Your Body Is You, As Well As Your Soul

A lot of the talk about “end of life” decisions generally, and Terri Schiavo specifically, has centered on the question of brain activity. We argued over whether she was in a persistent vegetative state, whether she was truly responsive, and so forth. A commenter on another blog said

I know that if I’m not “in there”, if my brain scan shows what Terri’s did on A&E, I don’t want my body to be kept alive, even if it is “only” a feeding tube. Where is my soul if my brain is no longer “me”? Would you be denying me my entrance to glory, without having a presence here on earth either?

*The philosophy here seems to be that the _real_ you is a mental or spiritual entity, and this body is just a shell. I don’t know whether this is Gnosticism or just what, but I know it isn’t Biblical.*

The Bible teaches that our bodies are very much a part of us. We are made of a body as well as a spirit. (Some folks count a soul as a separate piece, others consider it identical with the spirit, but that’s not too important in this.)

*The truth is that we are _more_ than a physical body. But we are indisputably _also_ a physical body.*

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The thing God formed out of the ground – that was _a man_. Not an empty shell, but a man. God added “the breath of life” and that man became a living soul.

Psalm 139:14-15 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

The Psalmist asserts that _he_ was “made in secret” – not an empty shell or a mere body, but him. Man.

Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

John points out it was the _souls_ of those slain that he saw. They were incomplete, until…

Revelation 20:4-5 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

The issue of consciousness is not pertinent to a Biblical understanding of life. Terri Schiavo was alive. The _real_ Terri, not just a body. I won’t pretend to know anything about the location of one’s “consciouness” or soul in these circumstances, but I do know that your body is you. You are _more_ than the body – and this is why Jesus said not fear those who can _only_ destroy the body – but you are a physical, bodily creature. This is why we will be resurrected! *When we deny the importance of the life of a physical body, we undermine the glory of the resurrection.*

The issue is not consciousness. We cannot appeal to the lack of consciousness to justify killing the comatose, the disabled, infants, or unborn children. We must evaluate life from a Biblical perspective.

Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Human life is not precious because of consciousness. It is not precious because of independence or the ability to make choices. It is not precious because of love and laughter. *Human life is precious because it is the image of God.*

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15 Responses to Your Body Is You, As Well As Your Soul

  1. Chris P. says:

    Romans 8:
    11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

    Right on Robert!
    This is a gnostic belief to its core. According to Romans 1:5-6, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by the fact that He rose from the dead. Chapters 5-6-7-8 are quite plain in that our bodies are essential. Paul mentions several times throughout the letter that our justification comes by the blood and the resurrection. We are saved soul and body in their entirety. This is why death ,and Hades, the storehouse of the dead, are the last enemies to be defeated 1Cor 15:26 and Rev 20:11-15. The reward of all who persevere to the end is the incorruptible body 1Cor 15:42-58. The natural first and then the spiritual, v46. I don’t mean to get off into a sermon on this, but you are “zeroing in” on an incredibly important issue. The “reasoning” that somehow we are no longer “here” is false and is an excuse to help us pull the plug without feeling guilty.

  2. mzellen says:

    If Terri had been written about in the Bible, this whole thing would be moot. She would have died 15 years ago, perhaps as God intended.

  3. Chris P. says:

    If god had intenede ot to be at that time, it would have transpired at that time.

  4. Ellen says:

    John points out it was the souls of those slain that he saw. They were incomplete, until?

    what happens when the body and soul are separated? You say they are incomplete. Not whole.

    I think you’re mistating what I believe (I was the one quoted in the main body of your post)

    I’m not denying that the body is very much a part of us (so don’t bother pasting the gnostic label on me).

    I am saying that the body/mind/spirit is a whole package. Without the body, the mind and soul is not here. Without the mind and soul, perhaps the body should not be here, either, if technology is being used to keep the body alive, when the body cannot sustain itself without outside help (with Terri, it was her parents that originally passed on the swallow test)

    When I read your post as written, I would guess that you would be a supporter of continuing life support in any and all case. You can keep a body going for a while without a heart, without a head, I suppose – with the right machines…just keep the body going…it’s the image of God…pass another tube, please.

  5. Ellen says:

    If god had intenede ot to be at that time, it would have transpired at that time.

    If you are talking about Terri, you are right: if God had intervened at that time (the time of her injury), this situation would not have gone the way that it did.

