Jesus's words did, in fact, lodge like small burrs in my side, and I began to feel pangs of something-though I'm not quite sure you could call it guilt-when I went on those silk shopping sprees. But it was not until I began to grasp the larger arc of the Gospels' teaching about wealth and possessions that the radical nature of Jesus's words began to sink in. It would be a dramatic overstatement to say that today I am a model of simplicity (I do still own a few silk tops), but I have begun to take steps toward simple living, and those steps were goaded not merely by hearing Jesus's harsh words to the rich young ruler, but by hearing them through the scrim of centuries of church teaching on ownership and possession, by coming to see how Jesus's words were not isolated instructions but integrally related to basic Christian themes of creation ownership, and salvation.

As with wealth, so too with bodies. Yes, St. Paul's sexual guidelines would be sufficient. But they would be sufficient the way a black-and-white film clip is sufficient. Sometimes you see gospel truths in very sharp relief when they are just in black and white. But sometimes they are clearer and more arresting when they are not seen as isolated instructions, but rather as part of the large biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption-the entire story in Technicolor.

Our bodies and how we inhabit them point to the order of creation. God made us for sex within marriage; this is what the Reformed tradition would call a creational law. To see the biblical witness as an attempt to direct us to the created order, to God's rule of creation, is not to appeal to self-interest in a therapeutic or false way. It is rather to recognize the true goodness of God's creation; things as they were in the Garden of Eden are things at their most nourishing, they are things as they are meant to be. This is what Paul is saying when he speaks to the Corinthians: Don't you know that when you give your body to a prostitute, you are uniting yourself to her? To ask that question is to speak the wisdom of Proverbs in the idiom of law. It is a law that invites us into the created order of marital sex; a law that rightly orders our created desires for sexual pleasure and sexual connectedness; a law, in short, that cares for us and protects us, written by a Lawgiver who understands that life outside of God's created intent destroys us. By contrast, life lived inside the contours of God's law humanizes us and makes us beautiful. It makes us creatures living well in the created order. It gives us the opportunity to become who we are meant to be.