Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Observation: Paul first addresses how believers should act when they have a dispute with other believers, and he then goes on to address sexual sin, explaining that since our bodies belong to God, we must avoid sexual immortality.
Application: Freedom can be intoxicating.
Growing up, I wore uniforms every single day from 1st through 8th grade. I never spent time deciding on what I was going to wear; I simply pulled out a plaid jumper (or later a plaid kilt), found some clean navy blue knee socks, put on a white polo, and I was ready. Simple as that.
When it was time for high school, most of my friends went to the Catholic high school, trading in their blue-and-red-plaid kilts for black-and-yellow-plaid ones. However, I headed off to public school where there were no uniforms (whoo!), no dress code (yay!) no stodgy navy blue v-neck sweaters embroidered with “Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary” on the left side (thank the Lord). I was free! I couldn’t wait for my newfound freedom and spent hours the summer before my freshmen year thinking about all the clothes I’d get to buy and wear.
And then school started – and that freedom went from intoxicating to restricting almost immediately. I now spent a good majority of my morning running around and trying to figure out what to wear, leaving a tidal wave of discarded clothes all over my room waiting to be picked up when I got home. Once I finally decided on an outfit, I got to school and felt inferior anyways – because all of the cool kids were definitely not wearing Kohl’s clothes like I was. I finally had the freedom I always wanted, yet somehow I became a slave to what I didn’t have. I spent most of my days fantasizing about how much better life would be if I wore American Eagle or convinced my parents to shell out $70 for Abercrombie jeans that already had holes in them. My freedom consumed me.
Freedom can intoxicate us, consume us, and downright enslave us. That’s how Paul puts it in verse 12:
“You say ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.”
As followers of Jesus, we are allowed to do anything. We really are. We have free will; we get to choose. And sometimes that freedom never seems more intoxicating, more consuming than when it’s about our very own bodies.
God made our bodies – in fact, when we give our lives to him, we become joined to him. So while we can do anything, our freedom urges us to refrain, to pause, to step back, to respect our bodies, remembering that our bodies were bought at the price of freedom (Jesus’s death on the cross). Our bodies are temples and unless we’re united with another through the binding sacrifice of marriage, how can we trust that temple will be respected?
Following Paul’s words here take willpower. They take courage and discipline; they take us consciously tuning out almost everything the world tells us about sex and relationship. The world says it’s prudish to wait until marriage to have sex; the Bible says it’s pure. The world says it’s silly, the Bible says it’s sanctifying. The world says explore your sexual freedom; the Bible says enjoy your sexual freedom in the context of marriage, a committed relationship. You think your freedom satisfies you, but truthfully, it too often enslaves you.
I want to ignore Paul’s words (I have the freedom to do that!), but I know I shouldn’t. Instead, I know I should read them and re-read them, allow them into the places I don’t want them to go, into the conversations I’m scared to have, into perceptions I know should change.
Let’s allow them to shake us, refine us, and push us into true freedom.
Prayer: God, I pray I’ll allow these words past my mind and into my heart, my relationships, my conversations. Give me the courage to let them in, to allow them to shake me, and to free me. Amen.