Pastors and churches should do everything they can to help families stay together.
- Jeremy Wiggins
As the battle over life wages on Capitol Hill with multiple attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, another fight continues in the trenches of America’s foster care system. Some people may not equate the foster care system with an issue like abortion, but they are actually very similar. James 1:27 says that pure religion is taking care of widows and orphans and the definition of the latter word can mean either an “orphan” as a parentless child or an unborn baby.
One of the challenges that faces pro-life Christians is how to help a family that decides to place their child up for adoption instead of choosing to abort. The Christian church has allowed the government to completely take over the caring of children who need to be adopted.
I recently saw a post on Facebook that put this into perspective for me. It was a map of the United States with two numbers on each state: The first number was the number of children in the foster care system, and the second number was the number of churches in that state. The graphic comes from data compiled on children in the foster care system by the Health and Human Services depart, and Focus on the Family added the church info. You can find the data at the HHS website for Administration for Children and Families, and reposted here at the I Care About Orphans website.
Some of the states with the most lopsided statistics are the following:
Missouri – 2,165 children waiting to be adopted with 8,973 churches.
California – 13,167 children waiting to be adopted with 22,798 churches.
New York – 5,843 children waiting to be adopted with 14,767 churches.
Here are some Bible belt states that figure in as well:
Georgia – 1,799 children waiting to be adopted with 14,380 churches.
Tennessee – 2,668 children waiting to be adopted with 11,179 churches.
Alabama – 1,076 children waiting to be adopted with 10,760 churches.
This is not a complete list but the implication is obvious. In most states there are thousands of children waiting to be adopted out of the foster care system with thousands of churches with people who could potentially adopt a child.
Think about it: If one person from every church adopted a child there would be not only no children left in the foster care system but in most states there would be a family waiting for a child to adopt should the need arise.
Kathryn Joyce of the Huffington Post doesn’t like this approach. In an article she wrote back in 2013 she actually chastised Christians for being poised to adopt a child in need:
As a side effect of the thousands of Christians newly stirred to adopt came an unexpected bottleneck: many more prospective adopters were getting in line just as adoption rates, both domestic and international, were dropping rapidly. Whether it was domestic adoptions of babies born to unwed mothers or orphans overseas, there seemed to be too few adoptable children to meet the skyrocketing demand of would-be adoptive parents.
I wholeheartedly disagree with her but she does raise an interesting point: Is the best way to handle the foster care system having thousands of Christian families ready and willing to adopt?
The heart of the matter is dealing with the why, as in, why are there so many children in foster care in the first place? This is another area where the church can stand at the ready to help. What I'm talking about here is active involvement by church members in the lives of people in our communities, in our neighborhoods, and maybe even in our buildings. We have an opportunity as individuals to intercept some of these problems before they arrive at the door of our church where the severity of the situation has already exploded.
Pastors and churches should do everything they can to help families stay together. Now granted, this won’t work for every reason that a child ends up in foster care. But if we made sure that our churches were active in our communities, neighborhoods, and families, then maybe we would have the chance to intercede before a child gets pulled out of a home.
Again, that isn’t going to work for every situation but that is the level of involvement that is needed. We have ceded the care of the family to the federal government and look where that has gotten us. According to the US Department of Agriculture in FY 2015 there were 45,798,608 people on food stamps with the average per person benefit being $126.90. With 22.5 million households on food stamps there must be something we the church can do about this. I’m not pretending that I have the answer, but I do hope that we can at least have the conversation.
Romans 13:8 tells us to owe no one anything and our federal government is going further and further into debt to pay for social programs. That certainly does not follow the biblical model. But what if the church shouldered the burden? What if we stood up and told the government to keep their money because we weren’t going to take it anymore. What if instead of having to wait in line for welfare and wait on a check, there would be no wait because we the church would have anticipated the need and would have already been there. That, I believe, is where we need to be.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of ground that needs to be retaken when it comes to taking care of the family. We in the church need to stand at the ready with our lives, our homes, and our resources should God call us to put those to use, however that might look. We might not all be called to adopt a child, or go stand in front of an abortion clinic, or serve soup to the homeless, but we can definitely support those that do all these things and take some of that ground back from the federal government. After all, we are going to pay for it either way, and if we do it as a church, we can use these circumstances as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with someone in a tough situation.
Jeremy Wiggins is the host of "In the Trenches" heard on American Family Radio Saturday mornings from 6-7am CST. Podcasts for the program are available at AFR.NET