The Body’s A Temple

“The body’s a temple, that’s what we’re told, but I’ve treated this one like an old honky-tonk.  Greasy cheeseburgers and cheap cigarettes, one day they’ll get me, if they ain’t got me yet.”

As you can tell from the above video, Paul’s line about the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit has some traction in popular culture.  I can’t help but wonder, however, how many people are like me in that they know that famous line, but totally forget about its context.  As I read through the lessons for Sunday this morning, I felt a strong urge to double check our rota to make sure the people reading it could handle things like, “Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?”

The passage from 1 Corinthians is a powerful reminder for me about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  So often, we fall into the comfort of platonic dualism and make Christianity only about things spiritual.  We think that if we’ve got our head and heart right, then all shall be well, but the truth of the matter is that in the incarnation, Jesus came to redeem all of Creation, our physical bodies included.  When we neglect out bodies, or worse yet, when we ruin them with “greasy cheeseburgers and cheap cigarettes,” we fail to fully give ourselves over to love of God and love of neighbor.  It’s all interconnected.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not the healthiest person out there.  I’m a big fan of greasy cheeseburgers, especially when that grease started out as bacon fat.  I love fried foods.  I hate exercising.  I like beer.  Yet, as I sat in a classroom in Sewanee, TN last summer, listening to my heart beat in my ears, I once again realized that I’ll be of no use to my calling, to my family, or to my God if I’m dead of a heart attack at 35.  Thus began a journey to reclaim my body as a suitable temple for the Lord.  Not through extremes asceticism.  Not through crash diet.  Not by giving up alcohol entirely, but through something that has by and large been lost in our culture.

Moderation.

“All things are lawful for me,” says Paul, “but not all things are beneficial.”  It is when those things that are lawful, be they food, drink, or even exercise, cease to be beneficial, that is, when they get in the way of loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves, that we have lost touch with moderation and need to find a new balance.  I had lost touch with moderation and needed to find my way back to loving the body God had given me in order to love my neighbor as an expression of my love of God.  Of course, that doesn’t mean, I’ll say “no” to the offer of a Seafood BLT with OMG Sauce at Fish River Grill.

OMG Indeed.

The 7 Experiment – Reflections on Food

In case I haven’t said it enough, Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Foley is a cool place to hang out.  From our oldest members to the nursery-aged kids, there is just a lot going on in the lives of the saints that call Saint Paul’s their spiritual home.  One of the coolest things that has happened here recently is the growing interest in lay-led Christian Education.  We currently have two groups that have started, on their own, based on the interests of a few people.

The one that is impacting me the most is a book study on “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker, mostly because of my wife’s direct involvement in it.  Let me tell you, these young adults are crazy.  Each week, they (and by extension I) will engage in a discipline aimed at extricating ourselves from the rat race that is “work more to buy more.”  I’ll reflect here each week on the experience.

Food.  Why on earth did she start with food?  Here’s this week’s deal, eat only 7 foods.  Thanks to the scheduling gods, SHW and I had a big house blessing/warming party on Sunday afternoon before this started, and it didn’t seem to be within the spirit of the experiment to let a bunch of perishable foods go to waste in the name of simplifying our lives.  So, aside from the left over veggie tray (and the chocolate cake at SHW devoured in 2 days and the open bottle of white wine that I tried to ration over the week), my list of 7 items was: oatmeal, honey, whole wheat bread, peanut butter, apples, chicken, and zucchini.

We’ve all had the experience of taking a mission trip and seeing these people who have next to nothing: one change of clothes, beans and rice once a day, fetid water, and a tin shack; and they are joyful people, eager to share what they do have and love without reservation.  My week of 7 foods made me realize that they are able to live like that because they haven’t been made evil by the demon of privilege.  What eating only simple foods did to me was make me grouchy, with absolutely no patience for my children.  I was hungry, mostly because by Wednesday, I couldn’t imagine shoving another apple down my throat, but that’s not an excuse.  I’m used to eating and drinking what I want, when I want, and I’ve gotten nice and fat because of it.  I lost 10 pounds this week, and could stand to lose 20 more, but the real take home for me was to realize that entitlement ain’t just a government program.  Instead, it lives deep within me as I expect to be satisfied at all times.  I could probably do with less satisfaction.  This week has helped me realize that, and hopefully, it will produce fruit in the weeks, months, and years to come.

This week’s experiment is clothing – 7 articles.  How hard can that be?