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70. STEPH HUBACH ON LEARNING, LOVING, AND LIVING WITH DISABILITIES (PART 1 WITH STEPH HUBACH AND CHELSEA BOES)

Kelsey Reed • 05/29/2024
Concurrently Ep 70 Thumb

Kelsey Reed
Hello, welcome to Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast from World Radio and God’s WORLD News. At Concurrently, we approach the news through a discipleship perspective. We tackle the challenging topics in culture and current events as learners and fellow laborers with parents, educators, and mentors of kids and teens. We consider the whole person promoting growth in knowledge, attitudes, and action in the world. I’m Kelsey Reed. I’m here with Jonathan Boes.

Jonathan Boes
Hello!

Kelsey
We welcome you to the conversation. In fact, we’d love to hear from you. Please send in your questions or comments by way of voice recording or email to newscoach@wng.org.

Jonathan
Recently, in our God’s WORLD News publications, we’ve written several times on the topic of disability from a redemptive angle. We’ve seen in our youngest level, God’s Big WORLD, we had a story about college students designing wheelchairs for toddlers who needed them. But their insurance wouldn’t cover those wheelchairs, so the college students built these and gave them to the toddlers. That was a great story to see. And in WORLDkids, we talked about schools in Senegal including deaf and hard-of-hearing kids in hearing classrooms. We’ve had all sorts of great stories like this of inclusion. But we’ve also seen, outside of our publications, we’ve seen and heard some of the hard stories. Last year in The Atlantic, there was an article called “The Ones We Sent Away,” just highlighting the ways that people with disabilities have been removed from society, have been hidden, and have been excluded. And we see so many of those difficult stories all around us. And so today, we want to ask the question, how do we tackle this topic redemptively? How do we see those with disabilities the way God sees them? And how do we disciple our kids, teens, and students to do the same? And so, to help us tackle those questions today, we’re excited to be joined by our guest, Steph Hubach.

Kelsey
Stephanie Hubach currently serves as a Research Fellow in Disability Ministries, and a Visiting Instructor in Educational Ministries, in affiliation with Covenant Theological Seminary. Steph was the founding director of the Presbyterian Church in America’s disability ministry before beginning her work at Covenant Seminary. She has written several books including Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability, and also Parenting & Disabilities: Abiding in God’s Presence, which is a devotional for parents of children with disabilities. Steph has also written for byFaith magazine, ERLC, Focus on the Family, and The Gospel Coalition. Steph and her husband Fred have been married for 41 years and have two adult sons—the younger of whom has Down syndrome. We’re so thankful to have you with us today, Steph. Welcome.

Stephanie Hubach
Thank you. It’s a thrill to be here. It really is.

Kelsey
Today I have with me not only Jonathan Boes, but his wife, Chelsea Boes is with us again today. Chelsea, thank you for joining us as well.

Chelsea Boes
Thanks for letting me in!

Kelsey
We’re so glad. We love having four of us around the table. It tends to actually draw out a richer discussion. There seem to be conflicting views about disability in the context of our culture. Some people treat it as a hopeless tragedy. Others talk about it as celebratory, a form of superiority. So how are we to understand disability biblically? In other words, could you articulate a biblical worldview of disability?

