Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 23, 1958

Children In The Controversy

Frank Driver, Sioux City, Iowa

A strange and novel development has arisen in the controversy involving orphan homes recently. We are called upon now to witness the unprecedented spectacle of published articles in the bulletins of these homes, by the children who live there, giving their testimony to the glory of the institution. Of course, what they say is to have its own special effect, as a contribution to the defense of this organizational arrangement of church ministry to the needy.

It is not my purpose here to reply to the article referred to below, but rather to point out and emphasize the impropriety, the lack of sound wisdom and good taste, of injecting the expressions of children into a controversy that should be reserved for mature, adult minds. Of course I cannot know the hearts of those responsible for permitting and perhaps even encouraging such a course, but desiring as I do to hold no question concerning their honor or motives, I cannot but be troubled over this exhibition as indicating a lack of good judgment that is indeed exceptional (at least, we hope) in those who have such a grave responsibility committed to their care. I sincerely believe that after due consideration, even some of the most loyal supporters of these homes will deeply regret this unfortunate action, as being contrary to the best interests of all concerned, especially the children themselves.

One of these articles appeared in the Home Journal for August, of Wichita, Kansas. Nearly all of this article was a statement by the young brother of what the home meant to him and had done for him, and others. From the beginning of the current controversy, brethren have made a special point of the good done by these practices in question. The irony of it all lays in the fact that many of these same brethren, up until a few years ago, were distinguished in their wonderful work of meeting this kind of argument by denominations. There were no doubt many people who could have praised the Missionary Society in the same way, for bringing the gospel to them they would never have had otherwise.

Certainly this brother appreciates what the home has done for him. Otherwise, he would be most ungrateful. But what does this have to do with the scriptural authority requested, for the church to build and maintain other institutions in addition to itself, through which to do its work? He says he is going on to college, perhaps one of "ours" which is fine, and he may later be disposed to speak gratefully of what the college has done for him. But will that justify churches "building and maintaining colleges" through which to do their work?

Our young author says he has heard of those who believe children's homes are wrong! Now we wonder where he got that information? Did it come from his institutional parents who are bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of their hobby? At least they published his statement. Are the brethren operating these homes actually telling these children under their care that brethren who dissent from their position believe it is wrong for these homes to exist? If this is the source of his information, I sincerely hope that some of you in charge who may read this will act the part of good honor and relieve this young brother's mind by telling him the truth. It is wrong in any case to accuse one falsely, but it is mean and contemptible beyond description to tell a child something about his elders that is untrue, that will result in his prejudice and ill will toward them.

In the defense of the liberty of churches to build and maintain other institutions through which the church may function, brethren ordinarily of good judgment and a conservative disposition, will be affected by their zeal for such institution to manifest a form of behavior that is not usually characteristic of them. This is one of the greatest dangers of institutionalism in the church. It does something to good men that isn't good.