    If you are talking about Biblical times, then you are also correct – and today, perhaps it would be the wisest choice to let God intervene as He will, and not try too hard to keep the body going at any cost.

  6. Chris P. says:

    This is actually leading into an area away from the intent of Robert’s post. I do not feel that it is proper for me to begin a new thread here. It would be a related and valid debate though. The question I would ask is ,does anyone really believe the doctors kept her alive in defiance of God’s sovereign will? This whole episode exposes the reality of our “limited free will” in contrast to God’s perfect and predestined, all encompassing will.

  7. Ellen says:

    The question I would ask is ,does anyone really believe the doctors kept her alive in defiance of God?s sovereign will?

    On the flip side…would it have been against God’s sovereign will to have declined treatment to start with?

  8. Robert says:

    I think you?re mistating what I believe

    Ellen, I do not know what you believe; I can only respond to what you have written. Your comment was just an example; I’m responding to the general philosophy that values physical life according to one’s level of consciousness. Your statements seem to support that philosophy.

    I would guess that you would be a supporter of continuing life support in any and all case

    It is one thing when a person has actually begun to die. I am not a medical professional, but I know there is a difference between a person on a feeding tube or a respirator and otherwise doing fine, and a person who is actively dying (like the Pope).

    I think it’s a different situation if the person is going to die soon anyway from something like kidney failure (barring a transplant of course), cancer, or heart failure. In that case, it is reasonable (and would probably be my choice as well) to refuse various types of treatment that are only going to prolong death by a few days or weeks, and not make you better.

    My point is simply that physical life is important in and of itself. Our bodies are important. That’s why the resurrection is so glorious!

  9. Ellen says:

    Your comment was just an example; I?m responding to the general philosophy that values physical life according to one?s level of consciousness. Your statements seem to support that philosophy.

    Absolutely not. You are wrong. A person can be unconcious (or in a coma) and still have a medical hope for recovery (full or not).

    It is when a person is beyond unconcious, when there is no higher brain function, with no hope for a medical recovery, that I believe they should be let go, if that has been their stated desire.

  10. Robert says:

    You are continuing to affirm what I said. According to your comment, it’s all about “higher brain function” and whether or not they have “medical hope for a recovery”.

    Even the language of “let them go” – as if their souls are somehow “trapped” by this physical body. It’s not biblical thinking.

    I believe that physical life is precious in its own right.

  11. Ellen says:

    Then put that in your advanced directive.

  12. Matthew says:

    I’m not sure if this supports Robert’s position or undermines it … but it might be useful to remember that Cartesian dualism (splitting a person into a body part and a soul part) is not terribly biblical, although it’s become a cornerstone of contemporary Christian theology and philosophy.

    I think that when most of us think about having a body part and a soul part, the body part is the part that exists here and the soul part is the eternal part that exists … well … in the general physical space of my body but _really_ on some other plane of existence. So if I could somehow be translated to that other plane of existence, I would be able to look down at the floor and say “Oh, there’s my eternal soul!”, and pick it up, put it in my pocket, walk away.

    But this doesn’t really make any sense at all (particularly my use of the word “I”), which is one reason I tend toward materialism: saying that my body is simply me, and if I do exist on some other plane, that existence is inextricably entertwined with my physical body.

    Of course, this doesn’t answer the question of whether I should be allowed to refuse medical treatment. Or whether people are complicated enough to feel that another person is both a blessing _and_ a burden.

  13. maryellen says:

    “Father…into thy hands I commend my spirit”
    To live is Christ to die is gain…to deisre to depart and be with Christ…James 2:26
    I honor the sanctity of life, and do not believe it was “right” to starve Terri S. to death. But I think your comment that the belief the body is “just a shell” is unbiblical needs to be rethought. Having said that, there are just to many documented cases of patients in comas coming out of them after years. If it is true that when a brain scan shows no activity, then the Spirit would already be with the LORD right?
    That doesn’t give us permission to starve the body to death. Someone on some blog observed that it is a crime to starve a dog to death…

  14. MegLogan says:

    Robert, (sorry this isnt related to this post)

    I have been looking through your archives. I would like permission to repost your article from Spetember 28 2004 at my site. With credits and a link to your site of course! I would like to look into the issue further, and would like to reopen it to the main population! It is a very good point, one you should bring up again!


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