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Karcher Brandon wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am doing a type of culture presentation on corporal mortification. This practice interests me and I would like to know more about it.  However, not many sites have any good information on it.

I have even tried [web site hidden], but I still didn't get all I needed.

If you could offer me any information on this practice, I would be very much obliged.

Thank-you

Karcher

  { Can you offer me any information on corporal mortification for my culture presentation? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Karcher —

Corporal mortification was a distorted manifestation of a misinterpretation of a legitimate idea. The legitimate idea is that suffering is redemptive. For a brief treatment of the subject, see:

  • Colossians 1:24
  • Romans 5:3
  • Romans 8:17
  • 2 Corinthians 1:7, and
  • Philippians 3:10. 

For a more complete treatment, see John Paul II's work:

On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering (Salvifici Doloris)

The distortion is that, if suffering is redemptive, then suffering is good, and if suffering is good, then more suffering is better; so let's cause ourselves to suffer, so that good things happen.

One can see how this idea might arise, but what they didn't realize is that the suffering only heals us if it is unavoidable suffering that we are enduring. We only make problems for ourselves
if we inflict it deliberately on ourselves, or refuse to take common sense approaches to resolving suffering.

  • If you have an incurable disease with pain that cannot be stopped, that's redemptive.

  • If you are injured with a readily curable injury, but refuse treatment, thinking the suffering will be "good for you", you are just an idiot.


  • If you are in a third world prison on account of the Gospel, and you are cold, that suffering is redemptive.

  • If you leave your coat off so you can voluntarily suffer, again, you are just an idiot.

I hope this helps!

Eric

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