Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 30, 1954

How To Settle A Troublesome Problem

James P. Needham, Haynesville, Louisiana

As all who are informed about current problems facing the church know, there has been, and still is, a great deal of discussion about how shall the church care for orphans. You know too, if you have read the discussion, that a great deal that has been said has served only to obscure the real issue involved, appeal to sympathy and emotions, and to prejudice certain in the church against some preacher or paper. I have followed the discussion all the way through and must confess that some of the time I was lost in a wilderness of words of no profit.

I know too, that much of the discussion has been an effort to defend what WE have done in the past, or to keep some institution in existence. Many times positions were at stake that carried with them much prestige, power and influence. It is human to desire such things, and to be reluctant in giving them up. Never should we be set for the defense of what WE have been doing. We must be forthright in seeing the mistakes we have made, and willing always to correct them or "sin lieth at the door."

In the discussion I am now speaking of there has been some strong contention for big "super-duper-institutions" to care for the brotherhood's orphan's, plus the orphans of the world. All the way through brethren of wisdom have advised that these were parallel in many respects to the old missionary society, and that this is not the best way to care for these unfortunate children. They also pointed out that the institution is not only not the best place to care for orphans, but that there is JUST NO NEED FOR THEM. No need for them because there are multitudes of Christian homes available for orphans. Brethren who have opposed doing away with these institutions have challenged the truthfulness of this. They say it is impossible to find private homes in which to place orphans. I want you to read the following article:

"The Vanderbilt Law Review for the Winter quarter points out that for every one baby in this country to be adopted thirty desirable and worthy families clamor for the child. At a recent gathering in Nashville announcement was made that twins were to be adopted into some family. People were asked to go to the office of the man making the announcement. Twenty people hurried there — and some almost came to blows over who was there first. Seldom does a week go by but that some worthy Christian family comes to me saying, "Could you help us find a child to adopt?" This is the experience of many Christian ministers known to me. No institution can possibly be as desirable place for a child to grow up as in a Christian home. Institutions are only a substitute for the real home. Some of the talk about children being "better off" in some institution than in a real Christian home is just Communistic nonsense. If they are better off then we should abolish homes and just operate institutions as the Russians tried to do in some sections a few years ago. Sometimes it becomes difficult for us to keep our perspective when discussing such things. Let us bear in mind that institutions have a place to fill — but that place is not to take the place of a Christian home where a child can have his own father and mother. There is every reason to believe that the adopted child is just as happy and has just as good a chance in life as any other child." (George DeHoff in Christian Magazine.)

A few days ago this article was found in a newspaper: ASK ORPHANS BE PLACED IN HOMES, Austin, May 10 (UP) "A program calling for gradual abandonment of the state orphan's home at Corsicana through placement of the children in private homes was recommended Monday by the Texas Research League. The League, a privately-financed governmental research agency, made its recommendation in a report to the Board of Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools. The research organization estimated the sweeping changes in care of the state's orphans would save the state at least $220,000 a year. The report called for transferring management of the Corsicana orphans home from the hospital board to the State Department of Public Welfare, which now operates the Waco state home for dependent and neglected children."

It is amazing, if disgusting, to me how the governmental trend is away from the institutional idea of caring for the needy, yet the church trend is toward it! I believe that practically everyone will agree that a private home is the best place to care for orphan children. That being true, let's empty these institutions and use the thousands of dollars needed to operate them in carrying out the Great Commission. If we grant for the sake of argument that the institutions are scriptural, it is still a well known fact that the private home is the best place to care for orphans. This being true will anyone say that it is the best policy not to follow the best policy?

It is past time we were doing some serious thinking on this and other problems. Usually those who contend for the institutions falsely charge that those of us who oppose institutionalism do not love orphans. Well if I wanted to be as ugly as they are I could charge with more propriety that they do not love orphans since they contend for an inferior way of caring for them. I WANT WHAT IS BEST FOR THE ORPHANS, THEY DON'T.