1 Corinthians 6:19-20 In the text for our meditation on God’s Word, there words that apply to every person on earth as a creature of God and there are words that apply specifically to the Christian as a child of God and as we reflect on what the Holy Spirit has to say to us today I will make that distinction clear. First of all, God says to everyone in this world: You are not your own.
Can you imagine anything more shocking to modern ears than these words? The rallying cry of the pro-choice movement is: “It’s MY body!” In our culture personal autonomy is valued above all else. Surely, the world says, if there is anything at all that we can lay claim to and call “mine” it is must be my bodily life!
But in stark opposition to those individual claims of ownership that would make seven billion gods of us all, the One, true and living God looks at every person in this world and lays claim to us and says: “mine!” And so whose claim is true: God’s or ours? We ask ourselves:
Did I make myself? Did I bring myself into being? Did I provide for myself in my mother’s womb and continue to do so over the many years it took for me to grow up and begin to care for myself so that now I can lay claim to a bodily life that belongs solely to me?
Of course not! At the very least, leaving God out of it altogether, our lives are anything but autonomous. We are the fruit of our parent’s love. We have been provided for and protected by those around us and we will continue to live this way, connected to others, dependent upon others throughout our lives.
And so from a merely human perspective, it is the worst kind of violence to deprive others of what we so vigorously maintain for ourselves—the right to a bodily life—by destroying their lives in utero or later on because they are elderly or sick or handicapped. It is nothing other than the tyranny of the strong over the weak.
But of course, we do not look at this issue from a merely human perspective as if the value and meaning of our bodily life was found only in its connection to or dependence on others. We do not ultimately belong to others—but too God. The Bible says that:
1. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” 2. “The breath of the Almighty gives me life.” 3. “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us.” 4. “O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” 5. “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?”
I could go on and on and on. There is no place in the Bible where human life—any of our lives--no matter sex or age or ability or ethnicity-- are considered anything other than the work of God, belonging to him alone.
We know that it is God who created life and continues to create life. We know that it is God who made us- and God who numbers our days- and God who will call us home when this life is over. You are not your own. God has created you. And there is even more.
You were bought with a price. These words too are spoken to every person in this world. Each of us as a keen sense of what we call “ours”. One of the first words we learn as a child is “mine” and we are ready to defend that ownership against all takers.
But God strikes at the very heart of that attitude today in the most personal way by saying that at the most fundamental level, even our bodily life is not our own because he created it and because he paid for it with most precious price of his Son’s blood.
In the beginning, when Adam and Eve sinned, at the heart of their rebellion against God was a rejection of their creaturely-ness, a rejection of the limits their Creator placed upon them, a rejection of God’s created order for their own creaturely good.
The devil told them that this was the path to freedom—that this would be the way for them to obtain a new, God-like status. Those were all lies. What they received instead of freedom--was slavery to sin. What they received instead of autonomy-- was the devil for a master. What they received instead of life --was death.
That is where we are today in what Pope John Paul II called the “culture of death” where the destruction of human life is enshrined as a virtue.
But God was not content for those who created and intended to be his children and live with him forever would instead be slaves subject to the devil and death-- and so he sent his Son into the world to buy them back form the slavery they had chosen for themselves in their blind, selfish autonomy.
The price paid to set us free was paid in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross and it was a price that HE paid for all people. The Bible says:
1. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 2. “We are convinced that Jesus died for all, therefore all died.” 3. “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours, but for the sins of the world” 4. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”
There is One and only One who can look at our lives and the lives of all people and truly say “mine” and that is the God who created us and the God who bought us at the price of his Son’s blood.
And so then, do you understand what an outrageous thing it is, what an open declaration of war it is, to say to the one, true and living God: this life belongs to me! Despite your creation of it, despite your redemption of it, this life belongs to me —it belongs to me and is mine to do with as I see fit (even to destroy it) because it is little, because it is weak, because it is broken, because it does not look like me, because it is old?!
Far, far from the destruction of bodily life that the culture says is moral and good, God says to us today: glorify God with your body. Glorify God with your body and yes, those words are spoken not only to Christians but to all people. And so then, how can all people—even unbelievers-- glorify God with their bodies?
First of all by living with integrity in your own particular place in creation. Despite what we see and hear in the culture, there are still only men and women. God made man male and female and it is not necessary to believe in God to see what is readily apparent in nature.
Second of all, by valuing the unique role of marriage in the culture. You do not have to be a Christian or believe in God at all to recognize that children are the fruit of the love that exists between men and women and that they have the best chance for a good life when they are raised by the men and women who brought them into the world in the first place.
Third, by respecting and valuing the bodily life of others. Let’s be very clear, if I have a right to a bodily life, so do those around me. And when I seek to destroy the bodily life of others (for whatever reason) I am acting in an unjust way that uses my present power and strength to destroy those who are weaker than I am, those whose lives I count as less worthy of existence than my own.
The right to life is the first of all civil rights for all other civil rights depend upon having a life in the first place and every rational person can understand that whether they are a Christian or not.
All rational, just people—whether they are Christians or not—can glorify God the Creator by living in the context of their particular place in nature and allowing others that same right to life and defending what is self-evidently true about human life and how it flourishes.
But for the Christian there is even more. We are not merely creatures, we are God’s children. We do not only have our reason to show us the truth, we have the voice of God himself in Holy Scripture. The Bible says that:
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?
These words are spoken to the children of God and especially those seated here today and the answer that God is looking for in that rhetorical question is the strongest affirmation that yes indeed, we know that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, that God himself dwells within us!
From the very beginning of the church, Christians have always lived their lives in sharp distinction from the world around them to such a degree that their lives and their values and their priorities were always commented upon by the unbelievers around them.
Christians did not destroy their children in utero and they did not expose unwanted children on the garbage heaps of Rome. Christians did not engage in pagan sexual practices and they did not abandon the wives of their youth. Christians cared for the old and sick and the poor and hungry even of those who did not share their faith.
In every way, Christians demonstrated that they understood that they were not merely physical creatures but that they were temples of the Holy Spirt, the dwelling place of God on earth, their entire lives given over to the worship and service of the God who created them and redeemed them with the price of his Son’s blood.
This is the teaching and witness of the one holy Christian and apostolic church on earth throughout the ages and it is the teaching and practice of our church today. You are not your own. You were bought with price. Glorify God in Your body. Amen.