Secular thinking drags America’s heart toward an ethic of death, one that views the body as worthless, life as meaningless, and feelings as supreme. Nancy R. Pearcey surveys the secular landscape of ideas on the body, a wasteland of dehumanizing beliefs, in Love Thy Body.
Sadly, Pearcey writes that our culture believes the Bible is “hateful, hurtful, narrow, and negative.” Moral, sexual issues have “become a barrier to even hearing the message of salvation.” Yet, God’s view of life and the body present a beautiful, flourishing way of living and a worldview that values human life and our bodies.
God calls us to love our bodies, not reject them.
Love Thy Body is exhaustive
In Love Thy Body, Pearcey covers transgenderism, sexual attraction, assisted suicide, queer ideology, abortion, and other topics, reminding us that Christians are not immune to the draw of the new human life and sexuality ethic.
She digs up buried evidence, stories, and ideas that reveal the true nature of secular ethics. While Love Thy Body presents the coherent worldview of the Bible that elevates our view of the body, it reads like a compendium of theological defenses against the world’s view of sex and the body. Each chapter could be read on its own as she covers the topics so thoroughly.
Love Thy Body gives hope
Instead of limiting and hurtful, Pearcey shows that a biblical worldview frees people from their flesh while simultaneously elevating the body and sexuality to a place of honor.
Love Thy Body reminds me of Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. Instead of giving a historical survey of ideas, Pearcey focuses on the last few decades. But, in tone, approach, and efficacy, they are kin books. Love Thy Body is well-researched and fairly rigorous, yet approachable to most readers.
Off and on in our long church history, Christianity has dealt with dualism, the notion that the spiritual is good and the physical is bad. Her book hammers yet another nail in the coffin of dualism, Christian or otherwise. When we undervalue the body, we forget the value of life itself and vice versa.
Pearcey not only presents clear reasoning accompanied by scientific studies, but she also touches the reader with compassionate stories of people rescued from the secular worldview.
The poison of secular dualism
Secular dualism, which says that the mind is supreme and the natural body doesn’t matter, eventually leads to the “death movement”: infanticide, killing the elderly, widespread abortion, suicide, and eugenics. It leads to completely open sexuality, restricted by nothing but consent. This sexual ethic ignores biology and God’s wisdom, invariably leading to confusion, guilt, and sadness. It has consequences for whole societies, not just individuals.
The secular world arrives at a chilling view of human nature: personhood theory. It says that humans are not necessarily persons, so fetuses are humans but not people. This blood-curdling idea can be found in Roe v. Wade’s majority reasoning. Personhood theory chooses a defining trait, like rationality, and claims that it marks personhood. Yet this standard is arbitrary. To some ethicists like Princeton’s Peter Singer, adult chimpanzees are more of a person than human babies. This kind of thinking led to slavery, eugenics, and the Holocaust, among other historical atrocities.
The Bible, when interpreted rightly, is confirmed by biology. It integrates the natural with the spiritual, leading to a holistic ethic that puts everything under God’s authority.
Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)
Every transgender activist, ivory-tower ethicist bent on eugenics, and teacher spreading warped worldviews is an image bearer of God. We should view each one as a lost, beloved person made by God. To undermine their worldview, we must practice radical compassion and love, attacking “ideas” and “strongholds” of their worldview, but not attacking them. They are lost.
Each is a holistic person who needs the mercy of God, not an enemy to be put down.
After all, Pearcey herself was once an agnostic secularist.
So, read Love Thy Body if you want to deeply consider the issues of sexuality and how the Christian worldview should understand the theology of our created, God-given, good bodies. If your friends are struggling with how the Bible can be so “closed-minded” about issues of sexuality, lend them this book. Read it with them. Even if they reject Pearcy’s ideas, they will at least be exposed to the most truthful, excellent account of Christian sexuality they can hope for.
Select quotes from Love Thy Body
- “Young people require more than rules; they need reasons to make sense of the rules. They desperately need a worldview rationale to counter the ‘no big deal’ view of sexuality all around them.”
- “Do we live in the universe described by social contract theory—an empty cosmos of atoms bumping around in the void driven by sheer self-interest? Or do we live in a cosmos shaped by a personal God who created us to be in ordered relationships directed toward the common good.”
- “As marriage weakens, the state grows more invasive and more expensive. And as the state regulates ever more aspects of family life, citizens lose their freedoms.”
- “Our feelings do not define us. Our moral commitments do. We find fulfillment when we find ways to live in congruence with our deepest commitments.”
- “[Transhumanist’s] utopian vision is an illusion. What counts most in producing a truly humane society is not the level of technology but the prevailing worldview.”
- “[In vitro fertilization and good medicine use] technology to overcome the effects of the fall to repair or compensate for a deficiency or malfunctioning in nature. And like other forms of technology, it can be an expression of the biblical principle of dominion over nature. Today, however . . . technology has gone from being an assist for natural reproduction to being a method to defy nature—to assert choice over natural reproduction.”