Resurrection Answers Body Idealization and Body Contempt

In my book Rediscovering the Goodness of Creation (now available), I discuss the practical difference that resurrection makes to how we think about the body and ourselves as physical beings. From chapter 11:
One of the ways that resurrection makes a profound difference in our thinking about the body is by addressing the twin errors of idealization and contempt. Both these errors are widespread in our culture and feed off each other symbiotically. When we idealize the body, we end up fixating on the purely physical aspects of ourselves, which leads us to treat our own body, and the bodies of others, as mere objects. This, in turn, feeds passions like pride, lust, immodesty, comparison, and the cult of youth. Idealization of the body lies behind the images that assault us in advertising and the media, with their restrictive stereotypes for what constitutes beauty, strength, and desirability. But if our physical characteristics and experiences fail to fulfill the idolatrous role they have been assigned—when, for example, we fail to live up to the images of the perfect body, or when decay or disease overtake the body—then idealization often converts into shame and contempt. Contempt for the body denies its sacred quality even as idealization parodies and distorts the body’s sacredness. Resurrection answers these twin pathologies. It answers idealization because it proclaims that the body reaches perfection only in Christ, and only as God’s Spirit comes to animate it. This means that in the eschatological future, when the body will be most perfected in all its beauty, strength, and glory, it will also most truly function as an image of God and point toward Him rather than itself. But the doctrine of resurrection also answers contempt, for it shows that even the weak and imperfect bodies we are tempted to despise are part of the creation God will glorify and transfigure.
Scroll To Top