Discussing
Will people have disabilities in heaven?

Mark Stephenson

Cathysmith001
May 4, 2011

Thank you for this sensitive post. Lots to ponder. I don't think we are capable in our present flawed condition of imagining heaven without bringing some of our limitations to that picture. I don't know if we're even capable of imagining ourselves unflawed. My husband is not a Christian. Two of my children do not identify themselves as believers. Do I even want to be in heaven without them? Nancy Eiesland might consider her disability to be part of her identity. An integral part of who I am, the deepest part, to which I've attached the most "identity," is wife and mother. How can I be that person in heaven if my family members aren't there? Painfully honest and hard questions. <br><br>I strive for a faith that trusts God to be with me today in my struggles and to be faithful enough himself to be trusted with my heavenly future. As soon as I start speculating, I lose ground. I have to keep it simple. Heaven is the promise of being "with God." I believe that, whatever that means, it will be more than enough and better than can be imagined.

Catahoula
May 4, 2011

Our adopted children both suffer from disabilities due to poor prenatal care. Their biggest disability comes from having their first experiences in this world teach them to trust only themselves as 'parents/adults' in their lives caused them pain. They are learning to trust, to allow God to fill that hole in their hearts, and to trust. The scriptures indicate that we will have a new body, and I believe that our darlins, in Heaven will be whole, filled with the love of God the way that He intended from the first.

Scballou
May 4, 2011

I'm not sure I understand this post... diabetes isn't something someone chooses, therefore I'm not sure it could be labeled a sin. It is part of the curse of sin, but to say that people with disabilities can't get into heaven is ludicrous. Do people really think this?<br><br>Besides, if one reads the bible, one will notice the bible says our bodies will be made perfect, which one would assume means no one will have blemishes. Simple enough really.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
May 4, 2011

Hi scballou. Just to clarify, nowhere in the post or in any of the comments is someone suggesting that people with disabilities can't get into heaven. The question is whether those disabilities will be part of their heavenly identity or not. Thanks

BB
May 4, 2011

I wonder. Just what is a disability? Is it just being unable to walk? or to hear? or to see? Or is it more--a chronic disease that saps your energy, the inability to breathe without the aid of extra oxygen, a mind that is tortured by irrational thoughts? I know my father looks forward to breathing freely, and to hearing and seeing clearly when he gets to heaven. The end of the story of God is restoration, and to me that means bodies that function the way they were meant to in the beginning when God created humans.

Rickd
May 4, 2011

Ben Matlin is sittting in a wheelchair today on a cursed planet with perfectly designed legs, muscles, bones, and nerves all fitted for upright bi-pedal motion that will not function as God intended. Jesus prayed that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven and then he healed the paralytic to demonstrate that principle. We are all dying daily and need medication to prolong our days till death overtakes us. We will not take death, medication, crutches, brittle bones or minds riddled with alzheimers into heaven. I understand Ben’s desire to be valued today as “differently-abled” not “Dis-abled” but that is a sentiment appropriate for this age and body. As Paul teaches we will have new bodies which will functioned perfectly as they were designed. New physical laws will negate the power of sin, death and disease. We will all have abilities fit for our new existence. We are all fiercely proud of our tribal languages here as well. Bantu, Swahili, Farsi, English or Sign. Yet different languages were imposed to seperate us from one another and impede communication, as Genesis 11 indicates, it was not God’s original plan. My guess is that we will be able to converse in Swahili, English or even Sign if we so desire, but we will once again be restored to one mother tongue as we see by the heavenly songs sung in unison in the book of Revelation. Paul indicates that our personality resides in our soul which can take leave of our limited body so down’s syndrome people will still have a sweet disposition but will no longer be limited by failing eyes, failing hearts or brains that limit their comprehension.

Jennifer Jansen Perez
May 4, 2011

This is really thought provoking, thank you. Someone recently told me the story of an acquaintance who had a "near death experience." After being resuscitated, the man told of seeing a friend who had unexpectedly died right around the same time (which he would have had no way of knowing about). When asked how the friend looked, the man said "in the prime of life."<br><br>I have thought about that quite a bit over the past couple of weeks. I believe that we will be "in the prime of life" in heaven, whatever that means for each of us. Will infants and children who die be the infants and children that I assume be in heaven? What about those who die before birth? A person who suffered a slow, debilitating death will not spend eternity in a debilitated condition, living without whatever abilities were lost. However, I think it's possible that a person whose "disabilities" were integral to who he or she was on earth might continue into eternity with them.<br><br>We should not forget that our resurrected bodies will be quite different from the ones we have now. My kids love the story about Jesus appearing in the locked upper room, and they can't wait until they are able to "walk through walls."<br><br>While it's obviously impossible to know the answer to this question, I think there is a great deal of value in thinking about it, so once again, thank you.

