Ghosts in Machines: The Importance of Our Bodies

Ghosts in Machines: The Importance of Our Bodies

What do I mean when I say ‘me’? What is my ‘self’?

This seems like an esoteric, impractical, academic question. In reality, it illuminates a lie as common in everyday life as this line of thinking:

The term “gender identity”… refers to a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman or some other gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate). (Human Rights Campaign)

This is the view of the current culture. How one lives as a sexual being is on a huge, subjective continuum, because my “innate, deeply felt psychological” feelings and thoughts decide who I am. There it is – “who I am.”

Everywhere around us is the lived-out belief that my body is not, when it comes down to it, me. It may be very linked to me, it may be very dear to me, it may very well be ‘mine’, but, in the end, it is not the real me to whom I must be true. Instead, it is just an organism, a vessel or a piece of property in which the real ‘me’ (my mind, feelings, desires, consciousness, etc.) lives and which the real ‘me’ uses to express my real self.

If that’s the case, then my sexuality is very rightly just whatever I feel or think it to be. There is nothing that can tell me “who I am” accept my thoughts or feelings. And my body only enters into the picture as the vessel through which the real ‘me’ will experience pleasure or pain. Being a male or a female doesn’t dictate anything about being masculine or feminine any more than having brown hair dictates your taste in ice cream. They are two totally different things. My given sex and how I want to live as a sexual being are managed by two different forces – the first: evolutionary biology, the second: me.

This division of body and self is the foundation of the confused, sexual-revolution based worldview of our culture. We don’t listen to what the body is telling us about who we are, how we should live and (especially) what sexuality means. The body has been reduced to a tool for obtaining pleasure and reducing pain (in both hetero- and homosexual relationships) instead of the physical revelation of the unique mystery of each person. Bodies seem mass-produced (read any women’s magazine) because we just see them as machines. Bodies are things – malleable options for our real selves.

gender dummies

What a horrible lie. Our bodies are not just random bags of molecules – they are us. My body may not be the whole ‘me,’ but it nevertheless is me. When someone punches me in the face I can rightly say, “Don’t hit me.” Or when I engage in the sexual act, I am participating in the union, the coming-together-as-one, of two persons through a bodily union; not the common pleasure experience of two selves that, alienated from one another, manipulate each other’s bodies for fun.

And if the body really is integral to the identity of the human person, then the reality of how I exist as a sexual being has already been given to me! I (my body) have already told me (my mind/feelings) who I am as a sexual being. I can read the language of my body to see for myself who I am. And so freedom doesn’t mean redefining myself (i.e. reality,) but discovering the truth of my identity from reality and living in the light of what is real.

To put it radically – ‘gender’ as it is used above does not exist, because your body is you. The gender-sex divorce is destructive because it rests upon the body-self division – and division is a sign of the devil at work. Instead, what we are looking for is sexuality, which, when healthy and flourishing, encompasses our body, mind and spirit together. Sexuality doesn’t divide, but holistically unifies the whole individual as one identity; marrying all the faculties to act and live as one person.

To heal of our conception of how we live and act as sexual beings, we need to regain this body-self unity. A world that is so often jaded, confused and hurt by sex (and continues to push its boundaries in search of peace and wholeness) needs to see it and the unmistakable joy, peace, love, security and life it brings!

Don’t be evangelized by a culture splitting people in two! Rather, we need to rediscover that the body is not a machine, but a sacred word. We are sacramental, in a way. We need to listen to our bodies, learn from them and live as though our bodies are not our possessions, but us. Our brothers and sisters around us badly need it.

Joey McCoy

Joey McCoy

Joey McCoy is a medical student at the University of Michigan. He enjoys hot water, Josef Pieper, the sound of waves, and anything pertaining to Evangelization.
Joey McCoy

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