Stephanie
This is a question I had to answer for myself, and my son, Tim. Tim is my son who has Down syndrome. He’s 32 now, but when he was younger, I was navigating this world and trying to figure out “How do I understand disability biblically?” because while I was raised with two things that helped me tremendously in my faith when Tim was little—the strong belief in the goodness and sovereignty of God and a solid understanding of what it meant to be an image-bearer of the living God—those two things were definitely helpful, but as I started attending National Down Syndrome conferences and things like that, I started hearing different kinds of language and different approaches to this that made me kind of cock my head a little bit. Kelsey, you can understand this bit having gone to Covenant Seminary. You learned under Jerram Barrs to evaluate things with an open mind and say, “What can I affirm? What can I not affirm? And how can I bring the gospel to bear?” And so that’s how I, without even knowing Jerram’s advice at that point in my life, started to really try to evaluate this. And here’s where I ended up in terms of my understanding—and feel free to jump in at any point. But it really started to understand this historically, certainly in American culture in the 19th and 20th centuries, the biggest influence and culture in general and also in the world of how we looked at disabilities was Modernism. And Modernism finds its roots in the Enlightenment and Enlightenment thinking, an idea that society is moving on a linear trajectory towards achieving a utopian vision, and science and reason are the means by which we get there. And so, the way that disability is looked at in that context, then, is that disability is perceived as an—in the science world of scientific observation—as being an abnormal part of life in an otherwise normal world. And so, the ramifications of that, then became that focus on disability, that disability was meant to either be fixed, eliminated, or perfected. And so, so when you look at that approach, then it makes logical sense, not biblical sense but logical sense, why we ended up with this era of institutionalization where people with disabilities were literally warehoused by the thousands in rural areas in in the country. Because what couldn’t be fixed had to either be eliminated through eugenics—and this is the whole period where eugenics comes through—or separated out from society in a way that there was no negative influence. Because if you think about the whole issue of eugenics, which was the word was coined by Charles Darwin’s cousin, [Francis] Galton, it’s the idea of eliminating the undesirables while multiplying the desirables—that’s the actual language of eugenics. In this Modernist view, people with disabilities are viewed as undesirable. And so, we still live with eugenics thinking today when it comes to babies with Down syndrome and abortion. So that’s another topic to get into a little bit later. But can you see in the Modernist thinking is fixing, eliminating, perfecting an abnormal part of life and an otherwise normal world. With it comes in this superior inferior construct of relationships. Understandably, as time passes by, and disability advocacy starts to become part of the American landscape into the latter 20th century, disability advocates are understandably saying, “Well, disability isn’t an abnormal part of life in a normal world.” From their view, it is a normal part of life in the normal world. You see it all across cultures, you see it down through the centuries, and it knows no socioeconomic boundaries. If you think of it like a seesaw, you have the Modernists on one side, the Postmodern on the other. It’s as if the [Post]modernists dropped down on the seesaw and popped the Modernist off the other side. And so, here’s the struggle, then: Disability, if you look at it through the lens of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s really defined as an impairment that affects one or more of life’s activities and the perception of the impairment as well. So there are these two parts in play: There’s the impairment, the functional part of the body, that doesn’t work the way we expect it to, but then there’s also the social dimension. And that’s the “being regarded as” part of the definition under the ADA. And both of those things contribute to disability, the functional impairment and the “being regarded as,” the social dimension. And so what happened is, under Modernism, almost all the focus is on the functional impairment. How do you fix, eliminate, perfect? In Postmodernism, again, imagine the seesaw and Postmodernism dropped down the seesaw. And almost all of the weight is on the social dimension. If we could just change the way that people relate to people with disabilities, people would not actually experience disability. So those are the two kinds of extremes of that view. And again, if you go back to the, “What can I affirm? What can I not affirm?,” I can affirm that disability does bring about functional impairment. There is difficulty. If we’re honest, there is difficulty. I see Jonathan and Chelsea nodding. Because experientially, as a parent, you understand that. There is difficulty. So it’s dishonest to say there isn’t difficulty from the impairment. At the same time, if all we do is focus on the difficulty, and we don’t focus on that, we fail to actually value the person as an image-bearer. On the other hand, for the Postmodern perspective, if we—and this is some of the language I heard in some of these conferences I attended—see disability as a difference, no different than hair color, if it’s a difference no different than hair color, what that actually ends up doing is two things: One, it truncates the grieving process for the individual or the family members who are trying to contend with the difficulty element. The other thing it does is that it actually removes any responsibility from the neighbors of the person or the family affected by disability. Because if it’s a difference no different than hair color, then I don’t really owe you anything. And so it ends up actually, while the desire is to is to elevate the value of the person, it ends up celebrating the disability. It celebrates the wrong thing. It celebrates the disability, not the person. Should we have been celebrating the person all along? Absolutely. But do we have to deny the reality of impairment in order to do that? And do we really want the side effect of saying, “Well, this is no different than hair color, therefore, there’s no responsibility socially, culturally, or otherwise, to enter into that person’s life or walk alongside of that. So if you want to jump in, at this point, ask me anything before I run in, run on to the biblical view, I’m glad to do.

