Self Destructive Behaviors
September 15, 2011
When is it Wrong to Harm Your Body?
The most common argument for why a Christian should not engage in unhealthy behavior is to says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19); therefore, we should not harm them. But why would that apply to smoking, alcohol, and drug use; but not to missionaries who go where there are terrible diseases and poor health conditions or hostile natives with spears? The conclusion Scripture draws from the fact that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit has to do with spiritual things, not physical things. It is not that “your body is the temple; therefore, do not do any physical harm to it”; it is that “your body is the temple; therefore, do not defile it with sexual sin.” It would be difficult to find many people in the Bible who put their bodies in harm’s way more than Paul, the writer of this verse. So the argument that he was referring to physical harm runs aground.
No passage of Scripture forbids self-injury or unhealthy behavior altogether. Therefore it is not always wrong to do harm to your body. It is only wrong to do harm with a wrong motive, or harm that violates other biblical principles, such as the principles of stewardship or servanthood.
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