Distaste For The Disabled Is In The Bible

According to a writer with disabilities, that community is discouraged with the lack of interest by conservative political Christians in their circumstances. We can see in the Bible hostility to the disabled has been in the faith since day one.

In Leviticus 21 it says no man may come near God who is blind, lame, disfigured, deformed, has festering sores or damaged testicles. Such people may not approach the alter because they will desecrate God’s sanctuary. The wealthy men who wrote this in the Bible had an obvious dislike for anyone who was different.

One of the most famous videos of the Trump campaign was when the candidate did an imitation of the mannerism of a handicapped reporter.

Now, we find a branch of the religious right championing cuts to government health care that includes service to handicapped citizens. Such people who often cannot work are being pushed into a health care pool with others who draw more from the pool than pay in. The inevitable result will no source of money for health care and it will be with the endorsement of part of the Christian faith.

For the religious right, justification for making medical care unaffordable us simply a matter of reading from Leviticus 21 and claiming religious freedom. Discrimination against gays is handled the same way.

Thank goodness we have institutions both inside the faith and in the secular world who work to keep at least some equality of opportunity for the wide diversity of people in the United States.

21 Responses

  1. Juan Ruiz

    The Torah is enormously obsessed with purity laws. Recall that the sacrificial Paschal lamb had to be without flaw, which John picks up on in his gospel. This also is reflected in Kasruth and women in menses.

  2. Jinx II

    Thankfully Stephen Hawking’s was not considered unclean, defiled, impure or unfit! Not just Hawking’s but all the ‘defective’ people who have improved the state of the human condition through the years.

    1. Jinx II 6:28 Thankfully Stephen Hawking’s was not considered unclean, defiled, impure or unfit! Not just Hawking’s but all the ‘defective’ people who have improved the state of the human condition through the years.

      And, President Franklin Roosevelt.

  3. entech

    Jon–Stop defending the indefensible; quite obviously they have all done something wrong for the benevolent god to punish them like that.

    Take Job:
    “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all.”
    Loyal, blameless and God fearing and yet punished severely for no apparent reason, and then we read:
    “Behold, God will not reject a blameless man, nor take the hand of evildoers.”
    And all his friends thought he should consider what he had done to deserve such punishment. True justice and benevolence would never allow such a thing to happen, so look to the victim for blame, as being the cause.

    1. entech 11:00 Jon–Stop defending the indefensible; quite obviously they have all done something wrong for the benevolent god to punish them like that.
      Take Job:

      You are so right. For someone to have been born with a disfigured face and a club foot there was sin somewhere, maybe by the mother (probably by the mother) and someone had to pay the price. And, the Job guy. Who knows what thoughts he had while putting up a front of goodness? Obviously, he did something to deserve such punishment from a “kind and loving god”.

      1. Juan Ruiz

        “Obviously, he did something to deserve such punishment from a “kind and loving god”.”

        YHWH liked a good wager. If Bugsy Siegel hadn’t invented Vegas, he would have.

        1. entech

          Yes, we must remember that God said he is mine and nothing you can do will change that, do your worst and you will fail. We may like to think that the prohibition on actually killing him was an act of kindness not so; if Job were to die there would be no resolution – if he were killed then we could not know if he would have remained faithful had he lived to demonstrate it.

  4. AJ

    Just a thought: If you read chapter 21 in its entirety, it doesn’t ban any disabled people from entering the temple. It says that disabled people that were in Aaron’s line couldn’t offer sacrifices.

    1. AJ 12:16 Thanks for the comment.

      The disfigured could “eat the bread” but could not approach the alter. The alter would be soiled. And, that is why we think of a “loving god”? It is a cruel god, a god who hates.

      I’ve never heard this passage read from the pulpit.

      1. entech

        23. Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the Lord do sanctify them.

        As God created everything and everyone it stands to reason that he would not want the less than perfect in his sanctuary, or even to give them sanctuary. Any of this would be a reminder that some of his creation was less than perfect.

        1. Juan Ruiz

          “Only he shall not go in unto the vail”

          The Vail (veil) was the curtain in from of the Holy of Holies (Sanctum Sanctorum), where the throne of YHWH sat. Only the High Priest could enter. It is this veil which is ripped away in Matthew when Jesus dies, symbolizing that all now have access to the Christian god.

