Most of What We Do We Mostly Can’t Do

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #145

“If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? (1 Cor. 12:15-17).

Before going on to apply the illustration of the human body to spiritual gifts, it is important for us to take in the various points presented by the illustration. The first point is that unity is unavoidable (v. 15). The foot cannot say that being not-a-hand means that the foot is outside the body. Regardless of what the foot says about it, it is in the same body with the hand—despite the fact that they are not at all alike. Their functions are dissimilar, but they are parts of the same body nonetheless. Paul makes the same point over again with the ear and the eye (v. 16). If the ear notices that it is not an eye, and that premise may be true enough, but the conclusion that it is not “of the body” does not follow. It remains in the same body together with the eye. Paul’s second point is that the hidden logic here destroys the very idea of a body. If the whole body were an eye, that whole body would be deaf. If the whole body were an ear, then there would be no way to smell.

This is another way of saying that your elbows, both of them, are blind. Your feet are deaf. The back of your neck is dumb.

But when you see, your eyes fill your whole body with light. Your elbows don’t feel blind. You don’t feel like only 1 percent of your body sees. You see. Each part performs its function on behalf of all the others, and all the others rely on it to perform that function. Moreover, each blind part quits trying to see and focuses on doing what it was designed to do—and which the eyes cannot do. The eyes cannot carry oxygen to the remote parts of the body, so that must be done for them.

Theology That Bites Back



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  • jimgalli

    Someone apply this logic to gay marriage . . . please.

  • Andrew Lohr

    Man + woman = one flesh, one ‘body,’ correlating, each doing something unique for the other half.  Man + man is duplicating, not correlating, like two eyes taking turns, or one doing all the seeing and the other pretending it’s an ear.

  • Jane Dunsworth

    Hugely applicable. Same sex marriage proponents argue either that the particular characteristics of either sex contribute nothing sine qua non to marriage, or that there are no particular characteristics of either sex. The latter is patently not true from a biblical perspective; the former makes St. Paul’s argument here meaningless, since by this reasoning, the specific characteristics of humans are actually NOT necessary to relationships with other humans. St. Paul says such variances and contrasts are not merely real, but essential to building a life-giving institution.