Pastor Rick Morrow of Beulah Church in Richland, MO, in a recently uncovered video clip, says that physical infirmities like autism are caused by demonic influences and can be remedied by casting the demon out. “Well, my God doesn’t make junk,” he claims, presenting a false dichotomy: either a child’s condition is the work of Satan or God intentionally created them with such ailments.
Firstly, let’s demolish this absurdity on the grounds of biblical theology. The claim that physical ailments, including autism, are the result of demonic possession isn’t grounded in Scripture. While it’s true that the New Testament does mention Jesus and the Apostles casting out demons, none of these accounts assert that every ailment or disorder is demonic in origin. In fact, Scripture overwhelmingly indicates that our fallen world—and the imperfections that come with it—are a result of our original sin. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). The conditions that we deem as imperfections or disorders are part of the fallen nature of this world, not individualized curses from Satan or defects from a flawed Creator.
Now, let’s entertain Morrow’s claim and examine its full implications. Would this theology also apply to children born with heart defects, Down’s syndrome, or even those who are stillborn? Are we to believe that Satan handpicked these souls for affliction? According to Morrow’s logic, this must be the case—unless we are to accuse God of creating ‘junk,’ as he puts it.
By positing that these conditions are the work of demons, Morrow undermines God’s sovereign authority and questions His wisdom in allowing such hardships. Job, a man who suffered greatly, was never told by God that his suffering was due to demons. Instead, the overarching message was one of God’s sovereignty. Job 38-41 resounds with God’s rhetorical questions aimed at underscoring His all-encompassing wisdom and power, ultimately humbling Job and redirecting his focus toward divine sovereignty.
Morrow’s assertion that “God doesn’t make mess-ups” is a shallow understanding of God’s purpose. God’s workings are infinitely more complex and profound than our human minds can comprehend. What we see as “ailments” or “defects,” God might use for His glory and for the furthering of His kingdom. The Apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” which he pleaded with God to remove. God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In biblical perspective, our weaknesses can serve to magnify God’s strength and grace.
To say that conditions like autism are simply the work of demons to be cast out is not only unbiblical but also damaging. It pushes an agenda that isn’t supported by Scripture, fostering shame and stigma around conditions that many are already struggling to understand and cope with. The fact is, the very fact that we’re even allowed a single moment to breathe and live life is nothing short of an act of a merciful and patient God. Let’s not be swayed by absurd and theologically unsound notions. Instead, let’s turn to the authority of Scripture, which teaches us that we live in a fallen world, and that the suffering we encounter is part and parcel of that fallenness—not the malevolent plans of Satan or the alleged shortcomings of a Holy God.