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What’s A Body For?

In an online sermon entitled "Our Bodies Belong To God" (www.executableoutlines.com), Mark Copeland writes: "The name of a popular book for women is, Our Bodies, Ourselves, self-described as "a book by and for women about health and sexuality." Copeland goes on to note that among other things the book approves of abortion and lesbianism. He stresses that the premise of the book is that women are free to do with their bodies as they wish. I don't know much about the book, but judging from what can be seen and heard on an average day in America, it would seem that millions of people agree with the premise that "It's my body and I can do what I want to with it." We do, indeed, do a lot of stuff with our bodies. We paint and pierce and pamper them. We build and sculpt and decorate them. We surgically enhance and re-arrange them to be more to our liking. We sniff and snuff and shoot and pour and puff stuff into them, and not all of it is good for them. In short, it is clear that for millions of people, the body is for personal pleasure and indulgence as desired and defined by the person who inhabits the body.

The Christian gospel brings a different perspective to the question, "What's a body for?" Christians at Corinth were surrounded with a Greek philosophical view that took a low view of the body. Some suggested what you did with the body didn't matter at all because the body was only a temporary tomb for the soul, to be discarded at death, never to live again. The result was a view of the body that said, to coin a modem phrase, "If it feels good, do it." According to 1st Corinthians 6:12-20, some citizens and even some Christians at first century Corinth felt that one of the chief purposes for the body was sexual indulgence. By some twisted logic, they came to believe that because sex felt good it was good, even if engaged in with a harlot! "Food for the stomach, and the stomach for foods" (6:13a) was a catch-phrase possibly said out loud over and over again, much as some today say, "If it feels good, do it." If you read the text and study it carefully, it is clear an equally popular (if unspoken slogan) preached and practiced by many was, "The body for sexual immorality, and sexual immorality for the body." In an inspired effort to correct this patently false and dangerous philosophy, Paul reveals a high and holy use of the human body far beyond feeding its sensual appetites, whether for a salad or for sex — "Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body... Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?....Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (6:13b-19). Our bodies are not just our's to do with as we please. They are our's to do with as God pleases. Ultimately, that's what a body's for!

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