I think some people with cognitive disabilities must feel that way about their church or other community group experiences for that matter. They are constantly being judged on their social skills (which are often not quite there because they do not understand the subtleties of many social interactions). I must say that the more I am with such people with cogntive disabilities, the less their their lack of understanding of social structures bothers me. Now I am not talking about moral rigor. We should as a church and as individuals hold the line on issues of morality because that is a point of obedience to God. However, the social creations to which we have been socialized need more looseness. Particularly in the church, our social structures should be loosened in the name of acceptance. The environment needs to be softened because out of love and acceptance, your presence is more important to us than a particular socially derived pattern of social behavior.
Why do I say this? Solely because such social structures are used as a point of exclusion.
A person talks out in a group too much so he can't be a part of the group (obviously we should be quiet when in groups)All of these are like the person at the dinner table judging my eating while I am doing my best, just trying to be a member of the group eating at the table. I want to be there because I want to be a part of a group, I want to be loved, I want to love you. You turn me away because I don't hold my fork right, or lay my knife on my plate in the right way.
Someone misunderstands the level of familiarity he should display, so he is excluded (obviously I should not stand too close to people)
I am more open/less guarded with my verbal expressions so I should be excluded (I shouldn't express that I love you or that I am angry with you because we just don't do that sort of thing)
I cannot understand your subtle expressions of rejection so I should be excluded (you try to avoid me, and I just don't get it)
I talk to you about my work and you just aren't interested so I should be excluded(you try to move away and I follow you)
I repeat my comments about things which are really interesting to me and you get tired of them so I should be excluded (you tell me I have already talked about those things)
My nose runs and I don't wipe it so I should be excluded (you are tired of handing me tissues)
I need assistance with many of the things which are a part of being in a group so I should be excluded (I just take up too much of your time when you want to also be with others)
I am reminded again of the verse in Romans 12:2 which says, "Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will" (NIV). We should not reject needy people, particularly on the basis of what is tantamount to table manners. Could it possibly be God's good, pleasing and perfect will to reject people on the basis of their social skills, their table manners? NO. Could it possibly be God's good, pleasing and perfect will to become a bit more socially loose, and overlook the social skills of others in the name of love and acceptance of those who truly need love and acceptance? ABSOLUTELY. I need to once again reject the patterns of this world and once again be transformed by the renewing of my mind.