A guest blog from Rod MacIlvaine…
In 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul says, “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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
This would have been a very surprising statement for Paul to make to an assembly of sophisticated Greeks living in the 1st century. The Greek view of the body suggested it was the prison house of the soul. The body was a hindrance to the freedom of the inner-self. That view caused many people in the ancient world to disrespect their bodies in many health-destroying ways.
The biblical view of the body is very different. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible asserts a unity between the physical body and the immaterial soul. What we do with our bodies affects our soul; what we do with our soul affects our body. Because we are a soul/body unity, it’s critically important that we respect our physical body as something that can impact emotions, joy and consequently many ranges of mental health.
Conversely, those disciplines that calm and center our soul on God have the potential to affect our physical health.
Specifically, in this case, Paul says, “Don’t commit acts of sexual immorality.” Why? We know today from the vantage point of modern science that these acts will create body/soul memories, imprints that often interfere with genuine long-term stable relationships, especially with those we love the most, not to mention causing estrangement in our relationship with God.
Moreover, sexually transmitted diseases are exploding today. According to the CDC, “half of the estimated 20 million STDs that occur in the United States each year are among young people.” According to RH Reality Check, the recent rise in sexually transmitted diseases continues as epidemic proportions (1).
But we can extend Paul’s principle of respecting the God-given boundaries of our bodies, to other areas as well. We live in a world where science-based studies inform us about all sorts of healthy and unhealthy behaviors. So, I think Paul would say, by application, “Look, glorify God in your bodies by maintaining good habits of mental and physical health.”
All of us know that certain habits will quickly destroy physical and mental health. Pornography is a quick way to addiction. Drug abuse is a quick way to mental instability. Abusing food is a slow path toward physical ill-health.
But the ultimate reason for maintaining habits of health is that our bodies are a portable mini-temple for the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are containers. But they are more simply disposable containers.
Our bodies are dignified and spiritual. We are a temple reserved for God the Holy Spirit to do his work.
If we are healthy we’re going to have greater opportunities to represent the risen Christ through the power of his Spirit.
Another passage supports this as well: Romans 12:1-2 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” The fundamental way we steward our bodies is to present them to God each day.
And because we’re a soul/body unity, we are simultaneously presenting both body and mind.
Daily stewardship of our physical bodies is going to lead to greater long-term health and happiness.
Rod MacIlvaine – Director of Faith-Based Research
Rodman MacIlvaine, III, DMin is on the adjunct faculties of both Oklahoma Wesleyan University andDallas Theological Seminary. He is the founding senior pastor of Grace Community Churchin Northeastern, Oklahoma – a church that has worked extensively to serve educational needs in the Spanish Speaking Caribbean. A Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Dr. MacIlvaine works with men and women in transition, especially those who are shifting into second careers. Dr. MacIlvaine specializes in apologetics from an historical and theological perspective. His emphasis is in showing how adhering to God’s word has generated many benefits to societies, cultures and individuals.