If God loves the mentally retarded, we should, too.

The mentally retarded are perhaps the most isolated, impoverished, and underprivileged members of our society. Failing to conform to vague cultural standards of intelligence, self-sufficiency, and physical attractiveness, they have been excluded from many services and protections available to others. Their weaknesses and pathologies have been stressed and their strengths and assets denied.

As the rights of the retarded are slowly gaining recognition, this situation is changing. Christians have a special ethical responsibility to these individuals who have suffered so ignominiously in our society. The challenge before us is to make the God-given personality and dignity of the retarded a reality in our society. We must accept the retarded person as an integral member of our community, fight for his rights as we would for our own, and use all our resources to make the environment suitable to his needs.

Good ethics depend on good data. We need to be informed about retardation, its nature, causes, and effect on the families involved. Mental retardation means an inadequately developed intelligence that significantly impairs a person’s ability to learn and adapt to the norms of society. It affects about 3 per cent of the U.S. population; about 126,000 babies born each year are diagnosed as retarded. Because it is a relative concept, measuring mental retardation cannot be absolute or completely accurate. Diagnosis is made by using tests involving I.Q. level and social adaptation. On this basis mental retardation is divided into four categories: profound, severe, moderate, and mild.

Profound retardation means that the I.Q. is less than twenty. Constant care or supervision is needed ...

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