This is the first of three posts about Sexuality in the Kingdom of God from 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.
Many people who claim to be devoted to Jesus Christ live no differently than the people of the world around them. This is not a new problem but it is a contemporary trend that each disciple must resist. The saints in the ancient Greco-Roman city of Corinth had great difficulty living with a new perspective and lifestyle after coming to Christ. They were formed more like the world than they were like the Lord who saved them. One of the most glaring ways they conformed to the culture around them was in their views on sexuality. Obviously, disciples in 21st-century western culture are bombarded with temptations and tests regarding sex, both philosophically and practically. All too often, we fail miserably, just like the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Paul presents at least six key concepts that can help us reshape our views regarding sexuality, so that we will not be conformed to the destructive ideals and practices of the world but rather be transformed to live in alignment with God’s good purposes for human sexuality.
Sex is a good gift from God.
The Bible never criticizes sexual desire, and 1 Corinthians 6 is no exception. Actually, you should read this text, with all of its warnings and condemnations, as a preservation of healthy sexuality and protection against perversions of it. Paul is not condemning sexual desire and expression here. In fact, in the very next chapter Paul affirms and gives positive instructions regarding sexual desire and activity in marriage, demonstrating that it is natural, healthy, and important. The Bible consistently establishes that sex is good because it was designed by God (Genesis 2:18-25; Song of Solomon; et al). In light of the Bible’s sex-positive position, we should not be ashamed of sex. In the proper context, God wants us to enjoy this good gift! By the same token, human sexuality must be ruled and bound by God’s commands because He is the One who designed and created it.
Your sexuality is not your master.
Many ungodly expressions of sexuality are rooted in a latent belief that physical and sexual desires are irresistibly powerful. Sex abusers claim they cannot resist taking advantage of their victims because their desires are so strong. Song lyrics teach us to believe that, “I can’t fight this feeling anymore.” Divorce is rampant because people ‘fall in love’ with someone other than their spouse – which is to say that attraction and desire cannot be controlled or contained. People with same-sex attraction may view and speak of their sexual desires not as a part of their person but as the fundamental, all-encompassing, defining, controlling trait of their life story. In contrast, Paul says that we should live by the code, “I will not be mastered by anything” (6:12b). Sexual attraction and desire can be cripplingly powerful. But as a human being, made in the image of God, you can control your sexual desires and feelings. Your sexuality does not have to control you. Just as with hunger, thirst, exhaustion, anger, sadness, anxiety, fear, hatred, and every other feeling or desire, you have the power to follow God’s will, to make right choices, and to rule over your sexuality rather than it ruling over you. “[Your] body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body” (6:13).