Bishop Doran, Here is Why Disability is NOT a Sin! – Thoughts from a Disabled Christian Woman

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With Easter around the corner, it is imperative to feature the story regarding the remarks Catholic Bishop Kevin Doran made about disability, homosexuality, and God that sparked vehement responses from those within each community.

Bishop Doran made the following statements that created a great stir, and an even greater offense:

Speaking in the run-up to the spring meeting of Ireland’s Catholic bishops, the Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran implied that being gay was a disability, when asked whether he believed being born gay could be what God intended.

“That would be to suggest that if some people are born with Down’s syndrome or Spina Bifida, that that was what God intended either,” he told NewsTalk Breakfast radio.

Excerpt from Christian Today’s article.

Why This View of Disability & Religion is Problematic

The debate as to whether disabilities are a part of God’s plan or are punishments for sins remains one of the biggest controversies surrounding disability and religion.  Many disabled people struggle with feeling fully included and accepted within religious settings because of the way some in the church (regardless of faith group or denomination) view our lives, and the “reasons” why we are disabled.

Being a disabled Christian, I was outraged at what Bishop Doran said.  It saddened me at the level of ignorance and misconceptions some church leaders have about disability, as well as how Bishop Doran managed to offend both disabled and LGBTQ+ Christians and non-Christians with his views.  There is no room in Christianity for that way of thinking, and true Christians who know their Word fervently acknowledge that those views are not of God.

My Heated Commentary

Seeing the responses a few disabled bloggers shared about the statements, as well as reading the ableist views from Christians who disagreed with them, fired me up to the degree where I gave my own two cents on the matter.  Below is the response I wrote on the Ramp Your Voice! Tumblr page about the matter, and I felt that it was fitting to share it on the website’s blog because it captured how I view my disability in relation to my Christianity perfectly:

As a disabled Christian, reading the headline about Bishop Doran’s comments, and seeing the firestorm on a friend’s blog regarding his comments concerning the offensiveness of what the Bishop said, and having ableist, so-called “Christians” support the misconceptions about the lives of disabled persons and religiosity are appalling.

When I look in the mirror, I see God’s perfect creation – a 29 years old Black woman who was born with OI, under 4 feet tall, has moderate hearing loss, and has a body that is perfect in God’s eyes, no matter how Man may view her.  There’s nothing flawed, grotesque, or sinful about how God made me – I am beautifully and wonderfully made in His image.  When I look in the mirror, I see what God sees – His loving child that He carefully molded to His satisfaction.

When faux Christians use the Bible in ways that demean or devalue the human experience of those who are not “typical” or “normal,” they are abusing the word of God, and have turned it into something that is unrecognizable from its original meaning.  Being disabled is NOT a sin or punishment, nor is it a fallacy in God’s plan for mankind.  If you don’t believe me, read the God’s Word Translation of John 9:3 (NT):  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned.  Instead, he was born blind so that God could show what he can do for him.”   I don’t think you can get any clearer than that – spoken from the Son of God himself.  Disabled people in the Bible sought out Jesus on their own accord, and their “healings” were a testament to Jesus’ abilities.  These moments in the Bible were not meant to mislabel disabilities as sinful, abominations, etc., and from the aforementioned scripture given, Jesus himself did not think about disabilities in that manner.  So please tell me why do we use the Bible as a way to shame, discredit, and dehumanize the lives of those with disabilities when Jesus never said it to be so?

As a disabled Christian, it burns me to my core to see other “Christians” mislabel the disability experience.  You DO NOT have the authority to tell me that my existence, my life, and my body are sinful when the Bible has told me clearly that I am a child of God who’s loved by Him immensely.  To hear able-bodied persons, especially parents of those with disabilities, say that disabled people are evidence of the sins of their parents and to have parents actually say that about their disabled children is sickening.  We cannot allow religion to be used in such a harmful, degrading matter – that is NOT what God would want for His Word to be used as.  It amazes me that Christians will follow aimlessly behind the misconstrued meanings of scriptures without taking a moment to read the actual context of what was written and formulate their own opinions.  What Pastor Jenkins says about disability during his sermon does not mean that it is right – that is HIS misinterpretation of the Bible, and God’s Word.  As a Christian, you should make it a priority to read the Bible for YOURSELF because a lot of these so-called “preachers” are really wolves in sheep’s clothing, and they don’t care if you understand the Word as it was intended to be understood; they want you to believe the hateful, erroneously interpreted garbage they’re spewing in the pulpit.

And yes, I have very harsh views about church leadership because of the way the Bible has been used to support the atrocities committed in world history.  (Prime example of such atrocities supported by misconstruing the Bible:  Slavery.)  I have no tolerance for church leaders who purposefully misuse the Word to guide those who are seeking God’s love and will in the wrong direction.  Though I love my God, I am NOT a member of any church home because I am very keen on the Word’s message being interpreted correctly.  Why?  Because I have made it my responsibility as a Christian to read the Word for MYSELF so that I won’t be misled by one of those false prophets that the Bible warns us about.  Yes, a lot of these church leaders like Bishop Doran who made the ableist statements are false teachers, and have misdirected many who earnestly wanted to build a relationship with God and know His Word right off the damn cliff.

To the Christians who want to tell me, and close to 1 billion disabled people on this planet, that their existence is not a part of God’s vision:  Go to hell.  You obviously have no idea what the Bible says about disability, and you do not have the right to tell me that I am a sin, and that my existence is a mistake.  God made me the way he wanted to, and I am living this life fearlessly with God right by my side every roll of the way.  God gave me this life because he knew that your ignorant self wouldn’t last 15 seconds with it.  God gives his toughest soldiers this life because He has equipped us with the gumption, resilience, and abilities that you’d never understand because you’re too focused on what makes us different from you.  To say that I, and others, could not possibly be happy or live pleasurable lives because we’re disabled is laughable.  I have no desire to be “normal” because if normal means that I hold ableist, hurtful views against a people that I haven’t taken a moment to see their humanness is as valuable as mine, then I don’t want that – you can keep your normal; I’ll take disability/abnormal any day.

For me, I know that God didn’t make any mistakes.  I have this life because He has a plan for me, just as God had a plan for the man mentioned in John 9:3.  God’s plan for me and my life as a disabled person isn’t meant for you to understand; it is for ME to understand so that I can fulfill my purpose, and have ableists like you eat my tire dust as I roll in God’s likeness and His provision for me.

Vy, proud God-fearing, disabled woman who knows that she’s not a mistake, but a God-given gift.

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of MyHandicap (Wikipedia/MPL))

P.S.:  This is the 100th blog post on the website!  Stay tuned because next week, I’ll write a special feature on cracking this huge milestone. ~ Vy

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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