Deafness – A Biblical Perspective

This article is excerpted and adapted from the first chapter of Into the Silence – A Biblical Perspective and Plan for Reaching the Deaf Around the World by missionary to the Deaf Joe F. Kotvas. We would encourage you to purchase a copy of this book online. It will challenge and encourage you.

The Bible has much to say about the Deaf.  Did God make the Deaf on purpose? Why do people become Deaf? Must Deaf people accept Christ as their Savior? Here is a Biblical perspective of the importance of the Deaf to God.

Into the Silence - A Biblical Perspective and Plan for Reaching the Deaf Around the World

Cover of Into The Silence by Missionary Joe F. Kotvas

And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf,or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? – Exodus 4:11

The Deaf Are God’s Creation

God created the Deaf for His purpose.  One might say, “Deafness is due to sin and the sin nature.  Thus, it is a direct result of sin’s corruption.”  Hence there would not have been deaf or blind folks had there not been sin.  However, one can say dogmatically that God purposefully made deaf and blind people.

One might inquire, “How could a loving God make a person deaf or blind?”  In response, one might ask, “Who made us God’s counselors?  No person can judge an almighty, all-wise God who is love.

Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?  – Isaiah 40:13

If you look at things through the perspective of a deaf person or a blind person, though there are some limitations placed upon them due to their lack of hearing or seeing, they have the advantage of not having to listen or see the garbage and filth that this world has to offer.  In this respect, who has the “handicap”?  (The Deaf do not consider themselves “handicapped.”  Their deafness is a way of life to them.  It is their culture.  It is a social issue not a physical one.)

It is by our perceptions of our physical circumstances or situations that we tend to base our determination of who is blessed or not blessed.  There are people wonderfully blessed of God that would tell you so who would not fit into our “normal” mold.

This begs the old saying, “It is better to have loved and lost that love than never to have loved at all.”  Thus, “It is better to have lived and been saved being deaf, blind, disabled, than never to have lived at all.” Do not pity the Deaf.  They are God’s handiwork; masterpieces of His own Divine design and purpose to be fulfilled in this life for His ultimate glory, which awaits revelation.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. – 1 Corinthians 13:12

 The Deaf have God’s Care

God placed a special command of protection for deaf and blind people.  We would be wise to heed it.

Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:14

Jesus showed His love and care for them in His ministry.  Should we not show the same?

The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. – Matthew 11:5

When you look at what God calls “pure religion” in the book of James, you notice a distinct emphasis on caring and helping those who are afflicted. Deaf and blind people, for the most part, would fit into this group of people.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27

When you work with the Deaf by teaching them language and the Bible way to Heaven, when you take them in, feed them, clothe them and provide a place for them to live and when you care for them, you are practicing “pure religion.”

One of the reasons that God creates and allows what we would call “disadvantaged” people in the world is to show His true love and character through us as we minister and labor for Him.  God has given us His ministry of reconciliation, so that we would bring glory to His name (2 Corinthians 5:18).  Our labor of love should be a testimony to the world of God’s care.

Many lost people have been blessed and many saved because of the work among the Deaf at Efata.  It has provided inroads that otherwise would not have been available.  Time after time, people have commented, “You are truly doing the Lord’s work here.”

Ministry among the Deaf IS the Lord’s work.  It IS part of the great commission. It is PURE RELIGION!

A few years ago we received a little bundle of love into our home for the Deaf.  She was an abandoned little deaf girl of less than two years old.  She could not walk and would not look anyone in the eyes.  She had developed no personal connection with anyone.  She was a sweetheart whose life was stagnated by an uncaring mother and father.

Over time she has made great progress.  She leads a normal deaf child’s life in a loving adoptive home enjoying her new family, home and care in the United States.  She is a very intelligent little girl who has overcome many obstacles.  All she needed in her life was for someone to practice the pure religion of the Bible.

God cares about the Deaf and commands us to fear Him in the way we care for them.  To ignore this vital ministry in our sphere of influence, in essence, is to fail to demonstrate the fear of God!

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. – James 4:17

There is a great movement in fundamental circles to support only church planting missionaries to the exclusion of all other types.  This author humbly disagrees with this mindset.  Just as many ministries in the States are multifaceted with paid staff for various ministries, it is important to support missionaries who are support staff for the church planter; missionaries who would give their lives to practice pure religion as the Bible defines it.

Remember, as you invest in children, especially abandoned and neglected children, you are building into them a lifelong love for the things of the Lord and you will be helping to create church planters who might have otherwise been antagonistic to the things of God for the lack of proper Biblical care.  Your results may not be immediate, but they will be lasting.

The Deaf Will be God’s Consummation

 There will be a day when the Deaf shall HEAR with their ears the words of the book and the eyes of the blind will SEE.  One would think that this will be a glorious time for all.

And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. – Isaiah 29:18

However, what exactly will their new or recovered senses hear and see?  Which of the following declarations of God would you desire the Deaf to hear for the first time?

This one:

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, – Matthew 25:34

Or, this one:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: – Matthew 25:41

A lost deaf man is as equally responsible for his sin as a lost hearing man is!  Somebody needs to go tell the Deaf this truth!  They are without excuse.  They see the same nature that we do – a nature that declares the glory of God!

A deaf person will not be able to stand before God at the Great White Throne judgment and plead ignorance because of his deafness. “Lord I would have understood if they had just told me!”

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: – Romans 1:20

In this respect, ministry to the Deaf is no different from ministry to the hearing.  It is our responsibility to tell and their responsibility to respond.

There is nothing that negates the responsibility of a deaf person from doing right.  It is not a question of not being able to discern right from wrong.  They are not mentally challenged in the sense that they cannot understand due to some physiological or organic medical problem.  It is a question of access not ability.  The same access, which we have to the Gospel, should be afforded to the Deaf.  We see God’s handiwork and power in nature and in the heavens.  For this reason God declares us “without excuse.”  They see the same things we do, and thus are equally without excuse.

In regards to the Gospel and Bible truths, hearing people have one major advantage that helps them to understand better.  That advantage is the ability to hear Bible preaching, teaching and exposition.

This is where we must labor to provide accommodations that will help a deaf person overcome the obstacles of his deafness through sign language and education.  These accommodations are what we call Deaf Ministry – bringing the Deaf to the feet of Jesus by providing opportunity through ministry for them to understand and accept the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

It is so exciting to listen to the testimonies of deaf adults and children who have accepted Christ as Savior and to see their eyes of understanding opened.  There is nothing like it in the world, especially after you have labored for so long to help them to understand.

If you have ever seen the movie or read the story of Helen Keller, you will remember the climactic moment when she understood for the first time what the movements and hand shapes being presented to her in her little hand meant: W A T E R.

You might even have been touched as the music began to crescendo and Helen’s “hands” of understanding were opened as Anne Sullivan began fingerspelling words into Helen’s hand and Helen understood!

What excitement!  What joy and tears!  All of it experienced because a little girl who was deaf and blind could now understand.

The Word of God states:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. –  Luke 15:7

If there will be such joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, how much more over one deaf sinner who repents, for whom such great barriers had to be broken down to allow him to understand the precious Gospel, MUCH JOY!

God cares about the Deaf and the Deaf can care about God and the things of God.  It is our responsibility to be a witness and help to make it possible for “silence” to speak!