Embracing Embodiment: Baptism and the Nuptial Meaning of the Body

The final part of my three part series on baptism and the body has just been posted over on the Theopolis Institute website.

Despite its familiarity, 1 Corinthians 6:19a is a scriptural text that retains much of its capacity to surprise: “do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…?” The body isn’t just claimed for God’s ownership or service, but is presented as a site of his personal residence and of our communion with him. While within my account the body has hitherto featured principally as the objectivity and givenness of the self or as the grounds of its agency, here the ‘exteriority’ of the body is seen to implicate and be entangled with our deepest ‘interiority’.

The Möbius strip-like unity between self and body to which we can be awakened in sexual relations is the basis for the profoundly personal nuptial union. It is not accidental that Paul treats the profound power of bodily union to effect personal union in the verses that immediately precede 1 Corinthians 6:19. As Paul argues in verse 18, sexual relations, as they directly relate to the fundamental reality of our embodiment—of our being and not just having bodies—implicate the whole person in an especially profound manner. To sexually unite with someone is to be personally united to them in an enduring fashion. The body isn’t just aninstrument of sexual pleasure, but a means of self-donation, personal union and communion. Because of the personal character of the body, through their bodily interactions persons can commune with and indwell each other.

Read the whole piece here. If you have not already done so, I recommend reading the earlier posts in the series first—Sealed for Resurrection: Baptism and the Objectivity of the Body and Presenting Limbs and Organs: Baptism and Sacrificial Ethics.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in 1 Corinthians, Bible, Christian Experience, Ethics, Guest Post, NT, NT Theology, Sacramental Theology, Sex and Sexuality, The Sacraments, Theological, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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