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TitleThe Body as the Temple of God
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsHingson, LaReina
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
KeywordsMetaphor; Temple Worship; Typology

Metaphors occur when there is a contradiction in the senses of the words used that cause the text to be interpreted non-literally, as Paul Ricoeur has noted. The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians describing the body as a temple has been taken to be one such scriptural metaphor: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). As a metaphor, it is a strong one. The supposed contradiction between a temple and a body includes the inanimate nature of the temple, its holiness in contrast to the natural man, and its unchanging, eternal purpose. The non-literal interpretation of both the body and the temple being a place where the spirit of God can dwell is emphasized in the metaphorical reading and rightly allows us to consider how we may invite the spirit into our lives. Yet to reduce the “body as temple” doctrine to a mere metaphor robs us of the deeper understanding of the body and its role in our spiritual progression and exaltation in the Plan of Happiness. Using the common characteristics archeologists and temple scholars use to classify various sites as temples across the world, this paper shows how the human body can rightly and without contradiction be called a temple of God (D&C 93:35).

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Scripture Reference

1 Corinthians 3:16
1 Corinthians 6:19
Doctrine and Covenants 93:35