This is what I wrote on this passage in 2012. It’s still what I’d say today, so I’ve copied it here!
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
is a great maxim for life. There are many things we can do, but not all of them is sensible or good for you. I could eat cake morning, noon and night – but it would not be good for my health. I could drive down the road as fast as I like – but that would cause danger and probable injury to myself and to others.
This is the point at which Paul starts in part of his advice to the Corinthians:
Honor God with Your Body
12 Some of you say, “We can do anything we want to.” But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me.13 You also say, “Food is meant for our bodies, and our bodies are meant for food.” But I tell you that God will destroy them both. We are not supposed to do indecent things with our bodies. We are to use them for the Lord who is in charge of our bodies. 14 God will raise us from death by the same power that he used when he raised our Lord to life.
15 Don’t you know that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? Is it right for me to join part of the body of Christ to a prostitute? No, it isn’t! 16 Don’t you know that a man who does that becomes part of her body? The Scriptures say, “The two of them will be like one person.” 17 But anyone who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit with him.
18 Don’t be immoral in matters of sex. That is a sin against your own body in a way that no other sin is. 19 You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. 20 God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God.
Everything is permissible for me— but not everything is beneficial
There are lots of possibilities in life, but not all options are good ones. As Christians we should be pursuing the things that lead us deeper into our relationship with God, not those things which take us from his ways and distract us.
Neither should we pursue those things which can distract those around us from the right way. Just because we can live with something doesn’t mean it’s helpful to others. Indeed it is possible that our actions may turn others away from God, and of that we need to be mindful.
Is there anything that I do that is distracting others from God, or totally putting people off him?
That may be a hard question to face, but an important one to honestly consider.
We have a responsibility to one another. We are all part of one body, all part of God’s temple.
We know that when we are ill, it is not just one part of the body that is infected, there is a knock on effect around the body. Likewise with property, a hole in the roof or a water leak bring consequences around the building.
We are not Christians in isolation, our lives effect each other. But God invites us and allows us to work with him.
So, Paul invites us to use our bodies, our whole lives, for God’s glory; to honour him with all we do.
What an amazing invitation – and an awesome responsibility…
Thank you Lord,
that you live in me.
I stand in awe of the responsibility
that how I live
effects how others experience you.
May I make choices
that attract people to you.
I give to you all those things I have done
that have pushed people from you,
and offer my life anew.
Lord I pray
that you will use me for your glory –
and that I will let you