Manichaeism - Evil Body, Good Soul
by Matthew Chamberlain
Manichaeism was a heresy that spread throughout much of Europe and Asia during the 300-500 AD. It was likely engendered by the negative view of the human body presented by the Church at the time, and it spread like wildfire due to its dualistic view of matter and spirit.
Manichaeism holds the belief that the human matter is evil, and that the soul "light" is merely imprisoned into the body. In this religion, man came from animal demons who consumed other animals to gather the first soul. Therefore, man's body has evil origins, only acting as an evil prison for the great soul.
The Church believes that the body is an image of God, and that both body and soul are good. What we see as the evil body is merely an incorrect ordering of the body's desires, called concupiscence. The problem with Manichaeism is that it sees the evil desires of the body as a representation of the body's physical image.
The Church, therefore, condemns Manichaestic views as heresy for their wrong views of the body. The body is good, it is man's desires that are bad. The Church does not hold negative views about the body, but about the leftover effects from Original Sin. The body's perfection can be observed by perfect love, the end goal of the human life.