Kelsey
Well, I’m anticipating the biblical view with joy because I know that it’s only in the redemptive narrative that we set all of these things in their proper care—categories. And I said care, because I’m thinking about how it supplies the foundation that propels us into care. So I’m already anticipating that with such excitement, I’m ready to go. But what about you guys?

Chelsea
I love how you talk about the grieving process. Our little girl was diagnosed with autism last spring. And the first time my best friend, I think she was (my little girl was) two, and my best friend looked at her and said, “Hey, do you think she might have autism?” And I had so much cultural baggage about what autism is—things that I got from the church, things that I got from the secular world, very much in the vein of, “Lord, whose fault is it that this man was born blind? Is it his fault, or his parents’ fault?” You know, and feeling, there’s all kinds of weird guilt associated with that. And when she asked me, “Do you think your little girl has autism?” I just, I wept. I was heartbroken. I think anytime we are called to something we don’t like, I think I’m just kind of like, “Who put me on this list? Who put me in this club? I don’t recall asking for this!” I was telling Kelsey earlier, what I’m learning is that I’m pretty socially gifted. And I think my whole life I’ve judged a person’s value based on their social facility. And God didn’t want me to do that anymore, I think. And now I have this little girl whom I love so much. And because she has autism, she has learned to talk a little more slowly. And every night, I pray over her, “Lord, let her grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.” And part of me, because I want her to be accepted, and I want her to be liked, and I want people to see the light and joy in her that I see, so I always pray with her that and then I say, “When God made Jubilee, He made her——” and she yells out, “Good!” Or she says, “Very good!” And I think, knowing that God made her that way, and that He didn’t make a mistake, it is such a bedrock of life: giving this to go back to. But that being said, the grief process is real, and it is kind of long. And I feel like we’re still kind of there.

Stephanie
I think what’s important for people to recognize about that is you’re—and I think you can affirm this for me, is that—you’re not grieving the fact that your daughter is your daughter. I’m not grieving the fact that Tim is my son. That is not the issue. What parents are grieving with the diagnosis of disability with their child is the fact that they’re now on a on a pathway of a life they didn’t expect. I have a friend that says just because my life is harder, doesn’t mean it’s worse. And I think that’s really insightful. And so, it’s a matter of grieving the loss of expectations And because we all carry these expectations, when you’re pregnant and expecting child, you have these unspoken expectations about what life is going to look like in five or 10 or 20 years. When you get married, you do the same thing. We have all these different unspoken expectations. And the Lord just goes, “We’re making a hard right hand turn here, and I am going to do amazing things, but you’re going to have to hold on for the ride.” And the other thing is, “I’m going to take that yardstick by which you measure human value, and I’m going to snap it in half over my knee and I’m going to give you mine.”

Chelsea
Yes, yeah. Yes, so good.

Stephanie
It’s such a common story, Chelsea. I mean, my whole thing was I just so much valued academia and the intellect. So, I get a son who has an intellectual disability. And that really challenged my thinking of realizing how entrenched and distorted my perspective was of human value, even though I could articulate that it was image-bearing, it’s a central thing. I still had my own add-ons. And so I think that disability gives us an opportunity to examine our hearts more closely, and to be transformed by the Spirit in the process.

Kelsey
I think about how we’re presented with the challenge of discipleship no matter what type of child we have. This child is born and he or she is in front of us and showing us, like a mirror, our hearts, the things that we value, the things that we have placed as of utmost importance. It doesn’t matter from what angle that challenge comes at us, but it is perfectly primed for our good and the Lord’s glory. And this leads us back to that redemptive narrative through which we affirm and challenge. And so, drawing out some more of the biblical worldview perspective that helps us to reframe all of these stories, all of the false narratives of Modernist and Postmodernist thinking, I’m excited because we just recently did an episode on materialism and thinking about those naturalistic, Modernistic tendencies of defining things by their utility. There is a much better way. So tell us about this much better way, Steph.

