All things are permissible to me, but all things are not useful. All things are permissible to me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the belly and the belly for food, but God will destroy both one and the other. And the body is not for porneia but for the Lord and the Lord for the body.
In this introduction to his discussion of the requisite holiness of Christian bodies, Paul quotes two sayings—"all things are permissible to me" and "food is for the belly and the belly for food"122—which he then attempts to overturn with the phrase "I will not be mastered by anything." One can be under the authority of food and porneia or of "the Lord," but not all three. Again, Paul contrasts being under the authority to desire with being in the power of God. Gluttony and sexual excess often appear together as evidence of corruption and "slavishness" in Greco-Roman discourses.123 Allowing oneself to be mastered by either food or porneia was to fail in one's duties as a master of oneself and others.124 One cannot be a ruler of others if one cannot rule one's own belly and body.125 Paul also connected these two related problems, food and sex, reiterating in this passage the view that saintly bodies must be mastered by "the Lord" rather than by the belly or by sexual desire. He then went on to assert that the bodies of Christians together make up the body (soma) of Christ: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 Cor 6:15; compare 1 Cor 12:12—31; Rom 12:3—8). Thus, the metaphor of bodily enslavement to God or to sin was taken a step further: the believer's body is not only mastered by the Lord, it is a part of the body of the Lord. Together with the other "members," the follower's bodily parts make up Christ's bodily parts. Since this is the case, "members" of the community and the "members" of each body must not engage in sexual immorality.
Having claimed that each person's body is a member of Christ's body and that the body of the community is Christ's body, Paul then argues that porneia, especially porneia involving a prostitute (pornos), must not occur: "Taking the parts [ta mele] of Christ, shall I make parts of a prostitute? Certainly not!" (1 Cor 6:15b). Paul added that the one who employs a prostitute "sins against his own body,"126 as well as against the body of Christ, since his body is a "temple of the holy spirit" (6:19). By piling up metaphors—ownership by the Lord versus ownership by food and sex, the believer's bodily parts as Christ's bodily parts, the believer's body as a temple of the holy spirit (1 Cor 6:19—20, 10:14—22, 12:12—31)—Paul made the purity of the church dependent upon the sexual purity of the believers.127 Bodies must be kept "pure" because they signify the social, as well as the individual body. Keeping body and community "pure" in Corinth meant avoiding intercourse with prostitutes (1 Cor 6:15-16).128 It also meant refusing to tolerate sexual immorality of any kind among (1 Cor 5:1-13), holding fast to hierarchical "natural" sex,129 exercising self-control (1 Cor 7:9), and engaging in intercourse only within the context of marriage (1 Cor 7:1-9, 36-38).
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