There is an unprecedented amount of talk about orphan care going in the Church right now - and I love it. Perhaps in generations to come, ours will be looked back upon with great affection and admiration for how we, the Church of today, rose up to care for kids and families in historic and eternal ways.
Yet, while I celebrate and actively participate in many of the discussions taking place regarding God's heart for the orphan and our mandate to care for them, I also cringe at some statements hovering around the Church on this issue that in my opinion are logically and even biblically flawed. Here's two I've come across most recently and continue to do so fairly frequently:
"We are all adopted by God, therefore we must all adopt."
This statement sounds profoundly spiritual, but is actually tragically unbiblical. In the body of Christ everyone is called to do something, but not everyone is called to do the same thing. We all serve the same purpose with unique functions that each carry an equal weight of importance. Some are eyes, some are ears, some are hands and some are toes - all of which are essential to the overall proper functioning of the body (1 Corinthians 12).
As we apply that theological grid of the activity and identity of the Church to the realm of orphan care, we find the same to be true. Some are called to adopt, and some are not. Some are called to foster care, and some are not. But if we're not careful, we may unintentionally define orphan care too narrowly - in essence, that orphan care equals adoption. In so doing we effectively say to people that for them to truly make a different they must adopt a child into their family. This is not only an unrealistic expectation but also an unbiblical pressure that leaves many concluding if orphan care equals adoption and they don't feel called to adopt then they therefore must not be called to orphan care. Obviously this is not our intent for people, but it all too often is our outcome with them. Orphan care does not equal adoption. Orphan care equals a vast buffet of opportunities to care for marginalized, abused, neglected and orphaned children and their families. Not everyone is called to do the same thing, but certainly if you are someone who claims to have been adopted by God, you are no doubt called to do something. This is a realistic expectation for us all, and a biblical one. Learn about some opportunities to get involved HERE.
"If every church adopted one, we could wipe out the crisis."
The math says, "There's x number of kids needing homes and there's x number of churches in our country. We can wipe out the crisis immediately." This logic, however, is flawed. While we may meet the need today an entirely new roster of kids would come into care tonight and need homes tomorrow. It's the equivalent to scooping water out of a canoe with a teaspoon while the gaping hole in the bottom of the boat continues to let rushing tides rush in.
When it comes to adequately and effectively addressing the national and global orphan care crisis our efforts must be two-fold. One, to close the back door on kids growing up into adulthood without families. The Church, more than any other institution in the world is uniquely equipped with the Gospel of redemption and the diversity of the Body to ensure no child is ever left familyless. It's on us. Two, we must close the front door on new kids ever finding themselves in the position of needing a family. Preventative, alternative forms of restorative care for families is essential to ensure they stay in tact so kids can thrive safely and securely in their own homes. While I certainly celebrate and advocate for the notion that every church can and should adopt and foster at least one, the extent of the work that's necessary to honestly eradicate the orphan care crisis would remain undone.
This is not another "things you shouldn't say to foster and adoptive parents" blog post. The goal here is not so much to criticize what people say but to suggest that as the Church we must always be pursuing clarity, both theologically and practically, on what we believe regarding the issues we are striving to effectively address. The two examples above are just that - examples. They are popular lines of thinking that are fundamentally flawed and therefore must be challenged, educated and shifted if we want to effectively mobilize the Church to address the global orphan care crisis in a long-term, helpful and sustainable way.
I celebrate the discussions taking place and pray they only increase in fervor and diligence - but never to the neglect of right thinking and right believing - and in the end, right speaking that will ultimately lead the Church to right acting.
- Foster Care: Why the Church Can Stop Outsourcing Child Welfare
- Raising the Next Generation of Foster and Adoptive Parents
- Rethinking Some Common Foster Care Concerns
- The Sovereignty of God in Foster Care
- Six Things Foster Care Has Taught Me
- The Other Side of Foster Care
- The Beauty and Brokenness of Foster Care
- Why Foster Care is Necessary
- Orphan Care: The Call To Change & To Be Changed
- Killing the Orphan Care Hero Complex
- Orphan Care, the Church and Evangelical Fads
- Adoption: Giving A Family, Not Just Getting A Child
- 3 Ways Orphan Care Displays the Gospel
- The Generational Effects of Adoption
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