Whose temples?

January 9, 2012

For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which
includes Weems's current Living by the Word column as well as past magazine
and blog content. For full-text access to all articles, subscribe to the
Century.

It's hard to believe that any preacher would choose to
preach on this week's epistle reading. There are words here rarely spoken in
our sanctuaries, and using this text might get a preacher sent to
denominational reform school.

I do not recommend this passage. And that is why it should
be preached.

There are myriad ways this passage has been used to scare
the "living daylights" (as my grandmother would say) out of impressionable
parishioners tempted by the things of the flesh. I cannot say I spend any
significant time preaching about the sins of this very flesh. Although perhaps
I should.

Like most places in our culture, the congregation I pastor
and the community I serve are inundated with images that present our bodies as our own temples, not the temple of
God. Here in South Florida, I see more flesh each day than I care to--flesh in
an array of tones and colors, flesh that has been wonderfully made by the God
whom Paul so powerfully defends in this letter to the church in Corinth.

But so often the flesh I see is bruised, broken, marked,
stretched and given away like a set of worn-out clothes than can easily be
replaced. Paul knew what we so often forget: that our bodies are more than
flesh and bone. They are gateways to a temple, sanctuaries for our
Spirit-filled, blessed and beloved souls. And they are of God.

What would it take for us to preach boldly about bodies? How
might our parishioners, broken and bruised and stretched, enter a worship
service that allows them to feel physical wholeness while singing, praying and
hearing the word of God proclaimed? How might we all leave worship more
committed to a soul and a body that honor the God who created them?

Print Friendly and PDF

Email this page