What does it mean to love our bodies?

May 13, 2022 by

by Paul Adams, Psephizo:

Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality is a robust and compelling cultural apologetics text. The scope is large dealing with a range of highly controversial subjects such as abortion and infanticide (chapter 2), euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, animal rights, genetic engineering, transhumanism (chapter 3), sexuality and the “hook up culture” (chapter 4), homosexuality and same-sex lifestyles (chapter 5), transgenderism (chapter 6), and marriage and family (chapter 7). Despite the immensity and magnitude of these topics, Nancy Pearcey does not promise an exhaustive treatment (what book could?) but instead exposes the primary weaknesses that lurk behind the secular worldview that drives them. My remarks highlight only some of the topics addressed.

The Introduction and Chapter 1 establish the foundation for her argument and provide the apologetic footing that grounds the entire book. Those exposed to Pearcey’s previous work will find the familiar fact/value split or the two-story framework as first outlined by Francis Schaeffer. The dichotomy is used to reveal a wedge driven between what it means to be a human being with a body versus what it means to be an embodied human person with inherent value. In brief, the logic deployed by the secular worldview runs like this:

  1. Values are not inherent in but conferred on material objects by persons.
  2. The human body is a material object and distinct from a human person.
  3. Therefore, the human body is a material object that has no inherent value.

After all, “to be biologically human is a scientific fact. But to be a person is an ethical concept, defined by what we value.” Values are not facts; only facts can be known with certainty and conviction; therefore, what it means to be a person is detached from biology, is arbitrarily assigned by culture, and is not a given fact, or so goes the secular mindset. The result is a “fragmented, fractured, dualistic view of the human being” (p 19, emphases original). This two-story framework gives rise to the notion that the material makeup of the human is, at best, morally irrelevant or, at worst, denigrated and devalued. Pearcey argues that “if our bodies do not have inherent value, then a key part of our identity is devalued” and this “denigration of the body is the unspoken assumption driving secular views on euthanasia, sexuality, homosexuality, transgenderism, and a host of related issues” (p 20). Moreover, with the advocacy of Darwinian evolution and the rejection of design and purpose for the cosmos, Pearcey opines the pernicious effect of this ever-expanding wedge extends to the entire material universe.

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