Should I accept my disability, or seek treatment for it?

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I do not believe my bone disorder was given in order to serve some greater purpose (even if it does end up serving some greater purpose) because I do not believe in a cruel God, and I do believe in a God who created us to have whole, pain-free, immortal bodies. Remember: Death and pain were not part of the original plan, and Jesus not only healed people of their physical ailments (albeit not in isolation from their spiritual need for repentance and forgiveness), but also defeated the ultimate result of bodies that don't work as God intended them to—death.

The second option for explaining my condition—and perhaps the one Becker is advocating for, at least in terms of Down syndrome—is that genetic disorders are a manifestation of human diversity that we need to honor. But I cannot accept my bone disorder as value-neutral—just another human difference that people need to accept. It is a difference that demands acceptance, but that is not all it is.

A few days ago, a friend whose daughter also has OI was confronted by a brazen stranger who asked, "What's wrong with her?" My friend's response was, "Nothing. Normal is just a setting on the washing machine." A great answer, a true answer. Nothing is wrong, in a fundamental sense of our human identity as children of God, with those who have genetic disorders, cancer, brain injuries, paralysis, or the flu. But something is wrong with our bodies. They are not as they should be, not as God intended. While I do not advocate fixing what's wrong at all costs—I think there are compelling, important reasons that Christians, for example, should tread carefully when considering the use of reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to screen out genetic disease at the embryonic stage—I do think there are plenty of disabilities that need correcting. Including mine.

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer who focuses on Christian reproductive ethics and disability theology. She is writing a book for Westminster John Knox Press (forthcoming in 2011) about the ethics and theology of assisted reproduction and genetic screening. She blogs at and Five Dollars and Some Common Sense. "Speaking Out" is CHRISTIANITY TODAY'S guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the magazine.

Adapted from "I Want to Be Accepted As I Am, But I'll Take a Cure Too." Click here to read the original article and for reprint information. Copyright © 2010 Christianity Today.

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