Temples of God

Know ye not that ye are God's temple, and that the Spirit of God dewelleth in you? If anyone corrupt the temple of God, God shall bring this same one to corruption; for the temple of God is holy, which ye are. Let no one be deceiving himself. If anyone among you think himself to be wise in this age, let him become foolish, in order that he might become wise. (1 Cor. 3:16-18).

To despise the human body is to despise all of creation. As St. Symeon the New Theologian explains in his First Ethical Discourse (On the Mystical Life: the Ethical Discourses, vol. 1, St. Vladimir Seminary Press), God, having made the Person of Adam to minister to Creation according to needs, not according to knowledge either of good and evil or the power of life (Gen 2: 15), and having divided the fullness of the Person into male and female (Gen. 3:21) for the goodness of companionship (Gen 2:16), made "coats of skins and clothed" as a house in the kingdom of Death, from which Adam and Eve Garden. According to Abba Dorotheos of Gaza, Encased flesh, Adam, Eve, and their sons and daughters must toil, Adam and Eve laboring with in fulfillment the command to labor pro-creativity, both by having children and tending to the ground from, letting "work humble the body, and when the body is humbled, the soul will be humbled with it, so that it is truly said that bodily labors lead to humility" (Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings, Cistercian Publications, "On Humility"). 

While from the beginning, the body is a temple for fallen humanity to offer up sacrifices for creation to God, over time the places of worship were localized, first to mountain tops (for Jacob, Moses, and the priests at Shechem and later in the Jerusalem temples). As the Book of Deuteronomy emphasizes, the localization of sacred worship focused on specific duties, the purpose of which was to establish the primacy of the One God, in the lives of His people, the Church, and provide for worshipful synaxis.

However, Christ destroyed the Temple of the Jewish Nation, rebuilding with the Temple of His Death and Resurrection, into which his disciples are baptized, and creating a new Synaxis of the Faithful People of God in celebration of the Mystery in which each member receives into themselves His Body and Blood, becoming one with Him in unity of true faith and love, and in the unity of the Trinity. 

As the purpose of expulsion from the Garden, the fall of the Kingdom to Babylon, and the destruction of the Temple was the edification of the people and the "casting out of all them that sold and bought in the temple" so that it would be called a house of prayer (Matt 21:12-13), so too, the Christian must cast out of the flesh- that which belongs to death- taking up that which belongs to life, healing the person of infirmities brought about by the diseases of sin, the wages of which are death, and the disorders of passivity of self-indulgence. The fruit of self-indulgence is escape into materialistic nihilism and despondent despair, the illusion of Hell. 

The healing of death is the life-giving work accomplished by Christ in the Resurrection and the vanquishing of Hell. Salvation, the sparing of the person for death, requires struggling to cleanse the temple of the person through the acquisition of virtue; the joyful ascetic path of cutting off all that is dead with a new, healthy tissue of life, as the ever-memorable Archbishop Averky (Taushev) explains in his monograph The Struggle for Virtue: Asceticism in a Modern Secular Society (Holy Trinity Publications):

Where do evil thoughts in the heart originate? They do not arise there of their own accord, but emanate from outside." Stand guard over your heart and examine the thoughts that enter therein, what is their nature? "This is the precept that the holy ascetics who worked upon cleansing their hearts of sinful passions bequeathed to us. "Stand guard over your heart," that is, keep vigilant, keep your attention on yourself; keep attentive watch over all that happens in the innermost recesses of your soul and heart, and do not allow anything foul or unclean to enter. Our hearts are soiled by harmful impressions that we receive from outside, from the world surrounding us, which, according to the Apostle, lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 Jn. 5:19).  (ibid, Chpt 7).

Such attentive self-examination, "mindfulness," in the effort to climb the ladder of the Cross, seeking the blessings described in the Beatitudes and keeping the New Commandment of Christ to love, requires a dedicated effort to train the mind to acquire spiritual wisdom so that one continuously grows into The Way of Christ.  More succinctly, the practice of Orthodox Christian discipleship expects cultivation of ascetic philosophy that not only ascends the ladder of the Cross, but nails itself to it.

The object of Christian philosophy is the expulsion of pride (self-indulgent self-centeredness) that clutters life and inhibits the ability both to act affirmatively out of true love and to approach God in spirit, making it an authentic path to evangelistic living that creates a synaxis of cultures that worship authentically according to their own experience. The urgent necessity of coming to worship the fullness of God marks the beginning of repentance as a rejection of the conceit of Adam-Eve, the delusion humanity can be alive independently of the God who Is, is Love, and is Life itself. Repentance is the common work, the liturgy, of all the people of God. 

The breath, aspiration, of those who would singularly take up the angelic habit through ascent to the philanthropic God through completely nailing themselves to the Cross of Christ, the monk, is to unceasingly undertake (1 Thes. 5:17) to "give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness" (1 Chron. 16:29), not only in the instance of Divine Services, but in the constant refrain and summation of all prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," thereby performing the work of becoming actual Temples of God.