Spiegel Online International reported that “Michael Jackson is considering having his body ‘plastinated’ by Body Worlds founder Gunther von Hagens. The controversial doctor says he could give the wacky pop star ‘the gift of immortality.’” The process would preserve Jackson’s body after his death. “Von Hagens said that his patented plastination process could continue the process of reshaping Jackson's body that the self-styled King of Pop has pursued through multiple plastic surgery operations. ‘I could give Michael the gift of physical immortality -- he has already achieved this with his music.’”

 

Aside from the sad sideshow Michel Jackson has become, his desire to preserve himself beyond the grave is something that God has put in the hearts of each one of us (Ecc. 3:11). The problem lies in the fact that we have suppressed our knowledge of Him so that our hearts and understanding are darkened by sin apart from Christ (Rom. 1:18-21). Jackson’s desire is but one among a myriad of ways that human beings attempt to somehow gain immortality apart from Christ. Despite what the naturalists tell us, we know in our hearts that there is more to life than what we have now. Persons search for meaning in their lives, want to make a difference in this world, long to leave a legacy, and hope for something hereafter. When people seek to have themselves “plastinated” or do similarly foolish things, it is owing to our sinful nature coming into contact with the knowledge of God within us. Suppression of that knowledge manifests itself in many forms.

 

At the heart of seeking immortality apart from Christ is a denial of the fall of man into sin and a failure to recognize its affect on us. It is sin that causes us to seek satisfaction in anything apart from Christ including self-attained immortality or even the way we look in the here and now. “Plastination” is simply the logical conclusion to Jackson’s ongoing efforts to alter his appearance. The booming business of cosmetic surgery, tummy tucks, implants, collagen injections, lip plumping, etc., has its root in the same dynamic: an idolatrous failure to find satisfaction in Christ. It is pride and self-worship that drives persons to find their joy in themselves in any form.

 

“Plastination” is also a patent denial of the resurrection. Our bodies are subject to decay by virtue of the fall. They do not last. Even those present at the return of Christ will experience a bodily transformation. Because we place so little emphasis on the resurrection we fail to understand its significance as a major part of the hope we have in Christ (Phil. 3:14).

 

Certainly we need to take care of our bodies as good stewards of that which God has given us. Moreover, the bodies of those who know Christ are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Christians need to present their bodies in appropriate ways in public for God’s glory. At the same time, Christians need to accept God’s providence for them in the aging process. That does not mean that we cannot avail ourselves of medical care when needed. God gives us the gifts of life and intelligence. Preserving that life through medical advance honors God’s gift of life and His command to subdue the earth.

 

But, cosmetic surgery is in a different category. While it may be biblically warranted in certain cases, we must check our motivation. If the issue is rooted in pride or an attempt to slow the outward appearance of aging, heart issues are involved and must be brought before the Lord.

 

At the same time, consider the fact that one can advance the gospel by accepting the aging process. Aging visibly displays the affects of the curse and the need for redemption. When we accept it gracefully, we openly declare that satisfaction is in Christ and that our hope is in the resurrection, not the mythical fountain of youth, plastic surgery or “plastination.” And, in the end, only God can give the gift of immortality.

 

To schedule Dr. Dean to speak on Christian Worldview or to schedule biblical counseling training for your church through the Southern Baptist Association of Biblical Counselors or the International Association of Biblical Counselors, e-mail pauldeanjr@juno.com.

 

Sign up free for “The Dean’s List,” a news and Christian worldview e-letter highlighting relevant news stories affecting Christians. The e-letter is sponsored by "Calling for Truth," a live, call-in radio program hosted by Dr. Dean. Simply e-mail pauldeanjr@juno.com to receive your first issue.

 

To listen live to "Calling for Truth" each M-W-F from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm Eastern Time, go to www.callingfortruth.org and click on the "Listen Live" button. You may listen to archived shows as well. They are uploaded each day after the broadcast.