A few weeks ago at our church we celebrated “Sanctity of Life” Sunday. One of our pastors preached a very passionate sermon on the sanctity of ALL life: unborn children, elderly, and those who have intellectual or physical disabilities. As he was preaching about society’s view of the disabled and time periods in which disabled people were viewed as expendable, he used S as an example of someone whose life could be deemed as less worthy than others. After church, he apologized to me for not talking to us about using S as an example first.
No apology needed.
- S is now an adult. You don’t need to talk to us.
- S feels very strongly about this topic also. The research paper he finished in December was on the Nazi’s T-4 Program in which elderly people and people with disabilities were systematically killed. So, his response to me was, “If using me as an example makes people realize there is a problem, then use me.”
- This pastor and S have a very unique relationship, and they have discussed S’s disability before. When S was in the seventh grade and attending Confirmation class, the class discussed what they thought heaven would be like. S told the class that in heaven he wouldn’t need crutches, and he would be able to run like everyone else.
A few days after this sermon was preached someone from our church called my husband to talk to him about S being used as an example. He didn’t think it was right. This person felt that it could skew people’s views of S by drawing attention to his disability. He said he doesn’t think of S that way. He was very complimentary of S’s intelligence and contributions he brought to the adult Sunday School class on the history of the church. We know that this person is a kind and caring person who called out of love and concern.
S heard my end of the conversation with my husband after he spoke to the concerned person from church.
- Again, he said, “If using me as an example makes people realize there is a problem in this world, then use me.”
- He likes being known as S - not the person with a disability. He appreciates people looking past his crutches and getting to know him as a person. However, S the person still has a disability that needs to be taken into account regarding mobility and vision issues in the church.
- You can’t draw attention to S’s disability. S’s disability is pretty visible.
- While it is intended as a compliment that this person doesn’t see S that way, the reality is that S has a disability. We appreciate the fact that many people have looked past his disability to see S as a person. However, people need to realize that we have parishioners in our church who are disabled, and it impacts their ability to get to church and get around the church, participate in various activities, see the screen during worship, hear the service, etc.
- If our pastor using S as an example made some people uncomfortable, good. I’m glad that it bothers you to think that just because my son has a disability that some people in this world have viewed or continue to view him as expendable. I’m glad you have come to know him and know that it would be a loss in everyone’s world if S was not here.
We are blessed to be in a church that is filled with loving people looking out for others.
You know where to find me - on the couch with chocolate.