-Ashley Detar Birt
But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. -1 Corinthians 12:20-26
One of the issues I struggle with – and know many others struggle with as well – is recognizing my own value. Our society values certain categories of people (heterosexual, cisgender, male, white, able bodied, etc.), and the church tends to follow suit. When one doesn’t fit into these categories, society tends to treat them poorly, ignore them, or forget how valuable they are. After all, how often do we hear stories of individuals who don’t fall into these categories lifted up in church? And when we do, how often are they part of a special day or month rather than on an average morning of worship? I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to worship and heard queer experiences lifted up on a day that wasn’t Pride Sunday or National Coming Out Day. Even the most well-meaning church can make us feel tokenized or invisible, and therefore less valuable.
1 Corinthians 12:20-26, however, reminds us of just how important we are to God. God doesn’t hold one person above another, but lifts us up and honors us all just as we are. Differences aren’t to be ignored but to be honored: we are all part of Christ’s body, and our differences are required for the body to function. What’s more, because we all play different roles, we all rely on one another.
As you go about your week, remember that diversity is a vital part of life through Christ. Celebrate yourself as an important part of Christ’s body!
About The Author
Ashley Detar Birt is the Director of Christian Education at Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York City. She obtained her Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, an MA in Theater Arts from the University of Pittsburgh, and a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. She serves on the board of More Light Presbyterians and blogs on the intersections of race, sexuality, and faith for Believe Out Loud.