Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 3, 1955
NUMBER 42, PAGE 1,12-13a

Adoption Of Orphans Destructive Of Pure And Undefiled Religion

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

(No. 6 in a series reviewing articles by Guy N. Woods recently appearing in the Gospel Advocate.)

"Every Christian home should be an orphan home!" "This bromide," avers Brother Guy N. Woods, "has been bandied about until with some it has the force of an oracular utterance." As has already been suggested in this review, no representative man either bandies such about or considers it "oracular." The fact of the matter is, we have never heard such a nonsensical statement made by anyone save Brother Woods himself. Perhaps, someone, somewhere, at sometime has without proper consideration affirmed such, but we have neither read nor heard it. The statement is not in harmony with anything known to this writer which the New Testament enjoins nor with the dictates of common sense. We have never believed or taught such, do not believe or teach it now, and never expect to believe or teach it, hence why argue the question?

The title of our article is deduced from an argument made by Brother Woods in article 4, section 2, of his series, Gospel Advocate, November 11, 1954. Descanting on the hypothetical proposition that "every Christian home should be an orphan home," he says:

2. "The proposition itself involves a contradiction of terms. It is impossible for an orphan to be a member of a Christian home! A fatherless child, adopted into a Christian home, ceases to be parentless, and is thus no longer an orphan. In an earlier article, in this series, we exhibited the lexical import of the word "fatherless," showing that it means a child without the care of parents. When, therefore, a child has been adopted into a Christian home, it has parents, and is thus no longer orphaned. One who asserts, 'I have orphans in my home,' because there are adopted children there, speaks loosely, incorrectly; the legally adopted children are no more orphans than his own flesh and blood."

This is the most ludicrous, ridiculous, and completely absurd statement possible. It would be unworthy of a high school disputant much less a polemic giant who has, according to his own testimony, had "20 debates" with the "anti-Sunday school" brethren alone. The fact of the matter is, if the statement be true, should the Christian homes of America be opened magnamously to all of the orphaned, the churches of Christ, as such, and all Christians, as individuals, would be divested of the opportunity to practice "pure and undefiled religion." Not practicing "pure and undefiled religion" they would be obnoxious to Jehovah and destitute of his approval and blessings. Should a man, as one recently did in our county, adopt into his home and family and place upon his personal budget five orphaned children at one time, he would thereby rob himself deliberately of the privilege of practicing "pure and undefiled religion." One would hardly expect such a man to have any means to spare after assuming such a tremendous load. Having deliberately assumed such an obligation, he would be guilty of making it impossible for him to practice "pure and undefiled religion." Having wilfully and with malice aforethought done such a wicked thing, he could hardly expect the Lord to overlook his transgression. On the other hand, if he had only bundled them up and sent them to one of the benevolent societies of the brotherhood and contributed ten cents per month to that home, forsooth! he would have the smile of heaven upon him, vindicate his orthodoxy before the Gospel Advocate tribunal, and have the yellow card of quarantine removed from his door by the genial editor of that worthy journal and its official champion of the traditional practices of the Church of Christ. There is one word that to us perfectly describes such argument — drivel.

Widow's Home

Brother Woods seems incapable of conceiving of benevolence without the institutional approach. He keeps talking about widow's homes desiring to know if "every Christian home should be a widow's home." Wherever a widow lives regularly is her home, hence a widow's home. The church of Christ can assist a widow to live, certainly, but unless incapacitated by disease or old age, why put her in an institution? Help her to live in her own home among friends and familiar places where she can contribute of her time and talent to the Lord's work. If she has children or grandchildren, she should not become the permanent charge of the church. If she is a young woman, she should support herself or marry. (1 Tim. 5.) If she is a "widow indeed and desolate" the church may provide whatever is necessary for her to live in her usual place of residence or in whatever facilities the community may afford in the way of apartments, etc. If she is sick or aged and thus unable to care for herself, there are numerous reputable, efficient, and well-staffed nursing homes in almost every town of any size in the nation. If some of the brethren as individuals desire to operate such a place for the aged and infirm, they have the right to do so. If they desire to operate it as a tax-free, non-profit organization, to which Christian people may make individual contributions and the facilities of which are made available to the churches on the basis of payment for services rendered, that too is their right. On this basis, publishing houses, colleges, high schools, hospitals, etc. may be scripturally operated by Christians. However, that churches may own, operate, or subsidize such institutions scripturally, we do deny. That a local church could scripturally rent a house and provide the means for the support of any number of widows meeting New Testament conditions who were her responsibility, no one denies. These considerations should help relieve Brother Woods of his widow's home phobia.

Expert On Adoption

Our brother, intentionally or otherwise, sets himself forth as an expert on adoption. He professes to know what kind of orphans people (Christians) will take, what kind they will refuse, what motivates their desiring them, and why they are unfit to have them. He sets himself up as judge and jury and with a casual sweep of the arm clears the docket. Personally, we do not believe that Brother Woods, having no experience that would qualify him, knows split beans from coffee about the needs of orphaned or of any other kind of children. Nor do we believe that he has even a reasonable conception of the motives and hopes that animate the hearts of Christian couples devoted to one another with deathless affection whose otherwise happy homes are deprived of children by nature. His observations on their motives and the attitudes constitute a reflection on their Christianity. We do not believe his observations are correct, but if they were, such would not justify the organization of an unscriptural institution, but rather would emphasize the necessity of teaching Christians their duties. Does dereliction of duty on the part of members of the body of Christ justify the creation of a human substitute ? The digressives thought so with reference to the missionary society. Brother Woods follows the same line of reasoning basing his contention on the assumption that those who desire orphans for their homes want "a child two days old, from healthy and intelligent parents, and physically and mentally perfect," and are not willing to assume the care of any other type child. From this, he infers the necessity for benevolent homes such as characterize the brotherhood today.

