There’s quite a bit of confusion in our culture in regard to the body. There are those (men and women) who absolutely worship it and will stop at nothing (augment, tuck, lift, implant, fill, suction, weird diets, supplements, ridiculous treatments, bizarre clothes, etc.) in pursuing what they regard as the perfect look. Once they believe they’ve achieved this, they take their worship to the next level by recruiting followers to their cult of the “beautiful” body. They seem to regard their appearance as a character accomplishment rather than the unhealthy obsession that it is. They cannot take enough pictures of themselves and in a curious mixture of ego and insecurity, cannot stop posting them for the world to see and comment on. And of course, a sufficient number will say complimentary things and feed the addiction so that it keeps going. It’s an unhealthy cycle that never ends well.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who loathe their body because it isn’t a certain shape, size or look. These are counterbalanced by a rising group who overreacts to this by glorying in bodies that do not represent a healthy lifestyle. Then there’s the crowd that wants everyone to know that their body belongs to them and they can do with it whatever they want whether it’s taking drugs, living promiscuously or ending the life of the unborn inside them.
The collective result of all of this is that it’s like being in a house of mirrors at an amusement park or fair—everything is distorted and you don’t see anything as it really is.
At least some at Corinth belonged to this latter category. They were of the mindset that they had the “right” to satisfy their bodily desires in whatever way they saw fit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). After all, these desires were “natural” (i.e., what their body wanted) so it couldn’t be wrong to fulfill them, could it? Paul brings this destructive line of thinking to a halt by informing them they are to glorify God with their body because 1) it belongs to Him (“you were bought at a price”) and 2) it is where He dwells through the Spirit (v. 19-20).
With this he brings clarity to the house of mirrors. Our body is not to be worshiped (or despised); it is to be used in worshiping God. Because it belongs to Him, our body is to be nurtured and taken care of. Furthermore, God has created all bodies with the capability of being used to bring glory to Him so one is as good as another. Our Father is much more interested in what our bodies are used for than in how we or others think they look. Though it means swimming upstream against cultural currents, we would wise to adopt the same perspective.
In this regard, Paul has some words later on in 1 Corinthians that while speaking to something else entirely, have relevance here. The words are Christ’s in instituting the Lord’s Supper. Paul tells us He took the bread and after He had given thanks, He broke it and said, in “This is My body, which is for you” (11:24). When we truly have a grip on what God has done and is doing for us through Christ, everything else becomes secondary. Out of grateful hearts and purposeful spirits we say to Him, “This is my body, which is for you.” That would be living as Christ lived.