Sex is not like eating food

“Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will do away with both of them.  However, the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  God raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
-1 Corinthians 6:13-14

Does this verse teach that we will not eat in heaven?  No, it does not.  We will not eat food in heaven stay alive and of course there will be no restrooms.  But, we will enjoy food, and celebrate with the Lord together in heaven; having fellowship, and glorifying God, in our eating.  

Jesus said this, at the last supper:

Then he said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. (Luke 22:15-17)

Jesus also said this:

I tell you that many will come from east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 8:11)

John recorded this:

Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.” (Rev. 19:9)

1 Corinthians 6:13 teaches that sex, immoral sex; which is sex outside the boundaries of marriage, is not like getting some food and eating, to satisfy your hunger.

These are some notes from scholars:

There is debate as to the extent of the Corinthian slogan which Paul quotes here. Some argue that the slogan is only the first sentence—“Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food”—with the second statement forming Paul’s rejoinder, while others argue that the slogan contains both sentences (as in the [NET] translation above). The argument which favors the latter is the tight conceptual and grammatical parallelism which occurs if Paul’s response begins with “The body is not for sexual immorality” and then continues through the end of v. 14. (NET Bible footnote)

Dr. Thomas Constable

The first part of this verse is similar to the two parts of the previous verse.

(“Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be mastered by anything.)

It contains a statement that is true, and it may have been a Corinthian slogan, but a qualifier follows. Food is not a matter of spiritual significance for the Christian, except that gluttony is a sin. As far as what we eat goes, we may eat anything and be pleasing to God (Mark 7:19). He has not forbidden any foods for spiritual reasons, though there may be physical reasons we may choose not to eat certain things. Both food and the stomach are physical and temporal. Paul may have referred to food here, not because it was an issue, but to set up the issue of the body and sexual immorality. However, gluttony and immorality often went together in Greek and Roman feasts. So gluttony may have been an issue.[Keener, p. 57.] As food is for the stomach, so the body is for the Lord.

“Not only are meats made for the belly, but the belly, which is essential to physical existence, is made for meats, and cannot exist without them.”[Robertson and Plummer, p. 123.]

The same is not true of the body and fornication. Paul constructed his argument like this.

Proposition 1:

Part 1: Food is for the stomach [A, B], and the stomach is for food [B, A].

Part 2: God will destroy the stomach [B] and the food [A].

Proposition 2:

Part 1: The body is for the Lord [A, B] (not for sexual immorality), and the Lord is for the body [B, A].

Part 2: God has raised the Lord [B], and He will raise us [A] (by His power).

One might conclude, and some in Corinth were evidently doing so, that since sex was also physical and temporal it was also irrelevant spiritually.[Barrett, p. 147.] However this is a false conclusion. The body is part of what the Lord saved and sanctified. Therefore it is for Him, and we should use it for His glory, not for fornication. Furthermore the Lord has a noble purpose and destiny for our bodies. He is for them in that sense.

The Lord will resurrect the bodies of most Christians in the future, all but those that He catches away at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17). The resurrection of our bodies shows that God has plans for them. Some in Corinth did not believe in the resurrection, but Paul dealt with that later (ch. 15). Here he simply stated the facts without defending them.

“The body of the believer is for the Lord because through Christ’s resurrection God has set in motion the reality of our own resurrection. This means that the believer’s physical body is to be understood as ‘joined’ to Christ’s own ‘body’ that was raised from the dead.”[Fee, The First . . ., p. 258.]

 

Ben Witherington III, p. 168 ; wrote:

It is hard to say whether the Corinthian slogan quoted in verse 13 consists of only the first sentence or also includes “and God will destroy it all.”  The latter seems most likely , in which case they reasoned “The body for food and vice versa.  What does it matter since God will destroy it all?”25  On this view Paul agrees with their premise, but then in the rest of the verse makes it clear that this principle does not apply to the body in all its activities.  But if Paul adds “and God will destroy it all,” his meaning is that “one who lives by and for his or her belly will ultimately be destroyed by God.26  In any event, Paul stresses that the body belongs to the Lord because God’s Sprit dwells in the Christian so that God has rights over the Christian and because the Christian’s body has been bought by God by the sacrifice of Christ.  Thus the bodies of Christians are not their own to do with as they please, but God’s to do with what God pleases.

Verse 14 establishes a principle to be elaborated in ch. 15 at great length.  Just as God raised Christ, so also will God raise Christians.  Salvation in the Christian worldview entails the body, and therefore what one does with one’s body, and therefor what one does with one’s body has moral consequences.  The Greek idea of immorality of the soul is not Paul’s idea of eternal life.

