“Flee from sexual immorality. Every sin a person can commit is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you are bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)
My family comes from Arkansas and Texas, horse & cattle country. There was a time when the West was young and yet to be tamed when men staked their claim to vast pieces of land. Everything in that land was their property to use as they wished. The wild horses on that property may not have known it, but someone had staked claim to them; it was only a matter of time before the cowboys would come and make those wild mustangs meek to saddle & bridle. And such dominion was entirely within the rights of the landowner.
The first chapter of John’s gospel is clear that Jesus created all that exists. He bought us with a price by virtue of His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. So, not only is He our manufacturer but also our owner and warrantor. We are not our own. I understand that is an offensive notion in our culture, but it is a reality nonetheless.
I was living in Southern California a few years ago when a California court ruled on behalf of homosexual marriage. If you are a homosexual in California, you can get married to your “partner.” Whenever Christians take a stand on this issue, abortion, or other Biblical morality issues, the secular community always responds with the same statement: Keep your religion off my body!!
In today’s passage, Paul reminds us that we don’t own our bodies. At best, we are subletting space that belongs to the Holy Spirit. As in any other “lease” situation, we have the freedom to decorate, personalize, and otherwise exploit our space, but only within the limits & requirements set by the landlord. In short, God gives us the ability to make life choices, but we are not free to choose wrongly and expect no consequences.
The Corinthians had trouble understanding “community.” They were selfishly more concerned with their personal liberties than protecting the testimony and reputation of the Church-at-large. Does this sound familiar? Paul’s message could be preached today and still considered tailor-fit to our times.
His exhortation to us: If you were bought with a price, you have no personal liberty apart from what is granted in Scripture. And those Biblical abilities & rights (along with their limitations) are given to us so that God may be glorified and our well-being (individually and collectively, i.e., the community of faith) is ensured.
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