Dr. Anna Morgan

by Dr. Anna Morgan

Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.



One of the annoying and unexpected things about being an adult is that when I sit in a chair, my feet still don’t touch the ground. I belong to the category of short-limbed women – these hamster legs will never strut a runway or sprint in a race.

So many of us have difficult relationships with our bodies. On the one hand, my body provides my physical connection to the world around me. It takes me where I want to go. It provides the way I experience the world through what I see, taste, and smell, through the pleasure and satiation it provides. On the other hand, I cover up embarrassing aspects of my body–lumpy nakedness, sexuality, and elimination.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and felt like you are looking at a stranger? That person couldn’t possibly be the real me. The real me is thinner, taller, with better hair. Culture trained me to bifurcate my identity from my body, viewing it as somehow separate from my authentic self. I’m continually trying to force my body to look like the person I imagine. (A losing battle in my forties.)

I am my body. My body is me.

We try to take power over our own bodies rather than embrace them as an integrated part of our true selves. But the truth is that I am my body. Eugene Peterson paraphrased the Apostle Paul’s words this way: “The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you” (1 Cor 6:19, MSG). God doesn’t view us as split beings. When we give our lives to Jesus, he doesn’t just take residence in our minds but in our physical bodies.

When I gave my life to God, I transferred ownership of my body to Jesus, making it a holy space. As Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 6: “Didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit?” As I live fully in my body, valuing its physical connection to the world, I make way for the Holy Spirit to live in the world. I create a way for the Holy Spirit to interact with our physical world.

Jesus invites us into his work in a very simple way: loving our neighbor. Something powerful happens when we embody our love, affectionately holding someone’s hand, forming kind words, or holding someone close in a hug. My body connects me to those entrusted to my care through the help I provide and receive.

In Christ, there is no such thing as body autonomy. We are deeply, tangibly interdependent on God and each other. 1 Corinthians 12 uses the metaphor of a body to describe how we depend on each other, with Christ as the head of it all. Each of us individually is just one physical part of this spiritual, interconnected body. He designed us to be the collective physical embodiment of Christ on the earth to do his good purposes. We cannot successfully do this work alone.

My Body and Vulnerability

One of the primal fears of womanhood is that someone would shame or take power over our bodies, taking what was not given freely, whether it's a man or a faceless institution like the government. God does not permit others to exploit our bodies (1 Cor. 7:21-23; Lev. 18, 20; Deut. 22:25-29). Control of my body does not belong to the government, to men, or even to me, but belongs to God.

Women’s bodies are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). We literally create new life with our bodies, as God did. We have the remarkable ability to use our bodies to serve the most vulnerable and dependent of them all—new life growing within us. We have power over these fragile fetuses, and they are entrusted to our care in the most intimate and bodily way possible.

Like so many things in God, we are called to live into this tension. Jesus invites me to follow his example, and give my body to serve others without surrendering control over my body because I belong to him.

God wrapped himself in human form when Jesus was born. We call this incarnation. He experienced all the joys and vulnerabilities of this embodiment (without sin). Jesus was not overpowered (John 19:11), but surrendered his body in a very specific way because of his love for us; to pain and crucifixion by the authorities. Because of his love for us, he submitted to the cross.

We should not understand this as a resigned powerlessness, but the first step toward the greatest victory the world has ever seen. Jesus’ bodily resurrection defeated the enemy of humanity and took power back from death itself.

So despite the fact that my leggings will always be just a few inches too long, Jesus gives me a new way to think about my short, stocky limbs. My body is precious not because it attains a level of physical perfection, but because it houses the presence and the purpose of God. As I give my body in service to Jesus by sacrificially loving others with it, it becomes infinitely more valuable and beautiful, reflecting the perfection of my Creator.




Dr. Anna Morgan pastors Word of Life Church with her husband John in Northern Virginia. Anna is Vice President of Academics at Ascent College and Associate Professor of Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. Anna earned an MA in Global Leadership and a Doctor of Intercultural Studies degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. She researched the development of women leaders in local churches. @annarmorgan