Verses 12, 13b: “‘I am free to do anything,’ you say. Yes, but not everything is for my good…But it is not true that the body is for lust; it is for the Lord—and the Lord for the body.”
The human body has been demeaned and considered the enemy of God throughout the ages. Our culture still suffers from the splitting apart of our bodies and God Within. Yet, the scripture tells us that our body is “for the Lord—and the Lord for the body.” They go together; they form a whole. We are called to a higher consciousness, a consciousness that recognizes that our bodies’ and God Within belong to one another.
Our body is the temple through which God’s will makes itself known to us. Our impulses, the energies that prompt us from within to act, are “for the Lord.” What a different view from much of mainstream Christianity! Our bodies, with all our contents, processes, and intelligences, are an expression of God. Our spiritual path begins in learning how to be with, relate to, and move with our bodily desires and impulses in a way that honors the totality of who we are and God Within.
Carl Jung writes that our impulses need to be regarded as “absolutes which one must learn how to handle correctly.” (CW, Vol. 9ii, par.51) We need guidance and direction on how to honor our bodily impulses as connected to the totality of our psyche and God Within. Honoring and expressing consciously is different from repressing and denying. Honoring means relating to in a way that values and finds right placement of the energies.
For instance, right placement of our instinctive physical hunger is eating food; right placement of our emotional hunger is being present with another. When we repress or deny an instinctive impulse and do not act for its satisfaction, it will find an outlet somewhere else. Displaced energies fuel the excesses of gluttony, hypocrisy, bigotry, and tyranny.
The basis of lust is seeking the wrong object. We want something to satisfy a craving or urge, but the thing we want is not what is needed. It may momentarily gratify an impulse, but it doesn’t satisfy the longing or desire of our soul. Any time we’ve been gripped by gluttony, hypocrisy, bigotry, or tyranny, we have had the experience of fleeting gratification, but no satisfaction of our soul. Satisfaction lasts, gratification disappears immediately. Thus, “we can never really get enough of what we don’t need.” Our bodily impulses need satisfying, not gratifying.
This scripture points to our need for discernment in how we express our impulses. The writer says, “I am free to do anything…but not everything is for my good.” We have to know the differences between gratifying and satisfying our impulses. Satisfying our impulses is a life giving and life-sustaining act; gratifying our impulses yields a lack of human relatedness to self and other.
Discernment is profound judgment that comes from seeing distinct differences. It is the ability to discriminate, to see nuances of separation and uniqueness. Discrimination is a psychological and spiritual muscle that gets stronger every time we act on what we know in our hearts.
When we relate to our impulses as expressions of God Within, we open to see the needed movement towards satisfaction of the desire. We have within us the knowing of how our impulses can be satisfied in a way that honors the totality of psyche/soul. We find a conscious connection to the knowing by remembering that our body and God Within belong to one another.
Imagine consciously tending the instincts and impulses you experience. What impulses get pushed aside only to gain more momentum as they are split from the whole you? Where do you go for the gratification of your impulses of hunger, sexuality, movement, self-reflection, and creativity? Where and how do you satisfy these impulses in life-giving ways that honor your psyche/soul? Set sacred intention to consciously discern the presence of God Within in all your impulses.