The Human Body Is a Sacred Place


Recent news stories have caused me to consider anew the human body and the whole issue of bio-ethics. To the extent that we are able to know, it seems fair to acknowledge man as being God’s greatest creation. Not only is the soul—that invisible man-essence—of extreme import, surely, also of note, is the body that houses that eternal entity.

The co-author of Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, the late Dr. Paul Brand, describes the body thus:

The human body is an endlessly fascinating repository of secrets. The miracle of the skin, the strength and structure of the bones, the dynamic balance of the muscles . . .your physical being is knit according to a pattern of incredible purpose.

Our bodies, these God-given and sacred places, call for respect and honor, for as David said in Psalm 139:14 “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Consider then, in the light of God’s word, the following stories and articles which in many minds raise bio-ethical issues—certainly some more than others.

(Sacramento, CA-NBC) January 17, 2007 – Wednesday afternoon, the Sacramento sheriff opened a homicide investigation into the death of a woman who overdosed on water after participating in a radio show contest.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jennifer Strange, a Sacramento mother of three, died of water intoxication while trying to win a Nintendo Wii videogame console for her children.

Her husband, William, says, “On Friday she was just herself trying to win something she thought we would all enjoy.” later developments here.

I have included this article, even though it is not actually a concern of bio-ethics. The issue here is: Did Jennifer Strange disrespect her body? Did the producers of the show display a lack of honor for the human body?

or this one:

A team of doctors in New York say they are planning to perform the first womb transplant in the US. The procedure would potentially allow women who have had their wombs damaged or removed to develop a pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. The plan is to use a uterus from a woman who has died. Baby

or this one where a face has been transplanted.

It was an amazing feat of surgery that gave a face to this young woman who had been mutilated by a savage animal, and I commend this action. What, though, of others who submit to operating rooms in order to have a more beautiful face than the one with which they were born? What of face lifts and nose jobs? I’m not speaking of gross genetic malformations, but of ordinary looking people who desire a more pleasing appearance. Is there anything wrong with that?

or, incredibly, here where a serious discussion of head transplants is posited: (Scroll up from the comments to read the entire article.)

Hidden deep in a Russian forest, and guarded by soldiers with orders to shoot intruders on sight, the medical research laboratories on the outskirts of Moscow were one of the Soviet Union’s best-kept secrets.

So the carefully-vetted journalists who were allowed past the forbidding perimeter fence on a cold February morning in 1954 were both apprehensive and curious about what lay ahead. Led to a courtyard outside an austere brick building, they waited in the bright winter sunshine to find out why they had been summoned. For a few minutes, only the sound of birdsong and the rustling of leaves filled the air but then a door slowly opened to reveal experimental surgeon Vladimir Demikhov – accompanied by the strangest looking animal they had ever seen.



Mortal Lessons, written by Dr. Richard Selzer is one of my favorite books. Dr. Selzer, a Guggenheim Fellow is an incredible writer. I consider his works to be spectacular, even though our views on religion are diametrically opposed.

From Dr. Selzer: “Probably the biggest, saddest thing about my own life is that I never had faith in God. I envy people who do. Life without faith is rather a hard proposition. On the other hand, I have tried to live as if I did believe there was a God.” more here.

“For me, the body is a sacred space. Now, you will be amused to hear words like piety, sacred and blessed from a person who claims not to believe in God. I am a highly spiritual person, so evidence of the spirit is present in many things – in people and in the body especially. I am always touched by the revelation of the human spirit when I look at the body, a wound or a lesion. I can see the spirit of the person – the aura of the spirit – in the wound.” More here.

The bio-ethical issue that follows gives me opportunity to present additional writing of Dr. Selzer.

“Whither Thou Goest”
from The Doctor Stories
by Richard Selzer

“BRAIN-DEAD,” said the doctor. “There is no chance that he will wake up. Ever. Look here.” And he unrolled a scroll of paper onto her lap. “This is the electroencephalograph. It’s nothing but a flat line. No blips.” Hannah bowed her head over the chart. The doctor cleared his throat, took one of her hands in both of his, and leaned toward her as though about to tell a secret. Hannah submitted to what under any other circumstance she might have considered presumption, submitted because she thought she ought to. It was expected of her. The formality of the occasion and all.

“Hannah, it is three weeks since your husband was shot in the head. The only thing keeping him alive is the respirator.”



Hannah waited for the walls of the solarium to burst.

“I’m asking you to let us put an end to it, unplug the machinery, let him go. There is just no sense in prolonging a misfortune.” Hannah felt that she should say something, not just sit there, but for the life of her she couldn’t think what. The doctor was speaking again.

“But before we do that, we would like your permission to harvest Sam’s organs for transplantation.”

“Harvest?” said Hannah. “Like the gathering in of wheat?”

“Yes,” said the doctor. “That is what we call it when we take the organs. It is for a good cause. That way your husband will live on. He will not really have died . . ..”

