disability and theology #5

I’m sure that, before I started reading about disability, I would have quite simplistically asserted it was a ‘product of the fall’.

So much disability seems to be the product of a broken world. Sin has massive consequences for the physical world. Accidents, violence, disease, punishment — all can impair bodily function.

Yet I want to suggest that it can be decidedly unhelpful to point to the bodies of people with a disability as the site in which this all pervasive evil manifests itself. In fact, Scripture identifies God Himself as the originator of what, on the surface, can seem like impairments. For example, in Exodus 4:10-11, God takes creative responsibility for Moses’ speech impediment.

Yet congenital disability is not somehow ‘above’ other forms of disability. Jesus still reverses congenital disability. In John 9, Jesus heals a man blind from birth, refusing to enter into the disciples’ speculation about the origin of the man’s disability.

Either way the loving sovereignty of the Creator must be affirmed in both the experience of disability and the healing of bodily impairments (whether ‘acquired’ or congenital).

Indeed, as a final challenge, it’s worth noting that the writers of the New Testament are much more likely to point to depraved human behaviour as evidence of the all-pervasiveness of sin than they are to point to the more visible disabled body.

We ought not mourn the disabled body but our own incompleteness and brokennness.

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