Bad Theology Kills- People With Disabilities
Today we have Josh Fast writing about his very personal experience with how bad theology harms his family by marginalizing his son. Its a call to see people of all abilities as valuable!
May this totally gut you.
I am a father of a 6-year-old son who can’t sit up on his own or hold up his own head.
I have been told that I must have sinned in the past for God to give me a son with disabilities. A friend of mine with an autistic son was told, “Your son has a demon we must cast out.”
And of course there is the all too often offer of ‘Let me pray over your son to be healed.”
Families are walking away from the church because their children and loved ones are not supported. I spoke to one mother who raised all of her children in the church happily but when they had a child with disabilities they felt like they had to walk away from the church. They even moved to a new province because there was more support for their child there.
I would argue that the body of Christ is itself disabled if it does not have people with disabilities in it. I think the apostle Paul would agree with me.
1 Corinthians 12:21 "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 honourable we treat with special honour."
‘According to Paul, the seemingly weakest and least important parts of the body - the church - are actually some of the most necessary. But is this how we see them? Do we recognize a weaker person's gifts as essential in our families and communities? If we do, we must facilitate the expression of their gifts instead of allowing them to languish in isolation. Our failure to honor these most necessary parts is a reflection of our sinful condition. But by fully including them in Christian fellowship and worship, we can show that we no longer allow sin to rule over us.”
(joni and friends)
”Our Saviour chose to flash His credentials as Messiah through ministry to disabled people.… A disability magnifies God's grace.... We in our wheelchairs get to prove how great and how trustworthy God is.”
Joni Eareckson Tada
We can be so obsessed with the perfect image that we forget that the image of God can take the form of one with disabilities. Even Jesus was disabled for a time, he put aside his divinity and walked among us. Becoming disabled to reach us where we are at.
I am not suggesting that everyone in the church become an expert on every disability. What I am suggesting is a heart and mind shift. If everyone was more aware of people with disabilities and their struggle to be included, were deeply committed to seeing the value in people with disabilities, then together we could remove any barrier to inclusion that exists. And the church would be more whole because of it.
People with disabilities are not mistakes to hide in the back of the church, they are precious children created by God and should be valued and celebrated on stage.
The attitudes of the church need to change.
Josh has dedicated his life to changing this bad theology in the church and is serving as the director of Priceless Youth Ministry which works to educate churches in inclusion for people with disabilities. We support his ministry, you should too. Check it out, get him to come educate your church and support his work at https://pricelessyouthministry.ca/
More resources and things to meditate on:
Scripture to think on
(Great article on the social model of disability) https://www.forbes.com/sites/drnancydoyle/2020/04/29/we-have-been-disabled-how-the-pandemic-has-proven-the-social-model-of-disability/?fbclid=IwAR3uM3riVanEHUFks4JEd-rsyGvkVRv7-qatfGy0F0l9iW6zOI_RAjCEnHQ#2da1c0542b1d