Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 5, 1962
NUMBER 47, PAGE 1,12b-13a

Why Create A Problem?

Reuel Lemmons (Firm Foundation, February 27, 1962)

Some months ago, on this page, we had somewhat to say relative to the question of the great number of homes for the aged springing up among us. Some hot headed and non-thinking brethren were dead sure we were opposed to homes for the aged, and were sure we had done them great harm. We did nothing of the kind, and were nothing of the kind.

We are going to say some more about them, and we plead with brethren to push the thinking button instead of the panic button.

There is a great rash of homes for the aged being established. Everyone seems to think that is the thing to do — build a church-operated home for the old folks. We do not think that is the thing to do. The reason is that ever: now there is a diminishing need for such a home. Almost every old person in the State of Texas can, since January, 1962, find commercial care without church assistance. This has long been true in Oklahoma and other surrounding states.

Anyone desiring (church or individual either) to do so can apply for a low cost housing loan from the government with which to build and equip a home for the aged — a nursing home. These homes are not charity homes; they are self-supporting institutions that return a reasonable rate of interest on the investment. Anyone who wishes to thus operate such a home with a Christian atmosphere, even taking only Christians as patients if he wishes, can do so and pay for his buildings and make a decent living for himself and put money in the bank while he is doing it. Our question then was, and is now, Why create a problem and burden for the church when none exists?

There may, of course, be a very few rare and extreme cases where some aged person needs and deserves the help of the church, in which cases it would be far more economical for churches to supply this need in commercial homes already in operation where the cost of buildings, furnishings, etc., is already supplied by others — others who had enough confidence in their ability to run a profit-making business in this field to invest their own money in a plant. We maintain that the need for charity homes under modern social security and old age assistance laws is about to disappear.

The State of Texas began in January, 1962, distributing additional assistance to the aged. The State support is paid directly to the home furnishing the care, rather than to the person needing it. As a result of this legislation, nursing homes are springing up in nearly every town in Texas. These homes are now being graded by the State as (1) Minimum Care: (2) Moderate Care; and (3) Intensive Care Homes. Direct support will be sent by the State to those homes to supplement the regular grant to make the total amount $120 per month for Minimum Care; $141 per month for Moderate Care; and $185 per month for Intensive Care respectively. Most any aged person can take care of himself in commercial nursing homes. We repeat there may be a few rare and unusual cases needing more help but they are indeed rare, and any aid thus needed could be more economically supplied through commercial institutions. It is possible that churches already possessing such facilities, and receiving these vendor payments find themselves in the position of operating profit-making businesses rather than charitable enterprises.

Many brethren today become irked because existing church homes won't accept their aged applicants, when the truth is that most of them have incomes already sufficient to live anywhere. There is no reason for them to go to "our" homes except that they want to. That is not enough reason to keep such homes in operation. These homes should never become just places where we can unload our old people. Preachers and elders should investigate the situation and quit sending old people just because they want to go there. These homes are looking for needy people — people who cannot live on their incomes. Since this class has been minimized since January 1, the need for such places will virtually disappear, unless well meaning but misguided brethren insist upon continuing to create and perpetuate them.

The usual cry, "Well, nobody will look after him," won't work either. Local members can look after him. We can keep our aged saints at home in the local community where they can be cared for locally. Proxy care will no longer be necessary. It does something good for the church to have its local aged saints remain local. That's where charity begins — at home. In the home community, close to his brethren and his own kinfolks, is the logical place for him.

We predict that the time will come soon when the churches will say, "Let us get this money from the government and build us one." When we thus turn Commercial, these homes will have no more reason to exist than a chair factory or an iron works run by the church.

The real purpose for which these homes came into existence is about to be removed. Brethren need to face up to the fact realistically. Most of us do not like the socialistic tendency of our present government, and the worm may turn some day, but until it does the above represents the realistic facts, and we need to face them.

We believe that when brethren learn what is going on things will change. There is no need to hold on in nostalgia to a mode of doing things that times have completely antiquated.

This is perhaps neither time nor place to say it, but, nevertheless, we sincerely believe that the pattern set today in caring for the aged among us will be followed within the next decade in caring for the orphans among us. And brethren need to begin now to prepare for the change. All now interested in starting homes of any kind should seriously ask themselves the question: "Why create another problem?"