      2. AJ

        Thanks for your response as well. Since the passage is addressed to Aaron and his line, it sounds like any disabled person outside of Aaron’s lineage would be able to approach the altar.

    2. When convenient, Jon is a fundamentalist who believes in the Bible and plays devil’s advocate. At other times, he is virulent anti-Christian who doesn’t believe in the Bible and still mocks Christianity.

      Levicitus 21: 16-24 is the Old Testament rules for the Aaronic priesthood. The verses do not lay out rules for believers. By our modern standards it seems harsh. But nowhere does it state that God has a distaste for the disabled. Nor does it state that God hates the disabled or is being cruel to them. All of what Jon says is a lie. And the reason Jon has not heard it read from the pulpit is that Jon spends virtually no time in Church. Note again, these chapters pertain only to the priesthood of the line of Aaron in the Old Testament.

      The New Testament is the new covenant with all humanity. There are new rules for what is required, fundamentally, to be a priest.

      There must be a spiritual, mental and physical standard for the priesthood. A priest must be able to say Mass, administer the sacraments and serve his parish or another part of the Church’s mission. This precludes some men from the priesthood based on their physical well-being.

      http://www.catholicapologetics.info/catholicteaching/vocations/priest.htm

      1. He must not have any physical handicap, or disease such as epilepsy, which would render difficult his celebration of Mass or the accomplishment of other rites of the Church or priestly duties; nor may he have any physical deformity which would subject him, and his priesthood, to derision.

      2. Furthermore, at least before receiving any Order, the candidate must have received both the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

      Secular jobs often times require physical abilities. There are no blind bus drivers. We don’t hate blind people. Nor is it cruel to not let them become bus drivers. There are no paralyzed hockey players. we don’t hate paralyzed people. It is not cruel to keep paralyzed hockey players out of the NHL.

      Strike three, Jon. You’re out.

      1. Matt 2:20 There must be a spiritual, mental and physical standard for the priesthood. A priest must be able to say Mass, administer the sacraments and serve his parish or another part of the Church’s mission. This precludes some men from the priesthood based on their physical well-being.

        Matt, you should do stand up comedy. The Bible does not say that. It says the deformed or those with sores make the alter unclean. They defile it. I can understand you would like to put a different spin on the Bible but you might put a little more thought into it.

        1. Jon, if you bothered to read the Bible AND understand it, you would know the Leviticus passage you cite is about the priesthood of the line of Aaron.

          If you want you can view a Catholic Bible for the verses cited and read the footnotes and the theological underpinnings. Or you can remain willfully ignorant or relish in your lies.

          Your interest in the Bible is to use it to demean Christianity. Why should anyone believe or trust you?

          As for disabled people in the Catholic Church, you might want to view this again:

          1. Matt 4:53 Or you can remain willfully ignorant or relish in your lies.

            I’ll choose to simply read the Bible and take note of what it actually says. I will remain willfully ignorant on how self-serving clergy of all kinds, including Catholics, make it different than what it actually says in order to make it more to their own liking.

        2. Cite one work an atheist organization has performed for the disabled. Then let’s look at the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Southern Baptists and the Episcopal Church. The scales seem to be way out of balance. So, if all these Bible-believing churches have a “distaste” for the disabled, the atheists must downright hate them. Actions speak louder than words.

          1. Matt 7:24 So, if all these Bible-believing churches have a “distaste” for the disabled, the atheists must downright hate them

            All I did was quote from the Bible. You do not quote the Bible. That’s where we differ.

        3. Juan Ruiz

          Jewish sages have spent millennia interpreting the Torah; it’s what gave us the Talmud and Mishnah. They were embarrassed by the severity of the texts: stone a rebellious son, an eye for en eye, and the like. Maimonides’ “Guide for the Perplexed” is but one example.

          1. Juan 10:52 Thank you for bring up Maimonides. I’ve been meaning to blog about him. To me, his wisdom swamps Paul and our Catholic/Protestant chains of literature.

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