25. In view of this slogan and the Epicurean-sounding quotation in 15:32, one wonders if the “strong” in Corinth had been influenced by Epicurean philosophy.  Cf. Fiore, “Passion in Paul and Plutarch,” in Greeks, Romans and Christians: Essays in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbre, ed. D. L. Balch, E Ferguson, and W. A. Meeks (Minneapolis: Fortress: 1990), pp. 135-43.  Plutarch argues against locating all of the good in the belly an other pleasure centers of the body (Suav. Viv. 1086C-1107C).

26. Hedonism is no Christian virtue and gluttony is positively a sin, a form of greed applied to food.

F.F. Bruce, pp. 62-3:

13. ‘Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food’: again we should probably recognize a catchword of the gnosticizing party which emphasized that the body and everything pertaining to it belonged to the category of religiously indifferent things.  So far as food was concerned, Paul would go most of the way with them (cf. 8.8, Rom 14.17, ‘the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink…’); but he knew that for some of them the corollary held good: ‘sexual relations for the body and the body for sexual relations; lawful ot illicit, such things are irrelevant to the spiritual life’.  (Food and sex are bracketed together in the Jerusalem decree of Ac. 15.29 and in Rev. 2.14, 20.)

and God will destroy them both one and the other: this too may have been part of the libertine argument: since food and stomach alike will pass away, will attach religious importance to either- or, for that matter, to sexual relations?  Paul agreed that food and drink and the like were ‘things which all perish as they are used’ (Col. 2:22); in respect of them the conscience of the Christian was subject to no one’s judgement (Rom. 14:3; Col. 2:16). But sexual relations were on a completely different footing; they affected the personalities of the parties involved as food did not.  Jesus had contrasted food, which ‘goes into a man from outside’ and ‘cannot defile him’ with those ‘evil things’ which ‘come from within, and… defile a man’, and among the later he included fornication (Mark 7:18-23). It was one thing to speak slightingly of the stomach -Paul himself could warn his converts against certain people whose ;god is their belly’ (Phil. 3:19, where the same word koilia is used)- but the body falls within the scope of Christ’s saving and sanctifying work: it is for the Lord, not for fornication.  The koilia, related to the exigencies of this mortal life, may indeed disappear, but since the Lord is for the body, a nobler destiny lies in store for it.

14.  Although some of the Corinthian Christians did not believe it (15.12), the Lord’s care for the body would be finally manifested by its resurrection: God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power (cf. Rom 6.4; 8.23). Here, as in 2 C. 4.14, Paul includes himself among those who will experience the resurrection, whereas in 1 Th. 4:15, 17, he had included himself among those who would be alive at the parousia.  He makes no dogmatic affirmation either way, but, as time went on, the likelihood of his dying before the parousia increased (see notes on 2 C. 5.1ff.).  As in 15.20ff., the resurrection of Christ is the pattern and precondition of his people’s resurrection (cf. Rom. 8.11; Phil. 3.21).  The resurrection body would be a body of a different order (15.42ff.). but sufficiently continuous with the present mortal body to demand reverence for the latter.

Gathering in Christ – Eating & Discussion

On the first day of the week, as we gathered together for a meal, Paul was holding a discussion with them. Since he was leaving the next day, he continued talking until midnight.

On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight.

On the first day of the week, when the disciples were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and continued his speech until midnight.

-Acts 20:7 (CEB, NRSV, WEB)
When Christians gather together, Christ is the center.  Jesus taught the first disciples to remember him when they met together, in the meal that they ate together.

Later on, this was changed to the Roman Catholic way of taking a sip and a nibble from a priest.  The Protestant Reformation changed this a little, but we are still not celebrating or remembering or communing with Christ the way that he modeled and the way the church in the NT did.

The meeting of the church is for Christ and about Christ.  I want to find Christ in a Christian gathering.  Why do you go to church?

The early church, recorded in scripture, gathered together to break bread or have a meal.  Some would argue, and I agree with them, that breaking bread means having communion (The Eucharist, The Lord’s Supper) in the context of a meal together.

That’s church.

The breaking of bread probably denotes a fellowship meal in the course of which the Eucharist is celebrated (cf. Acts 2:42).  -F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts (1979)

The first thing is that they gathered for a meal.  The second thing is that Paul had a discussion with them.  It was a dialogue, a back and forth; discourse and response, living room style.  I love these words about this sort of thing from Michael Green, that Dave Black quoted:

The home is a priceless asset. It is informal and relaxed. It makes participation easy. The teacher is not six feet above contradiction and there is no temptation to put on a performance.

