The Christian and His Body

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” So wrote Paul to the Corinthian church. In this day of ever present temptation it is well that we ask ourselves this question. Many of us tend to take our physical being for granted. Few of us realize what an amazingly intricate and complex group of systems comprise the physical aspect of our being. Man with all his rapidly progressing knowledge will never approach the efficient complexity of the human body. Consider the fact that in one-twenty-fifth of a drop of your blood are contained five million red blood cells. This means that is you weigh about 150 pounds you have thirty-three million million red blood cells circulating through your body at this moment. Laid side by side, they would cover more than three-fifths of a modern football field, or if laid end to end, they would circle the earth more than four times. Man will never fashion a pump as efficient or durable as your heart, an organ the size of your fist. It beats thirty-six million times a year or two and a half million million times in an average lifetime. It pumps seventy-five gallons of blood per hour while you are resting, or as one scientist so practically put it, “it pumps enough blood to fill an average gasoline tank four times an hour just to keep the machinery of the body idling.” During strenuous exercise, such as playing tennis, your heart will pump eight times more blood or more than fourteen barrels an hour. In your lifetime, your heart will pump eighteen million barrels or eight hundred forty million million pounds of blood.

Then contemplate the fact that the vessels which carry this blood to each of the many million cells in your body, if made into a single tube, would stretch more than sixty thousand miles. Or have you ever thought of the startling fact that your brain alone contains twelve thousand million nerve cells, or that the nerves in your body placed end to end could be wound around the earth more than fifteen times? And one could go on and on and present many more such facts. How anyone, when confronted with evidence such as this, still says that there is no God and that all this is due to chance alone, is almost beyond comprehension. But to us, we as Christians, these facts do but strengthen our belief in Him and cause us to sit back and reflect in awe his almighty power and omniscience. We can say with David, “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy words; and that my soul knoweth right well.” This coupled with the much more important fact that our bodies are the temple of God, that He, in His Spirit dwells within us, should make us treat our bodies with great reverence. The famous American poet who said, “If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred,” was obviously not a Christian and his emphasis was grossly misplaced. But he does have a point. Our bodies are sacred and are to be treated with wonder and respect. We must remember that when we abuse our bodies or put them to some sinful use we are not just hurting ourselves, but also, and this is much more serious, we are literally tearing down the walls of one of God’s sacred dwellings. Our bodies, even in their fallen and sinful state, are living examples of the awesome majesty of our Creator. Furthermore, each of us is blessed with certain talents or abilities. It is just as much a wrong to allow our known talents to lie unused as to misuse them. Our prime, in fact, our only purpose in life is to glorify God. As Paul said, “…ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Many of us tend to conveniently forget this most of the time in order to serve our own evil purposes. This is becoming more and more of a problem in these modern fast-moving days when ever more efficient transportation and communication place more temptations within our reach. I am not necessarily of the opinion that people as individuals, and we in particular as Christians, are sinning more these days, but only in a greater variety of ways. This does not mean that we may not take advantage of many of the material gifts God has undoubtedly placed here on earth for our use, but only that as these gifts become more and more corrupted by the people of the world we must ever more be one our guard to be able to discriminate between what is a gift of God and what is not. It is a great comfort and at the same time a challenge to know that we are not our own, but our lives are under the ever-present control of our God. This, of course, does not allow us to sit back and relax. Paul’s words to the Christians of Rome almost two thousand years ago are as timely now as they were then, “I beseech you, therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

*Dr. Peters is a graduate of Calvin College and Northwestern University. At present he is serving his internship at Blodgett Memorial Hospital. Now a member of First Protestant Reformed Church, Dr. Peters hails originally from California.

Originally Published in:

Vol. 19 No. 8 December 1959