Stephanie
Again, if you go back to what we were talking about with Modernism and Postmodernism, and the definition of disability: We have this functional impairment, and the Modernists come down heavy on that; we have the social dimension of disability, [and] Postmodernism comes down heavily on that. The biblical view is the only one that really marries the two appropriately. And the way that it does that is if we understand disability biblically. I’m going to quote from Schaeffer first. Before I do this, Francis Schaeffer has this great quote [which] says, “It’s not that philosophy and Christianity deal with completely different questions, but differ in their answers, including the important point as to whether man and history are now normal or abnormal.” And this—this was my Aha! moment. I realized disability is a normal part of life, it is to be expected, is encountered across the centuries, across socioeconomic/different avenues. It’s been with us for, as long as we can remember, outside of the garden, recorded history. So we ought not to be shocked or surprised when we encounter it. And yet people often are shocked and surprised when we encounter it. A normal part of life in an abnormal world. And this is what Schaeffer is kind of pointing to is that the world itself is not as it was originally intended to be. And as a result, and this is what’s really important for us to remember, as a result, every aspect of every person’s personhood is affected by the fall because of our parents’ first sins. Now, that’s certainly different than saying disability is a function of personal sin, and we’ll talk about that later. But we’re just talking about the idea that brokenness in general, in the human condition, exists across the psychological, the emotional, the social, the physical, the intellectual, the neurological, the relational, keep going—each aspect of our personhood, however you want to slice and dice it. None of us lives in this state of 100% capacity. And yet, because of God’s common grace, none of us lives in 0% capacity in any of those areas either. So a disability really gives us this: It’s a more noticeable form of the brokenness that’s common to the human experience. And that’s the key. It’s common to the human experience, and it’s more noticeable in some particular area. So it’s a normal part of life. It’s to be expected in an abnormal world where nothing is operating as it was originally intended. Does that make sense?

Kelsey
Absolutely. You’re pulling that redemptive narrative out. We spend a lot of time in there in our podcasts because it gives us the frame. It gives us what we need in order to think about the fullness of the story in which we live. So some other terms that I might use to hang on what you’re talking about, about the normal world, the abnormal: Which chapter of the story are we in? We’re in the chapter of the story where brokenness abounds, and where the curse is extended into all of life, all of the categories that you’ve named. And yet, redemption has also come. So, we’re in the chapter that is after redemption has come and where the Lord has shown His posture towards the world as man, incarnate, and where He has modeled for us what it looks like for us to be His redemptive agents in the world. So: pushing back against the curse through our actions of loving neighbor and what it looks like for us to live out this redemption that is occurred in us individually, and where we see the Spirit is pushing back against the effects of the curse—that’s where I’m going. And that also allows for us to move into the corporate. What you’re talking about, the individual versus society, we are being both transformed individually and the Lord is using us as His plan to transform society. So it’s the both/and—not just an individual problem or a societal attitude that needs to change. The Lord is doing this in all of life. I really think it’d be good for us to talk about some specifics in culture where we’ve seen examples in the news where, you know, these distortions are in play. Do you have some specific examples for us, that you have seen in recent years about how, those who are living with disabilities, how that’s covered in the news?

