The central affirmation of the Christian faith is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. God, in Christ, took on human flesh and entered the human arena in all its splendor and all its travail.
As followers of Jesus, Christians are in search of a truly incarnational faith: a faith that takes root and finds expression through living out the moments of our lives.
For those who seek to connect their faith with the practices of their lives, Stephanie Paulsell’s new book Honoring the Body: Meditations on the Christian Practice is a helpful resource.
Paulsell grapples with the age-old question regarding the body: “Do we simply inhabit a body or is a body truly who we are?”
Clearly, Paulsell sides more with the latter, declaring the goodness of the body as created by God, affirmed by life in Jesus, and anticipating that “in death God gathers us up, body and all.”
Paulsell shares with her readers how seemingly insignificant aspects of our lives represent our incarnation. Beginning with the act of bathing and ending with a meditation on suffering, Paulsell asks her readers to connect a positive affirmation and reverence for the body with routine activities of life.
Paulsell argues that first honoring one’s own body makes it easier to honor the bodies of others.
Paulsell laces the book with a meditation regarding a person’s body and its relationship to the bodies of others. She does a wonderful job reminding her readers that although their bodies inescapably separate them from each other, it is also through their bodies that they come to know others.
Honoring the Body is a worthwhile read for a Christian attempting to connect faith and practice. The book reminds the reader how seemingly insignificant acts can deepen one’s faith and appreciation for God’s work in the body.
For some, Paulsell’s examples will stretch the limit of what is acceptable human behavior regarding human sexuality. However, one must trust that Paulsell has struggled through these issues and stands by her convictions, whether the reader agrees or not.
One will find a thoughtful, helpful book on practices which honor the body as God’s gift to humanity. Paulsell introduces the reader to a way of viewing the body that is unmistakably Christian and faithful.
Kyle Reese is pastor of First Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas.