The Essential Unity of Body and Spirit (6:13b-18)
The dualistic Corinthians contended that sexual intercourse was merely bodily, not spiritual, and seem to have concluded that God will ultimately destroy these merely physical things.
"13b The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 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!" (6:13b-15)
"Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!" (6:15b)
Q4. (1 Corinthians 6:13b-15) What does it mean that "your bodies are members of Christ himself"? What are the implications of that with regard to sexual sin? What are the implications of that with regard to your ministry?
Now Paul under-girds his assertion that sexual intercourse unites people with a reference to Adam and Eve in Genesis.
"16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, 'The two will become one flesh.' [Genesis 2:24] 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit." (6:16-17)
Paul's assumption here, based on the wording of Genesis 2:24, is that joining of genital members in sexual intercourse not only constitutes a physical union, but also a spiritual union -- since one can't separate what one does in the body from one's spirit. Thus sex with prostitutes places a person in a major contradiction -- a man is joining himself in an illicit union while at the same time he is united with Christ.
When we united ourselves with the Lord -- initially through faith and baptism -- we are one with Him, we are "one with him in spirit" (6:17b, NIV), literally, "one spirit" (KJV, NRSV).
The implications are important for us to ponder today. A sexual union with one's own spouse is good and holy -- as Paul discusses at length in chapter 7. Sex within marriage may be private, but it is nothing of which we should be ashamed at all. God approves. Indeed, he invented the concept. But sex outside the bounds of marriage compromises our essential unity with Christ, in the same way that sex outside of marriage compromises the essential unity of our marriage. Yes, the effects of adultery can be healed, but only through repentance and forgiveness and a great deal of God's grace. It's the same way with our relationship with the Lord. Yes, it can be healed -- but if we keep sinning without any real repentance we are acting completely contrary to the spirit of "marriage."
Now for the practical exhortation:
"Flee from sexual immorality." (6:18a)
"Flee" (NIV, KJV), "shun" (NRSV) is a strong verb, pheugō, basically, "to seek safety in flight, flee." Here it is used figuratively, "to keep from doing something by avoiding it because of its potential damage, flee from, avoid, shun." We're not to toy with sexual immorality. This isn't a game. Sexual immorality is potentially a "game-ender." It is serious! We have an example in Joseph who fled from Potipher's wife (Genesis 39:12).
Paul concludes this section with words to help his readers reflect the seriousness of sexual sins:
"18b All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (6:18b-20)
Paul finishes with three points that can help the Corinthians resist sexual temptations that were an integral part of their culture:
Western culture in our day has its own variety of sexual sins. Adultery is universally seen as wrong -- though it is common. For the most part, going to prostitutes is frowned upon -- even if it is illegal in most places. But premarital sex is expected in our culture. Pornography, seen mainly as a bad habit, has become mainstream and tempts many, many men and some women. Homosexuality has become politically correct, especially in the cities.
The prohibition against sexual immorality isn't just a Pauline fetish. Jesus himself saw it as defiling the person (Mark 7:21). As we learn to see our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, then what we do with them matters. Indeed, the Holy Spirit desires to refresh our whole life with healthy "fruit of the Spirit" as we yield ourselves to him.
The Bible's prohibition against sexual immorality shouldn't be seen as a way of obstructing our freedom, but making us free to serve Christ fully -- body, soul, and spirit.
Prayer: Lord, we humans have been mastered by sin and need a Savior. Thank you for redeeming us by your precious blood. Now, O Lord, empower us so that we can live free and please you with the way we live. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Thank you for your deliverance. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.