Stephanie
There was a really good article that was done in The Atlantic, and I believe it was December 2021. And it was called “The Last Children of Down Syndrome.” And it was about the abortion rate in of children with Down syndrome in Denmark. To my knowledge the author’s not a believer, of this article, but she asked some really powerful questions. She noted a lot of statistics. And that basically, only about seven children with Down syndrome are born to Denmark in any given year anymore. So the abortion rate is almost 100%. And she actually was asking, if Denmark prides itself so much on being an inclusive society, its very strong ethos in the sense of justice, then why are we so proactively eliminating the very people that we claim to care so much for—the marginalized? So it really helps to flesh out without entirely answering the question where this tension exists? Between our actions and what we’re saying that we actually believe. And this is not just true of Denmark. It’s true in the United States as well. So, that’s a good article to see it kind of just laid out there. We say we value diversity, inclusion, justice in social settings, and at the same time, we’re trying to eliminate the very people that might actually cost us something, and actually trying to live out those values. So, I did write a response article to that, that was in byFaith the next year and which you could certainly look up, or I can give you the links for that. Other articles that you read, The Atlantic article certainly presents that we’re still living with eugenics, eugenic actions, while stating a different philosophy. On the other end of the spectrum, in Postmodernism gone to its fullest expression—and Postmodernism is trying to define it—it’s kind of like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. And part of Postmodernism is—and I’m not promoting Modernism over Postmodern, I’m not promoting any era of culture over another, just the biblical perspective applied over and over again throughout the different centuries we’ve tried to live in—but in Postmodernism, you see a lot in the neurodiversity movement. And you all are encountering this as parents of children with autism. And again, there are positive things about acknowledging the fact that human beings are neurodiverse. We have different kinds of intellectual and neurological capacities for things. There is a variety in God’s good creation, and it’s good to name. Where that goes awry at times is—and I mentioned, I do have a chapter on this in my updated version of Same Lake, Different Boat—I think what’s awry is when the neurodiversity movement starts to fall into the same superior inferior/construct. Which is odd. It’s odd, because we’re in Postmodernism, but we’re actually promoting things like, well, this is a superior form of evolutionary experience that’s coming down the pike. “So, we’re actually better than you all.” So instead of actually coming to a level playing field, where we value people in the context of their differences, there’s a power play that starts to come. And of course, that’s very Postmodern, this the use of power. I’m digressing here a little bit, but in, in those two topic areas, the article in The Atlantic, and then look up Nick Walker and neurodiversity. And you can find a wide variety of things where it’s good practice to read somebody’s perspective like that, and go, “What can I affirm? What can I not affirm? How do I bring the gospel to bear?” And so if I could go back to one thing about worldviews: bringing the gospel to bear, the whole concept that disability is a normal part of life in an abnormal world, where it’s functional brokenness, in the functional capacity, and brokenness in social relationships, that both come to bear here in creating disability. And the gospel speaks to both of those. The gospel is the good news of the coming of Christ’s kingdom, pushing back the effects of the fall in every area of life. So, as Christians, we are agents of Christ’s kingdom, the ones through whom His restorative power flows and can then influence in constructive ways, like constructive use of therapies and medicine, can help in the functional area, new growth and application of educational principles that we continue to learn how to best engage kids with different kinds of disabilities. As Christians we can be an influence there. We can also be an influence in the social arena. Harvie Conn in his book Evangelism, Doing Justice and Preaching Grace—have you heard of that book?—he talks about how the church is meant to proclaim the kingdom and to exemplify it. So yes, we should be proclaiming the gospel to people with disabilities; we should also be exemplifying what does Christ’s kingdom look like when people live well together with different abilities and disabilities. And so there’s that social side of it as well. So those two pieces come into play, which gives us a great opportunity, if we see it, and we invest in people to be part of that.

Jonathan
“Proclaim and exemplify.” That is so huge, I’m so glad you brought that up. Because we are blessed now, Chelsea and I are blessed, to be part of a church where they just love our daughter. Everyone we know there, they accept her and include her and accommodate her. And, you know, it’s like, she can be making noise in the pew and no one cares. But there are, you know, something you see all the time is there are a lot of churches where if a child is disruptive, or if a person is disruptive, they kind of want to, “Well, you can go to this other room; we want to create a separation, so you don’t interrupt the show.” And so we can proclaim all day that we value those with disabilities, but even in our churches, what do our actions say? Another positive story that comes to mind to me, I also have an uncle who has fairly severe mental disabilities. And something he loves to do is when there’s music on, he conducts along to it with his hands. And he was at one of our Christmas Eve services back when we lived in Pennsylvania. And he was in the service just conducting along with the music. And I remember my pastor coming up to me afterward and saying, “I noticed that, and I realized: That’s the way he worships.” And that was so beautiful to me that he was seen, and it was understood, that’s the way my uncle is worshiping even though it doesn’t look like the way anybody else in this room is worshiping. And so, it’s so beautiful when we can not only proclaim but also exemplify that. I love that.

