Pure Religion And Undefiled
"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.)
In a recent religious publication that I receive there was an article that had been written by one of the better known preachers of the day. The brother branded members of the churches contributing funds to a man-made Benevolent Organization to help this organization do a work (some of which is, and some of which is not, the work of the church), as people who "object to helping orphan children." If this preacher or any one else knows of a member of the church who will "object to helping orphan children" he has my agreement that such a person is perverted and has not a chance of going to heaven unless he repents. However, the broad sense in which this charge was made is very false. It is not those who oppose the church's contributing to a benevolent organization "object to helping orphan children." For a certainty, no man can honestly level that accusation against members of the church of Christ in West Irving, Texas, where I worship. For, as reported in last week's bulletin, it came to our attention that four destitute children needed to be placed into foster homes. And within less (much less than half a day's time, all four children (a boy 8, a girl 6, a girl 3, and a boy 2 years old) were safely resting in homes of members of that congregation. It is expected that these children will be in these homes any where from six months to permanently.
I believe that anyone who knows anything about child placement will agree that it is much harder to place children in foster homes than it is in adoptive homes. For in foster homes there is always the fear that a child "who is greatly beloved may be taken away.
Currently there are six destitute children being cared for by members of this congregation. Surely Christians who thus practice pure religion and undefiled can not correctly have the accusation that they "object to helping orphan children" sustained against them. May God have mercy on any man who is so perverted that he will make such a charge!
Who will deny that this is a scriptural way for Christians to help orphan children? Who will affirm that Benevolent Organization care is better than this? Even the aforementioned preacher wrote, "If a person wants to help the fatherless by taking them into his home, my hat is off to him. Such a person is to be appreciated." When we practice pure religion and undefiled in an unquestionable way, a way that all will admit to be scriptural, and that most will admit is the very best way available, why are we criticized, anathematized, ostracized, and stigmatized by others who are members of the church?
The need of these four children was so pressing that almost certainly the juvenile authorities would have stepped in before we could have possibly got them admitted to one of the Benevolent Organizations' homes. If this had happened, these four children would very likely now be in denominational homes. But even if we had attempted, and succeeded, in gaining admission for them to one of the Benevolent Organizations, who will dare say that the children would have been as well off there as they are in Christian homes? Would God have been pleased with our effort? If these helpless children were now in the custody of some Benevolent Organization, the churches would largely be charged with their financial support. As it is, individual Christians are practicing pure and undefiled religion as instructed in James 1:27, and the church is free to use her funds in doing the principal work God gave her to do, preaching the gospel to the unsaved of earth.
The charge that we "object to helping orphan children" may be hurled at us; all kinds of false and evil epithets may be used: "anti-orphan", "anti-cooperation," "hobbyist," etc., but anyone who knows of the pure and undefiled religion being practiced by members of this congregation can hardly take seriously such unbrotherly accusations.
Really, the evidence is overwhelming that those who contend that churches must support these Benevolent Organizations" are far, far more "anti-orphan" than are their brethren who are caring for helpless children. This congregation, for example, has about 150 members. Within this number I know of six destitute children who are being fully cared for. Does anybody know of any congregation that is contributing to the Benevolent Organizations who is doing as much as we are here for orphan and destitute children?
According to their own reports, there is only one child per each 1,000 members of the church who is being cared for the "organization" way. If the Irving church where I worship practiced pure and undefiled religion in the average ratio of the institutional-minded churches, we would not be supporting less than one-fifth of one orphan child!
Jesus said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:20.) Now, whose "fruits" testify as to the fact that they believe in "helping orphan children?"