Implied in our brother's contention are a number of fallacies: (1) He assumes that the personnel in "our" homes are trained specialists in child care. Did Brother Woods really make an investigation such as he claims? We think not, or he would have known better than this. That the workers in the homes are good people with noble motives none would deny, but that they are specialists in child care is not true in enough instances to make it even worth mentioning. The very reverse is more nearly correct. (2) He implies that the homes receive physically handicapped and mentally retarded children unacceptable to the average Christian home. This is untrue. The homes do not, except in rare cases, accept such children. They will be quick to inform you that they can make "no facilities for such" or that "they want children they can make something of." (3) The implication that people will not take older children except in exceptional cases is also false. Mention has already been made of a man in our county who adopted five children from 3 to 8 years of age at one time. Several years ago while we lived in Gregg County, Texas we served as an agent of the District Court in placing three dependent and neglected children. The court authorized us to offer one, a baby, for adoption and to place the other two in Boles Home at Quinlan, Texas. The baby was adopted immediately and the older children, but for the court order in the matter, could have been placed with no trouble. Not one but several couples would have assumed the responsibility of the entire group. Recently, the following appeared in the Houston Post:

Families Want Children; No Excuse Seen For Orphanages

"Probate Judge Clem McClelland said Tuesday that he is `convinced there is no excuse for an orphanage in Texas.' "He made the comment relative to his search for a guardian for Gene and Billy Day, orphaned brothers who are being cared for temporarily by their attorney, Allie L. Peyton. "Last week, Judge McClelland asked families interested in caring for Gene, 14, and Billy, 11, to apply to him for guardianship. So far, he said, he has received more than 30 applications and 'I expect more.' "Judge McClelland indicated that the spirit behind the applications for guardianship of Gene and Billy has convinced him that all orphaned children in the state could be placed with foster parents." (Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Dec. 1, 1954.)

If cases of destitute children were given proper publicity there would be no lack of acceptable homes available to care for every type child, even those with permanent disabilities. We live in an age of militant socialism. Socialistic tendencies manifested in bureaucracy and centralization exist not only in the political realm but infect every strata and relationship of society. The rugged individualism of congregational independence, autonomy, equality, and self-sufficiency in religion is, therefore, held in contempt along with states rights, private enterprise, and the personal liberty of the individual.

A Lawyer Speaks

No criticism is offered against Brother Woods because he has successfully completed a prescribed course in law and has been admitted to the bar both in Texas and in Tennessee. We mention the fact only because of rash and completely incorrect statements he makes in the concluding paragraph of the article under review. He says:

. . . . Such couples as described in the preceding paragraph, are not interested in older children, children of questionable heredity, children retarded in mind and body, vermin infested children such as sometime come to our orphan homes. If they are, why did they not get these children before they were declared wards of the state by a civil tribunal, and committed to the care of the orphan home? They were in sore need of a home before the orphan home got them; why did not these couples claim them then? The orphan homes have no monopoly on homeless abandoned waifs. In alleys, on the back streets, in the slums they roam by the thousands. As of now, we have observed no mass movement on the part of these 'million people who want babies to adopt' to take these children into their homes!"

This piece of sarcasm on the part of our brother reflects in an un-Christian manner upon the sincerity and motivation of hundreds of lovely Christian couples. It is completely inaccurate, and I hesitate not to say, known to be so by Brother Woods. In answer to his question, may we say that the only reason orphans are not taken into these homes that want them is for lack of opportunity. Being a lawyer, Brother Woods knows that one cannot go out into the alleys and pick up a child and take it into his own home without facing a federal charge of kidnapping. That the alleys and slums of our cities swarm with children who could be taken into homes desiring children is false. The recurring black markets in children constituting a national scandal are proof within themselves that Brother Woods talks at random with little regard for facts. We can cite numerous couples in the church who have, in order to obtain children, gone to the trouble and great expense of having them brought from Germany. If our alleys and back streets swarm with them, why all this trouble and expense? Too, not all of these children have been infants as is implied. The children who go into the institutional homes are there because Christian people are not given the opportunity of taking them into their homes. Many of them are simply boarding there. Some are there so mother or daddy can be free of them to facilitate marriage and the rearing of another family. Some are there because reprobate parents will not take care of them and yet would fight their being placed elsewhere, etc. etc. etc.

An Apology

We feel that the brotherhood is entitled to an apology for lengthy arguments on the question: to or not to adopt? This is by no means the issue which plagues the churches. The issue is organizational in nature. Do the brethren have the right from a scriptural point of view to establish benevolent societies through which the church universal functions in discharging its benevolent responsibilities? If so, why is it wrong (as it is universally conceded) for the church universal to discharge her evangelistic responsibilities through a missionary society? Brother Woods is satisfied simply to state that "our belt benevolent work" is not parallel to "missionary societies" and to argue that there is no method revealed for benevolence, hence liberty. Yet, he spends much time and almost unlimited space weaving specious arguments about superficialities. The time was when he himself thought all benevolent enterprises under institutional boards were unscriptural and that it is wrong for churches to contribute from their treasuries to colleges. He now defends such while professing not to have changed. Why does he not admit his complete reversal of attitude, and present scriptural proof for his present position? Look for us next week under the title: "The Apostle Paul, President of the Board of Directors."