Kelsey
It connects with our educational language of what it means to know, but not just stay there in this knowledge and in touting this knowledge to others. It’s not just in, “Okay, know this,” but in that rearranging of our hearts’ posture, our attitudes, and that flowing out into the example that you’re talking about this action, exemplifying, modeling, loving. And in your communication about how we seek to look at what is being touted by the world, where we look through these lenses that have been given to us biblically, what do we observe here? What can we affirm? What do we not affirm? We use “How do we respond?” I love, you’ll have to repeat, the other phrase that Jerram used. Dennis Haack was the one who helped us with the S.O.A.R. method that we employ often in our work here at Concurrently. But we’re asking, “What can we affirm? What can we challenge? How do we respond?” What was Jerram’s phrase again?

Stephanie
What can we affirm? What can we not affirm? And how do we bring the gospel to bear?

Kelsey
How do we bring the gospel to bear? And so that, “How do we respond? How do we bring the gospel to bear?”—this is where we have that opportunity for action—for that culture-shaping action that we’re talking about. So you mentioned a couple of times your book, Same Lake, Different Boat. I’d like to know what the title means. But I also want you to tell us how we think about how that applies to not just the way we think about disability, but how we move, how we respond, how we bring the gospel to bear on those whose life experiences might be different than our own?

Stephanie
The way you said that is actually really helpful. And it has to do with same lake/different boat—the idea that we are essentially the same in the sense that we are all image-bearers of the living God, equal image-bearers. And I will point that out, because we again, we kind of messed that up. Sometimes we’re like, “Oh, well, my friend with profound disabilities is a partial image-bearer, but I’m a whole image-bearer.” There’s that superior/inferior Modernist construct that just gets into our thinking. You’re equal image-bearers of the living God, created to reflect His character into the world. And our friends with disabilities often do that in amazing ways that actually are much more attention-getting in the most positive sense. So there’s that. But it’s the idea that we’re essentially the same as image-bearers [in] that we share the same core foundation to identity, but we’re experientially different. And that’s true of human beings in general. If you grew up in Spain, or Japan, your experiences in life are going to be somewhat different than if you grew up in the United States; if you grew up in a rich family versus a poor family. There are lots of ways that we live life, experientially, in different ways. And disability is just one of those ways that life is experienced differently, but it doesn’t affect value. It doesn’t affect image-bearing, any of that. So what the whole title of the book is “We’re on the same lake, as terms of our value experientially, though, in different boats. So how do we learn?” And that’s where the alongside language—coming alongside—how do we come alongside of the boat next to us? Mutually, that’s the other thing, not just how can I come alongside and help that poor person with a disability, that superior/inferior construct thinking. It’s how do we do life together in a way that I am a blessing to them, and they are authentically a blessing to me as well?

Chelsea
One thought I had, Jonathan, is when you said, “Is Jubilee, distracting from the show?” And there’s a real sense in which she is the show. And not that everyone should stand and look at her. But like, everyone loving her, and bearing with her and enjoying her, that’s Jesus loving the little children. And that’s people, like you say, pulling alongside each other. That is what it is that’s exemplifying for sure.

Kelsey
It’s teaching us how to love. We all need to learn how to love anew. We’re none of us doing it better than another. There is no superiority in loving. I really appreciate what you’re talking about in terms of this experiential learning, of loving, that when we come alongside one another, or if we go into another culture—that’s sometimes the easiest thing to think of—is that we are learning a different way of communicating; we’re learning a different way of loving. And we each of us in our walk in the Lord are being made more like this Christ that Chelsea’s talking about. This Jesus who loves the little children. We are both being refined to love better, to be more Christlike. So that leads really well into this question when we talk about experiential learning of “How do I teach my children to relate respectfully to other children who have disabilities?”

