What is sin 20 in surd form
Paul's catalog of vice
I once made up my mind to always face the proposed Bible texts for the respective Sunday and to let them challenge me. But this week I was on the verge of collapsing.
If you hear the text right away, you will be able to guess why and maybe you will also get an idea of what is in store for you in the following. But so be it. That's the way it is. Nobody ever said that it would always be easy to write or listen to a sermon.
But let's just start. I read from 1st Corinthians chapter 6, verses 9-14 and 18-20
09 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Make no mistake! Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor lust boys, nor boy molesters
10 Thieves, greedy, drunkards, blasphemers, robbers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you. But you are washed clean, you are sanctified, you are justified by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
12 Everything is allowed to me, but not everything is for good. Everything is allowed to me, but nothing should have power over me.
13 Meat for the belly, and the belly for meat; but God will destroy one as well as the other. The body, however, is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14 But God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
18 Flee fornication! All the sins that man does are outside of his body; but whoever practices fornication sins in his own body.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you and which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
20 For you were bought at a price; therefore praise God with your body.
Can you understand me now
I don't know about you, but I experience it again and again that there are scriptures that open up to me straight away. To which I have access and which touch me in some way. Sometimes there are also texts that initially remain strange to me. They are a bit more bulky and I have to deal with them for a long time until I can figure out what these texts mean to me. And then there are texts like the ones I just heard. Immediately after reading the Bible, I close it again and ask myself indignantly: "What is that supposed to mean ???"
At first glance, this text is nothing more than a list of all the things that are forbidden to us as Christians and from which we should keep our hands off, because otherwise it looks bad with a place in the kingdom of heaven.
And not much changes at second glance either. No matter how I twist and turn the text, no matter which translation I consult, the same thing says everywhere: Beware of having too much or same-sex sex, don't dare to end your marriage, don't talk badly about others, don't be greedy, do not drink too much alcohol and do not take anything away from anyone that does not belong to you, otherwise you will end up having no place in the kingdom of God. "
Well, it'll be pretty lonely up there!
OK. I think we don't have to talk long about greed, blasphemy, robbery and theft at this point. These things should be forbidden to a Christian, a Christian per se. However, I would like to critically comment here that we are all probably not immune to one or the other gossip and that greed threatens to get the better of us every now and then.
And also the question of whether the robbers, murderers and thieves of this world will be denied access to the Kingdom of Heaven is, in my opinion, worth discussing. But not at this point. Maybe in a few years, when it is the turn of the text to be repeated.
For today, I want to address the questions of how we should behave as Christians or, yes: maybe even have to. And one thing is certain: robbery, murder, stealing, slander ... none of that is possible!
But what about the other things that Paul lists here in his so-called "catalog of vices"?
Fornication; Adultery; Boy love; Drunkenness.
When I read a Bible text and are supposed to write a sermon for it, I always measure the text against my own life. Because I can only preach for what and what I myself stand for.
If I refer this text to myself, then I have to say: If Paul is right, it will look bad for me and those around me with a place in the kingdom of God.
- I have been separated from my husband, the father of my children, for almost half a year. I ended the marriage. The reasons are left open at this point, but according to Paul’s understanding I have committed adultery.
- Ever since my school days, I have always had homosexual and bisexual people among my friends and acquaintances. I value them very much and find the exchange with them, especially about the different forms of partnership, as enormously enriching.
- My mother was addicted to alcohol for about 30 years and finally lost the battle against addiction 2.5 years ago.
Three facts of my life. According to Paul, the bottom line is: These people who end a marriage because they can no longer stand it; who love differently than what is considered normal in society and who have been marked by life in such a way that they can only endure it under anesthesia by intoxicants: All these and many others, unfortunately, have no place with God. Bad luck.
Funny, or that the NT says exactly the opposite in so many places. Namely, that God's love is unconditional. That it applies to all people and in a special way precisely to those who are so sorely needed. The sick, the weak, the humiliated. The losers of this society.
What went wrong with Paul that he wrote such a text?
Maybe we should take a third look at the text:
The text is addressed to an exceptionally male audience. The early church in Corinth. And Corinth, a port city, was, to put it in the words of a colleague from Bonn, to a certain extent the Reeperbahn of antiquity. The mother of all red light districts, so to speak. Yes, it was pretty haywire. Although said Christian community had said goodbye to the excessive life of the city, there were apparently tendencies that suggested a relapse into old behavior patterns. I cannot explain otherwise that Paul allowed himself to be carried away with such a fiery speech. And maybe that's why he shoots his threat: "Don't you think you have the kingdom of God safe once and for all!" In the same way as it happens to you yourself, for example when your own children are driving you into white heat and you have to call them to order. Then I am not threatening them that they will not go to heaven if they are not nice, but I think you know what I mean.
So let's take a closer look at who and what Paul is addressing here and try to find the relationship to us.
First of all, there are the "fornicators". People who change their sexual partners like their underwear.
It is undisputed: for Paul, living out one's own sexuality belongs solely to marriage. He himself lived in asceticism and celibacy, considering this to be the most godly lifestyle; only if there was no other way, then corporeality only had its place in marriage.
Most of today's society sees it differently. “No sex before marriage” may still be a cherished goal for one or the other, but very few people actually go into marriage as a virgin.
But that doesn't mean that we have a problem of sexual activity in our society. On the contrary. A firm, binding partnership and ultimately a marriage are among the desirable forms of living together. Especially among teenagers. The Shell study proves once again that family is very important to young people and that values such as loyalty, reliability and a sense of responsibility are indispensable for today's young people.
Even if we deal with the topic of sexuality much more loosely and relaxed today than Paul did, we still have an understanding that sexuality is a great good that is lived carefully and according to certain rules of interpersonal relationships wants to be. And perhaps under this aspect we will also understand Paul a little more, who, I think, wants nothing else than to make us aware of this responsibility again. Because our physicality is also a gift, it is a gift from God and we have the task to handle it carefully and to live it responsibly.
