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The Christian sexual ethic has fallen on hard times. Outside the church, maintaining a biblical view of sexuality is seen as old-fashioned and unloving. Within the church, revisionist views that seek to undo and redefine biblical ethics are ascendant. For instance, statistics point to the increasing prevalence of premarital cohabitation among professing Christians. But Christians do not have absolute liberty in areas where God has decisively revealed a verdict, such as the realm of sexual immorality. Often, this behavior is defended under the guise of Christian liberty. In 1 Corinthians 6:12–20, Paul offers six reasons why Christians are forbidden to engage in immoral sexual activity.
1. Original design (v. 13). The stomach was created for food and food for the stomach; similarly, the body was created for sexual activity and sexual activity for the body. Right? Paul says no. The body was never designed to engage in fornication or sexual immorality. Having a stomach indeed points to the need to consume food, but having a body does not point to the need for sexual gratification.
2. Bodily resurrection (v. 14). The relationship between the stomach and food is temporary, but the relationship between the resurrected Christ and the bodies of His people is eternal. In the throes of sexual temptation, ponder the eternal destination of your body. If our bodies will be raised as Christ’s body was raised, ought we not to keep our bodies pure as Christ’s body is pure?
3. Union with Christ (vv. 15–17). The union we Christians have with Christ is a full union—one that includes, mysteriously, the physical body. It is totally inconceivable that he who is a member of Christ’s body would then take his body and join it with that of a person who is not his spouse.
4. Unique destructiveness (v. 18). Sexual sin is unique with regard to its consequences. Sexual sins are not easily wiped away from our memories; nor are they easily dealt with in subsequent relationships. They leave a deeper scar than other sins. How many families have been broken up as a result of sexual immorality?
5. Holy temples (v. 19). The most important element of old covenant temple worship was purity. The dwelling place of God cannot be profaned with impurity. In the new covenant, each Christian is a residential abode of the Holy Spirit, rendering sexual immorality an abomination that profanes God’s temple.
6. Purchased property (v. 20). A high ransom price has been paid for our redemption that constitutes us as property of the Redeemer. We belong to someone else, and therefore our bodies can’t be used in whatever way we want. The decisive question that should determine our sexual conduct is not, How far is too far? but, To whom do I belong?