Marklehew
May 4, 2011

i think it's pretty cut and dry...there will no longer be any affects of the fall in heaven, therefore no disabilities. Yes, I have 2 disabled sons and for them to say, " I'd rather not be able to walk because it's who I am" is crazy. Yes, here on earth we deal with whatever ailments we have, but we will be restored to perfection in heaven.

SaintStewart
May 4, 2011

What do I think? I think that some people have not read their Bible enough. <br><br>1 Corinthians 15:35-58<br>2 Corinthians 5:1-5<br><br>ESPECIALLY: Is 35:3-5

Hco2you
May 4, 2011

The worst part of being disabled is often dealing with how others treat you. In my opinion, disabilities that make communication with others more difficult are inconsistent with the kingdom, of god because loss of communication is a part of this fallen world. But those that are such that a person can still participate in the kingdom unhindered may survive. With that said, why did jesus heal paralysis and blindness if he would keep them later?

Kevinstein
May 4, 2011

We must resist a dualism in which one is tempted to separate spiritual from the physical and then give one primacy. Biblical thought strongly ties the heart and body. To associate identity primarily to the physical or the spiritual is to risk a holistic view of the image of God. Any understanding we have of healing and of a perfected, future state must maintain that strong tie. Jesus' healing are acts of restoration, relational in focus. Christ's acts are a testimony against apostate Jewish culture which was very hard on those with physical disabilities, as they were seen as direct expressions of God's displeasure or retribution on a person (who sinned? the man or his parents?). Those with disabilities were social outcasts and cut off from supportive social systems, and where typically victims of injustice. The quality of their lives was radically diminished. All of was a picture of the radical effect of sin, in that it cuts one off and robs one of life. Quality of life/welfare (flourishing) is directly related to relational wholeness. My youngest son, suffers from a congenital disorder and is severely physically and cognitively developmental delayed. While he cannot function at age-level, he is still my son, who receives all of benefits of my love and he is still an American citizen, who has rights and access to supportive care services. His identity is not comprehensively built on his disability status, but rather incorporates it. His state, today in 21st Century America, is much better than if he had lived 2000 years ago, or even 50 years ago. in many ways, the Kingdom of God is already breaking through into this side of eternity, for him and for me. So I want to affirm the sentiment that the Kingdom of God is a place where it won't matter if one is disabled. However, I am inclined to believe that because the Kingdom of God is grounded in the restorative power of Christ, a physical healing will accompany the spiritual healing that is experienced in the saint.

DarlaStewart
May 5, 2011

Many have discussions about being made "in the image of God" and this brings the questions of "why me if I am made in the image of God". I tried to bring an explanation of this to one young man who has physical and developmental disabilities and to my own two sons who have a very rare genetic recessive autosomal degenerative disorder. This disorder effects all parts of the body, short life span, and there is only a treatment within the last five years that will slow the progression. Since my sons have had slow progression in the syndrome the treatment will not give a real benefit at this time. In explaning this "image" issue, I told them that the "image" was not mainly physical but within. The behaviors, beliefs, "code of conduct". Each individual had a purpose. I then likened the image to a hand mirror. In the beginning the mirror was smooth with no known blemishes, then there was sin and the mirror became cracked and broken separating us from God. Jesus then died for us, taking our sin and forming the frame of the hand mirror holding the broken pieces together. We as the broken pieces are forgiven our sin but we have a purpose that brings us back to perfection in the image of God. The purpose of their communication, physical, and developmental disablities may be to teach others God's unconditional love, patience, mercy, strength, endurance, and compassion to name a few parts of the image. When we have completed our purpose our broken pieces that are held together by Jesus will be completely transformed to wholeness and perfection.

Amy
May 9, 2011

This makes me think of the Sadducees' questions in Matthew 22, and the similar questions many people might ask today, about marriage in heaven. Here on Earth, I may not be able to picture myself being truly happy, or even fully myself, without my husband whom I love. Yet when we are in heaven, we will have complete and perfect happiness in God Himself, without need for anything else to fulfill us or give us our identities. Here on Earth, "Joe's wife" may be a huge part of who I am, but that doesn't mean that in heaven I will be any less perfect, or my joy any less complete, because I am no longer that one earthly thing.

