If it’s “Your Body”, Prove It
by William C. Michael
It is common today to hear young adults talking about their lives and claiming that their body is their own and they have the right to do with it whatever they please.
You are more than a body, just as a machine operator is more than his machine.
This may be true legally in many ways, but it is not true morally.
You have received your body freely from others. It was conceived by you mother, nurtured through pregnancy, delivered safely with the help of doctors, nurses and midwives, fed during infancy, protected from many dangers, provided for throughout childhood and led into adulthood. While you may make choices that avoid some troubles, you can in no way claim to have produced or purchased your body. If this is so, on what grounds can you claim to be the owner of it?
Moreover, your body is a product of the bodies of your parents, grandparents and all your ancestors. You are the fruit of your family and you bear not only your family’s name, but your family’s image and likeness. You cannot explain who you are without reference to your family. You receive from your family your life and much of your identity and you have a responsibility to make good use of the benefits you have received, which are invaluable. You are not asked by your family to repay them, only to honor them — and this is a very small price to pay.
Third, your body is not your friend, but your enemy. If you allowed your body to do whatever it wished, it would destroy itself. Your body craves pleasures that fill it with diseases and pains. Your body puts pressure on your to do things that make you miserable. Your body is not in your control, but you must constantly struggle against it any time you want to do anything good. If you want to study, it will try to go to sleep. If you want to work it will try to rest. If you want to be healthy, it will try to be unhealthy. You are fighting all the time against your body — well, not all the time. Sometimes, you allow your body to do what it wants, and only pretend that it is doing what you want.
Fourth, you are not the owner of your body, but are only borrowing it for a time. Regardless of what you do or wish, your body will be taken from you at death. You have no knowledge of when this time will be or how your death will come. If you were to borrow money to buy a new car, you would not own the car. The bank that you borrowed money from would own the car. If you don’t make your car payments, the bank will come and take the car away from you, because it’s not “your car”. Likewise, if you did not produce your body or purchase your body, and if you are not able to keep your body from being taken from you at death, why do you imagine that it is “your body”? What is clear is that it has simply been loaned to you for a time.
Fifth, the fact that you are able to talk about your body as if you are separate from it, reveals your awareness that you are more than a body, and that your body serves a purpose beyond itself. Your body is an instrument created to serve your soul, like a machine operated by a worker. The deeds of your body come from the actions of your soul, so ultimately, the discussion shouldn’t be about your body, but about your soul. When the body is taken from you, you will remain. What will be the condition of your life when your soul is separated from your body? That’s a much more important question. If you say that you don’t believe in the soul, who or what, then, is talking about your body?
Lastly, this leads to the real question, which is, “How should you use the body that has been loaned to you?”. You should use it to serve the good of your soul. You should use the body not to please itself (which makes no sense), but to please your soul. Indulging in pleasure does not please your soul — quite the opposite! Your soul is please when the body is used to do virtuous deeds. You know this because you have experienced it many times. You have worked the body hard and earned a reward that pleased your soul. You have resisted temptations and have pleased your soul. You have said “No!” to bad things and have pleased your soul. You know what it feels like to please your soul with the body, but you are going to be tempted to serve your body instead, because this world is full of evils. You have to use the body like a machine to please your soul, or you have no control of it. If others are urging you to control your body and make it please your soul, why are you fighting with them?
They’re trying to help you.
If it’s your body, prove it. Make it do what it should.