Sunday, 26 April 2015

Why do we have bodies; why aren't we 'pure spirits'?

For Christians (and for some other religions) the fact that humans have bodies is hard to explain.

If one believes in beings that are pure spirits, it sounds as if it would be better to be a spirit than a body - less restricted, less limited, perhaps able to move extremely fast, occupy boundless space etc.

So why do we have bodies? The reason must be very important, because humans go to a lot of trouble to get and keep bodies - we are born into bodies, they die, and then our perfected souls are reunited with our now-perfected bodies... united for eternity!

So bodies must be better, in some way. But better in what way?


An unexpected answer popped-into my head this morning: we have bodies because God has a body; we are incarnate beings because that is how God is. 

This makes particular sense from a Mormon perspective, because of course Mormon's believe that God the Father has a body, just as does his Son Jesus Christ. So the simple idea is that we gain bodies and they become perfect and eternal, via a three-stage process of incarnate mortal life, death and resurrection - so we can be just like God.


But why should we need to be just like God?

The answer might be that God wants us to be as like Him as possible; so that we may (choose and learn to) become God's divine friends.

Is it therefore necessary that, for God to become the closest possible friends with each of us, we must have a body of the same kind as Him? Well, the idea seems to make 'common sense', in that it seems much more straightforward for any of us to be close mutual friends with an embodied person; than to be close friends with an unincarnated spirit.

It would seem that the lack of a body would seem to put a serious obstacle in the path of loving friendship with another embodied being at the highest level of friendship; and if we therefore need to have a body of some kind, then having the same kind of body as God would enable us to be the closest and most loving of friends.


So, perhaps the value of being incarnate through eternity very simply and directly arises from God's primary purpose in creation; which is to make potential divine friends, persons who may eventually learn and choose to become as much like Him as possible in kind (while remaining utterly distinctive individuals); and therefore the closest and most loving possible friends - which includes being like Him physically, as well as like Him mentally; alike in the nature of body as well as in soul.



Ben Pratt said...

Yes. To be honest, I was surprised to see this, as I thought you had previously made this connection, but perhaps not.

David Balfour said...

I wonder why it is necessary to regard this issue as a dichotomy? If I imagine that I am a migratory bird flying over the deep blue seas of the Atlantic en-route to Newfoundland; If I imagine the sound of the waves, the pressure of winds on my chilled feathers, the smell of the fresh salt air in my nostrils and the glint of the sun on the pearly waters, am I not, albeit feebly and temporarily, inhabiting the body of a bird in my imagination? If I can do this simple thing, how much more might be possible of higher beings? Perhaps an Angel can inhabit a moment of earthly sorrow as a passing stranger to comfort us with emanating warmth and love from a simple smile; perhaps a heavenly soul can travel through time and space to relive a favourite childhood memory from the vantage of post mortal life, and perhaps heavenly father himself can act as a physical or immaterial being at his will, after all, are not all things possible for the creator? what basis is there to assume there can only be a fixed incarnate state or the antithesis? Revelation, granted. But we know that is incomplete until what we understand as 'now.' Just a thought.