“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (I Corinthians 6:12 – 13)
I am endeavoring to remind myself that Paul wrote to specific groups of people who were in specific circumstances, and were new enough in the faith that they had not left behind old ways. But it is not working well. So I consulted the biblical commentators, and that helped direct and remind me that Paul was refuting some defenses that had been made for overly indulgent living. It also reminded me that Paul was thinking that life on earth was on a “short-term” plan. That is, the return of Jesus would be soon enough that such “worldly” pleasures should be put aside in favor of moderate or even austere living.
That life continued beyond anyone of that time’s expectations does not give license and allowance to indulge in all and any things. If anything, it means if we are on earth for the long haul, we need to conform our life to the example of Jesus Christ. HOWEVER, we (that is, modern humanity/society) are more aware of living a modest life and maintaining control over our “appetites”, such that Paul’s warnings are not applicable to us. (And if they are, beloved reader, then by all means show control and restraint!!)
“And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” (Verses 14 – 16)
Again, this is not so much for our benefit. But let us give at least some passing thought to this philosophy. If we value and pursue things that are harmful to us, we are devaluing (and ignoring) the fact that Jesus became human to show us how to live a Godly spiritual life while still on earth. Just because we live on “dirt” (so to speak) does not mean we should roll in the mud.
“But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (Verse 17)
To me, this verse is the central piece of Paul’s exhortation. Jesus, in his lifetime on earth, did not deny himself worthy companionship, food that feed and nurtured the body, pastimes that engaged the mind and muscles. He lived fully, and experienced the joys, laughter, sorrows, and pain of human life. There never was any instance that he brought shame upon himself or his relationship to the Divine.
Can we say as much? We bring to our relationship with the Lord God and the Divine everything that is in our lives. If something (or someone) is in our life that is not worthy to be connected and associated with the Divine, we know what we have to do. Not what you think though. Jesus associated with prostitutes, tax collectors and other various sinners. Not to participate in their sin, but to bring them out of that sinful life and into communion and covenant with the Divine. This is our task; to live on this earth but to live as if we were in the perfection that is Jesus Christ and the Divine.
“Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (Verses 18 – 19)
Taking a step back, Paul must have been aware of some powerful problems in Corinth. And again, I hope and pray that Paul’s exhortation does not “hit you where you live” nor how you live. As Paul said,
“For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”
We are half way through the first month of the New Year. A time, I think, when New Year’s resolutions may be starting to fade. May you, beloved reader, start with or add to your resolutions the good intention of leading an authentic Christian life! Shalom & Selah!