Are You Self-Mutilating?


Art McElroy, Contributing Writer

1 Corinthians 14-26 – “…the body is not one member but many.  Indeed there are many members, yet one body.  God composed the body … that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.”

What images come to your mind when you hear the word self-mutilation?  Are there thoughts of someone cutting, bruising or abusing themselves?  Can you relate to the people who suffer from this disease?  Are you aware of what self-mutilation does to the entire body and not only the part of the body being inflicted?

These are the same thoughts that you should have as it relates to the personal attacks on the body of Christ by Christians who profess to be members of it.

Self-mutilation is a general term for a variety of intentional self-harm to the body without the wish to die.  It is the intentional destruction of tissue or alteration of the body done without the conscious wish to commit suicide.  In other words, individuals who participate in this practice on themselves will generally take the self-abuse only so far.

I am not a mental health professional.   I am not an expert on the subject or one who can begin to tell you why this disease manifests itself the way that it does as a result of the state of a person’s mind.  Though prevalent throughout all society, self-mutilation knows no boundary of race, culture or continent.

It also prevails within the church today and poses a constant threat to the body of Christ.  Our opening reference in 1 Corinthians 12, infers that all Christians make up the body of Christ and cannot separate itself or operate independently of one another as an eye, ear or foot cannot in the physical body.

Where cutting, scratching and pinching of the physical body may be ways that self-mutilation manifests itself, the symptoms for the spiritual body of Christ are so subtle that many are not aware of the damage that they inflict on themselves as well as the entire body of Christ.

Abuse against the body of Christ comes in several forms that include gossiping, backbiting and false accusations.  When we operate from a perspective of ill will against another Christian, are we aware of the scars that can be potentially left on the body of Christ?  Why would any Christian want to self-inflict pain on Christ’s body?  Many cannot fathom the concept of One Lord, one body, and one church.

Skin color, social status, political affiliations and even personal preferences are irrelevant to the way God sees the body of His Son.  He sees us as whole, and we should see ourselves as such.  What is most tragic is the fact that many Christians are not aware that the same blood of Jesus that runs through others, makes us all part of the same body.

It is important that we grow and mature in the word of God so that we understand that we are one body, and our DNA is the Holy Spirit.  For me to disrespect another Christian in any form or fashion is for me to disrespect myself.  To cause angst or stress to another member of the body brings shame and embarrassment to oneself, the Church and God.

Remember that you matter to me and we should matter to each other.  There would be no me without the spiritual existence of you. We are tightly knitted together by the power of the Holy Spirit to form the spiritual body of the physical Jesus.

When we attack, abuse or speak against other Christians, remember that this is a form of spiritual self-mutilation that weakens the entire body, causing its resistance to weaken and ultimately sin.  It is imperative that we continue to see each other as one, rooted and grounded in grace and mercy.


Art McElroy is the founder of The Penuel Group, Inc.  Please visit The Penuel Group on the web at  You can also contact Art at


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