Punishing My Body for God?

Sometimes the Church Fathers (and even the Apostle Paul himself!), are accused of denigrating the body and our physical existence because, as Paul says, “I punish my body and enslave it so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:27). So if Paul and others who speak like him are not denigrating the body, what are they doing?

Gregory Palamas explains it very simply in the Triads (II.ii.5,, or p. 48 in the Classics of Western Spirituality edition):

For this body which is united to us has been attached to us as a fellow-worker by God, or rather placed under our control. Thus we will repress it, if it is in revolt, and accept it, if it conducts itself as it should.


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