1 Corinthians 6:12-15. “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
The Corinthian Christians had a slogan- “all things are lawful for me.” Or to put it another way, “We are free in Christ to do whatever we want.” Paul’s response is “Yes, but you are not actually free when you are controlled by a behavior.” The Corinthians were not using their freedom for love, but rather for selfish gain. This is seen in 1 Corinthians 6 by their use of the law courts to gain status, and now their use of sex to simply satisfy a desire- like food for the stomach. In both cases they were using others for their own personal gain.
“To live is Christ” changes everything. It changes how we see all of life, including our bodies and our sexuality. God made everything with a purpose, including your body. Including sex. And that purpose is never to use our bodies and sexuality as a way to grasp for control or power over another person. The Christian life is lived out bodily. It is not just the private inner reflections of the heart. What we do with our bodies is the public expression of our faith. Therefore it matters very much what we do with our bodies.
The Greeks viewed the body as simply the shell of the soul. It was base, a necessary evil. This view crept into the Christian church’s thinking too. Sex was either a basic bodily function, an appetite to be fed with no impact on the soul, or it was an evil to be avoided altogether, because the body is evil. Paul will dismantle both of these views by providing an uplifted view of the body (an argument that will run all the way through chapter 15).
What is the body meant for? Is it just a temporary case for our soul? Is it bad or is it just neutral? Does it have a purpose? And Paul’s answer is profound- The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. The Christian life is not just a spiritual connection to Christ, it is also a bodily connection to Christ. How is this true?
First, we relate to Christ bodily. Our everyday physical lives are the manifestation of the life of Christ in us, and our dependency upon that life. What we do with our bodies reveals our faith in Christ.
Second, Christ lives out his life through us bodily. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Our bodies are Christ’s “members,” that is, his limbs and organs. Our bodies are his body. The Spirit that lives in us is the Spirit of Christ. Christ is alive on the earth today through our spirits and our bodies, our entire being.
Third, your body will be resurrected- And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. We will live forever in an embodied state. There will be continuity between our present bodies and our future bodies upon resurrection. In other words, your body is important because you will have it forever. You will relate to God eternally in a body. And you and Jesus will share hugs, and high fives, and great meals together forever.
We live in a culture today that has lost an understanding of the purpose of the body. We have separated the physical from the spiritual as much as the Corinthians had. A result is that my sexual behavior is reduced to a physical appetite that needs to be fed, but has no impact on my spirit or my inner man. Or my sexuality, no longer connected to my physical body, becomes my identity without consideration for the purpose or telos of my body. For example, the person experiencing same sex attraction will make this the core of their person-hood without considering the purpose of their actual physical body.
“To live is Christ” begins to open our minds and hearts to think through the connection of body, soul, and spirit, all of which are for Christ because they are connected to Christ.
Have you tended to see your body as less important than your soul or spirit? Do you see your body as belonging to Christ? Do your actions reflect that reality? What about your sexuality? How does union with Christ give purpose to your body?