the body, a temple

What does it mean that your body is a temple?

How does that fact alter your approach to self-care?

These are questions I’m asking myself during Lent.

For the purpose of this discussion, I’m going to take that phrase out of context. I don’t really want to deal with Paul or the Corinthians right now.

I’m considering that phrase as a stand-alone statement.

Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Holy texts are alive.

They’re interactive.

What we see in them changes as we change.

As we evolve, the texts evolve.

It’s been happening to me lately that I hear or read a passage of scripture that I’ve always interpreted one way and suddenly hear something new in it, or interpret it in a completely different way.

All of my life, for instance, when I have heard my body is my temple, I have assigned that phrase a meaning akin to, take care of your body (eat nutritious foods, don’t smoke, exercise.) Keep the vessel clean and shiny because it’s not really yours, you’re just borrowing it.

But as I’ve been considering care of the body during Lent, I’ve realized something.

That’s an attitude of privilege.

If I were a single mother working two jobs to get food on the table for my children, I wouldn’t have the luxury of going to the organic grocery and loading up on healthful food.

I couldn’t buy a class card at the local yoga studio and I wouldn’t have time to go if I did.

If I were living on the streets, if I was in an unsafe living situation, if I didn’t know how to get healthcare for my children, telling me to de-stress or drink green smoothies or take time out to meditate would be ridiculous. And hostile.

Interpreting scripture that way is just another way of assigning morality to the physical. (A “fit” person is morally good, a “fat” person is morally bad.)

And that, of course, is bullshit.

So, what does it mean to me right now that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?

Not a house for the Holy Spirit or a vehicle for the Holy Spirit, but a temple.

the body a temple

We worship in a temple.

We pray in a temple.

We are reverent in a temple.

It must be a reminder that the Holy Spirit moves through me, but in a particular way.

If the Holy Spirit moves through me, if my physical body is a sacred space, if my body is a temple where God is worshiped, what does that mean for my self-care regimen?

What does it mean beyond “eat healthily” (honestly, at this point, I don’t even know what that is.)

What does it mean that it could mean for everyone?

Understanding that my body is a temple changes the way I inhabit it.

When I am in a temple, I am rooted. I am at peace.

I am open to God, listening.


The language of the temple is beauty and light.

In the temple, I carry myself differently.

To understand that my body is a temple is to understand that God dwells within me.

I suspect there might be an answer here to the disconnect I’ve long felt between myself and my body.

Maybe there isn’t a disconnect after all.

And I suspect the answer to all of these questions has at its root, love.

That, as always, love is the answer.

What changes for you when you think of your body as a temple?