First Corinthians 6: 12-20
Paul’s major doctrine was that one is saved by faith, not by good works or good behavior, yet he sternly scolds the Corinthians for their sexual misbehavior. Corinth was notoriously licentious, and Paul was confronted with Christian converts whose behavior was wicked according to his Jewish standards. Yes, they might be saved by faith, but in the meantime their behavior was unacceptable. I would have to undertake a long study to be certain, but I think Paul never threatens his people with damnation. He says, rather, that their behavior is inappropriate and disrespectful of God, but he says it in a stern scolding way. Our reading opens with Paul’s quoting three of the slogans that people were using to justify their sexual freedom. Two of those he makes fun of, and then he returns to his task as scolder. His arguments are not very fair. He abuses the very nice metaphor in Genesis that speaks of two people becoming “one flesh” in marriage, by using it for a union with a prostitute. His image of the body as God’s temple he had developed a little earlier in this same letter (3: 16-17). Yet he also said in this same letter, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (15: 50). I don’t understand how he could hold that the body is simultaneously the holy temple of God and unworthy of his kingdom. I don’t like this Puritan Paul and think that for our age, if not for others, his intolerance of sexual expression does more harm than good. In the clause of the final sentence, “you were bought with a price,” the price is the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross.
© Arthur H. Cash