In the bustling streets of Corinth, Paul taught about Jesus Christ and many were baptized, but the shadows of immorality loomed. High atop the Greek city of Corinth lay a temple–a temple created to worship Aphrodite, the pagan Goddess of Love. But it was not a temple of covenants. Nor was it a temple where people worshipped God. Rather, it was a temple with a long, sordid history where sexual immorality was worshipped and embraced.
Under this backdrop, many members of the church were still influenced by their immoral surroundings. God used this problem to bring about Paul’s inspired writing on sexual purity, marriage and our bodies being literal temples of God. These inspired teachings continue to instruct and guide our Church and temple worship today.
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” emphasizes just how connected our bodies and our spirits (our temples) are in God’s eyes: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. … Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
President Boyd K. Packer taught: “We know that gender was set in the premortal world” and “from our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits.” Elder Richard G. Scott also taught that the creation of male and female “was done spiritually in your premortal existence when you lived in the presence of your Father in Heaven. Your gender existed before you came to earth.”
In fact, in the Bible Dictionary we are taught that our spirit looks like our physical body! The body and spirit are bonded together and make up the soul of a man or woman. “The body takes form as male or female, according to the gender of the spirit whose appointment it is to tenant that body. … Man is man, and woman is woman, fundamentally, unchangeably, eternally.” (Elder James E. Talmage)
The doctrinal truths about the nature of our gender and our bodies as temples of God can help us navigate the stormy seas of rapid social change. Just as in Paul’s day with the people of Corinth, these teachings provide much needed clarification and certainty in a time of confusion.