What do you say we take a look at that other First Corinthians wedding reading?
First century Corinth was a lively money-making port and boom town. Conventional wisdom that it was particularly a “sin city” (religious prostitution, for example) may not have much bearing when one looks closely at the evidence. Regardless, Saint Paul devoted what we know as the 5th and 6th chapters of his letter to a certain “theology of the body,” so to speak.
Brothers and sisters:
The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body.
Paul’s treatment of casual sex is a curious choice for a wedding, at first glance. Would a couple choose it to confess they’ve done it? Or would they want to contrast their chastity with Paul’s condemnation?
The selected passages here emphasize the Pauline notion that casual sex ultimately deprives the one enjoying it. I suppose when a couple engages in sinful sex, they each insulate themselves from the full expression within a marriage. They also insulate themselves from one another, turning the sin back onto themselves. Could be.
Many couples would reject that notion, though. Is a sexual act before the wedding night so different from the one on the wedding night? Is it so similar to promiscuity? I don’t know that I have a ready answer to someone who might ask that of me. Partners within marriage may use or abuse one another in certain ways, so the marriage bond is no guarantee of virtue.
Getting back to the end of this reading, it does express or imply a truly Catholic notion, namely that sexual expression is a great gift from God, and that it can be used by the couple to glorify God. It could be that continues to be a somewhat icky notion. It would also explain why the other First Corinthians passage gets so much more notice for wedding liturgies.