Monday, March 12, 2012

My body, my spirit

I've been thinking a lot about bodies lately. Specifically, I've been thinking about the spirituality of our bodies, not our spirits, but the way that our bodies are tied to our spirituality.

In my opinion, many of us view the body and the intangible parts of us (mind, spirit, emotions) as far too separate. I think if we do this, we risk putting our spirits, minds, and emotions at risk, because I'm of the school that our physical actions are unquestionably connected with our spirits.

Mormons believe that God has a body, like our bodies, only perfect in form and function. We also believe that the big goal in life is to learn to become like God. So, if we are here trying to become like God, then wouldn't a big part of that be learning how to use our bodies perfectly? I think so. I believe there's far more to Godliness than patience, charity, and mercy. We need to learn our bodies perfectly; to feed them, use them, stretch them to their limits, and care for them too. Because our bodies not only house our spirits, they are holy things themselves.

I think it's a no-brainer that what we do with our bodies profoundly influences our emotions. But there seems to be a disconnect for many people who hold to a belief that bodies are inconsequential. They're just a piece of biology. They think that what they do with their bodies won't affect their intangibles.

The man in the podcast I recently posted about seemed to be surprised that after engaging in open-type relationships, he no longer wanted to be with his long-time girlfriend. After a three month foray in polyamory, they both decided that they "just weren't right" for each other anymore. My take on the story is that they engaged their bodies in activities that didn't fortify the love and connection they had with each other. It wasn't about having to discover if they were right for each other. They determined that with how they used their bodies.

How we use our bodies determines the way we feel emotionally. If you choose one person with your heart, but another person with your body, doesn't it makes sense that the body eventually wins over?

When I was single and dating in college, I noticed that the worst breakups came not when I split with the guy I "loved" most, but when the physical affection outpaced the real relationship. It was a lesson to me in how powerfully connected the physical and emotional/spiritual are.  Physicality shouldn't supersede the substantive. When that happens, emotions get manipulated and people get confused.

I'm not trying to write a novel, or get into the weeds of sexual morality, I guess what I'm saying is I have come to understand more deeply that our bodies are holy; that they are part of the struggle in becoming like God. We're not here to master some sort of "mind over body". We're here to recognize that God's creation of our bodies wasn't merely so we would have a vessel in which to go through life and work out our spiritual struggles. Coming to earth to "get a body" is only part of the story.

We've got our bodies, now we need to learn to use them.

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