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People with disabilities are less valuable than able-bodied people. To what extent must religion reject this view?

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Aleksander Filipczak        Religious Studies

3b. ‘People with disabilities are less valuable than able-bodied people.’

To what extent must religion reject this view?

Within Christianity, all human beings are made in Gods image, and at the same time, thus all, those with disabilities and not, are equal and as valuable.( As seen in Genesis 1:27 - So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female.) Therefore Christianity goes against the statement of disabled people being less valuable than able bodied, which can be seen in the following arguments –

Firstly, we are all Gods’ children, created in his image. God does not judge us depending on our race, gender or bodily ability, as we are all created in his image, therefore we share his righteousness not his physical image. We are judged upon our oneness relationship with God, and how we accept Gods’ righteousness and grace. Therefore, just because society defines disabled people as abnormal, such as lepers who are looked down upon in the New Testament, they do not distort the image of God because of their physical image, and as long as they experience Gods’ grace and engage in a relationship with God, they are equal in Gods eyes. As we all are the children of the Lord, we should all be respected and looked at in the same way, and not as lesser, as we are all unique due to the fact that we are created by God.

Some can argue against, as in many sources, and especially the bible, disabilities are seen as less valuable assets. Firstly, within the bible, there are many references to people with leprosy, and are seen as people which have sinned or are out of Gods favour. As people with disabilities are only ‘copies’ of the able bodied people, they might be linked to less value. In Leviticus 13, Lord talks to Moses and Aaron, and tells them that those who are diagnosed with leprosy are to be announced ‘unclean.’ This suggests that people with disabilities are not as equal as able bodied people.

Nevertheless, within the Bible, Jesus is seen helping the disabled, and even touching them, which is seen as out of normal, due to the reasoning that disabled are cursed by God and should not be contacted, let alone touched. In Matthew 9:1-8, Jesus heals a man who was crippled, 27 a blind man is healed so he can see, Mark 3:1-5 a man with the withered hand was healed  and Mark 7 :31-37 a deaf man is cured and is able to hear and speak. Jesus’ interest in helping not only the able bodied , but also the disabled not only suggests that we as human beings are all equal, but also that disabled or not, we are all people of God, who need help in one way or another, and who are able to find help in Gods’ grace.

Nonetheless, there are reasons to believe that disability is a punishment from God as a result from unbelief and ignorance. In Leviticus 26:14-16, as a punishment for Israel’s disobedience, God says that he will spread disease which will drain away life and close your eyes. This suggests that people possess disease and disability such as blindness due to the consequence of disobediences and disloyalty towards God. There are also many sources within the bible that suggest that blindness is a form of punishment, such as in Judges 14-16 or Acts 13, where people which cause sin, are cause to have or obtain blindness. (Prov. 30:17 warns that the eyes, which are disrespectful to parents, will be plucked out by birds of prey.)

Lastly, within the gospels, there is evidence to suggest that disability is equal , if not more equal than others. Firstly, not only we are all made in Gods image, disabled or not, Jesus came and helped the disabled, improving their physical image, suggesting inequality as ‘normal’ people were not ‘tweaked’ or ‘fixed’ in any way. Secondly, in John 9: 2-7, a disciple asks Jesus why was a man born blind, “because he sinned or his parents?” and Jesus replied “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” This suggests that whatever you’re body state, as long as one can find grace and light within the Lord, one will be saved. Lastly, in the parable of the Sheep and Goat, Jesus tells us to care for the poor, feed the hungry, help the disabled (ill), as what we do to others, we do to him. Therefore, this suggests equality within disabled people.

Overall, the Christian belief shows that all human beings are created in Gods image and nevertheless of ones bodily state, disabled or not, all are equal and as valuable.

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