Category : Disability Theology
I wrote up something recently to answer a pretty basic question: What if someone offered to fix my speech impediment? How would I respond?
If you read Zach’s entry from his blog (below) you’ll get a great perspective on this. But, in my nitpicky way, I still don’t fully agree with his position, but I really appreciate and empathize with his struggle. Read on after the quote to get my thoughts:
Yesterday I had a talk with one of my pastors about Aspergers Syndrome, and he keeps saying he feels God will heal me one day and I will be normal. To be honest this angers me and I’m not sure why. I believe Aspergers is a big part of who I am, Aspergers helps define how I think, what I fear, what I want, what I need – its a big part of my life. When people talk about how I will be healed it makes me think there not accepting me for who I am. I also wonder if they would say the same to a blind person, or an amputee?
Does the fact that my disability is one that effects the mental part of me make it a disability that should be healed by God? I’m going to be honest in saying this theological question has caused me great pains with my church – to the point of where I am starting to feel unwelcome. I don’t think its my churches intention to harm me in anyway, but how do I get them to accept me for who I am, Aspergers and all?
My concern with Zach’s comments is this: the disability is not what makes Zach valuable or worthwhile or even different. Unfortunately, Zach’s pastor is at Stage 2 ( or maybe 3) on the spectrum – he pities Zach and hopes God will heal him.
You see, secular society (and in a twisted mirror version, Christian society) has two approaches to ‘valuing’ people with disabilities:
- We value people with disabilities despite their disabilities. This is what Zach’s pastor does, essentially pointing out that life would be best for Zach if God took away his Asperger’s. Not only that, but he’s also making it clear that Zach’s life is more valuable without the disability. So what is Zach’s natural response? It’s the response of anyone who naturally cares for and values people with disabilities.
- We value people with disabilities because of the disability. If we don’t think people would be the same without their disability, then we conclude that their value is still tied in with the disability. For example, Zack’s comments about ‘accepting him for who he is’ imply to me the idea that the disability is part of who he is, and part of his value as a person.
It’s not. The disability does not make us more or less valuable in God’s sight. Why? Because our value does not depend on what we accomplish or on the fact that we are disabled or broken (what makes us different). Our value is only in the fact that we are children of God, created in His image.
What do you think, though? Is it better for Zach to get healed, to be a normal, contributing member of his church? Please share your thoughts here.