I just wrapped up teaching portions of Plato’s Gorgias to my students, and because of that, I kept thinking of a passage we discussed as I read over 1st Corinthians 6. In the Gorgias, Socrates (Plato’s spokesman in his written works) speaks of the destructive power of injustice (or as Christians would call it, sin) on the soul. He demonstrates that sin affects your soul in the same way that an illness or disease affects your body: it makes your soul “sick.” The effects of sin on your soul aren’t felt in the same way that a bodily illness is felt, though, because the soul is not physical like your body is. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re not being affected. It just means that you can’t “see” the damage being done to you, and this might mislead you into thinking that your sin isn’t hurting you.

I think Socrates’ analogy is powerful because at the very least it can help us realize that sin can hurt us and affect us without us realizing it. This is also a point Paul is trying to make in 1st Corinthians 6:18: “The sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” It’s the idea that the very essence of who we are (which can’t be separated from our bodies) is being affected by our sexual sin, even though it may not feel like we’re being affected.

Another problem with sexual sin is that God has declared our bodies precious and holy, because as Christians we have been mystically united with Christ, and have become Christ’s body on earth. Paul sandwiches verse 18 with these words in verse 17, “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” and with these words in verse 19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” Paul seems to be illustrating that in a similar way to a married couple becoming “one flesh,” we have become “one flesh” with Christ. And doesn’t sexual immorality violate and defile the union with Christ as the sexual immorality of adultery, for instance, violates the union of marriage? And let’s ponder the implications of this for a moment: any kind of sexual act that violates our “marriage” with Christ is going to harm our relationship with him, too, just as powerfully as a spouse cheating on their husband or wife will harm their relationship. It’s just as real! Just as devastating.

Now, can we feel our relationship with God being harmed through sexual immorality though? Not necessarily. And that’s the problem; it’s so easy to rationalize sexual immorality because of how good it feels in the moment. So, though it’s important not to forget that we belong to Christ no matter what we do (let’s not lose sight of this essential reality!), what is Paul’s advice for how to deal with something that can harm our relationship with God so powerfully? RUN. Away, away, away.

Ashley Carr

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