Why do Christians get so hung up about sex? What’s all the fuss about? Why make it such a big deal? Perhaps you’ve heard sentiments likes that. Maybe you’ve thought them yourself. What’s wrong with sex between consenting adults? It’s not breaking any law. It’s a natural desire. Why suppress it?
These are the questions I want to address in a short series of posts.
Actually they’re not new questions. Two thousands years ago people in Corinth were saying similar sorts of things. We mustn’t think that people in Bible times were prudish. Or that the Bible’s teaching was simply a product of its time. Not at all. The culture of Corinth was very promiscuous – more so that 21st century Britain. So what God says here was just as counter-cultural then as now.
In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul responds to some of the slogans the people of Corinth used to express their view of sex.
1. Verse 12: ‘I have the right to do anything’
‘You can’t tell me what to. I have my rights. It’s not breaking any law.’ Paul’s response is: ‘Not everything is beneficial.’ It doesn’t make it a good thing. Legality is not the only criteria. ‘You can’t stop me,’ may be true. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
2. Verse 12: ‘I have the right to do anything’
Same slogan. This time Paul gives a different response: ‘I will not be mastered by anything.’ Don’t give your freedom away. It’s not freedom if you’re pressured by your friends, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. It’s not freedom if you can’t control yourself, if you’re addicted to porn – that’s slavery. Don’t fool yourself.
3. Verse 13: ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food’
It’s a way of saying ‘sex for the body and the body for sex’. In other words, ‘I’m made with sexual desires. It’s natural, normal, instinctive. It’s no more significant than eating cake. I want cake, I eat cake, I enjoy cake. I want sex, I have sex, I enjoy sex. Why not? Why not have fun? We shouldn’t repress our natural desires.’
Paul’s counter slogan is: ‘the body for the Lord and the Lord for the body.’ That’s what verse 13 says literally. Jesus gave himself to save your body and you’re to give your body for his glory.
Then Paul expands this with a Christian view of the body.
1. Your body is raised by God (14)
Verse 14: ‘By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.’ Your body is not a temporary thing. You’re not just deciding for a moment of pleasure. Your actions have eternal consequences.
2. Your body is united with Christ (15-17)
Verse 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!’ Christians are united to Christ, representatives of Christ. We’re his presence in the world. Where you go, Christ goes. What you do, Christ does. It’s exciting – what a privilege. But it’s also sobering – what a responsibility.
3. Your body is the home of the Spirit (19)
Verse 19: ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?’ The Old Testament temple was a holy place, the symbol of God’s holy presence. You wouldn’t dream of having sex in the temple. But now we are God’s holy place, his temple, his home. God has consecrated us (verse 11).
4. Your body is bought by God (19-20)
Verse 19-20: ‘You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.’ Some people have sex because they feel worthless, because they don’t feel they’re worth keeping pure. Other people have sex or use porn so they can feel worthwhile, wanted or worshipped by others. But this is how much you’re worth: you’re worth the blood of God’s own Son. You’re worth the most precious thing in the universe. If you’re a Christian your body doesn’t belong to you. It’s not yours to give away. It belongs to God and it’s to be used for his honour.
All of which means that our bodies and what we do with our bodies really matters.