Stephanie
One of the things is remembering that we actually don’t need new methods to do that, and the ways that we—that all human beings—that we ought to operate is in respect-based relationships. Relationships that genuinely, authentically, and practically promote respect between human beings. And so, the way that that’s done is through two foundational pillars in relationship. On the one hand, the one pillar is the pillar of grace. And grace is the way in which we connect to each other in our shared brokenness. And the other one is the image of God, which is the way we connect to each other in our shared value. If you think about it, these two pillars, and then a bar across the top, the bar across the top is respectful relationships. Grace is the one pillar; image of God is the other. How balanced is that if you take one of those pillars out? Human relationships need both pillars, post-Fall. We need to start by seeing each other first of all, if I had to pick one first—and not one versus the other, but one first—it’s starting out with image-bearing. And this is again, Jerram Barrs talked about this, he would talk about how we need to look at every human being with this positive sense of expectancy of seeing the goodness, truth, and beauty of God and that person. And when we look at a person with a disability, what are we so humanly prone to do? What do we see first? Is it the goodness, truth, and beauty of God? Or are we somehow culturally and personally trained to see the disability itself and not even see the person? And so, it starts, first of all, by seeing the person and that person as an image-bearer, an equal image-bearer where I can fully expect to see the goodness, truth, and beauty of God there. That creates that foundation of value. And I should do that with every human being. None of us [does] it as well as we ought to with our spouses, or our children, our neighbors, or our extended family. All of us can grow in this area. The second one, though, is then saying, but I also do need this pillar of grace. Because I don’t have to spend very much time with any other human being before I run into places where our shared brokenness becomes a barrier to relationships. And whether it’s an accommodation I need to make because of somebody’s disability, whether it’s an accommodation they have to make to me because I’m a blunt and insensitive relational individual. You don’t have to be with somebody for very long before you start relying on that pillar. So this is not unique to relationships with disabilities; this is something we ought to practice in all of our relationships: grace and the image of God. And just to be conscious; we have to be more conscious, I think, when we’re entering into a relationship with a child with a disability, a family member, a friend, in the sense that our biases tend to make us not as adept at relying on those two important elements as we ought to be. So we have to be a little bit more conscious about it. You can’t do this in theory; you have to do this in literal, actual relationships. So your children are not going to learn how to relate to people with disabilities if you don’t engage each other. But you know, we’re not looking at it and doing this, “I want you to go find a child to experiment on.” I’m saying if you don’t have any children with disabilities in your world, then your world is too small. And so, expand the horizons. And this happens sometimes, and this is not a judgment of these forms of education, but in homeschooling and in Christian school often our kids’ access to kids with disabilities can be more limited, which only means that they have to be more intentional then about building those relationships at church, at the park, at Cub Scouts, or whatever your kids get involved in. Because it’s an important part of life skill to learn to live with people with all different kinds of abilities.

Kelsey
Absolutely. Experiential learning at its best. We are experientially learning how to love. Learning how to show deepest respect to and regard for the dignity of others. This requires us to see one another as precious image-bearers of our Heavenly Father, beloved of Him, and to rely on grace to do so. Our spiritual anchors for today are Romans 8:28 and 29: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” And 1 John 3:16: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” This is the good work of neighbor-love the Lord has given into our hands. And He has equipped you for the work.

Show Notes

How do we cultivate a right understanding of disability? We’re joined by author Stephanie Hubach to explore culture’s shifting attitudes on this topic and discover a biblical alternative.

Check out The Concurrently Companion for this week’s downloadable episode guide including discussion questions and scripture for further study. Sign up for the News Coach Newsletter at gwnews.com/newsletters.

We would love to hear from you. You can send us a message at newscoach@wng.org. What current events or cultural issues are you wrestling through with your kids and teens? Let us know. We want to work through it with you.

Further Resources:



Concurrently is produced by God’s WORLD News. We provide current events materials for kids and teens that show how God is working in the world. To learn more about God’s WORLD News and browse sample magazines, visit gwnews.com.

Today’s episode is sponsored by Sam Allberry’s God’s Go-Togethers.

Author Sam Allberry has a new book for kids called God’s Go-Togethers. This colorful book features siblings Lila and Ethan as they visit the beach and discover that God not only made the sand and sea to go together, but He made men and women to go together, too. God’s Go-Togethers offers a thoughtful look at the biblical design for people and provides a helpful foundation for explaining why God made men and women as a special pair to complement each other in marriage and beyond. Learn more at GodsGoTogethers.com.


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