Flee Immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Flee immorality. Every [other] sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

1 Corinthians 6:18

Growing up where I did is full of advantages. There was not much crowding until I was into my late teens. Housing was affordable — still is more affordable than where I currently live. There were plenty of local places to hang out and no one seemed to mind teenagers sitting around on the block walls just having a bit of a palaver.

There were distinct problems with where I grew up, too. The weather forecast was usually hot with a chance of outskirts of Hell. There was not all that much to do, really, and most activities required a bit of a drive to somewhere else. Hang with friends? No problem. Actually do anything? Get in your car. And there were (and still are) the ubiquitous billboards. More recently, things have grown somewhat tame and I am grateful for it, but the billboards present during my adolescence were most often for strip clubs and the advertisers pushed the boundaries to see how much of the human body they could show before a public outcry resulted. That sort of club was so common in that area that I was acquainted with a young woman who worked in one. To really make it awkward, I was a tutor for students with special needs and she was a student at the continuation school where I worked. She was not one of my students, but she was friends with one or more of them, and she invited both one of her teachers and myself to come see her perform. The levels of inappropriate there are off the charts. Neither he nor I ever took her up on the offer, though we did visit a restaurant (I think) where she was tending bar some years later.

All of this loops back around to this morning’s verse. Flee immorality. There is a host of excellent reasons why Paul delivers this instruction and Paul gives one of them. I want to elaborate on a few more.

Paul’s reason is the best: the immoral man sins against his own body. The human body comes equipped with what scientists sometimes call a biological imperative to procreate. Our bodies have plenty of biological imperatives: food, drink, sleep … actually, that might be most of the list. But there is something that is often overlooked about these so-called imperatives: We can deny these imperatives for varying periods of time without detriment. People can fast; eat no food for a period of time and cause themselves no harm. We can do without drink for a while (not very long). We can even go without sleep for a bit (most estimates I have read place it at about two days). And we can not procreate without suffering any adverse side effects. Based on how The Media portrays it, one might think that extremities will begin to wither and drop off if we do not procreate, but that simply is not the case. And to commit immorality; to attempt procreation in a manner not sanctioned by God is to do irreparable damage to our souls and psyche and emotions and bodies. We are marked. From personal experience, I can say that immorality is something that refuses to go away. Years after a single failure to obey God in this arena and the mind and body and emotions still twitch like a reflex when something brings that failure to remembrance. And my soul aches anew at my failure to obey. This is not to say that God has not forgiven me, but my own body is the traitor that recalls things best left forgotten. So, it is best to flee immorality and be as far from potential failure as possible.

It is also most prudent to flee immorality because fighting it is most often a losing battle. As mentioned, there is a so-called biological imperative to procreate, so immorality takes a legitimate desire — one that could even be an act of obedience to God’s command to Adam and Eve that they be fruitful and multiply, if it were observed in the correct context —and warps it. These are, in my experience, the most difficult temptations to resist, because there is a legitimate and sometimes even laudable way that this thing could be done. Paul notes that I can eat or drink or do most anything to the glory of God. My biological urges are not always inherently bad. But I will never be content or at peace unless I sate those desires in the way that God commands me. Food is good, but many have fallen prey to the temptation to eat more than is necessary (myself included). Not eating can be good, but there are many who have fallen into the error of starving themselves — which is not good. Likewise procreation can be good and even condoned by God … even praised by Him. But only in the place He has made for it. Immorality removes the satiation of that desire from its right place and puts it elsewhere. And, because the desire has a right and good way it can be sated, it is an even more difficult temptation to resist. So the best course of action is to simply flee immorality.

Lest anyone think this entry is a condemnation on them or any particular form of immorality; of sexual sin, I write this to my own exhortation. I have been guilty of immorality and the temptation remains. It always remains. But God is faithful and is able to make my feet like hind’s feet, so I can book it into rocky, mountainous places where the temptation cannot follow. Flee immorality.

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