Having a dialogue or a discussion is so much better than listening to a speech.  That was what Paul did here.  Paul might have done the majority of the talking, but there were questions or responses from the others and possibly, interruptions.  I’m betting that Paul liked it.

Hungry learners ask lots of questions.  Discussions and dialog-ing are far more productive for learning than monologues or speeches.

We could make the case that Jesus instituted having a celebratory, remembering meal; when his disciples gather.  We could also say that he never said that we should have a sermon when the church gathers.

The modern sermon tradition has its roots in the 3rd & 4th centuries, in how the church changed; and in the protestant reformation and puritan tradition. You can read all about it in Frank Viola & George Barna’a book, Pagan Christianity (chapter 4).

We tend to read the Bible through the lens of our traditions. I have heard or read preachers argue for weekly preaching on the basis on Acts 20:7. Often, the translators themselves are biased toward traditions.

Sermons have fallen on hard times in many places.  Stuart Murray Williams wrote:

Research into the effectiveness of sermons has uncovered worrying evidence that all preachers need to take seriously. North American and European studies have produced similar results: somewhere between 65% and 90% of those interviewed directly after the meeting ended could not say what the main point of the sermon was or what issue it was addressing. Again, it is possible to argue that sermons are about more than information, that they impact the heart as well as the mind – but is that an adequate response?

How much preaching is a sheer waste of time? We pray, we study, we reflect, we craft a sermon, we illustrate it with stories, we deliver it with passion and integrity – but it has very little impact on those who listen to it. They are too polite to say so usually, but it did not really engage their attention, address their concerns or affect their lives. Some give up after a few weeks or several years and leave our churches. How many of the thousand people a week who have left British churches in the 1980s and 1990s did so because they were bored by our sermons? Others remain and listen to perhaps 100 sermons a year, but with what result?

Jeremy Thomson, a lecturer in Religious Studies at Birkbeck College, has explored this topic in a Grove booklet entitled Preaching as Dialogue: Is the Sermon a Sacred Cow? He writes in the introduction: ‘For all the effort of preparing, delivering and listening to sermons, most church members are not as mature as we might expect as a result. Why is this? Of course, there are bad sermons, and there are preachers whose lives are inconsistent with their teaching. But people may listen week by week to the best prepared and presented sermons, given by thoroughly sincere preachers, and yet make little progress in Christian discipleship. Some preachers blame congregations for a lack of expectancy that God will speak, for an inability to listen to a “solid exposition”, or even for disobedience to what they hear. But I suspect that there is a more significant factor in the failure rate of the sermon than the quality of the preacher or the responsiveness of the hearers. I want to suggest that the problem lies in our concept of preaching itself.’

Jesus said, “do this in remembrance of me”.  Do what?  He said to eat together, with him (the Lord) in our midst. That’s the Lord’s Supper!

People naturally talk when they are eating.  Except, don’t talk with your mouths full!  Christians, who have Christ in them, bring Christ in them, when they gather.  There will be sharing, dialogue and discussion.  Welcome to a meal with Christ!

This is the church as described in the snap-shots that we have of it in the NT.  Other snap-shots show an interactive body of people, where everybody has a voice and a hand.  There is no clergy/laity divide in the NT.  We are all priests, we all have Christ in us.  Some are gifted to teach, but that’s not all we do.

I believe that we should have a higher view of preaching, in the Karl Barth & Dietrich Bonhoeffer tradition AND I believe that church gatherings can be and should be so much more than one person talking.

I remember hearing the story, in which God showed someone what this new church would be like, and he said that it would be like when people gather in a kitchen.

Talking, eating, some standing, and some seated.  Casual, not pretentious; shared life together.  This would be the essence of this new church.

Jesus is the builder of the church.  What does his church look like?
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For further reading & study:

Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola & George Barna
Interactive Preaching by Stuart Murray Williams

A critique of Norrington’s book, by Chris Altrock
Eric Capenter – Acts 20:7 Gatherings 

Sharing Food is The Heart of God

Don’t grieve a hungry person, and don’t make a person in dire straits angry.
You should not despise the hungry soul, and you should not aggravate a poor man in his need.
-Sirach 4:2 (CEB & CPDV1)

A number of years ago, there was a young man I would see on the corner, who was asking for hand outs.  One day, as I was giving him a drink of water; a middle-aged man with a pony-tail, driving an older Mercedes coupe, called out to me from his car window, “don’t give him anything, I know him and he is a ____.”

If you had to boil all sin down to one common denominator, I think it would be pride.  Pride is always looking for a way to look down on others.  Pride always says, “I am God”.

