“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
My son, a wonderfully talented skateboarder, asked me a very interesting question when he was in middle school, “Mom, is it a sin to skateboard without a helmet? Like if you are doing crazy things and you don’t have a helmet on?” So, right away a couple of thoughts rush through my mind. First, what in the world is this kid doing on his skateboard? Second, is it a sin to skateboard without a helmet?
I told my son that, although I wasn’t sure, I actually felt that I could make a case for skateboarding without a helmet as being a sin. My reasoning? His body, I explained, is a temple to the Holy Spirit. After all, our bodies, as St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, really don’t belong to us. They’ve been purchased, at a high price, by Jesus. So, when we act irresponsibly with our bodies, we are jeopardizing the temple that is God’s dwelling place. So, I could see how skateboarding, especially without a helmet, could be a sinful thing. We ought to be cautious how we treat this temple, this indwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Teaching our children to value and respect their bodies as a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit is an important part of growing up as a Christian.
Consider the latest statistics regarding teenage obesity and diabetes. They are quite alarming and we should be taking them very seriously. Teaching our children to value their physical bodies as temples to the Holy Spirit means teaching our children proper eating, exercising, and resting habits. Knowledge is power and when we give our children the knowledge of proper diet, nutrition, and physical safety we are empowering them to care for the temple that God has given them.
The health of the body is so important that, even after Jesus’ ascension, the apostles are able to carry on His work of healing. In Acts 3:1-10 Peter heals the Crippled Beggar. We see in this passage that a healthy body, as well as the gift of healing, glorifies God. Oftentimes, we come to know illness as a cross to bear or as a part of our earthly journey. But at other times we ought to look at illness as an impediment to our ability to do God’s work. Helping our children maintain good health throughout their lives allows them the freedom to live for God. Helping our children become aware that they are spiritual entities connected to God, and yet live in physical bodies that require care, will help them learn to live a life of balance and good choices. Teaching them to treat their bodies, and one another’s bodies, as temples to the Holy Spirit translates into a mind, body, soul, and spirit ready to be devoted to our Lord.