Cynthia Clarke-Almudevar
May 11, 2011

I had a discussion experience in a women's Bible study I was leading last year. At one point a young woman stated "In heaven we will all be size 6" to which another woman,who was much larger than the rest of us, said "Maybe in heaven we will all be size 22 and it won't matter at all". Perspective! I had never thought of the issue of disabilities as remaining with us after we die and had assumed that no one would want it to be that way...I am not sure of the answer but I am intrigued by the question.<br>

Cordelia
September 5, 2016

This is something I myself have been thinking about for a long time, I'm autistic, and it is part of me, I know full well it's who the lord designed me to be. I know this is from several years ago, but I'll still reply.

I know that autistics will still be autistic in heaven, but I'm not sure how it would go for other disabilities, my first instinct is that either disabilities we were born with stay with us in heaven, as god surly knew what he was doing when he created us in the womb, or that disabilities that affect who we are would still be with us in heaven, but that in itself is vague.

I wish this was a topic talked about more often, but most people's responses is just a variation of "Of course they won't be disabled in heaven" but at the same time, God created someone confined to a wheelchair just as whole as anyone else, in the presents of god would it matter?

Mark Stephenson
September 15, 2016

So the conversation died down long ago, but I found a great quote that I wanted to pass along: In a post about living with Cerebral Palsy, Chantal Huinink says, "The prospect of an eternity where everyone is fully known and understood by God and one another is more meaningful to me than that of a perfectly functioning body." (http://www.disabilityandfaith.org/living-life-full-october-conference/)

Kelsey
April 18, 2017

I'm entering this conversation way after everyone else, but this is a question that I think about a lot.

For the people who say "of course there will be no disability, disability is a part of the fall" I must counter with the example of William's syndrome; William's syndrome is a genetic condition that results in cognitive disabilities, specific facial features, and other characteristics. An unusually high number of people with William's syndrome are intensely passionate about music. I have a friend who has William's syndrome who loves the musical theatre. To whatever degree we have differentiated tastes/interests in heaven, I believe individuals with William's syndrome will retain their proclivity to music.

Similarly, most would accept that a person with Autism who presents with savant-like qualities, or a person with Down-syndrome's gregariousness will still be that way in heaven. In some cases there is a biological mechanism which causes these positive attributes and it is related to the same biological mechanism which causes delay and impairment.

In heaven the lame will leap and the deaf will speak. That's scripture. And these are pretty inarguably impairments.

Most will agree that my friend will still love music.

But will a person with down syndrome have moon-shaped eyes? Honestly, I don't see why not.

My best guess for this conundrum is that in heaven, we will ALL be able to walk, but we all probably won't need to to get around if we don't want to(see instances of Christians being "caught up") and some may choose to use a wheelchair most of the time out of remembrance and reverence for the beauty of Christ's work in their lives.

I think a bit of the idea that pre-fall we were naked and unashamed, post fall we were naked and ashamed (literally for adam and eve, but spiritually, see Ezekiel). God clothed us in Christ. We didn't go back to being naked and unashamed.

There may have been no Down-syndrome or wheel-chairs before the fall, but post fall, I don't think they're inexistent, just redeemed.

Mark Stephenson
April 19, 2017

kelsey wrote, "some may choose to use a wheelchair most of the time out of remembrance and reverence for the beauty of Christ's work in their lives." I love it! And you can be sure that heaven will be fully accessible.

Rebecca
May 13, 2017

When we die, our souls go to heaven and our bodies stay behind on earth. And what is a soul? Answer: The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being regarded as immortal. And what is immortal? Answer: Living forever; never dying or decaying. Our mortal bodies are inhabited by immortal souls. So, when we die, are souls are not inflicted with the same injuries or diseases that our bodies have sustained. We are free of pain, which includes physical, mental and emotional. The soul is perfect an lives in eternity with God the Father, God the Son, God, the Holy Spirit as well as all the angels, saints and our loved ones who have preceded us in death. Amen and Hallelujah.

Mark Stephenson
May 15, 2017

Rebecca, the Bible does provide a few hints that there will be an "intermediate state" in which our souls will be separated from our bodies, but the Bible teaches that this separation of soul from body is not God's ultimate plan. Instead, the "perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality." (1 Cor 15:54) We who are made new in Christ will have bodies like Christ's body after his resurrection. With his resurrection body he ate food, touched people and was touched, and his resurrection body had scars. The question my blog asks is not about that intermediate state when soul and body are separated, but the final and beautiful fulfillment of God's plan when we will get material bodies again.

