Every once in a while, I run into an individual who quotes this verse to support their position against smoking, or taking drugs, or alcohol. The rationale is that since our body is a Temple, then we need to treat it as a holy place, hence none of these intoxicating substances are allowed, since they are considered “unholy”. Well, that’s not exactly correct.
You see, Paul isn’t about about individual bodies here. You might get that if you were looking at the English. You might think that Paul is addressing each individual as a Temple of God, but that’s not so. If you peel back the thin veneer of English and look at the Greek, you might see that the term “you” used in this sentence is a plural you. It is as we say here in the South, a “y’all” which I have to admit is probably one of the smartest additions in the English language in this region, since the singular “you” and the plural “you” both sound the same to ear.
How does that change our understanding? Instead of each individual person being a Temple (and as such to treated as a holy place) it instead puts the onus upon the group as a whole. Collectively, we are the Temple, as the Church. This isn’t a text that is appropriate to use against drugs and smoking (there are better texts for that). This is a text to reinforce that the Church is the place of God’s presence on Earth, and we ought to treat it as such.
Let us no more squabble or argue as God’s Church. His Presence is here among us. His Holy Spirit fills us and indwells us. We ought to respect that fact. We ought to acknowledge that we do not rule here. Boards do not rule here. Little old ladies with crooked fingers do not rule here. God rules here. We are the Temple, as we ought to better resemble our namesake, not in buildings and gold and finery, but in beauty, love and peace, compassion, welcome, sacrifice, and holiness. We are God’s Temple. We need to start acting like it.
Lord, forgive me where I’ve forgotten just how important we are to Your plan to bring the gospel to this world. Let us be filled again with Your Presence, to remember again our purpose and direction You have called us to. Let us be Your Temple again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.