If my goal is heaven, oneness in love with God, then why does it matter if my body is healthy?
As Catholics, it is easy to understand why we need to pray and give. Christ clearly tells us to do those things. But when it comes to caring for our bodies, things aren’t so clear.
The Old Testament lays out dietary laws and some of the commandments give direction on how we should act with our bodies, but the dietary laws were essentially made obsolete by Christ and none of the commandments clearly tell us that we should exercise or practice healthy eating habits.
We should eat healthy and exercise though. We should take care of our bodies. Christ cared about our bodies by healing many who were ill. We have all heard that our bodies are temples of God. But what does that mean?
Our bodies are temples of God
The spark of divinity is in each of us. In fact, God is everywhere and in everything. He created everything and he has asked us to be the caretakers of his creation.
The Catechism tells us that God created us, humans, as beings with body and soul (362). If we were only souls, we might not need to care for our bodies. We might not have bodies to care for at all. But we are humans. Our bodies are part of our being.
Our bodies were created by God. He has entrusted them to us. He has given them to us — a wonderful gift — but they have him in them. Our bodies have the life giving spark of divinity in them. As a gift and as a part of God, we should care for our bodies. We should treat them with respect to the dignity of anything which has God in it.
We should take care of our bodies so that, at the ends of our lives, they are in good condition when we give them back to God. We should give our bodies to God, and as we would treat any gift we are going to give, we should treat them with care.
A small thought experiment
Think of someone you greatly admire and respect, someone who would make you nervous and excited by entering the same room as you. Now imagine borrowing a car from that person, an expensive car. Ask yourself how you would treat that car.
Similarly, we should treat our bodies like something extremely valuable — because they are — that we are borrowing from an important person. In fact, we should treat them even better because God is more important than the most important person of all time.
Taking care of the gift
God has given us our bodies to keep for a lifetime. Their health, actions, appearances, and wellness have been entrusted to us. They have been entrusted to us so that we might use them to do God’s work, to love. We must use our bodies for love. We must maintain them so they can help us love to our fullest extent. We must eat healthy and exercise so that, when we give our bodies to God, the gift we are giving is the best it can be.