“Dead is dead,” said Hannah.

“I know, I know,” said the doctor. And he looked down at his feet for relief. Hannah noticed that he was wearing oxblood wing-tip shoes of a large size. They were the shoes of power.

A week later she received a letter from the doctor.

Dear Mrs. Owen,You will be pleased and comforted to know that because of your generosity and thanks to the miracle of modern science, seven people right here in the state of Texas are living and well with all their faculties restored to them. Your husband’s liver has gone to a lady in Abilene; the right kidney is functioning in Dallas; the left kidney was placed in a teen-aged girl in Galveston; the heart was given to a man just your husband’s age in a little town near Arkansas; the lungs are in Fort Worth; and the corneas were used on two people right here in Houston. . . .more here.

I have raised lots of important issues in this post today, and I want to hear from you. I’d love to know your thoughts on these subjects.




19 thoughts on “The Human Body Is a Sacred Place

  1. Billy Morley

    I hope you read my last post. It looks as though it has been a few years since you posted this. I send all my energy at this amazing moment to you. May you spread it to many more!


  2. Billy Morley

    I love this post. I am writing from my iPhone right now. I came across this by typing a headline into google wrong. I believe that you should live with what you have. If you’re in a situation where your body needs to be changed medically because of an accident in your life in order to keep on living then that’s the miracle of science and it needs to be. Cosmetic anything is something that does not need to be. You may live life “happier” because of a cosmetic manipulation but I guarantee a person would live a better life making the best out of what you have. The earth is massive. There are so many human beings that have less and live worse off than you do. Make it your life goal to be happy with everything you have and all that the world has to offer. Bad things happen every day. Maybe to you or maybe someone else. Take it as a learning experience. You have a body and you are alive. All that matters is that you can smile and you can make others smile. Love and let yourself live to the fullest potential


  3. Hello everyone. I’ve been out of touch for several days and did not respond to all of you. for I had no internet connections.

    Thank you for coming by and for your opinions concerning this very heavy subject.


  4. Michael

    The Bible says our bodies are living temples and not to defile it, so in these terms,who paint’s the lines to stay in? Who sets the bar in what is allowable in altering your body or the functions of it? Is there a difference in restoring ones eyesight or restoring ones youthful looks? It seems we have no problem going to the doctor for any sort of problem to keep our bodies in tune, so again I ask where is the line? Maybe we can use the scripture that says, seek your own salvation with fear and trembling.In my heart if we approach this subject with the same honesty and openess, it will give a much clearer look at this subject.


  5. Thanks for weighing my Saturday night with these ponderous thoughts. Sheesh!

    Did anyone catch the pictures of the triplets in the womb bonding? I didn’t book mark it. Should have. Life is precious.



  6. Wow Sister Buxton! You pose some pretty heavy issues here. While I think it’s great that the woman who had her face destroyed by an animal was able to be helped, I don’t think it’s right for people with perfectly normal body parts or organs to seek transplants or surgeries. It seems kind of like telling God, “You didn’t do a very good job on me.”


  7. Hi Jana,

    Some things seem clear cut, like the woman whose face was destroyed by a savage dog. I really don’t believe I have a problem with donating organs after a person has died. Other times I’m afraid our bodies are not respected as they should be.

    Transplanting a uterus? That seems to be going a bit far, although since I never had fertility problems, I may see this in a different way than do others.

    Heavy thoughts, indeed.


  8. Wow! Such a heavy thought. It reminds me of the sixth grade where a teacher required us to read the book 1989. Not only did the book scare me half to death, I thought 1989 was so far away it would never come. Scripture says our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. The medical world has achieved things that seem nothing less than miraculous, yet, we must be mindful of the fine line that crosses into the realm of the “fearfully” made body.


  9. timethief

    Rats! The image code was stripped even though I put it in between backtics. I’ll post it on the forum for you in the post pertaining to this one. Sheesh … now you have 3 comments to delete.


  10. Wow, lot’s to think about. We’ve pondered ethical issues involved with fertility treatments. So many ramifications, even beyond our ability to predict, I think. I ton’t think it does well when “Man” tries to put himself in God’s place.


  11. timethief

    I noticed that you say you don’t know how to place the SOB badge in your sidebar. The image must be uploaded first and then here’s an example of the code you enter into a text widget to achieve the: ``
    Please note that I have included the date in the code as tonight’s date and that this will change if you do the image upload tomorrow.
    Also feel free to delete both on my comments. 🙂


  12. timethief

    Hi Shirley,
    I’ve just come from the forum as you requested and I see that your “quick fix” worked well. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂


  13. amber

    Aunt Shirley,

    The snow has come and gone in the Texas Hill Country…I was truly sad to see it go. Randall is doing real good, we go back to Houston in a few weeks for a 3 month check up. Bailee is great. She loves looking at the pictures of all of your grandchildren, she says that now she knows what it is like to play in the snow. Much Love, Amber


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