Wandering the savage garden…

What is permissible for a Christian?

This past Sunday’s sermon was on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, which speaks of fleeing sexual immorality.

It starts off by saying “All things are lawful for me,” referring to a philosophical idea that separated the body from the soul. The concept was that the flesh was corrupt (and presumably corrupted the soul as well, I suppose?) and therefore, the soul could be saved but the flesh could not.

The implication here is that the flesh could do what it wanted, as it was destined to be destroyed forever anyway, and the soul was kept inviolate apart.

Therefore, the flesh could indulge in all kinds of acts without affecting the relationship of believer with God.

This is in relation to food; the Faithlife Study Bible’s comment on 1Cor 6:13 says that the Corinthians

“reasoned that since the body could digest food apart from any moral instruction, it could also engage in sexual activity apart from moral instruction.”

Part of me marvels at the intuitive leap here, and I also am a little stunned that this is where this reasoning led them.

Paul writes that the purpose of the body is what defines what is right, by saying:

13… The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? (1Cor 6:13-15, ESV)

The rest of chapter 6 addresses the unity of the body and soul, and also says to flee immorality – that we cannot fight it ourselves, but should run from it rather than engage it.

And at last we segue into something God laid on my heart with this message.

I wrote a post in December 2011 called “Where should we be willing to go?,” inspired (or incited) by some people who were busily and happily judging people who were willing to associate with sinners.

The most important paragraph in that post (to me) is this one:

So should I avoid people or situations because I think that the people there aren’t always edifying Christ? No. I should not. I should examine the circumstances and try to act in such a way that those who do not know Christ can see His effect on me, and maybe God through that can call them to Himself.

The core statement was that we should be willing to go anywhere to which we are called to go, regardless of where that would be; I used a strip club as an example. I wouldn’t be able to go to such places myself in such a way that people saw Christ in me, I don’t think, but I can conceive that perhaps (somehow, someway, with God’s merciful and powerful help) someone could.

I’m not suggesting that it’s likely, nor am I suggesting that one should try just to see if God will act (“You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” from Deuteronomy 6:16, ESV, and quoted by Jesus when He was tested by Satan.) But I can conceive that it’s possible.

Oddly enough, I even used 1 Corinthians 8 to bolster my thought line. It also suggests that I avoid things that I could do that would potentially discourage a fellow believer, but in a way that backs up the original assertion, in that:

I should avoid things that might be permissible for me, when those things might harm anothers’ faith. (Summary mine, of course.)

But is this correct? I was referring to where we should be willing to be present more than what we should allow ourselves to do, but the analogy holds across both concepts.

Doesn’t the injunction against immorality (sexual immorality, specifically) in 1Cor 6 also speak to the impulse that says that I can go anywhere in the Will of God?

Perhaps not. But my feeling is that God wouldn’t will that I go somewhere such that sexual immorality (or any other kind of immorality) was my lot, and if it’s something discouraging to another believer, then perhaps I need to make sure I’m framing it properly (if it is, indeed, within the Will of God) or that I need to, like, stop doing it (because it’s likely that I’m telling myself it’s in the Will of God and I’m lying to myself.)

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