1 Corinthians 6:12-20
“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. 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.” But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 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? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
Surely any of us who try to pay close attention to this passage from Paul’s letter to his Corinthians can see that he is nearly at the end of his wits. He is angry with them. He is disappointed in them. And he thinks their behavior has been wretched. All of this fairly leaps off the page. Whatever meekness and mildness there may have been in Paul, it is nowhere evident here. He is beside himself.
The issue has to do with sex. And specifically it has to do with the fact that there were some members of his new congregation who, despite their recent conversion, were still wanting to live in the old and famous Corinthian style. That style, renowned for centuries in the ancient world, had made of lechery and profligacy a veritable form of life. And that form of life had become a kind of hallmark of what it meant to be a real Corinthian.
But Paul’s idea is that, when anyone freely decides to become a follower of Jesus, that person’s life has got to change, Corinthian or not. Some old habits and ways of thinking have got to go, no matter how used to them we may have grown. Some new ways of living, new forms of life, have got to be discovered and really lived out. And specifically, when it comes to our sexual lives, this means that we who have become followers are no longer free to use other people to satisfy our own bodily needs and desires. In fact, the business of using other people to meet our own needs, bodily or otherwise, is always and everywhere seriously incompatible with being a follower of Jesus.
Here’s the point. Things are to be used, but people are not to be used. And this is because people, in the eyes of anyone who follows, are not things, not objects, not now, not ever. People are living souls, living spirits housed for a time in frail mortal bodies. And so neither other people’s souls nor other people’s bodies are to be trifled with, ever.
Lord Jesus, help me to look at other people and see them as you see them. Help me to see them, not as things to be used, but as the living souls they are. And help me to love them as they are. Amen.