‘Control your own body’

Paul in 1 Thessalonians calls on the church to live in a manner that will please God.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7, NIV)

This is not by any means a unique passage in the New Testament.

So, how do we interpret Paul’s words here? What does it mean to control our bodies in holy and honorable ways?

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10 thoughts on “‘Control your own body’

  1. My wife was just saying how she wishes something in our house could be hers alone. I said “we should have thought of that before having 5 kids.” We’ve lost rights to certain things. We then moved to how becoming a Christian is similar. We lose rights to our body b Paul says we’ve been bought with a price, glorify God in your body. Whatever this means, I think it must at least begin with aligning our desires to what God says are right and not what we feel is right.

  2. Self-control is a virtue in the bible while self-expression is not.

    In other words, the opposite of where much of the UMC is headed.

  3. I once worked with a 7th Day Adventist brother – We both (and I still) work at a gay-owned business, where most of the employees here are gay – I am not and that’s fine. I mentioned to this brother that we have several openly gay members in our church. I seemed quite surprised and asked why we don’t “kick them out”. My response to him was to ask him if his church had members in active sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage. He responded that they have lots of people in that state. So in kind, I asked him the same question, why they did not “kick them out”. He replied that the church would be empty if they did that. I think this passage points to THE bigger issue: that we don’t preach sexual morality in the church, we just turn aside and let all of that continue without any word of warning. The overriding principles in the Book of Discipline is that sex outside of the bonds of Holy matrimony is not a part of God’s plan for our lives. So we as a church fail this passage and the book of discipline. I think we need to get the larger house at least aware of their failings before we continue to point our fingers at the margins. But alas… it will never happen.

  4. The Seventh Day Adventists are very concerned about immorality in their ranks. They have taken steps to address this faithfully, redemptively. This is not a question of “throwing people out,” but of being truthful about what scripture teaches. Not the blinkered trimmings of United Methodism. Many lecherous rascals eventually come to their senses and shuck their former ways of life to come home to a loving Father. And when they come home, they want a church that preaches the whole package without stumbling over the hard bits. (Ask me how I know this…)

      1. Yes, John, right on cue! The parable of the Loving Father cuts right through my own family. I’ve never made headway with them by cutting scripture to absolve their sins, but through prayer (and enduring love) in spite of their sins. When the crisis comes (which it inevitably does), the most reprobate, impervious, lost one may be utterly engulfed by (what we used to call) “conversion” (a real devil-shellacking moment of clarity). My amoral sister-in-lawn (stripper and sapphic, recovering addict and felon) recently had her own come-to-Jesus moment. What she sought, at that point, was strong medicine, no bromides for the soul, no rainbow-decorated chapel. We linked her up with a church that preaches real bloody redemption and radical transformation through the gospel.

  5. Hey Gary, I in no way ever intended to make any kind of statement of any condition the Seventh Day Adventist church may be in. It was a simple anecdote that was meant only to shed light on the over-all condition of the church. This co-worker never told me how when and why they preach personal sexual Holiness, it was a simple conversation. I hope no one takes it any other way but that. Yet I have no doubt that EVERY church struggles with this issue, Some I’m sure DO preach sexual morals more than others, but all churches have both saved and lost, both healthy and unhealthy Christians. As a United Methodist, I feel only just slightly qualified to be in the discussion in general about this “fight”. I have been celibate since coming to Christ now 23 years ago, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own struggles. What Paul teaches here and elsewhere in his epistles I understand pretty loud and clear. I suppose it’s not even that the church isn’t preaching this, it’s that it is not doing anything close to an adequate job of making disciples, of getting believers GROUNDED in Scripture. In my estimation, the Holy Spirit is a far better teacher than any pastor or bishop for that matter, could ever be. I have not found a man woman or child that is an adequate surrogate for the Holy Spirit All this is simply my 2¢. And I am NOT saying there aren’t Methodist churches doing an adequate job of this, I though have not seen it. I’m a Lay Leader. I LOVE my church. and don’t have antiquate exposure to the wider church to make anything other than educated guesses. My church is where God has planted me, and by golly, I’m going to do what I can to truly bloom here. I love my pastor too, and we do have discussions on these matters. It is not however, my job to tell her what to preach or how to preach it. As her Lay Leader, it’s my job to have her back (which is hardly and thankfully even a job at my church) and to be her #1 cheerleader and encourager, which is a job God has indeed shaped me well for. My point simply is, we cannot expect to make any headway in this whole debate, nor stand as moral authority until we tend to the straight moral inconsistencies in our churches. I’ll say it again, we are wholly unwilling to do so. The margins are a much easier target, it seems.

  6. Even though we may be “unwilling to do so,” as you say (that’s a scary thought), the Advocate is still at work in our confused, morally indifferent congregations to bring about the ends of God. God disciplines those he loves. Count on it.

    1. I totally agree with you Gary. That’s commentary on “our state”, not the desired one. I agree, amazing things can happen when the Spirit moves. We just have to be open to it when it does.

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