Posts tagged ‘Singular’

Weekend Extra – It’s Not Yours!

“It’s my body and I can do what I want with it.”  If you’ve parented a teenager, then you may have heard these words before, usually in an attempt to justify some dangerous behavior such as underage drinking, abusing illegal or controlled substances, or engaging in promiscuity.  This phrase has also been wielded to support abortion rights.  I even stumbled across a “Facebook” page of this name in support of those who want to get tattooed and pierced, much to their parents’ chagrin.

“It’s my body and I can do what I want with it.”  As much as some might wish this to be true, it is patently false.  On the one hand, there are some things which are simply physiologically impossible for us to do with our bodies.  We cannot force our bodies to produce healthy tissue rather than tissue which is cancerous.  We cannot stop our bodies from aging.  We cannot compel our bodies to work without rest.  We cannot drink excessively without suffering a hangover.  The bare restraints of nature constrain us to confess that our bodies are not always ours to do with as we please.

On the other hand, there are some things that, even if they are physiologically possible for us to do, are not beneficial.  As the apostle Paul reminds us, “‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Excessive drinking, chain smoking, and raunchy promiscuity are examples of such activities which are not beneficial to us, for they hurt our bodies.  And because they hurt our bodies, they dishonor God, for God has created and still cares for our bodies.

In our text for this past weekend, Paul exhorts us, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). There are a couple of things that are especially notable about this verse.  First, Paul reminds us that our bodies, rather than being used to chase after every hedonistic whim, should be used in worship of God.  That is, all that we say, think, and do with our bodies ought to give glory to the Creator rather than defy His commands and intentions.  For finally, our bodies belong to God:  “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Because things like promiscuity or substance abuse defy God’s commands and intentions, they ought to be eschewed by us.

Second, it is important to notice Paul’s subtle shift from the plural to the singular in this verse:  “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”  There are many bodies worshipping God, but only one living sacrifice to God.  Why is this important?  Because it reminds us that not only do our bodies belong to God, they also belong to each other.  We are to come together to offer a single, unified sacrifice of worship with our lives to God.  This is why Paul continues, “We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5).  We belong to each other!  Thus, any protestation that says “It’s my body and I can do what I want with it” is wrong not only because it’s insufferably bombastic, but also because what I do with my body really does effect others, if not physically, then at least spiritually or emotionally.  And, as a person who is called to love others, I should worship with my body in such a way that not only guards against personal ill effects, but against corporate ill effects as well.

It’s not your body and you cannot do with it as you want.  Though this may sound strange to a culture that bows at the altar of rugged individualism, it is actually a precious truth.  For God’s will for our bodies is always better than our whims for our bodies.  And so we trust Him with our bodies – to the glory of God and in the service of others.

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January 24, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

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