My Body Is The Temple Of God

A beautiful religious temple..
Temples come in many shapes, and sizes, but they all enjoy sacred status and command the respect of worshipers.

The subject matter for this post is a bit heavy, but that isn’t always a bad thing. You may already be familiar with the verse on which this reflection is based. In 1 Corinthians 6, the Apostle Paul addresses the topic of sexual integrity. Paul reprimands the Corinthians for their sexual promiscuity and elevates the stakes of their behavior by introducing the idea that their bodies are sacred temples. The idea is that how we treat our bodies has divine implications. The Corinthians would have been familiar with the imagery enveloping the temple. Corinth, after all, was the locus of the temple of the goddess, Aphrodite (the protector deity), where worship and prostitution were the norm.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

A temple is a place of structure and boundaries. This fact entailed making special arrangements, preparations, and decorations to accommodate the space. Special honor was shown to a temple that wasn’t shown to a home or a market or a workshop. Nobody was supposed to enter the temple, dressed, talking, and acting any old way. To the extent this wasn’t true for the temples of other gods, it was certainly true of the Jewish temple! The Jewish temple was considered a supremely holy place, and to disrespect God in the temple was no misdemeanor.

Christ’s purification of the Jewish temple, is one of the most infamous stories in the Gospels. Due to the sacrilege (i.e. divine disrespect) that was going on at the time, Christ literally flipped over tables and manufactured a whip with which he chased out money-changers. (John 2:15).

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

Matthew 21:13

Our Bodies Belong To God

We often delude ourselves into thinking that our actions only affect ourselves. We often do not view ourselves as part of an interconnected system, consisting of others who depend on us as much as we depend on them. We often don’t think of God as a person of interest in our plans. Maybe we think he doesn’t care OR maybe we don’t care, like the Corinthians. The audience of Paul was familiar with the concept of a sacred temple in which a deity dwelled physically, but never inferred the sacredness of their own bodies, where God was dwelled spiritually.

There are things we will do for others that we will not do for ourselves. Examples of a mother or father making great sacrifices for their children are a dime a dozen. People motivated by love go to great lengths every day, because the impetus of love is greater than the impetus of ego. .

Today, we can identify a myriad of motivations to practice sexual integrity. I’m talking about better mental and physical health. Better relationships with friends, family, and members of the opposite sex. But what if we added to those healthy motivations a love for God? If God dwells within us, don’t we owe it to him to show honor?

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

Many commentators (to my mind, rightly), expand the application of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 as follows. If our bodies are the temple of God, shouldn’t we watch what we consume, and how much we consume, and be attentive to the our other physical and bodily needs, in addition to the sexual area?

For me, treating my body like a temple looks like me paying careful attention to what goes into it. If you read the Hebrew Bible, God gave the Jews a large number of dietary laws to follow (kosher, anyone?), in order to enjoy better health. Clearly our diets are important to our well-being, and important to God, as a result. Consumption for the Hebrews was an act of worship in ancient times, and it is for Christians today, as well. Today, we also have a large body of scientific evidence underscoring this importance of diet in natural terms.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

This wider application also consists of me watching what comes out of my mouth (e.g. click here…), not abusing substances, and trying to stay in decent shape. If you are struggling in any of these areas, reach out to someone who can help!

Today, let’s ask ourselves the question, what pre-revealed AND creative ways can we honor God with by taking good care of our bodies?

For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.

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