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Disabled Children Are NOT God’s Punishment

UPDATE: Please read this for additional information on the source of this story and several inaccuracies that I discovered as I did further research on it. 


According to WTOP news, a radio station in Virginia, and further reported on Right Wing Watch and Think Progress under the headline “Disabled Children are god’s punishment”:

Bob Marshall

Western Prince William Del. Bob Marshall, R-13th, says disabled children are God’s punishment to women who have aborted their first pregnancy.

He made that statement last Thursday at a press conference to oppose state funding for Planned Parenthood.

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican.

“In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

According to the WTOP, Marshall is part of a group called Virginia Christian Action. “Its members presented a petition calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to stop funding for Planned Parenthood. All three top officials are Republican.”

Mr. Marshall is directly contradicting what [As I wrote here, the story reported by WTOP paraphrased Mr. Marshall’s statement inaccurately. However, because the story spread so far, I am leaving the following rebuttal to the idea in place.] Jesus taught his disciples when they encountered a man born blind. You can read about it in John 9:1-3.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

This passage is clear. Jesus clearly states that disability is not the result of sin.

The Message paraphrases this story with an interesting angle.

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

Children born with disabilities are precious. Jesus says that asking who is to blame is the wrong question. He would condemn using these children as leverage for a political argument.

Better, look for how God is co-opting the pain and illness and developmental delay to spread light in the world.


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