In my Christian Education class at
Bíblica Latinoamericana, we talked about a theology of disabilities.
What? Yes, everything is theological, because theology is how we see God
and how we see the world. For centuries, people
perceived disabilities as signs of God’s disfavor, as punishment
for sin, as a curse. People without sight or the ability to walk or
with epilepsy were shunned and feared.
Later, a medical model was established: disabilities are imperfections,
diseases that should be healed. Doctors worked hard to “correct”
the disability with medicine, therapy, surgery . . . The
“handicapped” person was a patient
in the hands of the expert. The goal was to “fix” this defective
person. Had God messed up?
But more recently, a social model has developed in which the person
with a disability is perceived not as a patient but as a citizen. The
world is filled with people with diverse abilities and
disabilities, and it is society that has the responsibility to
provide access to basic services for everyone. It is the society
that disables people. Every person should have the opportunity to
make decisions to live as full a life as possible. We are all
created in God’s image, each of us with limitations and potential.
We are called to live in community and be responsible one to
University we share a vision for community that is inclusive and
committed to justice and empowerment. Some 15% of
the world population has a disability. Why do our congregations not
reflect that percentage? I want to help pastors learn how to
include people with disabilities in their congregation and their
educational programs. My students were energized to engage
with and include in new ways people with disabilities.