Monday, April 25, 2005

Your Body

Do you ever think about the spiritual implications and repercussions of what we do with our physical bodies? Are there any? If so, how far do they go?

Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the passage below, Paul is talking about fleeing sexual immorality:

1 Cor 6:12-20
'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be enslaved by anything. 'Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food'--and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 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? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Disclaimer: In no way do I think that passage means that sin is permissible. But that was another post.

The context here is sexual immorality, but the implications of our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit are far-reaching. Certainly, there are bodily consequences to sin--in the given example, sexual immorality, they can include STDs, AIDS, and children conceived outside of marriage.

Rom 1:21-27
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

But what about sins we don't talk about so much? What about gluttony?

I confess, quite often I eat more than I should (what we call "stuffing ourselves" in the South). While I don't think it's quite equivalent to sexual immorality, is it sin? Is it an offense against God for me to eat things that are bad for me?

I don't mean to sound legalistic. Look, I just ate lunch: a cheeseburger and a Coke. Not diet. Coca-Cola is actually one of the very items that made me think about this at all. My husband (half)jokingly calls it "devil water." "It's the total opposite of water," he says. "It's dark, it dehydrates you, it's full of sugar, and it rots your teeth out." He's right. Sweetened colas have been villified as a leading contributor to our nation's skyrocketing rate of Type II Diabetes cases:

"The average American consumes over 165 pounds of sugar foods yearly. In addition, we consume gallons of soft drinks, colas, tea, coffee, expresso, and alcoholic beverages - trading a few minutes of physical pleasure for years of depleted health." (link)

I've been ruminating frequently on the similarities between toxic foods and sin.

Bad Food: epicurean pleasure for a moment, but the harvest is fat and disease.
Sin: pleasure for a season, but the harvest is death (Heb 11:25, Rom 6:23).

How many times have I resolved to eat right, but I keep sneaking back to the Nerds, Fun Dip, and SweetTarts? I think the parallel between sin and all of these chemical-laden, toxic food is there. Honey is good, the Bible says, in small amounts...but there is a 'but.'

Prov 16:24
Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Prov 25:27
Just as it is not good to eat too much honey, it is not good for people to think about all the honors they deserve.

Jesus said that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a man's heart that defiles him:

Mark 7:18b-23
'Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?' (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, 'What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.'

So I am not talking about being defiled by eating in that way. But when we deliberately choose to gorge ourselves on things God never intended for us to eat, is it glorifying to Him? Can we honestly say that it totally doesn't matter, even while thousands of us are led into physical disease by what we choose to eat?

I hope this doesn't sound at all condemning. I have been really encouraged by people who are choosing to treat their bodies well, like my friend Jim at Berean Blog, in his posts here and here.

Also, I realize that our culture is totally fixated on looking like Barbie and Ken. That's not what I am talking about. I do think that despite the "idols" held up for our adoration via Hollywood, there is a gluttony and epicurean hedonism that characterizes our culture. Like most things I post about, I notice it in my own life too, and want to change. The excuses I make not to change sound too much like the excuses I hear about sin.

"But I really LIKE it! I can't live without it!"

1 Cor 6:12-13
'Everything is permissible for me'–but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me'–but I will not be mastered by anything.

Anyone want to join me and Jim in trying to do better? Jim's already fighting his flesh in this area. Let's encourage him and one another.

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