These days we hear much conversation about “diversity.” Without question, diversity is an important, valuable part of life. Take, for example, the incredible variety of talents, gifts and skills people possess.
I’m a great admirer of persons that use their abilities to the fullest. Being mechanically challenged myself, I’m amazed by people that build cabinets, install electrical fixtures, make complex plumbing repairs and display other feats of manual dexterity. Similarly, I have great appreciation for those with technological expertise, knowing how to heal an ailing computer, decipher complex software or design eye-catching websites. My family has benefited from medical care in many ways, so I have great respect for physicians, nurses and other practitioners.
Having spent a career as a writer, editor and photographer, I believe I have some expertise in those areas. But I’m thankful for people unlike me, that have cultivated and honed other very useful abilities that have become their callings.
The Bible applauds such diversity, using the human body as an example: “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body…. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘ I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less memorable we treat with special honor…” (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).
However, diversity is not always desirable. Again the human body provides good examples. Infection occurs when harmful bacteria invade the body, disrupting the harmonious interaction of other cells. Cancer causes illness, even death, when malignant cells combat healthy cells. And heart disease comes about when fat cells called LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides amass in arteries, impeding the flow of blood to and from the organ. In each instance, cell “diversity” puts the individual at serious risk.
The Bible also addresses this. The early Church, like the Church of the 21st century, suffered from divisions and conflict – disease afflicting the spiritual body. In his letters the apostle Paul often wrote concerning this. In one place he admonished, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3: 9-11).
So diversity is good when differences complement, working for the common good. But diversity focused on its own aims and agenda, according to the Bible, can be cancerous.