Paul begins the final section of chapter six with a illustration that parallels food and the body. He says that food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food. He doesn’t want us to be deceived in thinking that the body is meant for sexual immorality and sexual immorality for the body. No, Paul shows us the correct purpose for the bodies that God has given us. The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body.
Paul then makes an argument about the negative affect of treating the body as though it were meant for immorality and makes a positive argument for why it is for the Lord and how the body is the Lord’s.
Many in Corinth saw sex as something to be treated casually and even within the church there were those who thought that freedom in Christ meant the freedom to do anything with their bodies, including incest and prostitution. Paul disagrees with this and tries to show why what we do with our bodies has great importance.
Any sexual interaction creates a new unity. Therefore there is no casual sex. This is a myth of our culture that says sex can be “just sex.” It is something more. So to have sex with a prostitute is to join yourself to the prostitute. It is not a casual encounter with no significance and to make it all the worse, Paul reminds us that we are already joined to Christ. We are members of Christ and to engage in this wrong behavior is to take the members of Christ and make them members with a prostitute. We should rather flee this sexual immorality and flee to Christ.
This stems from a low view of the body and of sex. Sex shouldn’t be seen in the same way as food. Ken Bailey’s commentary says this on the topic:
Paul is objecting to the dehumanizing of sex that takes place when it is turned into a form of entertainment and made parallel to food. Paul is rejecting the view that says “I feel hungry–I eat. I feel sexual desire–I engage in sex.”1
No we are made for something more. Our bodies are for the Lord and in Christ we are bound to him, two are made one in spirit. If we throw ourselves into immoral sexual relationships we are pulling ourselves away from unity to Christ and united our bodies, temples of the Spirit, to a prostitute. We are torn apart from the fellowship we find in Jesus.
It is more than a moral argument about what is acceptable in polite society. Paul wants his readers to realize that our bodies are meant for the Lord and they will be raised up with him. Our bodies are meant for the resurrection and what we do to them matters. Christianity is not a religion that pulls away from the body and focuses only on the otherworldly. We believe God created this world and proclaimed it good. Our God even came to us and took on flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus had a body and our bodies are of great worth and we can’t toss them aside or think what we do with them has no meaning. No, they are meant for the Lord and destined to be raised with him.
Our bodies are given a great task in that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. Where once there was one place where all people went to seek the presence of God, now the one who is found in Christ is the very dwelling place of his Spirit. As a temple, our bodies then are to be places of worship, sacrifice, dedication, praise, offering, and thanksgiving. As a temple, we represent God’s presence where ever we walk.
Sexual immorality draws us away from Christ, harming the unity we have with him. It also misunderstands the purpose of our bodies, giving us a vision of a purpose that is far too small for the Christian. God has given us our bodies to be temples of the Holy Spirit, to be for the Lord. And we are the Lord’s. We have been purchased at great cost to be Christ’s. The price for you and for me was his death. But that is how much we are loved and prized by God. We are beloved, a cherished possession. So know that we now do in our bodies matters. His sacrifice for us gives our whole selves–bodies and all–great significance. If you and your body are important to God, they should be important to you as well.
The last line says it all so well. Remember, you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Ken Bailey, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes. 185. ↩