Greek, Hebrew and Postmodern Perceptions of the Body.

Greek, Hebrew and Postmodern Perceptions of the Body.

All perspectives, whether ancient Greek, Hebrew, or contemporary postmodern, are undergirded by certain metaphysical and religious presuppositions. These foundational beliefs shape how individuals and societies understand the nature of human identity, particularly in relation to the body and soul.

The Greek philosophical tradition, particularly in its Platonic forms, often viewed the body as a temporary vessel or even a hindrance to the soul's pursuit of truth and the ideal. This perspective is deeply rooted in a specific metaphysical understanding of the world, where the immaterial is considered superior to the material. Greeks often saw the body as a sort of prison for the soul. In this perspective, the physical body was seen as a limitation, a source of temptation, and a distraction from the pursuit of truth and wisdom. The ultimate goal was the liberation of the soul from the confines of the physical body. This view is encapsulated in Plato's concept of the realm of Forms, where true reality is understood as immaterial, and the physical world is a mere shadow of this higher reality. The soul, being of a higher, immaterial nature, finds its true essence and freedom in escaping the physical constraints of the body.

In contrast, the Hebrew view, informed by Scripture, sees the body as an integral part of the human person, created good by God and destined for physical resurrection and eternal life. They view a person is not merely a soul inhabiting a body; rather, the body and soul are intrinsically united to form a complete human being. This view is deeply rooted in the creation narrative of the Old Testament, where humans are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27). This view is not merely a matter of physical or biological understanding but is based on theological and metaphysical beliefs about the nature of humanity and the purpose of creation.

These contrasting views have profound implications for how we understand human identity and destiny. The Hebrew view, with its emphasis on the unity of body and soul, affirms the goodness of the physical creation and the significance of our bodily existence, both in this life and in the life to come. It suggests a holistic understanding of human nature, where physical actions and states are integral to our spiritual life and relationship with God.

In contrast, the Greek view can lead to a devaluation of the physical and temporal in favor of the spiritual and eternal. It might encourage a form of dualism that sees the body as secondary or even contrary to the true self.

In the case of contemporary views on gender identity, particularly as expressed in some postmodern ideologies, there is an underlying metaphysical assumption that the true essence of a person lies in their psychological or emotional self-perception, rather than their physical being. This resonates more with the Greek dualistic view of the body and soul. Here, the inner psychological or emotional identity is given precedence, often to the extent of overriding the physical reality of the body. This notion aligns with the Greek idea of the body as a lesser or even misleading aspect of human nature, with the true self being something more internal, psychological and less tangible. This belief, while not always explicitly religious, functions as a kind of faith statement or doctrinal position about the nature of reality and identity.

When such views are promoted or enforced in public education, they bring metaphysical assumptions into a space that is intended to be religiously neutral. The principle of separation of church and state, a cornerstone of many modern democracies, is meant to prevent the imposition of any particular religious or metaphysical doctrine in public institutions like schools. This principle is traditionally understood to protect individuals and communities from the state imposition of religious beliefs.

However, the enforcement of specific views on gender identity, which are rooted in particular metaphysical presuppositions, can be seen as a similar imposition of a belief system. This raises significant questions about the role of public education and the extent to which it should engage with deeply contested and belief-laden issues of identity and personal conviction.

Either we have a respectful and open dialogue in public spaces, including schools, where different viewpoints can be expressed and explored without coercion or imposition. Or we remove such enforcement from the public schools altogether. In the meantime, until this is resolved, I would encourage you to remove your children from public schools.  

Many people in the postmodern age say "my feelings are reality and I cannot change them. It is who I am."

Firstly, it's essential to acknowledge the reality of our human condition. The Bible teaches that, not just some of us, but all of us, without exception, are born into a state of sin and moral inability. In Romans 3:23, it says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." This sinfulness affects every aspect of our being, including our desires, thoughts, and actions. It's not just about our outward behavior but our very nature.

Therefore, in a sense, the statement that people can't change themselves is biblically accurate. We are all in bondage to sin, unable to free ourselves by our own efforts or willpower. Ephesians 2:1 describes this state: "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins." Being 'dead' in sin means we lack the spiritual capacity to change ourselves. There is a common human tendency to cling to our feelings and experiences as the basis of our identity, even though they may not align with the deeper truths about our human condition and purpose.

In the realm of feelings, which are indeed fleeting and variable, there's a risk of mistaking these transient emotions as the core of who we are. Feelings, while valid and significant, are not always reliable indicators of truth or identity. They can be influenced by a myriad of factors - circumstances, past experiences, or even our fallen nature - and can lead us away from a true understanding of ourselves and invariably leads to disintegration.

The message of Jesus emphasizes that our true identity and purpose are found in relation to God. We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), designed for a relationship with Him, and our deepest needs and longings are ultimately met in this relationship. This view acknowledges the reality of the human condition, marred by sin, which distorts our understanding of ourselves and our purpose.

Again, we cannot change ourselves, just like a leopard cannot change his spots. However, the heart of the Christian message is that what is impossible for humans is possible with God (Luke 18:27). Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, to bring new life where there was death. 2 Corinthians 5:17 proclaims, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." In Christ, there is a profound transformation, not just of behavior but of our very nature.

In this new life in Christ, our identity is reoriented. We're no longer defined primarily by our past, our desires, or our societal labels. Our primary identity becomes that of being in Christ. This doesn't mean we suddenly become perfect or that our struggles and temptations vanish. Instead, it means we begin a pilgrimage of being conformed to the image of Christ, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

This transformation involves setting aside false ideas and idols. An idol, in biblical terms, is anything we put in the place of God in our lives – anything we look to for ultimate security, identity, or purpose other than God. This can include personal achievements, relationships, material possessions, or even our self-conceived identities. As we grow in Christ, we learn to replace these idols with a pursuit of God and His purposes for us, which is the true path to human flourishing.

To flourish as humans, we must align ourselves with God's design and purposes for us, as revealed in Scripture. He made the world and knows exactly how it works. This isn't about conforming to a rigid, joyless set of rules. Instead, it's about embracing the life for which we were created – a life of loving God and loving others, reflecting God's character, and enjoying His presence.

In conclusion, while it's true that we cannot change ourselves, the Christian message is that in Jesus, profound and real change is not only possible, but inevitable. This change goes beyond mere behavior modification to a deep transformation of our very selves, aligning us with the purposes for which we were created and leading us into true and lasting flourishing.