What the importance of human embodiment means for the life-affirming mission

What the importance of human embodiment means for the life-affirming mission (cottonbro/Pexels)

In my seminary studies, I’m currently wrapping up a class on basic Christian theology. We’ve been covering foundational topics like doctrines about God, the Bible, the Trinity, creation, humanity, salvation, the church, and future things.

Around Resurrection Sunday, my readings were about death and the intermediate state, the return of Jesus Christ, the millennium, the resurrection, the final judgment, eternal punishment, and the new heavens and new earth—profound and weighty topics indeed.

At the same time, I’ve been dealing with seasonal allergies and have been frustrated with the reactions of my fragile human body to tiny particles released into the air by the beautiful blooms around me. (What an ironic time of year to be miserable!)

All of this has led me to reflect on some marvelous truths—that God created humanity in His image for eternal fellowship with Him, that He has made a way for people to spend eternity with him, and that those who trust in Christ for salvation will receive a glorified body in the age to come.

What is a glorified body, and what does this have to do with the life-affirming mission?

Allow me to back up a bit and explain.

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Human beings are complex creatures with two parts to our existence: the spiritual part (soul/spirit), and the material part (body).

One of the earliest heresies the church had to deal with was Gnosticism—the belief that matter is inherently evil, therefore the material world (including the human body) is a bad thing.

But here’s what the Bible teaches: because humans are created to be eternal creatures, we don’t just simply cease to exist when we die, nor is it only the spiritual part of us which continues to exist. 

Believers in Christ will ultimately receive glorified bodies which will be something like Jesus’ body after He was resurrected (He walked through walls but ate meals). The Apostle Paul writes, “He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.” –Phil. 3:21

Glorified human bodies will be completely whole. Using the analogy of a planted seed, Paul tells us,

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." – 1 Corinthians 15: 42-43a.

In their current state, our bodies are subject to injury, disease, and aging. They are limited and weak and degenerating.

In their glorified state, our bodies will not suffer from the ravages of sickness or the breakdown of aging. We will have the full, complete strength God intended for humans to have.

 Further, we will reflect the image of Christ, the ultimate “good” which is God’s end goal for the believer (Rom. 8:28).

I believe the glorified version of our bodies will be recognizable in terms of features—we will still be who we are, but without the wrinkles, aches, and sniffles. 

We will look like the perfect young adult we once were (or hadn’t yet become).

What are the implications of all this talk of glorification and resurrected bodies for babies who die by abortion? (Or for that matter, babies who are miscarried, stillborn, or die as infants?)

In ancient times, Christians debated whether people who died in fires or at sea or who were eaten by wild beasts could still be resurrected. How could their cells be reconstructed once they had been digested, lost, or turned to ashes?

What about aborted children? Preborn children and infants are less developed and much smaller than adults—is re-embodiment possible for them?

Consider how we were created in the first place. The God who created everything ex nihilo (out of nothing), the God who is omniscient and omnipotent, has no problem resurrecting the bodies of those who have been lost or consumed in some way other than an ordinary burial.

He is not somehow prevented from resurrecting the body of a child lost to abortion or miscarriage or infant death. All the DNA of each child is present at conception, and God, in His foreknowledge, knows what each will look like once adulthood is attained.

Just as God takes the “seed” of an adult body and resurrects it to new and perfect life, He takes the “seed” of a child and does the same.

To say our bodies are important to God is to make the understatement of the century. Embodiment is a critical aspect of being human, and humans are immeasurably valuable to God, from whom we derive dignity and honor.

Aborted children matter, including their bodies. 

Memorials for children lost to abortion, whether individual or corporate, are meaningful and important. We honor not only the soul/spirit part of the preborn person lost, but the body that never got a chance to grow up in this world.

Tweet This: Memorials for children lost to abortion are meaningful & important. We honor the soul & the body that never got a chance to grow up.

At our local pregnancy help clinic, we would take time once a year to commemorate the children we knew of who had been lost to abortion that year, holding a solemn service with meaningful words spoken by a visiting minister, then prayerfully lighting candles, and quietly shedding tears over the babies whose mothers had chosen abortion. 

God knows every aborted child. He created them in the first place, and He is well able to resurrect them.

Until that Day, we mourn our losses—and celebrate the astonishing hope that is ours in Christ.

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