“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”
On a daily basis, we are bombarded with ideals of perfection in the guise of great looks, good genes, greater productivity, increased athletic abilities, longevity et al; the attainment of which is sold on the platter of human enhancement. Frankly speaking, it is hard to blame us much for finding ourselves passionately interested in these things. We are social animals after all and our self-esteem may intricately be linked with how we think we physically appear to others. Furthermore, we all desire perfect bodies that can effectively withstand the travails of old age, illnesses, accidents and genetic handicaps and as a result, many people find themselves captives of human enhancement, Christians included.
Human enhancement is not an organised school of thought. Rather, it is a global wide trend that is primarily aimed at achieving perfection. It is the in-vogue term for all new ways of altering our minds and bodies to make us adapt to the constantly changing pace of progress. Teenagers and adults alike are all prone to the burden of perfection as the media is constantly replete with images of young, perfectly shaped models and now, surgeries can be opted for to obtain perfect body shapes and to make us appear younger. Students can take drugs to boost memory capacity, empathy and concentration. The gender of unborn children can be pre-selected by genetic manipulation. Drugs and naturally produced hormones can be administered to alter physical appearance and stimulate extra muscular structures for athletes. Gender alteration has become a popular reality. Words like liposuction, tummy tuck in, botox, sex reassignment and others have become new additions to our everyday vocabulary and with the breakthroughs that have been reached in eugenics and cyborgism, it is looking like complete perfectionism is finally within reach.
As earlier pointed out, Christians – the most devout even, are not immune to the allure of body enhancement and may succumb to its desire which may create spiritual dilemma. It is however noteworthy to advert our minds to the fact that the human ideals of perfection stems from a desire to attain divinity. Ideals of perfection were highlighted in historical perceptions of the worldly gods like Apollo (the god of sun) who was believed to embody the epitome of physical human perfection – young, blond, athletic male. Can this perfection that we madly crave be attained?
We acknowledge that human enhancement has done wonders in the contemporary world. Technology has been utilized to restore sight, better human welfare and even hold promises of lengthy life expectancy but experience has revealed over and over again that the concept of human perfection epitomizes an unrealistic goal that will almost always result in failure and constant dissatisfaction. In our obsessive craving for perfection through human enhancements, we are subconsciously precluding our minds to the knowledge that in God, perfection has already been attained! (Matt 5:48 – “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”). Bear in mind that in retrospect, the inception of humanity was perfection personified (Gen 1:27). Adam was a perfect human until he compromised what could have been an invaluable legacy. Despite his shortcomings, every human still remains a creation in God’s perfect image (Gen 1:26).
It is true that Adam’s indiscretion partly jeopardised this perfection but it is not something that can be regained through human enhancement, no matter how advanced and refined. Perfection can only be attained by a gradual and thorough spiritual rebirth that can only be imparted by God. Striving to attain perfection by human technology is like trying to live by bread alone and as Jesus espoused in Matt 4:4 in his remark to the devil, this is a veritable exercise in futility.
Therefore, the goal should not be to imitate Apollo by pushing ourselves to physical and financial extremes in the search for human enhancement but to find our rest in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour (1Cor 15:45). Through his perfect nature, we are perfected and empowered to extend perfection to others (Phil 3:20 – 21). “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” – Phil4:11.
Written By Temitayo Ogunmokun