Honoring Our Bodies as Temples of the Holy Spirit

We should always remember that our bodies are not simply ours to do with as we please. After receiving the sacrament of Baptism, we become temples of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1265). The Spirit of God dwells within us, making our bodies His dwelling places here on earth. This tremendous honor carries responsibility with it: we must keep these temples pure and pleasing to Him by avoiding sin and immorality, as any impure acts would violate the sanctity of our bodies as God’s dwellings.

Indeed, the Holy Spirit’s presence in our bodies is a profound gift that should inspire us to live in a way that glorifies God (1 Cor 6:19-20). When we recognize that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, we understand the importance of treating them with reverence and respect. However, as St. Paul experienced, this is an intense struggle (Heb 12:4; 1 Thes 2:2) because the influence of original sin makes us all weak and prone to evil, as he says: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom 7:19). Yet this does not mean we cannot keep our bodies as worthy temples of God. St. Paul affirms we can be victorious when we “put on the armor of God”, and “stand fast with [our] loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate” (Eph 6:13-14).

In today’s world, it seems this battle is becoming increasingly difficult. Where the purity of the body is strongly challenged by hedonism and materialism, we find ourselves struggling against powerful forces that seek to undermine the sanctity of our flesh. As Christians we believe that God designed sex as a blessing for the marriage covenant. Outside of this context, we risk turning our bodies into tools for selfish gratification rather than temples of the Holy Spirit. Promiscuity, pornography, objectification and other abuses violate the holiness God intends for our flesh.

As a result, when facing extreme trends and sins, we are called to live even more faithfully to the Church’s teachings on morality and sexuality. One useful and practical way to help us do this is guarding our senses. We must be highly intentional about what we allow to enter the temple of our bodies through our eyes and ears. Corrupt and careless speech, lies and deceptions, scornful gossip, coarse jesting, abusive and demeaning language - welcoming these things into our minds and hearts will only serve to distance us from God and grieve the Holy Spirit within us. As St. Paul exhorts us, we should instead focus our senses on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Phil 4:8).

Facing many temptations, may we continually present our bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated in service to Our Lord. May the Lord always help us realize the gift of his indwelling which yields such great blessings. By honoring our flesh as His holy temple, we fulfill our high calling as Spirit-filled children of the light.

This is a very limited understanding of sexuality. According to it, sexuality would only be a blessing for men and women in (sacramental?) marriages. A wikipedia definition (suspect, I know) is much broader: “Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually. This involves biological, psychological, physical, erotic, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviors.” Most generally speaking our sexuality is oriented towards creativity and relationships, so an artist is expressing their sexuality as they create their art; Mother Teresa expressed her sexuality in bringing an individual beggar to one of her care centers and bathing him. You get the idea. It’s better to say God designed sex as a blessing for the marriage covenant.

Br. Tam Nguyen, O.P. | Member of the Province of Vietnam | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE