1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Bodies Matter in the Christian Faith
There is an ancient heresy that originates from pagan thought which has often infected the Church. That heresy is that our bodies and souls are not only distinguishable but ultimately mutually exclusive of one another, and that indeed our bodies are either evil or simply irrelevant. The Christian faith rejects this idea on the basis of three fundamental theological truths: 1) God made human beings with bodies and declared that such was good; 2) Our Lord was made flesh when he came in the fullness of time for our salvation; and, 3) Our Lord rose bodily from the dead and so shall we on the last day. Thus, the Christian faith rejects the notion that our bodies and souls are divisible based upon the doctrines of creation, Incarnation, and resurrection. We ARE embodied souls. (Incidentally, it is this pagan notion that the body and soul are separate entities that is at the root of transgenderism; that is, the demonically-inspired deception that my soul and body do not match as to gender, and so my body must be transformed to agree with my soul.)
This heresy will manifest itself in two ways, both of which were evident at Corinth: 1) That since the body doesn’t matter, we can do anything with it we want, like go to the temple prostitutes; or 2) Since the body is evil, we must starve and abuse it so as to make the soul more holy. We see #1 in today’s passage. The ESV and other versions place “All things are lawful for me” and “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” in quotes to indicate that the translators think that these were things that the Corinthians were saying to which Paul was responding, and I think rightly so, especially given Paul’s bold reply, “And God will destroy both one and the other!” It seems there were some Corinthians who had extrapolated this into “The body [or some member of it] is for sex and sex for the body.” Or perhaps “stomach” and “food” were simply euphemisms for sex.
At any rate, Paul corrects them. Intimacy is a special gift of God whereby a man and a woman in the context of holy marriage may join together as one both physically and spiritually. And as believers of Christ Jesus, we have become one with him. Then Paul reasons: If the two become one flesh, as the sexual union naturally creates, shall I take my body which is inhabited by the Holy Spirit and make it one with a prostitute? What a horrid image! Our bodies as well as our souls were purchased not with gold and silver but by the broken body and shed blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:17-19). And so Paul thunders, “You are not your own!” And that’s a message our age desperately needs to hear.