Love Thy Body, by Nancy R. Pearcey

Perhaps it’s unusual to consider today’s book review a St. Valentine’s Day special.  The book in question is not a romance—it’s not even pink.  But it does cover relationships.  It also calls Christians to steadfastness and servanthood.  I think St. Valentine would approve of that.

By What Standard?

Nancy Pearcey knows where she stands, and she isn’t ashamed of it—even though it’s highly volatile to tackle sex, abortion, transgenderism, etc. from a biblical standpoint.  But throughout the book Love Thy Body, Pearcey maintains that ideology is not neutral, and that it is the secular ideology, rather than the Christian ideology, that ultimately proves the most divisive.  Individuals following this ideology essentially split themselves in two, with one part at war with another.

Dualism

The body is disassociated from who we are as persons, as though it has no intrinsic dignity or purpose that we are morally obligated to respect.  This is a very low view of the body.

  Each topic, abortion and euthanasia, hookup culture and transgenderism, is shown to be backed by a form of dualistic thinking.  Referred to as the fact/value split, this philosophy—in various forms—separates personhood from the body, so that rights and realities become subjective.  What we think and feel becomes the foundation for truth.  But that is a foundation prone to change, and when put at odds with mankind’s created purpose it puts a strain within the person, the family, the community.     

The Christian’s Response

Christians must once again become known as those who honor the whole person.  The reason they speak out on moral issues should not be because their beliefs are being threatened or because they feel “offended”.  They should erase the word offended from their vocabulary.  After all, Christians are called to share in the offense of the cross.  This is not about us.

Pearcey calls the church to action.  Not to swoop in as judge or saviour—that is not our job—but to offer our hands as servants. Christians ought to be on guard against dualistic thinking of our own: separating sexual sins from other sins (as either less dangerous or more dangerous), or from separating the sinner from the hope of salvation. Christians may have a lot to lose, speaking so openly and bluntly about these topics.  But we also have a lot to offer.  Now and then Pearcey will give examples of Christians in the past. She encourages us not only to continue the legacy, but to remember why we do what we do. 

Proceed with Caution

Postmodernists claim to liberate us from oppressive rules and roles, but is this view really liberating?  Not at allIt says we are trapped within our culture’s current worldviewthat we have no access to truths outside what we’ve been taught to think by our culture.

I have very few caveats.  If it needs to be said, this is a heavy book—I recommend either pacing yourself, or reading with a lighter book for balance.  I remember with the chapter on abortion and euthanasia especially I needed to slow down and take a few breaths.  There is a brief mention of personality tests.   (more specifically the Meyers-Briggs).  Although I wouldn’t advise putting much stock in such tests, the point that there is a wide range of personalities remains valid.

Conclusion

In our communication with people struggling with moral issues, we need to reach out with a life-giving, life-affirming message.  We should work to draw people in by the beauty of the biblical vision of life.  As one Christian psychologist puts it, the goal is “more rescue mission than culture war.”

Heartbreaking though it is, Love Thy Body may be one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read.  I can now better understand not only what is behind the secular culture, but also better understand and defend the Christian worldview.  I’d highly recommend this book for anyone with questions about how creation affects culture, how sex affects society, what it all means and why it all matters. 

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