Angela Basinger
June 15, 2017

I agree with everything you said there. Down's Syndrome is a disability. In the Bible, it says that there will be no sickness in Heaven, and that is true. But, Down's Syndrome is NOT a sickness. I have a daughter with Down's Syndrome, and she is the most joyful person in the world because of Down's Syndrome! Take that away from her, and she will be stressed. As a Down's child, she is always immensely loving, caring, and CANNOT stereotype people for who they aren't, but instead, look at who they are. There will be disabilities in Heaven, and it will not matter a single bit. Everyone is unique, not the same.

Mark Stephenson
June 15, 2017

Angela, thanks for sharing a bit of your own experience. Amos Yong expresses the same sentiment about his brother who has Down Syndrome in Amos' book, Theology and Down Syndrome. For me personally, it's a bit more complicated. So in my comments that follow, I'm not talking at all about you or your daughter, but about me and my daughter. On the one hand, our 29-nine-year-old daughter who lives with severe, multiple disabilities and medical issues is a model for mindfulness and living in the present moment. She neither worries about the future nor lives with regrets about the past. She loves to worship and her enthusiasm for worship is a model for all of us with her in the worship service. She lives with amazing, contagious joy. Like your daughter, prejudice is simply now part of the way she interacts with people. On the other hand, her medical conditions and multiple disabilities sometimes make life very difficult for her. I firmly believe that the struggles that she lives with here on earth will be taken from her in the new heavens and earth, but what will she be like? I don't know, but speaking selfishly, I truly hope that I'll be able to have a conversation with her, using words, in the new heavens and new earth. We have never been able to do that here on earth. I know that none of us are "whole" or "perfect" while here on this earth, and all of us will be made new in Christ, but I wonder just what this means to be made new. Who knows, maybe on the other side of the Jordan words won't be as important for connection and relationship as they are now. Whatever it's like, I trust that God will bring all the goodness from this life into the next, leave the evil behind, and make things and us and our relationships with each other better than we could ever imagine.

David Pugh
June 18, 2017

No there will be no disability in heaven .. the bible in 1 Corinthians 15 tells that our body is buried in corruption and raised in in corruption !

49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood ( earthly bodies ) cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,( CHANGED )

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.!!!!!! ( SEE )

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ ( the only way to heaven )

But please don't forget !! Jesus healed the blind , the sick, the man with the withered hand etc etc etc and to me the most incredible healing of all of my personal opinion was when Peter struck the ear of the servant high priest and what is incredible is that Jesus took the ear and touched it to the mans head and BOOM he was healed! We are talking about the one who created you and I!! God is very good ! We just live in a fallen sinful demonic world but rest assured if you ask Jesus to save you from he'll and the power of sin on your life HE will and the bible says there is no other name under heaven that we must be saved ! Acts 4:12 .. he is the only way to heaven . The only one that can heal ! I hope this helps ! We should not ask earthly people to tell us an answer of something they themselves do not know but only have an idea or belief ! But we should seek the word of God which is the ONLY one who knows !

Mark Stephenson
June 18, 2017

David Pugh, you are assuming that corruption means disability. I vigorously disagree, because that would imply that brothers and sisters in Christ who live with disabilities are corrupt and those who do not live with disabilities are not corrupt. The apostle Paul defines the word "corruption" in this passage to mean sin and death, both of which will be overcome through the victory that will be ours in Jesus Christ.

Regarding the healing stories, you are assuming that the healing miracles were ends in themselves, but perhaps the problem was not these persons' disabilities but the rejection they faced by a prejudiced society. From that perspective, Jesus healed them not so much to rid them of disability but to enable them to become full participants of a society that stacked the deck against people with disabilities. See A Church of All and For All: An Interim Statement beginning with Section 33. for a much fuller explanation of this concept. http://www.dsfnetwork.org/assets/Uploads/DisabilitySunday/EDAN-Interim-Theological-Statement.pdf

Meg
June 19, 2017

There is a huge difference between disability and death, and not all disability is physical, Or even necessarily bad, just hard

Nick
January 21, 2019

While I want to be sensitive to people on both sides of the topic, I see very little attempt on the side of those arguing that disabilities will be present in the new heaven/earth to ground their view Biblically. Jesus spent much of his earthly ministry healing the blind and deaf - according to the aforementioned group of people, was Jesus then doing a disservice by healing?

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