Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Disability" and the Bible

My papers in my New Testament class this semester all had to do with "disability" and the Bible.

What came out of it for me is that more often, "disability" is used to explain something spiritual. What we understand is physicality, so it's used to help our understanding.

But I'm wondering if, for the pharisees and for people in our day, it really backfired and people look at it as physicality and exclude themselves from passages.

And there are passages where I'm wondering if Jesus was feeding into the way society looked at "disability". (There was a part in Luke 7 last night where my version used the word "wretched" while other versions use poor. Some think that that's another group of people, but if it's looked at as the people with "disabilities" in those days WERE part of the poor/oppressed/wretched, couldn't that just be explaining each group talked about before (it was verse 22).

I get that a lot of healing etc. was also used to show who God was, and is still used today. But why does it matter? Is it important because YOU need it to really see and believe in God or because you think I do? If it's the latter, you don't know me very well.

The one thing that I will say is that I used to beg God for it if it meant that someone I loved would come to know God. I know I don't need it for myself, but if someone else does, I hope that God will use me in that way. But I get to see how God uses me the way I am every day. Those who can't or don't allow themselves to see it, I think, are those who are truly blind. Isn't spiritual sight etc. way more important than physical? Look at the blind men in the Bible who knew Jesus and what He could do even before they could see with their physical eyes.

I could go on...I just wrote a 20 page paper about it all... :-)


Emily said...

I found a version of Jeremiah 49:23 that talks about being "disabled, like a woman in childbirth."

I wonder how many people I know would embrace or reject that they, themselves have ever been "disabled."

Jeanette said...

I found you through my husband's website 1stSamuel16:7. I am the mother of a daughter with Down Syndrome and I am working with my local DS association to reach out to area churches to raise DS awareness and acceptance in churches. I have created a Sunday school program designed to discuss biblical support of acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities. The scripture that touches me the most is Luke 5:17-26 where Jesus heals the paralytic after the man's two friend lower him through the roof. Jesus first forgives the man's sins. That was the healing that Christ saw in the man and attended to. It was only after the debate with the Pharisees that he healed the man's legs. I think it is very telling that a man's soul and spirit is God's main concern. As it should be with us as well. I am always interested in other's opinions so am very interested in your paper topic.

Emily said...

<3 1 Sam. 16:7! And I love that story! :-) I am lucky enough to have a few friends that have been those people to me. :-)

I would be GLAD to send you my paper and get your thoughts if you are interested.

JaybirdNWA said...

Often times we look for physical healing from God when instead He wants to heal our hearts. It is our heart that is full of disability.

pastorjerry said...

Emily, I would love to read your paper. I believe that disabilities are a "teaching tool" for ministries, not a hindrance. God has put that on my heart.

God uses each of us as teachers and we are given experience and coaching in the min istry God has chosen for us.

Keep up the good work

Cal said...

Could I read your paper?


Hello Emily,

I am currently a Graduate student at California State University Los Angeles,getting my degree in Mexican American Studies, and I'm also disabled. I am interested in reading your paper on disability and the bible because I am going to write my thesis on what it means to be both disabled and Chicano, which I argue makes me and others like me a dual minority.

However, as a Christian, I'd like to balance the academic side of my research by integrating, or weaving the word of God into my project.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Your brother in Christ,



my e-mail address:

Anonymous said...

emily, i am julia i am writhig a paper related differentdly abled in a missionary programe. if possible i would like to read your paper as a refference

Emily said...

Sure! I'm assuming you know citing for that already?! Would you mind me reading your paper? That's awesome!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm doing research on Disability representation in the media, and this looks like an interesting read. May I have a copy of it?


-Meghan Moore

Meg said...

Hmmm... it seems my comment is failing to post. Anyway, I'm a student doing disability research (Disability in the Media, and representation of Disability in religion is my forte) and I was wondering if I may have a copy of this essay?



Jinximommy said...

Could I read through your paper as well?
I work for the board of dd in Ohio and also am the youth group leader at our church. I am VERY interested to see what you found!

Emily said...

Sure! If I forgot to send it to anyone, let me know!!