Your Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit
St Paul in today’s Second Reading (1 Corinthians 6:13-20) tells the Corinthians something that might have sounded strange to them. He tells them to glorify God in their bodies. Corinth was a Greek city, and for the Greeks the body was an unimportant thing. For them, only the soul mattered, and they thought the soul in this life was imprisoned inside this mortal body of ours. As a result they tended to have a very lax attitude when it came to sexual morality. Since the body wasn’t important they could do with it whatever they liked. But for us as Christians, this is not the case.
Since the Incarnation, human flesh has been united to the Godhead, and so in Baptism we become part of the Body of Christ (the Church) and our body becomes a Temple of the Holy Spirit. And so St Paul then rightly says, “the body is not meant for fornication; it is for the Lord.” And in verse 16 he continues, “Do you think I can take parts of Christ’s body and join them to the body of a prostitute? Never!” What St Paul is trying to say here is that what Christians do with their bodies, Christ does through them because they are members of His Body. And this is great when we do good things, but if a person engages in mortal sin and particularly sexual sin, Paul is saying you are uniting Christ with a prostitute. And God forbid, he says, that someone do something like that. He continues, “flee from any sexual immorality” because any other sin a person commits is outside the body, but in this case he sins against his own body which is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a desecration of something that is holy and therefore a serious thing. So, says Paul, you have to understand, “You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for.” He is referring here to Christ pouring out His Blood for us on the Cross to pay the ransom for our sins.
So what does all this mean for us? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “All the baptised are called to chastity. The Christian has “put on Christ,” the model for all chastity. All Christ’s faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life” (#2348). Chastity here means to avoid all sexual sin. So those who are married are called to conjugal chastity, where sexual union and procreation are one of the ends of marriage. But the unmarried are called to chastity in continence, that is abstaining from sexual relations. Therefore, strive to be faithful because your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC