ of God.
The Hebrew בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ (Be sal menu), which we translate as ‘In our Image’, it is based in the word צֶלֶם (Tselem), which literally means ‘Resemblance or Image’, in a corporeal sense.
Since ancient times, the word ‘Tselem’ has been used to denote physical appearance, among the Hebrews. Stories like in Exodus 33:17-23; where Moses sees the back of God but not his face; or the time when Lord God YHWH, the Father, comes and has lunch with Abraham in the region of Mamre (Genesis 18:1) and even when God appears to Adam and Even in a physical manner in Eden (Genesis 3:8); denote clearly that the concept of God in the mind of the people of the Scriptures, was that He had a defined Image, a distinguishable appearance, able to occupies a specific place and time, like any other material human body. In fact, that will be the canonical belief of Christianity, if it wasn’t because Apostle John said:
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
It was accepted that God the Father had appeared to his prophets of old, and the antecedents were enshrined in the Tanakh. God was considered to have a spiritual body or image, under whose likeness humans, from among all creatures of our creation, were made.
However, the words of John, who revealed supernatural knowledge, let us know that all these times when God appeared, under the Name of the Father, YHWH; it was actually through the image of the Son, under whose resemblance humans had contact with God.
To all this, this spiritual Son of God, decided to incarnate as a member of that creation He had made in his ‘Likeness and Image’; and became a human being, lived a human life, and died as part of the human race, to then resurrect in Glory forever, to reign and be worshipped in that glorified human form for all eternity
(Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30; Mark 14:62).
Paul speaks of ‘spiritual bodies’ as corporeal realities that can subsists in Glory over the limits of physical reality (1Corinthians 15:44) with a visible appearance like in the earthly reality.
Bodies, regardless of their appearance and constitution, are intrinsic to all created beings, conscious or not, even gases, since all creation is subjected to limitation, it has a beginning and an end, and it is conscripted to time and space, even if its is ongoing for eternity by God’s power, like in the case of glorified angels and humans. ONLY GOD, who is beyond limitation and exists outside time and space is free from being subjected to a bodily conscription. However, by his own choice, He elected to be visible and perceptible by all his creation, in the form that later He will design the human race, our form, the human form we have today.
HUMAN CORPOREAL DIGNITY
Humans conserve the design of God in the constitution of their physical bodies, meaning one head, four limbs, a thorax. The inside systems correspond to our animal reality, but not the external image. In Glory, the internal systems will cease, but the appearance will continue (1Corinthians 15:40).
But adding to all this, God Himself took a human form in the person of Jesus of Nazareth; and ascended into Heaven and sits in Glory as an eternal King from within the Holy Trinity, in this human body, but glorified, meaning, exalted, but remaining the same body He had in his earthly existence (Luke 24:39).
All these, defines the dignity of the human body as a reflection of the Image of God, the appearance of God, apart from our similitude in faculties (Likeness), and it renders the human bodily constitution as sacred.
Human life is sacred, because it was created in the Likeness and Image of God (Genesis 9:5-6).
This implies every element of the human constitution, physical and spiritual, as sacred. But it is through the physical aspect of it that we interact with each other in this world. Therefore, all actions that harm or submit the physical reality of other humans, it is a grave sin against God our Creator, but also a great crime against humanity.
To kill, poison, contaminate, alter, modify at will, or to clone the physical reality of humans, are beyond our rights to operate with matter.
But this respect is also be extended to the deceased persons. The inert bodies of humans must also be respected and honored for their own sake, because they reflect God’s chosen image, even when their spirits do not inhabit those bodies any longer. Therefore, any misuse of the human body, as fertilizer, food, experimental object, or partition and voluntary dismembering, including unnecessary incineration, it is also an attempt against the Image of God, and a grave sin against our Creator and the human race.
“So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”