I Cor 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
I Cor 3:16
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
2 Cor 6:16
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
What is the temple?
In Judaism, the ancient Hebrew texts refer not to temples, the word having not existed yet, but to a “sanctuary”, “palace” or “hall”. (The Jerusalem temples were called Beit Hamikdash, the Holy House or more commonly, Beth El (the House of God) or Beth YHWH (the House of YHWH)). (Wikipedia)
The 3 quotes all come from Pauline works and, oddly enough, are all framed as questions. The idea seems to be quite simple – the Spirit of God dwells in the temple – and in each case the temple is our human bodies. Paul seems to make this case for one simple reason – infidelity or immorality of those temples – and your body should be used to glorify God – not shame Him.
(a) 1 Cor 3 is a whole chapter on the confusion of the Corinthian people (and ensuing problems) with belonging to “Paul, Cephas, or Apollo’ and which school of thought was most respected.
(b) By 1 Cor 6 we see a whole new set of problems being addressed but it basically has to do with making a fool of God via immorality. People are taking one another to court, there seems to be a problem with adultery, and other varying ‘sins’ – which seem to be rampant enough for Paul to write a letter about.
(c) In 2 Cor 6 we see Paul talking about idols and the temple – basically people in Corinth being involved in acts with people not of the faith – basically allowing the culture of the time to dictate their moves and not their teachings.
If we are the temple of God (metaphor) – I think Paul is simply addressing the idea of acting immorally as a representative of God (your faith). The temple idea, for me, seems like a partnership of sorts – between you and God. You help adorn the temple or help to destroy it – only via immoral actions against other people – which disgraces you to others and the very name of your God. Paul also makes it personal – you are the temple – by which he signifies a responsible morality with others is ‘up to you’ as the sole residing priest (meeting with God).
But we hear this passage used for a lot of other ideas – like smoking and using the body for tattoos. Recently, I have heard it used for being anti-abortion. Maybe your personal temple does signify these things – I don’t know – but the passage does not inherently say that – what it says is ‘you decide your morality in communion with God’ (sharing that temple you know?).