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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Smoke

We've all heard it, I'm sure. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?" (1 Cor 6:19). It's the common verse thrown at you used to argue against smoking cigarettes. It is a wholly illogical argument, but certainly the most common.

Why do I call it illogical? On two grounds. First, the text doesn't support it. What is Paul writing about? "Flee from sexual immorality" (1 Cor 6:18). The topic is about joining with prostitutes (v 16), about how sexual immorality is a sin committed against the body (v 18). Why should you not sin against the body? "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?" The text is about sex sins, not smoking. Second, if the reader was to stretch it out -- "Yeah, well, maybe, but still, if your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, you should treat it like a temple" -- it would need to go places you never intended it to go. What would it take to treat your body "like a temple"? Well, it would need purity. No smoking? Yeah, sure. But no Twinkies, either. No fatty foods, no artificial preservatives, no processed foods. Stop eating those horrid hamburgers. Do you have any notion of what they do to you? You had better start an exercise program and take a lot of vitamins. And, look, while we're at it, are you aware of the damage done to your body simply by living in a city? There is pollution, noise, and stress. Look, if you're going to treat your body like a temple, you had better move to someplace pure where there is clean air and no automobiles and only clean, pure food and ... no place you can imagine at all.

No, I don't think you can use that verse as a "thou shalt not smoke tobacco" command. It is out of context and makes no sense.

Now, having cleared that up for you all, how about if you help me out? The rest of the passage reads like this:
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Cor 6:19-20).
So, what do we have? What does it mean to "glorify God in your body"? We know he's not talking about "eat right and exercise." We know he's not telling you, "Buy a home gym and really get buffed up." We know he's not urging women to buy the best possible clothes. We're not talking about external matters. I suppose the hint is in the context -- avoid sexual immorality. But what does he really mean when he says, "glorify God in your body"? I ask because it seems more than the negative "avoid sexual immorality". It seems like a positive "glorify God in your body". I'd like to hear your take on that. What positive things can we do to glorify God in our bodies? It's Sunday. Come up with something.


Sherry said...

Hmm, well, here's what came to mind. While clothed in this Earth suit of flesh, the word instructs me to "glorify God in your body" which is also called a temple. I would imagine that would include REJOICING.

There are many scriptures that speak of rejoicing! And much rejoicing often occurs in places of worship/temples!

And what about with singing and music? These too we "temples" can do!

Remember Green Stamps? (I think I just got a brain cramp whilst THIS old memory surfaced! :o) You would receive a few when you'd buy groceries at certain stores. Many of our mothers saved them and then, when their little stamp cards were full and they had enough to purchase something, they'd bring them in to redemption centers and come out with something shining and new.

We have been "bought with a price," saved, and redeemed. Temples can be "redemption centers". When entering into the presence of something that contains God's presence, holiness, and power, people can come out shining and new, or re-newed in their spirits.

(Wait, did that make any sense? It's early.)

Hey, another really old thing comes to mind. A hymn. It's Sunday morning! Let's all rise and sing.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.


Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my bless├Ęd Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

David said...

If the reference in 19 is to sexual immorality, then 20 could easily mean to glorify God in your body by not being sexually immoral. Or take it a step further, do not sin because that does not bring glory to God.

Stan said...

How about "be sexually moral" or ... is it possible to glorify God in your body via moral sexual relations?

Neil said...

Great points about reading it in context. I do think that v. 19 could have broader application though based on the principle of the Holy Spirit living in us.

1 Corinthians 6:19 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,

As our assoc. pastor pointed out to us, the whole "don't drink, don't smoke, don't have sex" bit isn't bad advice, but it is a rather significant understatement and misses out on something glorious: As Christians we are at the intersection of Heaven and Earth. We have the Holy Spirit living in us. Why aren't we rejoicing and applying that truth more?!

Stan said...

I have to wonder, Neil. If the Bible doesn't say "Don't drink and don't smoke" (The "don't have sex" part isn't quite accurate, is it?), do I want to tell young people that it's a sin? I can say, "It might be wise not to smoke and drink" (It is sin to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, so that isn't quite the same thing, is it?), but I'd be really hard-pressed to call it sin when the Bible doesn't.

4simpsons said...

Ha -- yes -- that would be no sex outside marriage, of course.

Re. drinking / smoking -- I do think that would fall under the wisdom category as you noted, though of course they should obey the age laws and such.

Steve Martin said...

I really don't know what it means.

Part of me thinks he's saying to not let yourself go. be a good steward of the body that Christ has given you that you might better "run the race".

Science PhD Mom said...

Well there is the specific proscription in 1 Cor. 8:9-13 to not tempt a weaker brother by consuming something that he has difficulty with. Thus if you are in the company of an alcoholic, it is sinning against Christ to consume alcohol in his/her presence. I would extend that to someone with a problem with overeating, or smoking, etc. Basically we are called to help our weaker brother or sister by avoiding those things that might tempt them while in their presence, but which we personally have no problem with moderating and understanding. I think that is a way to be holy in your body.

Stan said...

There are a variety of reasonable questions to ask about things like smoking or drinking. Will it make my brother stumble? If so, don't. (Note, however, that you still have to ask, "Is it sin?" because you still have to answer, "Can I do it when it does not cause my brother to stumble?") There's the whole, "I will not be mastered by anything" from Paul in 1 Corinthians. We shouldn't engage in anything that is an addiction.

And others. My point was that this passage isn't about that (despite what so many like to think), so ... what does it mean to "glorify God in your body"?