Leviticus 19:14 states, 'You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD" (NASV). It is striking that we are warned to not do something to someone who would not be able to detect us as having done that thing to him. A deaf person cannot hear me cursing him. The blind person cannot detect me putting a stumbling block in her path. In the case of the deaf person, he would not know that anything had happened to him although those around him would realize that someone has cursed him. In the case of the blind person, she would recognize that she tripped over something and fell down, but she would not necessarily attribute her own misfortune to the actions of another person. However, in each of these cases, we know what we should do towards these individuals. If we are unsure for some reason, the passage tells us what to do. Typically, if someone makes rules such as these, it is because people have cursed the deaf person or put the stumbling block in front of the blind person. It is not hard to imagine people thinking this is great sport, great fun.
I would extrapolate this message to others to whom we might do something who wouldn't realize that we were doing a bad thing to them.
There is the story of a woman who as an infant was placed into an institution. When family members came to visit others in the institution, she would ask where her family was. The staff would reply, "They are on vacation." As the story goes, the girl had a sister who found out at age 30 that she had a disabled sister living in an institution. When she visited her sister, the disabled gal asked her, "How was your vacation?"
I think there are many things like this that we as Christians, that we as the church do to people with intellectual disabilities. Like the deaf, we curse those with intellectual disabilities in ways that they don't realize we are cursing them. We exclude them, and then speak among ourselves about how their presence would be disruptive, or wouldn't allow us to do programmatic things the way we would choose to do them should they be present. We curse them in a way by treating them as children, or in not treating them as peers. Like the blind, we may put barriers in their way that they do not see or are unable to overcome. Barriers such as social skill expectations or relational expectations or knowledge based performance expectations. When they trip over these they fall down, when they need not have fallen if we had just changed our expectations.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
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Wow ... that is very powerful and places the responsibilty directly on us as members of the body of Christ. Cnanging expectations seems to be very difficult for Christians to do, and if we struggle with it how much more so is it for those who aren't Christ followers?
We have responsibilities here that, to often, we ourselves are blind to.
I agree with Kathi, if the Church struggles with reocognizing this apponted resonsibility, what are we to expect from the worls?
In addition to this, Jer 7 holds some powerful words that we as the church need to hear. It does little good for us, and perhaps it actually does damage, when we are 'in' the church declaring "God is here, God is here, God is here" all the while there are people outside the gate that require our help -- God's out there, we need to come along side those who are disable and bring them 'in' - we'll discover that God has come in with them.
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