Tuesday, 3 December 2013

OPEN THOSE DOORS AND BREAK THOSE BARRIERS

Today is the day that the United Nations set aside to honour disabled persons around the world. Though I have little respect for the U.N., this declaration is worth noting. I do have some vested interest in this since I have partial sight. Even so, people with disabilities need to be recognized as having intrinsic worth.

Through the millennia of human experience, the blind, lame, deaf, and other afflicted persons have been discriminated against. Even in some cultures today, disabled folks are thought to be suffering some sort of curse. The ninth chapter of Saint John's gospel dramatically shows the bias commonly held by people throughout history. When Christ's disciples asked him whether a blind man or his parents sinned, he replied that neither  of them had. Rather, it was that the work of God could be made manifest in the man so that he was born without sight.

I know first hand how certain religious people have treated those with a disability. Throughout my attendance at a charismatic house church, elders chided me for having hidden sin, a lust for sight, lack of faith to be healed, and ancestral sin that blocked God from healing my eyes. Those heartless people lacked understanding of God and his purposes.

One notable Christian with a disability was Fanny Crosby. She Not only wrote more than eight-thousand hymns and songs but she lost her vision at six weeks old. Furthermore, she believed her sightless condition was a blessing from God, not a curse as some folks would assume.

I could cite many other examples of how the Lord worked through the disabilities of people. Because of societal attitudes, we disabled folks have had to struggle to acquire the status which able-bodied citizens take for granted. Even in the workplace, we have to work harder just to keep abreast with our "normal" counterparts. Legislation against discrimination doesn't always help us either. Employers often have erroneous ideas of our capabilities. One of my blind friends was initially blocked from working in a sheltered workshop because its manager thought he couldn't find his way to the rest room.

I wrote extensively about my treatment at that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.