Happy New Month everyone, thanks for clicking on this link. I pray that God meets you at every point of your need. Last month was women's history month and all my posts were solely focused on content that relates to women's issues and rights. Check out my post with the highest’s views: Men are Scum: The godly man guide to not being a Scum. I really enjoyed the feedback from everyone, thank you so very much. We will continue to work towards fairness for all people.
This week I will be touching on something that is very popular in Nigerian churches, it may also be prevalent in other churches and religion but my sole focus is Nigerian churches because that's where my experience lies.
Also known as ablism, disablism, anapirophobia, anapirism, and disability discrimination. This is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled. On this basis, people are assigned or denied certain perceived abilities, skills, or character orientations.
1 Samuel 16:7b ESV But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Based on the definition above, some of you may see where I am headed. Many times we able-bodied Christians enjoy using disabled people to motivate others to thank God. In churches, we often hear things like “many have no hands or no legs but you are here with your hands and legs and you don’t want to thank God” or “If you know all parts of your body is working shout hallelujah” or “I saw a man on crutches this week and It motivated me to thank God that I am not in his condition”. Why? Why do we enjoy doing this? It is as though disabled people exist solely to remind us to thank God.
Imagine if there were disabled people in your congregation and the worship leader first then the pastor use their disability to motivate you to be enthusiastic about God. How do you expect them to feel? We keep talking about them like they are inferior to us hence we should keep thanking God we are not them. Are they not among the people Christ came and died for? Do you realise how unacceptable this is?
Romans 12:3 ESV For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
It is very wrong! Disabled people are human beings that deserve equal respect amongst us. They do not merely exist for us to use them as sensational material to inspire deep reverence and adoration for God.
There is a Yoruba saying that translates to “if you can think, you can give thanks”. As a believer, your salvation alone is a reason to be thankfully forever. If you can think about how God has saved you from the kingdom of darkness and how you are seated with Christ in heavenly places, that is enough reason to jubilate. Why do you have to think that you are better than a group of people before you can open your mouth to give thanks?
Ephesians 2:5-6 Living Bible (TLB) 5 that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again[a] when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved— 6 and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did.
If there is anything I need us to take away from this post today, is to search within ourselves for things that genuinely inspire us to thank God for. If you don’t have anything, think deep. Think about his awesomeness, his mighty power and most importantly his never-ending love. His love alone is more than enough to thank God.
In this life, we have to be very teachable. There are many toxic things that we learnt as a result of our environment, it takes the desire to identify them and unlearn them. Ableism is one of those things we have to unlearn.
While we are here, I’d like to leave us with some tips about how to interact and see people with disabilities:
- Focus on them first before their disability. Remember visually impaired or Person who uses a wheelchair is first a human being before they have a disability.
- Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Think of the person first, not their disability. Don't shy away from people with disabilities - relax and be yourself!
- Just because a person has a disability, they don't necessarily need or want your assistance. Never help someone without first asking them.
- Think Before You Speak. Avoid using labels when you speak - they are offensive to everyone, including people with disabilities
- Avoid Showing Pity or Being Patronizing. People with disabilities aren't victims, they are humans that deserve full respect. Treat them the way you will like to be treated.
- Always use positive language that empowers them rather than marginalise them.
Here are some examples of offensive language and language that should be used as a replacement:
A person who is disabled since birth, born with a congenital disability
A person who has cerebral palsy
A person who needs mobility assistance
deaf and dumb, deaf-mute
A person who is deaf and does not speak
A person who has a physical disability
A person with an emotional disability
A person with a disability
A person with a spinal curvature
insane, deranged, deviant
A person with a mental illness
A person who is small in stature
A person who has Down Syndrome
A person with a cognitive disability
Wheelchair-bound, confined to a wheelchair
A person who uses a wheelchair
To wrap this post up, I will ask us this question. Aren’t we all disabled in some way? We have areas in our hearts, body and minds that don’t work “normally” or the way we want them too. Do we want others to use us as praise motivation? God has not seen anyone has less or inferior to others, he sees us all the same. We are all created for his will and all we can do is help each other to do so.
“Abled does not mean enabled. Disabled does not mean less abled.” ― Khang Kijarro Nguyen