People, Pulpit & Pews
“In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths”
(Proverbs 3:6) by Mercedes Needle, Religion Editor
By Pastor Mark Jeske St. Marcus Lutheran Church
Do you remember hearing about the big Secret Service scandal in Columbia? It happened in Cartagena in 2012. There was an international gathering of heads of state, and President Obama was scheduled to go. A 12-man security detail from the president’s Secret Service went to scope out the transportation routes and place of meeting in order to provide maximum security for our president. Obviously this was supersecret information.
The men worked during the day, but at night it was time to play, so they rented some prostitutes. At least one of them got into an argument with one of the women over the price. She pounded on the door of the hotel, furious and convinced that she had been cheated out of fifty or a hundred dollars or something. Hotel security was called, the whole thing came out, and there was a massive uproar because it was a huge security breach. The information that those 12 men knew was extremely important and valuable. Prostitutes have often been used in surveillance and in the security business to try to compromise people and use the relationship for blackmail or extortion. By having these prostitutes present, the agents put our nation’s security and the safety of our president at risk.
So what’s the connection between prostitutes in Cartagena and the resurrection of Jesus? Here’s the point: Our bodies really do matter.
First Corinthians 6:12-20 is a section of Scripture that talks about our bodies and sexual immorality. There were people in the congregation at Corinth who were trying to justify their committing of adultery. Starting in verse 12, St. Paul lays out the argumentation that he was hearing from these members in Corinth.
Now I think prostitution mostly goes this way—men pay for it and women take the money and give themselves, or rent themselves. Of course, there are other variations on it, but that’s the main one and that’s certainly what happened in Cartagena, Columbia.
Here’s the defense the men in Corinth used for their behavior: “Everything is permissible for me. Paul, didn’t you teach us that we are free in Christ? So we’re free; everything’s permissible! Didn’t you say, Paul, stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made you free? Well, this is my liberty. I choose to do it. Didn’t you just tell us we’re free?”
But Paul said, “Not everything is beneficial. You are not free to hurt other people, and you’re not free to hurt yourself or to hurt your God.” “Everything’s permissible for me,” they said. But Paul said, “Not if you get addicted to it.” And sex is as addictive as any drug or any glass of alcohol ever was, isn’t it? Paul said, “I will not be mastered by anything. I will not become a slave to my appetites and neither should you.”
Here is another argument the members were using: “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food.” In other words, it’s just an appetite. There’s no big morality play in eating. It’s just food; it’s just a bodily thing like going to the bathroom. Don’t make such a big deal out of sex. It’s just another bodily function. “God will destroy them both anyway, right?” In other words, “We’re dying. These are just rent-a-bodies. We’re just cruising around in them. Have a little fun on your way. Good grief!”
And sad to say, my generation—sometimes called the boomers—has a lot to be sorry for about the mess we’ve made in morals. There has always been adultery in American history, and there certainly was in my parents’ generation. But my generation did its best to advocate adultery without rules and guilt. We also advocated free love.
But let me ask you this—free and love are two words that don’t belong together, do they? Think about it. Free means you’re set loose from something; you’re cut loose from obligation; you are at liberty.
It means you can do what you want. Isn’t that what you understand by free? Love is a connector. True love is connecting, bonding; it’s commitment. Love means I’m there for you and with you no matter what. Free means cutting off commitments.
Love means making commitments. Those two things don’t belong together. My generation lied to America . There is free lust and free adultery, but there’s no such thing as free love; there’s only expensive love, commitment love, bonded love, permanent love.
The Holy Spirit loves you so much that He has come to live within you and is essentially in a wrestling match with your foolish brain for all the years of your life. First, he manages to bring your foolish rebellious heart into alignment and convert you into being a believer. Then he stays with you to persuade you not to commit spiritual suicide. He lives in the garbage that you often keep in your heart and in your feelings and in your brain. The Spirit loves you enough to stay with you; He’s committed to you. If the Spirit wanted His freedom, He’d ditch you and me as not being worth the effort. But, He loves you and me too much to do that. That is love.
And Paul reminds us that what we do with our bodies really matters: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” This is a reminder that you were made; you didn’t create yourself. You didn’t design yourself; you were designed with a purpose.
I’m not trained in human biology, but I know just enough to realize a “wow” factor when I see one. Somebody explained to me once what my kidneys do, and I want you to think about your kidneys for a minute. Every pump of your heart sends a new surge of blood through your kidneys. Did you know that your bloodstream is a two-way street?
It not only brings oxygen and protein to your muscles to refresh, strengthen, and give them fuel to burn and material with which to rebuild their torn and broken cell structure, but your blood is also the department of sanitation for your body.
Your bloodstream picks up the trash. Everything you do—eye blinks, hand movements, footsteps— generates poisons that are toxic to your body. How do you think the poisons get out? It starts with your blood. Your blood washes the trash out of your body by collecting it.
And the chemical poisons are extracted from your bloodstream by your kidneys in only one second. They chemically disassemble part of your blood and extract the urea, the acids, out of it and then dump it into a holding tank, where it is then disposed of.
In only one second. Isn’t that incredible?
You were made by the Lord for the Lord, and your body was meant to be used in service to the Lord, not in adultery and sexual immorality and not in service to sin.
Now look at 1 Corinthians 6 verse 14: “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” Your body matters! “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.”
At first this paragraph may seem as if it’s only directed to males, but I hasten to add that you can only have business when there is a two-way contract. Women are complicit in this as well by finding ways, immoral ways, to get money.
Men perhaps rent for sexual gratification; women do it for money.
Both are bad motivations to be engaged in this business. “He who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”
Here are a couple of powerful points that we need to think about.
One is that your body has been redeemed from sin as well as your soul. Christ Jesus saved your soul, but he saved your body too.
Your body is immortal. It’s not just a rusting taxi that is slowly falling apart that soon you’ll need to ditch.
Your body is immortal. It was designed for all eternity.
Part 2 next week.