“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

"Bring them to me"

Bring them to me

That is reported as Mother Theresa's response to those who would abort their babies. That is, have the baby and she would take the responsibility for caring for those children who escaped abortion.

Those should also be the words of the Christian church in response to a wide variety of disenfranchised people, but in particular, persons with disabilities. Bring them to us, bring them to church. You know, it is one thing to be against abortion, or mistreatment of people for whatever reason. It is quite another to want to offer solutions to problems, particularly when they involve a committment of time on your behalf. A ministry to persons with mental retardation provides "teeth" to arguments which would support the lives of persons with disabilities. One could never accuse Mother Theresa of just being against abortion. She was against abortion with a solution in hand.

As Christians, we need to do much better in supporting our rhetoric, or maybe I should say in supporting Jesus' rhetoric. As I related in the April 20, 2005 entry from Kierkegaard, "Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament." Particularly if you are endeavoring to follow it in what it teaches. Such an effort first requires that you take the time to find out what it says, and second that you do what it says. Neither of these are particularly easy.

But if we claim to be following Christ, there should at least be evidences that we are making the effort to understand what He said and making the effort to do what He has told us to do. What might those evidences look like?

It might begin with more clarity about what the scriptures say about disability. I am completing a survey of church members from a variety of denominations about disability, and if one thing comes through it is the confusion about who persons with disabilities are. To me this is a reflection of the confusion in the leadership about who persons with disabilities are. Christian leaders need to rise up and take on understanding disability and sharing that theological understanding with others in leadership and with their own congregations. In spite of the presence of persons with disabilities in the community, the presence of persons with disabilities in the scriptures, there is surprisingly little theological writing to guide an understanding of who these folks are from a theological perspective.

Then, because we don't know who they are, we don't know what to do to serve them. At least Mother Theresa had a notion of who a baby is and what her or his needs would be. We don't know who persons with disability are or what their needs are. Sometimes I hear young adults talk about babies as if they are from another planet or something. They speak as if they would be totally unprepared to deal with a baby should they have one. Their speech reminds me of those who are unprepared to deal with a person with a disability. In the same way that a baby being born into a family is totally natural, in the same way, the enfolding of a person with disability into a church should be natural. Interestingly, you will find that those young adults generally do pretty well with their new baby when it comes. The church would do well to.

So I would say to parents of persons with disability, "Bring them to me (the church)" and let us prove our rhetoric with some action.


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