Last spring I had to replace some rotten boards in our back deck, and I began the project with just a hand saw, and that lasted all of, oh, three minutes, before I realized I needed to bust out my power saw. And it brought such happiness into my life! But the thing is, the more power something has to help you, the more power that thing also has to hurt you. Use a table saw wrongly, I’ll nick myself. Use this baby wrongly, I’m minus a finger.
And so in the Bible, God talks the most about those things that have the greatest power to help or harm our lives. Our sexuality is one of those things. This is why Paul is so specific and so thorough when he writes to the Corinthians about sexual purity in 1 Corinthians 6. In an earlier blog, we identified three purity principles: the Benefit / Bondage / Bema factors. Here are a few more.
The Body Factor
Paul writes in verse 13: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
Some Christians today are practicing Gnostics (a second century heresy that taught that matter doesn’t matter.) We tell ourselves that since the spirit is what goes on to heaven, and the body is what decays and dies, we don’t need to care all that much for the body. (Some Christians look at the earth the same way – it’s “temporary” so why care for it?) And so they don’t exercise. They don’t eat right. They don’t rest. Or worse: They throw their bodies away recklessly to porn, drugs or addiction.
But when Paul says the body is for the Lord and the Lord is for the body he’s saying that matter matters. Jesus came and took on a human body, and died in a human body, and rose in a human body, to redeem us for eternity where again we will live in a body.
While things do indeed wear out, caring for things is a habit of godliness called ‘stewardship’ which is an eternal virtue that honors the Lord. We’ll do it in heaven, so we should do it here and now. We care for our bodies and for the environment, because these are gifts from God – temporary or not – and we want to honor him with our treatment of them.
One more consideration: Gnosticism is a lie, plain and simple. Our bodies are not little Las Vegases (i.e. what we do in the body stays in the body, and doesn’t affect anything else.) God has interwoven body, mind and spirit in such an intricate way, that what touches one area impacts the other. “Envy rots the bones,” says Proverbs 14:30. What happens inside of me worms its way out physically. The opposite is true also.
My body is like a digital camera, and my soul is like the memory card inside of it. My body determines what goes on the disk. The card inside – my soul – shows how I use my body – the things I look at, listen to, touch and think about.
The Butterfly Factor
Next, Paul writes in verse 14: “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” The hope of Christianity is that though we die, we will be resurrected with Christ, only this time around, there will be no more sin, no more sickness, no more death. “We shall all be changed,” the Bible declares. But that change will be so dramatic, it will be like the caterpillar transforming into the butterfly.
What does this have to do with purity? Well, once you understand this, then you understand the real purpose for this life, which is to prepare ourselves for the next life. This life is a test-run for eternity.
The caterpillar who pretends that the larvae stage is all there is, and lives that way, isn’t going to fulfill its actual destiny – which is to fly. There ought always be an inner sense in the caterpillar that it was made for better things.
A parent who lets soccer games and dance recitals and a thousand other activities crowd out the spiritual development of their children is teaching some terrible lessons that will hurt them the rest of their lives. Your child is made by God to become a butterfly but you’re keeping your child thinking like a larvae. Those other things don’t have to be overlooked. The body is good, like we just said. This earth is good.
But God must come first. Eternity must come first. The Butterfly Factor, if you remember it, will help you to make good decisions in your life, and when it comes to staying pure, is one of the highest incentives for it. The next time you’re tempted to do something impure, tell yourself, “This is worm behavior. I am better than this. I’m going to be a butterfly one day. so I better start living that way now.”
The Bonding Factor
Verses 15-17 tell us: “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! 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.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”
The bonding factor is what happens whenever a human being engages in a sexual act with another human being. Sex is practiced across the animal kingdom. Dogs do it. Cats do it. (Of course, cats do it better.) But only with humans does the bonding factor occur with sex, because we are much more than animals.
And so when a human being engages in a sexual act with another human being, there is actually a linkage, an emotional and spiritual thread that joins those two people together at the level of their souls. You can’t see it. You can’t find it with a microscope. But it’s there. The Bible says that sex makes you “one” with that other person.
Even something as simple like a kiss (not the kind of kiss that Great Grandma gives you that’s slobbery and turns your cheek into a wetland), even such a simple thing as that, starts the bonding factor into motion.
Don’t you let anyone tell you different – sex is not just intercourse, no matter what Bill Clinton may have told us. Oral sex is sex. Any time you’re unzipping or undressing or unsnapping, you are in the “sex” arena, and these emotional and spiritual threads start connecting you to the other person in powerful ways.
It even happens with pornography. Those threads join you to the other person you’re gawking at. You’re not just looking at a picture on a screen, you’re looking at a human being, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter; they have names, birthdays, and hopes and dreams, and there you are connecting yourself to them.
So what do you think happens if you keep giving pieces of your heart away to this person and that person? The day will come when you are finally married to your one and only, and there you will be in bed with only them. But at the level of your mind and your soul, there are going to be all these other people in bed with you at the same time.
Thankfully, through repentance and some soul-work, God is powerful enough to mute, even lock away those memories. But wouldn’t it be easier just not to go there in the first place?