Many of the most pressing issues in our society come from a lack of love for the body. On October 3rd, Nancy Pearcey visited Family Research Council to discuss her new book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. In her talk, Pearcey tackled difficult aspects of human sexuality that seem independent but are really part of the same ideology.
In Old Testament Hebrew, the word for the “soul” is nephesh, and the New Testament uses the Greek word psyche (pronounced “sue-kay”). These words are used to encompass the whole person. That includes the emotions, the spirit, and the physical being. These elements are immutable and can never be reduced or separated from each other. Today’s liberal ideology seeks to do just that. Pearcey, a renowned apologist, explores the attempt by many on the Left to rewrite the person by ignoring biology and logic.
While researching her book, she recalled an article in which a pro-choice woman became pregnant. The woman said that she considered the life inside her a baby because she wanted it, but if she didn’t want it, she and those who share her worldview considered it a clump of cells. Seeing the contradiction, the woman decided that life begins at conception, but still questioned the personhood of that life.
The current cultural movement that seeks to redefine personhood is the topic of Love Thy Body. Pearcey observes that this movement is attempting to argue that a human life is separate from being a person. Therefore, a human can be killed, but a person cannot. Pearcey aptly notes that according to this philosophy, the fetus must earn the right to life by being chosen to live by the mother. Furthermore, the body is relegated to being disposable. Simply being human is not enough to justify having human rights. (Therefore, unborn children who are aborted can have their body parts harvested, and Terri Schiavo can be starved to death, according to this philosophy.)
Even bioethicists cannot decide on what constitutes a person. When biology is removed from humanity, anything is possible. Love Thy Body gives several examples of what can happen as a result. Some bioethicists even argue in favor of infanticide, saying that a certain level of cognitive function is needed to be a person. In that light, the elderly, or even those who are mentally handicapped might not qualify for life. As disgusting as that is, legitimate voices are arguing for it.
This disregard for the body is also present in the hookup culture. As Pearcey noted, many young women in college have given in to the dehumanizing campus sexual culture that encourages them to separate their natural desire for emotional intimacy and commitment from their physical sexuality.
Disrespecting the body puts the mind and body in conflict. That conflict can be seen in the fact that 80 percent of people that identify as homosexual will change their self-identification at least once in their lives. Love Thy Body takes a holistic view of the human person and points out the natural unity between the soul and the body. Instead of thinking of the body as a patchwork of contradictory pieces, the body and soul should be thought of as whole.
Perhaps most distressing in this ideology is the removal of pre-political rights. When the government embraces the discontinuity of the body, our human rights become a gift of the government instead of what we innately possess. Today, the government has claimed the right to decide when a person has the right to live by legalizing abortion and euthanasia.
Interestingly, a number of feminist groups are turning away from the idea that the body is meaningless. One cannot be an advocate of women’s rights and simultaneously believe that everyone can be a woman.
As Nancy Pearcey so eloquently reminds us, the only way to keep the rights of personhood fully intact is to base personhood in biology and Scripture. Be sure to view her entire talk for more on this critically consequential topic.
Caleb Sutherlin is an intern at Family Research Council.