Well, this post could probably be called a Theological or Hermeneutical Story Challenge of the Week, but we’ll stick with the title as is. So, first of all I would like you to read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (below):

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

I’ve taken out the verse markings so that the passage can be read as is, rather than split into neat little sections. Now, the claim that ‘the body is the temple of the lord’ has been interpreted in a wide variety of ways in the Christian thought of the last forty years. Some pastors/writers/pundits have used this phrase as a bludgeon to declare as open sin everything from smoking and drinking to eating ice cream or not exercising at least 150 minutes a week. Given that I’ve just started my workout and weight-loss program these arguments have been on my mind for the past couple of week. Christians fall into three very general camps on this issue: 1) Sex only: the sex only camp interprets ‘the temple of the lord’ in this passage to be an argument against immoral sexual behavior that condemns and corrupts the body. This camp refuses to see this passage as banning Christians from any other kind of behavior. 2) Attacking Vice: this camp interprets ‘the temple of the lord’ in this passage to be an argument against certain, specific vices generally including smoking, drinking, use of illegal drugs, unnecessarily use of prescription drugs, sexual promiscuity, and extreme gluttony (though this is rarely defined in any specific way). They argue that it is sinful for Christians to engage in any of these activities because the body is God’s temple and these are clearly sinful behaviors that actively tear down and destroy the body. 3) The Fitness Gurus: this camp interprets ‘the temple of the lord’ in this passage as an argument for a specific lifestyle that is carefully controlled in what and how much it eats (ice cream, brownies, candy, sodas, alcohol, etc are all off the table), and in how much exercise it gets (150 minutes a week is minimal, God is really glorified if your getting 400-500 minutes a week). They generally see a life of fitness and healthy behaviors as an act of worship that is demanded by God in this passage.

So, here is your challenge this week: how should the idea that our bodies are temples of the Lord be interpreted from this passage?

As always, write me a story of 1000 words that presents your response.


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