Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Exegetical Paper on 1 Cor 6:9-11

While I'm in Egypt, I've decided to post my final paper on 1 Cor 6:9-11. I won't post the whole thing, just highlights over this month. For those not familar with the text:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (New International Version)

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


Paul lists vices in 1 Cor. 6: 9-11 and at first glance they seem disconnected from the whole of the letter. This paper will seek to fit this list into the larger structure of the letter as well as shed light on Paul’s socio-historical context. Through this I seek to understand Paul’s theological view of sexual ethics. I would like to take a social-science look at Christianity in this regard to explore further the need for boundaries in groups and how the current church is fighting over where those boundaries should be.

This should be an interesting discussion, stick around, won't you? Here's some questions:

How do you interpret this vice list? What purpose could it serve? Is it really talking about homosexuality? What does this mean for the church today?

9 comments:

societyvs said...

"How do you interpret this vice list? What purpose could it serve?" (Luke)

I see it as a list of immorality and morality - Paul is trying to set a list of things out for people that help to deter the kingdom ethics - that serve the purpose to hurt your neighbor - hurt society. This is not the goal of the kingdom of God - and not what Jesus taught.

Paul seems to be playing some reminding role for the community - remember those things that once entrapped you and tore your life apart - those things you have been cleansed from - left behind in times past. Paul seems concerned with this likely because the community forgot this stuff - maybe some have fell into those immoral roles again. Paul wants to remind them to control their behavior - they can do it.

"Is it really talking about homosexuality? What does this mean for the church today?" (Luke)

As for homosexuality - I see the list as something that is about a standard to keep - these vices are not those things...we need to sfaeguard against them. As for the homosexual idea in this paragraph - I see it quite related to 'male prostitution'...and the problem therein - some of the people were likely from that background once - and it was not a lifestyle Paul could support (I would put prostitution in general in that category).

What this means for the church today is considering how to help people in such situations deal with these problems - overcome them - and become free and wholesome people. These ideals are not the standard Paul expects for the community - why? It hurts people and the community suffers in the process...marriages can be lost, families can be broken, self esteem ruined, possible diseases, ruins relationships one with another, and may physically assault another. The community as a family is hurt when this happens - people get broken in the process.

Immorality has that at it's core - to steal, kill, and destroy us. If that is what we seek - we do not seek God's kingdom anymore - we seek much more selfish and dark desires...and Paul seems quite clear on that in his letters. I seem quite clear on that in my present experiences...I can relate to having standards people keep - for the betterment of humanity.

The church's focus needs not be social concerns like gay marriage or abortion - but more attention to their local communities and making sure overcoming issues relevant to the people there are being dealt with in a honorable manner. This is the church's role. I would rather people would ensure their local communities were healthy and wholesome versus caring about gay marriage and other political issues. My concern is the church is looking to outward - and not inward anymore...overlooking hordes of problems in their midst...Paul sets us a reminder here.

freestyleroadtrip said...

"My concern is the church is looking to outward - and not inward anymore...overlooking hordes of problems in their midst...Paul sets us a reminder here." (Jason)

I fall in line pretty much with what Jason is saying in his response. Christianity cannot just be a big behavioral modification program. God is after relationship, no behavior. That being said, there are behaviors that lead us closer to God and build up our communities, and there are behaviors that lead us farther from God and destroy our communities. I see Paul as reminding us of the two sides of that coin. Like Jason, I think the church has a hard enough time taking care of its own and doesn't need to be focussed at all on legistlating behavioral modification.

Tit for Tat said...

God is after relationship, no behavior.(Doug)

How do you know what God wants in fact how can you even be sure if there is a God. I think the surest way to ensure a relationship with a creator(if there is one) is to relate better to the creation(as in people and the planet). The rest will take care of itself.

societyvs said...

"I think the surest way to ensure a relationship with a creator(if there is one) is to relate better to the creation(as in people and the planet). The rest will take care of itself." (Johanne)

I agree with John - I think the trsuest thing in the texts - the core of this faith is...love your neighbor as yourself - if we can love those we know - God who we do not know (see) - we might be able to make that stretch/leap.

Tit for Tat said...

(Johanne)..(Societyvs)


Hey...are you implying im a girl, you injun. ;)

Now come on down to Ottawa so I can show some love of my neighbour and do some laying on of the hands.

Hope said...

In my humble opinion, your emphasis appears to be on the wrong portion of this passage.

This is point Paul is making

"And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Having come from that background, and becoming Christians, they are now saved, in spite of having indulged in those lifestyles.
So many people think they can't be saved because they're not good enough. Paul is telling the Corintians that even their indulgence of these things that were clearly spelled out as forbidden in the Hebrew law (something reserved for the Jews, not the Gentiles), they are saved.

This is a hugely complicated issue. If you're not a Christian, it doesn't matter what you do. If you are saved, you'll go to heaven. Being gay isn't the unpardonable sin, though I do believe God did not intend that relationship when he created the first perfect man and woman. The rewards and crowns we get are determined by our actions here. Faith is believing in something that you can't see. Acting on faith is usually difficult.

Our Family said...

I also agree with a lot of what Jason said.

I also think that Paul was onto something that AA (alcoholics anonymous)uses in dealing with alcoholics. That is, if you're not reminded of how destructive your past actions are you are less likely to continue to move in a positive direction with your life.

That's why those in AA have to continue to go to meetings, continue to meet with their sponsor. So they don't become lax and think, "I can have just one sip." When really that one sip will lead them straight back to their destructive ways.

Paul is reminding the baptised that their baptism was not the last step. They must remain vigilant in their lives...remain on a positive path by remembering from whence they came.

That being said, I also don't think Paul was outright condemning homosexuality but the male prostitutes as another poster said.

In today's society/church this letter from Paul is a reminder that just because you're baptised ("washed" and "sanctified") doesn't mean you can do what you want. Instead you must remember your previous destructive behavior - how bad it made you feel; how it destroyed your relationships (both with God and with those around you) - so that it will serve as a reminder to do what Jesus asks us to do.

societyvs said...

"Hey...are you implying im a girl" (John)

Not really - just that Johanne is another way of saying John. Now quit being so sensitive (lol).

Luke said...

wow thanks for all the comments! really great reading them and hope that any questions y'all may have are cleared up as the paper progresses...

some responses:

@ Hope: welcome to the blog! "your emphasis appears to be on the wrong portion of this passage."

i'm looking at how this passage fits in with the larger whole. when reading this letter, that part really struck me and didn't feel like it belonged in the argument Paul is setting up... but when i looked closer, i saw that this infact is the rhetorical core of the letter.

@Canon: you guys are right on!

@ Our Family: HEY LADY! thanks for the comment, loved the quote "Paul is a reminder that just because you're baptised ("washed" and "sanctified") doesn't mean you can do what you want." that's pretty much the whole message of the letter to the church in Corinth...