1CORINTHIANS 6:12-20 (NIV – UK)
12 ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’– but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.’ The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’[Genesis 2:24] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.
YOUR BODY MATTERS
Sex was as much a hot-topic in ancient Corinth as it is in the 21st century West. The way sex is viewed in our society today most probably shares some remarkable similarities with how it was viewed in Corinth. The mind-set that Paul is tackling is ‘I have the right to do anything’ (v. 12) – a mind set that resonates still today. Some in the Corinthian church seem to have been taking the view that it was permissible by their local laws to do as they pleased in sexual terms – so why not do them? Paul’s rebuke is uncompromising: ‘but not everything is beneficial’ (v. 12). The Corinthian Christians could choose to do whatever they pleased, to even sleep with prostitutes if they wanted, but Paul frames it differently – what is beneficial for you?
But why would it not be beneficial? What’s the big deal? Well, Paul is fundementally saying ‘the human body matters’. It matters what we do with our bodies. If we are united with Jesus, so are our bodies: ‘Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?’ (v. 15). Just as the LORD declares in Genesis 2:24 that when a husband is united with his wife and becomes ‘one flesh’, so it applies to any two people who have sex, even with a prostitute. By bringing Genesis 2:24 into this, Paul is drawing our attention to the LORD’s ordained context for sexual relations – marriage. Anything else, including prostitution, is not beneficial for us.
‘But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit’ (v. 17). When we receive Jesus, the Spirit of God comes to dwell inside of us – something deeply spiritual takes place – an ontological shift in our very being as we are united with Jesus. What we do with our bodies, therefore, truly matters! Our bodies have been bought at a price (v. 19-20) – the blood of Jesus, with whom we are raised from the dead (v. 14). Paul’s challenge to us is to honour God with our bodies (v. 20).
Question: How does it make you feel knowing that if you have received Jesus you are united to him?