The person following Christ and saved by Christ has walked away from the life of pride.  Jesus humbled himself to come to earth to save mankind.  Christ followers humble themselves before God and in this life with other people and do not look down on others.  Many people who are in Christ now realize they would not be alive today without Jesus and live each day in that thankful reality.

The Jewish people who were wanting to walk with God and do the right thing in the one or two hundred years before Jesus Christ and the early church of Christ were very interested in godly wisdom.  The book of Sirach was so popular with the early church that it was nicknamed the “church book”.  Those who were new in Christ had the same questions of, “now how shall we live?”  Here is an 8 minute video on Sirach by a couple of theologians at the University of Nottingham, if you want to learn a bit more about Sirach.

Poor people, hungry people, or people who lack have feelings too.  They can be grieved and they can be made to feel despised.  They can be made angry and they can be aggravated.  Wisdom says to you and me, “don’t do it”.  Don’t grieve them, don’t despise them.

Hungry people are hungry for what they are in lack of.  For homeless or poor people, that is food.  To not grieve them would mean to meet the need that causes the hunger.  To not despise would mean to honor and love with action by feeding and clothing and befriending.

These words, like much wisdom, sound like common sense.  It is sanctified common sense.  But, many people who say they are Christ followers grieve and despise hungry people.  We do that by ignoring them, judging them unfit for our care, and we even adopt crass, twisted theology that says they are getting their punishment.  I’m embarrassed to even type those words.

If we have been filled, the gospel gives us an obligation to meet the need of the hungry people we encounter, especially in the church community.  Notice that Jesus says, “give us the bread we need for today”(Matt. 6:11).  I’m afraid that in our western rugged individual, consumerist, narcissistic christian culture; we think Jesus says to us to pray instead, “give me today my daily bread”.  We apply “us” to “self” and “we” to “me and my immediate family”.

My pastor taught us that “daily bread” means, “tomorrow’s bread today”.  He said this because the Greek word for daily is a word that means a lot more than daily.  It means “the coming day”, or literally “super substantial”.  Donald Hagner  suggested the translation, “give us today the eschatological bread that will be ours in the future”2.  Dr. Hagner argues that Jesus instructs us the pray for bread for all, with the banquet in heaven in mind, where there will be no hunger.

All Christians are one church in Christ.  Jesus is the one loaf:

Since there is one loaf of bread, we who are many are one body, because we all share the one loaf of bread.  -1 Corinthians 10:17

So, we all share Christ and we also share bread, so that no one among us is hungry.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about this in Life Together:

“We share our bread.  Thus, we are firmly bound to one another not only in the Spirit, but with our whole physical being.  The one bread that is given to our community unites us in a firm covenant.  Now no one must hunger as long as another has bread, and whoever shatters this community of our bodily life also shatters the community of the Spirit.  Both are inextricably linked together.  For the Lord meets us in the hungry.”

I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.  -Matthew 25:35

Bonhoeffer finally says:

“As long as we eat our bread together, we will have enough even with the smallest amount.  Hunger only begins when people desire to keep their own bread for themselves.  That is a strange divine law.  Could not the story of the feeding of the 5,000 with two fish and five loaves have this meaning among many others?3

True walking with God is lived out in sharing food (Isaiah 58:17).  Sharing is the heart of God (John 3:16) and sharing food is part of that.  Feeding the hungry and sharing bread is the heart of God that we share.  The table of fellowship and the extension of that table into the world, is a place of sharing and stopping hunger.  This is authentic living in Christ and authentic ministry.

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1.  Catholic Public Domain Version (2009): a new translation of the Latin Vulgate, using the Douay Rheims as a guide.
2.  Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, Word Biblical Commentary, 1993; pp. 144-50.
3.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, pp. 73-74
The work of art above is by: Sperindio Cagnola, Works of Mercy (Feed the hungry), 1514 -24, Paruzzaro, San Marcello Church.

Sharing food

I heard someone postulate that the reason for Buca de Beppo being so popular is that people crave a family shared dining experience because of the lack of hospitality in our society. Maybe people don’t even know exactly why they like it, but at Buca de Beppo, each dish is designed to serve at least four adults and you have to share and pass the serving plates. There is something good that happens when you share your food.

Some foods that have this community affect that I like:

  • Chips and dips…. nearly all appetizer plates because you have to share them.
  • Large pizzas.
  • Extra long family or party style sandwiches or burritos that you share.
  • Pitchers or large bottles of drinks you share.
  • Loafs or baskets of bread that you share.
  • A big pot of soup or chili that you share from (ladeling into your own bowl!).
  • Fondue!

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