All Tweets
Previous:
Next:

4.31 Do I have to accept my body the way it is?

Human life

God created us. He also created our bodies and called them a temple (I Cor. 6:19–20) I Cor. 6:19–20: 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.. Our bodies are a gift of God. When we deliberately cause ourselves physical suffering or mutilate our bodies without a serious medical reason, we are not responding to this gift in the right way.

Our appearance is not the source of our value as human beings! That value has its source only in God, who gave us our appearance and who loves us as we are.

> Read more in the book

We are not owners but custodians of our bodies. We may not unnecessarily harm or mutilate the bodies God gave us.

The Wisdom of the Church

How should we treat our body?

The Fifth Commandment forbids also the use of violence against one’s own body. Jesus expressly demands that we accept and love ourselves: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39).

Self-destructive acts against one’s own body (“body piercings”, cutting and so on) are in most cases psychological reactions to experiences of abandonment and a lack of love; hence they call first and foremost for our sincere and loving response. Within the context of organ donation, it must be made clear, however, that there is no human right to troy one’s own God-given body. [Youcat 387]

What sorts of acts violate the human right to bodily integrity?

This right is violated by the use of violence, kidnapping and hostage taking, terrorism, torture, rape, and forced sterilization as well as by amputation and mutilation.

These fundamental violations against justice, charity, and human dignity are not justified even when they are backed by government authority. Conscious of the historical guilt of Christians as well, the Church today fights against all use of physical or psychological force, especially against torture. [Youcat 392]

Is it permissible to experiment on a live human being?

Scientific, psychological, or medical experiments on a live human subject are allowed only when the results that can be expected are important for human well-being and cannot be obtained otherwise. Everything, however, must take place with the free and informed consent of the subject in question.

Moreover, the experiments must not be disproportionately risky. To make human beings the subjects of research against their will is a crime. The fate of the Polish resistance fighter Dr. Wanda Poltawska, a close confidant of Pope John Paul II, reminds us what was at stake then and still is now. During the Nazi period, Wanda Poltawska was a victim of criminal human experiments in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Later Dr. Poltawska, a psychiatrist, advocated a reform of medical ethics and was among the founding members of the Pontifical Academy for Life. [Youcat 390]

This is what the Popes say

Pope Benedict XVI spoke of an “ecology of man”, based on the fact that “man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will”... The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. [Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 155]