For as long as I can remember, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taught that our bodies are a magnificent gift to be cherished because they allow us to experience life and thus the great plan of salvation.
Indeed, our bodies are akin to amazing tabernacles of flesh that supply us with everything we need to worship the creator who gave them to us.
Hmm. I don’t know. If having a body is a prerequisite for appreciating the plan of salvation, we should probably call it the plan of aggravation.
It more or less supports the notion that our bodies shouldn’t be mistaken for ourselves. As C.S. Lewis is often credited (falsely) with writing, “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
Followed by “And not a really good one at that,” which I am credited correctly of writing because I just did.
See, the truth is that our earthly tabernacles are imperfect and painful decaying sacks of meat that often make it hard to focus on what a blessing they’re supposed to be.
If this sounds cynical — and it’s supposed to — I’m really just trying to get my head around the whole gospel idea of what constitutes a magnificent gift. If I gave this thing to friends for a birthday or a wedding, they’d want the receipt so they could return it.
My magnificent gift has two blown knees, undergone a dozen surgeries, has a mostly deaf ear and a severely arthritic hand. I wake up every morning with what feels like a rabid weasel attached to the end of my arm.
What’s that? I should have taken better care of my gift? OK, that’s fair. I did some stupid stuff that put a lot of unnecessary mileage on my tabernacle. However, if we’re being honest, then I should point out it wasn’t all that great right out of the gate.
I was born with severe astigmatism, even worse ADD, a bad knee, deviated septum, allergies and genetics that predispose me to addiction. But if I’m honest, I got off lucky.
Not everyone gets a perfectly functioning body that looks fabulous and wears comfortably. Some of us got stiffed from the start. In fact, I think we all did.
If our bodies are so damn magnificent, why can’t we see like hawks, hear like dogs, fly like eagles, remember like elephants and swim like dolphins?
It could be argued that none of those abilities was really necessary for the eternal purpose to which these bodies are intended. Maybe. But would it have been all that hard to just eliminate menopause and male-pattern baldness?
My granddaughter was born with scoliosis. She got it from her father. His scoliosis was so bad that his magnificent gift was subject to an earthly recall in which a metal rod was installed along his spine. He’s reminded of it every minute.
Thanks to the plan of salvation/aggravation, millions of people are born with all sorts of defects. My deviated septum is nothing compared to a deviating spine. And scoliosis is nothing compared to being born blind and deaf, without legs, mentally impaired, etc.
What about the resurrection, when we all arise from the grave and have bodies that are perfect? Everyone will look and feel fabulous — except, of course, those of us going to hell.
I don’t know. Somehow I just can’t see a creator telling us: “Here’s a body. If you behave yourself, I’ll give you one that actually works like it’s supposed to.”
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.