Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 2, 1954
NUMBER 30, PAGE 6,9b

There Are Scriptural Ways To Care For The Fatherless And Widows

M. F. Manchester, Comanche, Texas

On the front page of the September issue of "Boles Home News" under the caption: "Some Fallacious Assumptions" Brother Oler makes the following statements: "It is being assumed that there is some scriptural way in which the fatherless are to be cared for. By scriptural we mean some definite way specified in the scriptures. It is further presumed that if churches propose to care for children in any specific way that they are under obligation to prove that that way is found specified and direct in the word of God." In answer to this and other statements of Brother Oler we want it understood that it is in the spirit of Christ' that we write, and if it can be proven by the scriptures that we are wrong, we will be the first to confess it.

Notice that he says: "It is being assumed that there is some scriptural way, in which the fatherless are to be cared for." If our brother can prove by the word of God, that what we shall write in this article is assumption, he will be doing us and the cause of Christ a great favor. The pages of the Guardian are open to him to show that we are wrong. We are aware of the fact that God has left some things to our judgment, such as building meeting houses, the teaching program, etc., but caring for the fatherless and widows does not come under this classification. "Teach" is a generic term, therefore we can use whatever methods we deem best, being sure that we teach nothing but the gospel. "Sing" is a specific term, and therefore forbids any other kind of music. God's organization of the local congregation is "specific," hence it forbids the establishment of brotherhood projects such as Boles Home. There are two ways by which the fatherless and widows are to be cared for and both of them are "scriptural and definite." (1) "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.) It is very definite that James is writing to Christians everywhere, therefore the command is for the individual members to "visit the fatherless and widows." Brother Oler, can the church universal act? Is James 1:27 your proof for the existence of a brotherhood orphan home?

That the fatherless and widows are to be cared for on an individual basis we have both the command (James 1:27), and the example. Acts 9:39 "Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into an upper chamber; and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which DORCAS (caps, mine) had MADE while she was with them." Will anyone deny that she was doing what James commands? Or was it "assumption" on her part? Brother Oler says: "It is being assumed that there is some scriptural way in which the fatherless are to be cared for." We leave it to all fair minded readers as to whether we have "assumed" or given both the command, (James 1:27) and the example. (Acts 9:39.) We need more of this and less institutionalism. The fact of the matter is if we would all as individuals obey James' command, as Dorcas did, there would be no such thing as institutional homes; but just because we do not obey it as we should, does not grant some brother or brethren the scriptural right to establish something that is unknown to the New Testament. But we are often asked the question: Where does the Bible command members of the church to take the helpless into their homes? We answer that it is inherent in the command if the need exists. God said to Israel, "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that is cast out to thy house." (Isa. 58:7.)

Widows Indeed

Now we come to the "how" in caring for widows that are widows indeed, and we shall not "assume" but give book, chapter and verse. This is proof number two. Paul says, "Honour widows that are widows indeed." (1 Tim. 5:3.) Honor them in what sense? In the sense of the church supporting them. Hear Paul again, "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged, that it may relieve them that are widows indeed." (1 Tim. 5:16.) This means the local church is to take care of its "widows indeed" out of the church funds. Remember there is no medium through which the church universal can act. There is no scriptural grounds for the establishment of brotherhood projects. The issue is not: Is it scriptural to care for the fatherless and widows, but the issue is: Is it scriptural to establish brotherhood projects, and say to the local churches, send us your widows and orphans, along with the money and we will care for them? This is the real issue and let us not lose sight of it.

We have proved first, it is scriptural for individual Christians to visit the fatherless and widows, and given the command (James 1:27), and the example. (Acts 9:39.) Second, we have given the scripture where the local church is to care for widows indeed. (1 Tim. 5:16.) Will our brother make an effort to prove that we have "assumed" these things?

Now let us consider what he calls assumption number two. "It is commonly assumed that any organization or facility, public or private, that may be employed or utilized by the churches in caring for the fatherless must be, or should be an organization of the church, or in the church or among the churches." To which we answer, that we do not "assume" that any human organization whatever its kind has any right to be in the church or among the churches for any purpose! That is why so many of the brethren object to the institutional orphan home.

The only organization known to the New Testament is the local congregation with its elders and deacons. Caring for widows that are "widows indeed" is a work that belongs to the local church, and who has the scriptural right to form a human organization to do that work for it? Will Brother Oler tell us? No elders of a local church have the right to say to all the churches: We are establishing a home for all your fatherless and widows, and the work shall be under our oversight. Why? Because elders can only have the oversight where they are elders. Peter says, "The elders which are among you I exhort: feed the flock of God which is AMONG you, taking the oversight thereof." (1 Peter 5:1, 2.)

But let us quote some more of "assumption" number two: "Why should anyone deem it necessary or to be even desirable that any child-caring facility, public or private, be a part of the organizational set-up of the New Testament church, when it is obvious that there was no such organizational set-up in the New Testament?" No, Brother Oler, the only organizational set-up known to the New Testament is the local church, with its elders and deacons. Again he says: "Our private homes are child caring facilities, but have no organizational connection with the church. Churches do not feel under obligation to bring a bank, or post office or utility company into their organizational set up, or even make such organizations in or among the churches, before they utilize their services?" He implies by this question that Boles Home is like a bank, or post office, or utility company. He has said in the past that Boles Home was "Kingdom business," and that it was "the churches at work." If it is "Kingdom business" then it is the obligation of the churches to keep it going, but if it is like a bank, or post office, or utility company, the churches are not obligated to keep it going. Is the church that is served by a utility company under obligation to keep that company in business? Brother Oler, would the churches that do not have children in the home do wrong, if they quit sending money to the home? Remember it is like a bank, or post office, or utility company!

Now we pay our respects to what he calls assumption number three. Hear him: "It is another assumption that the care of the widows by the Jerusalem Church was an emergency measure that was right in the sight of God at that time, but must never be repeated, because we are now being told by such ASSUMPTIONISTS (caps, mine) that the care of the fatherless and the widows is not a church responsibility. They say it now is purely an individual matter. And some little straining of the point, and wresting of the scriptures are being done to prove it. The word emergency which is being used a great deal unfortunately is not in the Bible, and it is being indicated that an organization or effort under an emergency is right, which otherwise would be unscriptural." Brother Oler why did you not give some proof for the above statement? We would remind him that the "organization" that cared for those widows was the church in Jerusalem, and not an institutional home like a bank, or post office, or utility company. He says: "The word 'emergency' is not in the Bible." This is true but does not prove that the church was not confronted with one. A church that has "widows indeed" (1 Tim. 5:16) is confronted with an emergency of caring for them as long as they have them, but does this mean that it can start a widows home for the brotherhood? We ask you to read the second chapter of Acts through the 5th chapter and decide for yourself if the church in Jerusalem was confronted with an emergency or not. On Pentecost there were about three thousand added to the church, then five thousand. This brought about an "emergency" of caring for the needy which the church took care of. Would such be unscriptural today? No, because Paul commands the local church to care for widows "that are widows indeed."

Now, Brother Oler, calling us such loving names as "blatherskites" and "writin' brethren" and "assumptionists" will not answer what we have written. We suggest that you deal with the real issue: Is it scriptural for a church or group of brethren to start an orphans home, or widows home, when the New Testament teaches plainly that it is to be done by individuals, and by the local church? (James 1:27; 1 Tim. 5:16.)