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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 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. (NRSV)

The church at Corinth was an interesting bunch: cosmopolitan, diverse, gifted, and deeply flawed. Understanding that they were saved in Christ, the Corinthians figured what they did with their bodies didn’t matter anymore. Scholars tell us that “All things are lawful for me” and “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” were two slogans they used; these give a pretty clear picture of people who figured that since salvation was locked up, they could do pretty much do whatever they wanted with their bodies. They were of the Spirit!

Oh, those wacky Corinthians. Good thing we understand so much better than they did.

It turns out I don’t. It’s remarkably easy to divorce my body from my soul. What I do with my body—how I treat it, what goes into it, who does or doesn’t get to share it—is my business, right? It’s practically un-American to believe otherwise. When I’m vehemently proclaiming this creed, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with Jesus or faith or discipleship.

But Paul teaches the exact opposite: “You are not your own.” What I do with my body is part of how I live my faith in the world, an indicator of my accountability to the God who gave me this body and my accountability to the community of faith with whom I navigate this human journey. Though Christian freedom is a slippery concept that I have yet to master well, at least I have been granted another year to try.

Spirit of God, quicken in me the desire to offer all to you. May the union of my body and soul glorify you. In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning

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