Next, Paul turns to the “lust boys” and “boy molesters”. In the introductory section I have summarized these under the term “boy love”.
As in many places in antiquity, there was also so-called cult prostitution in Corinth. Sex of adult men with children, traditionally in public, at pagan temples.
I don't think there is any need for a discussion here: such a practice is an absolute no-go. Then as now and it tramples the will of God.
But even if this passage shows that Paul completely uncompromisingly rejects child abuse, because nothing else was the love of boys, I still have two problems with this passage:
- Paul puts the “lust boys”, ie the abused boys, on the same level as their tormentors, the adult men. But what could these poor children do for what was being done to them?
- I mentioned it at the beginning with regard to thieves and murderers: can we assume that pedophiles will not go to heaven? Can we really presume that these people fall from the love of God? Please don't get me wrong, I don't want to act as the lawyer for child molesters, in the world, here with us, child abuse should be radically punished, but at the same time I also mean that we cannot judge how God decides about these people and judge - yes, how he will judge. It is clear that God does not love sin, but very much the sinner. And behind a pedophile, too, there is a beloved creature of God.
Just like behind every homosexual person. At this point, Paul does not say anything about homosexuality as such, he is only concerned with homosexual cult prostitution, but in Romans 1 he makes it very clear that he rejects same-sex love. I made it clear at the beginning of the sermon that I cannot follow Paul at this point. But I would go so far and give Paul credit for the fact that his thinking was so strongly influenced by "boy love" and thereby also restricted that he could not get so far to think about a same-sex partnership on an equal footing.
Finally, we come to the last two groups of people whom Paul calls for admonition in his “catalog of vices”.
The whores or their suitors and the drunkards - alcoholics, as we call them today.
In principle, from my point of view, the same applies to all of the aforementioned: Why should prostitutes and their suitors or people who are alcohol-dependent not be loved by God? There is absolutely no evidence for this and the NT as well as my personal image of God contradict this deeply.
Nevertheless, Paul addresses these people very specifically and with sharp words. Why is he doing this? And are there any useful reference points for this today?
As already mentioned, for Paul sexual intercourse belongs solely to marriage. Sex with a strange woman and then for a fee is unthinkable for him. I agree: bought sex is really not a form of responsible partnership. What I criticize, however, is that Paul is not concerned here with the protection and dignity of women, i.e. whores, but solely with calling men to order. I find that problematic. In my opinion, prostitution is much more than just a service. Even if the majority of all whores and their suitors would sign it exactly like that.
I did a little research and I consider the figures published by the Federal Statistical Office to be worth considering: Here one speaks of 1.2 million visits to brothels per day. Alone in Germany! 1.2 million, probably mostly men, who buy their sex every day and countless prostitutes who sell their bodies. And now please don't say: They all do it voluntarily!
Yes, it may be that there is one or the other woman who actually enjoys teasing men with her body and earning her money with the game of lust. And there are certainly men who take pleasure in demonstrating their power and living out their fantasies by means of the money and their special wishes for the whore. On the whole, however, I believe that there is an enormous amount of despair and a lack of appreciation on both sides. A desperate cry for love and sometimes a bitter struggle for one's own existence. And that's why we shouldn't demonize prostitution per se, but rather think about how this enormous amount of bought love can be reduced and how against obvious abuses within prostitution, I am thinking of trafficking in girls, violence by clients, forced prostitution, etc., can be approached. We tend to always reject these things and think they are far away, but make no mistake: Hennef also has a red mile.
Paulus ‘Scolding against the drinkers naturally makes me quite angry at first out of my own dismay. At least at first and second glance. On a third, even closer look, it becomes clear: Paul does not forbid alcohol per se, but excessive indulgence. The “drinking to the point of unconsciousness”, so to speak. And one more thing must be kept in mind: Paul lived in a time when alcoholism was far from being a recognized disease. So he could not have known that these people needed help and not the threatened expulsion from the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, from my own experience, I have to say: loving words and holding hands also don't help in such a case. So maybe Paul wasn't all that wrong with his method.
One thing is definitely clear from the example of alcohol: namely what Paul wants to say in v. 12. 12 Everything is allowed to me, but not everything is for good. Everything is allowed to me, but nothing should have power over me.
The decisive factor in almost all areas of life is the measure of all things. Do we live in the knowledge that everything is a good gift of creation from God and can we use it as such? Or are things getting out of hand? Do we make ourselves dependent on something or something? Is it becoming a drug for us?
I believe: Paul does not want to say anything else to us today with this text. Everything you have and are you received from God's hand. Also your body, your body. Never forget that! Yes, life is fleeting and you should use and enjoy the time you have. But do not live in such a way that you accelerate your own impermanence. Just as we always speak of the preservation and preservation of creation and think primarily of the environment, we should also preserve and preserve ourselves. Because we are creation too!
And in the reading we heard it at the beginning: “You have been told what is good. Keeping God's word, practicing love and being humble before your God. " That and nothing else is our mission. It doesn't matter to God whether we marry once, twice or three times. Whether we love men or women. Whether we like to drink a glass of red wine too much. He looks at us all through the same loving eyes. And that's what he demands of us too. That we meet each other in love. That we stop imposing our personal ideas of right or wrong on the other and that we become aware of our own flaws again and again.
Where that succeeds, as the weekly saying promises, we become the salt of the earth and the light of the world. There we testify of the life that we receive from God's hand. The kingdom of God begins here today, among us. And in this realm, I am sure, everyone will find their place. Amen.
Sermon given on July 22nd, 2018 by preacher Jenny Gechert
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