The God and gods of the ancient world were calmed through propitiation--that is, in order to not be blasted, one had to perform certain sacrifices. Paul distinguishes (understandably, considering his background) between the fair-minded God of his upbringing and the capricious gods of paganism. However, in the end, he denounces the entire concept as no longer relevant.
Instead, Paul presents a fairly basic theology: God loves us. We should love Him. We know He loves us because of Jesus Christ, who performed the ultimate act of propitiation, making it no longer necessary for us to do so.
Paul is upending this--and it is a total shock (people still fight very hard to defend you-break-my-rules-you-are-punished ideologies).
Take 1 Corinthians 6. Many Christians interpret Paul's passage about the body being a temple as an act of propitiation by humans towards a God who may, at any hint of a mistake, remove his grace. Do good and pure things, good and pure things will happen to you since your body will remain a temple. Do bad and impure things, bad and awful things will happen to you since your body will not remain a temple.
But that's not what Paul is arguing. (Note: I use the King James Version because I like how lovely it sounds--I have compared the KJV to other translations and to the original meaning of several words).
Paul starts by discussing lawsuits between members of the Christian community. He is understandably ticked.
His initial argument: Don't do this in front of other people! It makes us looks bad!
Then, as is typical with Paul, the argument veers. Not only are all these lawsuits making the Christian community look bad, suing each other is bad behavior itself.
He has a point. People who purport to be loving and forgiving are yelling at each other in front of Judge Judy? I mean, come on. (Keep in mind, neighbors are more likely to sue neighbors. Still...)
Paul asks, Why not take the hit? (Seriously--that's what he says, "Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?")
Then--following the thread of the argument--he begins to discuss types of behavior that disqualify a person's character not only in a worldly court but in the kingdom (court) of Heaven: "fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners."
People who like to create groups to blame stuff on (and ignore the tenth verse mention of "revilers") point to this passage as being against homosexuals. It isn't. In the context of ancient societies, "effeminate" would have referred to men (and women) who preen and flaunt themselves to attract members of the opposite sex (all those teens shopping at the mall!). "Abusers of themselves with mankind" most likely referred to quid pro quo associations between men: money and political favors for sex (Paul created a new term to describe what he was referring to; the closest translation I've found that captures both denotation and connotation is "dirty old men" but the truth is, nobody really knows what Paul meant although ancient writers after him, who did apparently know what he meant, use the term in the "dirty old men" sense; in any case, the KJV translation is quite accurate).
What the angry, blaming people (and often, the defensive, antagonized people) usually ignore is that Paul is grouping all these behaviors together. The common factor? Instant gratification for the sake of personal convenience at the expense of the social contract: I need that, I take it; I want that, naturally someone should give it to me; I'm in a mood, yeah, whatever, let's scratch that itch. I must be noticed and admired--where's my social media? I want to get ahead? By whatever means! Then I'll call people names because I feel like it. By the way, I want to get back at my neighbor; how soon can I sue him?
Paul then begins a debate on ownership. In other words, what should stop us from simply taking what we want when we want it because, hey, whatever, we feel like that today? What belongs to whom? Does something belong to me due to the time I spent to get it? The money I have? My need? Inherent right? Emotional upheaval? If I feel strongly enough about something in a particular moment, does that justify my behavior?
The problem, Paul determines, isn't the outcome--the problem is focus. So to the argument "all things are lawful unto me," he adds "but all things are not expedient." (You CAN sue your neighbor because you covet your neighbor's view or because you despise your neighbor's taste in politics--doesn't mean it's not a total waste of time plus kind of tacky.)
His conclusion is stunning. He does not conclude that pursuing/focusing on instant gratification will ban people from God's sight or shame them into submission. Instead, he completely switches gears and begins to ponder, What does God buy or go to court for? Not instant gratification obviously. Instead, He bought us through Jesus Christ (apparently, He thought we were worth it).
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (my emphasis)In other words, in the realm of price and cost--money and time--wasting one's means on lawsuits is frankly embarrassing and petty. But, hey, Paul adds, so are a lot of other things. Buying those shoes (or, in my case, those DVDs) when I'm already in debt in order to get my instant entertainment fix (especially when I have plenty of stuff to watch at home) is a tad short-sighted.
Paul points out, It's not like God wastes His buying power on such temporary stuff. If God bought us, then why not be less of a jerk about what we buy (focus on)? It's not like all these mortal problems aren't temporary anyway (that's Paul's fatalism showing). God wants us to love him, so why not try loving Him rather than, you know, suing people, getting drunk, and making other people's lives miserable with our reviling? For that matter, why not try loving others in the same way that God loves us?
This is miles and miles away from shame.
Context is a wonderful thing.