I've been blogging about mental health and Christianity. I haven't yet really dove into the mental health aspect of things because there is so much ground work to complete in understanding what the Bible says about the mind and body. I've mentioned this before too but feel like I need to bring it up again, a major source of my information is coming from a book I am processing through by Dr. Edward T. Welch called Blame It on the Brain? Distinquishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience.
Mind Body Relationship
Whether the body is healthy or weak, the inner person (the heart) always has a response - this is the essence of the relationship between the two substances. I say this because Paul implies it when he wrote of the body and the heart. Take for example all of chapter 15 in 1 Corinthians. It seems as though Paul couldn't see anything other than the body and heart together making up the whole person. The body and mind work together - the body is the mediator of the mind/heart while at the same the mind/heart responds to the body whether in health or sickness.
In the last post I said I would take a look at bodily weakness. To start this post out though I want to consider what one's natural tendency is when their body is strong and healthy. Isn't it much easier to praise God when you're feeling good?
I suffer from back pain. I live with some kind of pain or discomfort at least five out of seven days each weak. I know why I have it and its more of a combination of factors. I do what I can to alleviate it but some days there is nothing I can do but to grin and bear it.
But, those days when my muscles are loose and I feel really light on my feet, those are absolutely the best! The best! I pray for God to give me more of those days. So, I guess what I am saying is that it seems obvious and really easy to praise the Lord when the body is experiencing great health. Sometimes though a few weeks could come together and I realize I've had no pain over that time, I find myself praising less, getting a little prideful, and forgetting God's blessing and promise to take care of me. When healthy, it is easier, and more natural to praise God but it just as easy to personal take credit for it as well.
The body through certain weaknesses can set boundaries around the desires of the heart. This weakness is not sinful, it is just part of life as a fallen creature in a fallen world, under the power of the Flesh...the remnants of Adam's rebellion. For example, sitting hear right now typing this blog post I have a major spasm going on in my back. I want to quit and go lay down. My heart is responding to the known comfort of a warm bed after popping some liquid Advil (gel caps.) I know for sure I am having a hard time concentrating and this post is taking me longer than it should. I am probably being a bit too wordy and my already bad grammar and spelling are even worse. My body is slapping me with some serious limitations right now. My heart's desire is to glorify God with this post but the weakness in my body is making it very hard to do at the moment.
Where things get the most complex, strange, and quite frankly frustrating is when the natural desires of the body come in to play in the war between the heart and sin itself. The body has natural desires that must be met or it will die, like food and water, right? There are other natural desires as well like sleep, sex, etc. Sin preys on the natural desires of the body - in this sense these desires are considered weaknesses. Sin would like nothing more than for a person's heart to give up control, or rather, for it to not exert godly self-control. Whenever a person gives into sin, bodily desires gain control and rule, Satan has forced a reversal of the way things are suppose to be. The heart is suppose to completely control the body, but in sin the body controls the heart. Again, this does not mean the body is evil. It is sin that tries to take advantage of any weakness in the body.
For examples of the body's needs being sought out by sin consider modern day health problems people experience. The fight against obesity is an obvious one. The body needs food. If the need is dominated by sin, the need becomes something where the body rules the heart - eating disorders. Or, consider my example of back pain. If sin rules, my need to lay down and rest can turn into a desire toward laziness. Drug addiction, Alcoholism, and sexual sin are all examples of sin's rule through bodily components.
The Heart Is In Control
Paul in Corinthians 6:12-20 and 9:24;27 speaks to the control that a changed heart has over the power of sin over bodily desires. Although freedom in Christ means everything is permissible, that doesn't mean everything is beneficial. Paul says don't give into bodily desires, but rather beat them into submission through godly self-control. In other words, do not grant bodily needs and desires enough power to control you, otherwise Satan has more places to lurk and prey. Sin will enter in and corrupt the heart through bodily desires and needs.