1 Corinthians 5-6, Psalm 59
We likely find it very strange that Paul had to tell a church not to be proud as one of their members engaged in ongoing sexual relations with his mother-in-law (1 Corinthians 5:1-4). I hate arrive at too many conclusions, but the sheer fact this problem was, as the some have begun to say, “a thing”, suggests that the church in Corinth had major cultural baggage preventing them from grasping basic Christian teachings. As we know from Acts 15, the early church leaders felt it was essential to emphasize to Gentiles not to engage sexual immorality. In the same way, Paul spends a great deal of time in today’s reading explaining the gravity of sexual immorality. The fact our bodies are temples of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) is one of the foundational reasons we should not only abstain from sexual immorality, but “flee” from it (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sexual sin has such a corruptive and enticing power that we are not to treat it in any way but as dangerous. Perhaps this is why Paul caution’s this church so often against pride when addressing the Corinthians lack of seriousness in dealing with the aforementioned incestuous relationship (see 1 Corinthians 5:1,6). Paul declares that sexual sin is destructive, but this message doesn’t jibe well with cultures then or now asserting that sexual fulfillment is essential for human flourishing. Pride always leads to treating the beauty and gravity of sex as if it simply were a means of pleasure or self-actualization. The Bible teaches sex is meant to convey God’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:22-33), and that love isn’t self-seeking. We must decide, then, whether we believe that freedom to enjoy sex without commitment or constraint is key to our joy. I recommend instead walking in gladness that we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) so that we have a wholeness in Christ that no sexual encounter or relationship can provide. To choose joy in being Christ’s we must realize as temples of the Holy Spirit and members of Jesus’ body we are to loathe any desecration of what God has sanctified.