Mandy Erskine is an international Catholic speaker and inspirational storyteller. She has been speaking and sharing her Catholic faith and passion for Chastity for over 10 years. Her focus is restoring our human dignity through sharing the truth about God, who created us to be male and female in his image and likeness. She has been described as inspiring, refreshing, funny, and life-changing.
Tending the Temple
One Saturday afternoon, I went to confession at my local parish. As I told the priest about my struggle with sin, he reminded me that I am a good person who makes mistakes and that God’s love is bigger than my sin, and he is waiting to pour out his mercies through this sacrament. After some counsel, the priest gave me my penance, and I went to the main part of the church to pray.
As I sat in front of the altar, I gazed up at the crucifix and started to meditate on the text of 1 Corinthians 3:16-17: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.” I meditated on the body as a temple of God, the holy of holies, a sacred dwelling place, one that is meant to be loved and undefiled.
Our bodies are good. Their design is good, made in God’s image and likeness. There is a song by Meghan Trainor called “All About that Bass.” While I don’t approve of some of the language or parts of the message, I do appreciate the lines “Every inch of you is perfect / from the bottom to the top.” Our bodies were made perfect, and it is our responsibility to restore them, take care of them, and love them.
St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Too often we forget the part, you are not your own; you were bought with a price. The reminder of the price is in nearly every Catholic church around the world: the crucifix. Our body and soul were purchased through the love of Christ, through the blood of Christ, through the passion of Christ, and by his death and resurrection.
Not only were we bought at a price, we were loved by God enough to be given the gift of free will. We are free to choose to live our lives as we see fit. “My body, my choice” are words I hear or read often, whether it’s someone trying to explain why they believe sex outside of marriage is okay or trying to justify abortion. We have the choice to be sexually immoral—to lust, masturbate, or view pornography. But as Paul warns the Corinthians, “Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).
When we fall into sexual sin, even if we think we are not hurting anybody or anything, we actually are. We are not only hurting ourselves (and our partner if we have one), we are defiling that which is not meant to be defiled. Have we as God’s temples forgotten the price that was paid for each of us? Have we forgotten how loved we are? How sacred our bodies are? How holy our bodies are meant to be?
Instead of looking down on our bodies, we should look lovingly at them and take care of them. We do this by not only loving our bodies, from the bottom to the top, but by taking time to care for our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs: eating healthily, exercising, reading uplifting books, spending time in prayer, etc. Most important, we learn to love our bodies and care for them through the sacraments. Going to confession, for instance, is like having our temple cleaned of all the dirt, grim, defilement, etc.
That evening after confession I went to a fantastic presentation on love. It reminded me how Jesus freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully gave up his life to purchase mine. He loves us each without reserve. We can choose to receive him or reject him. Jesus gave his life for us. He will never leave us nor ever hold back his love for us. And by his death he purchased each of our bodies and souls. Only someone who is truly good would ever consider doing this for us, and we just happen to made in that same image and likeness!
My late grandmother used to say to me, “You make time for what is important.” Should not our bodies be important? They are the temple of God. Should we not care for them as we care for our most prized possessions? Should we not learn all the amazing features they have, like we learn our latest gadget? Or will we continue to see no value in them? God gave us each our body; he purchased each of them with his son’s life, and they are precious temples. “For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obligated to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2289).
Make time to care for your temple, your body—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.