Questions – Is the Church Laying on a Guilt Trip?

So, yesterday we talked about the theology of adoption and discussed whether the way the church looks at adoption and it’s relationship with our adoption as sons and daughters of God creates problems. You can read it here.

The next question I believe that adoptive parents want the church to ask is “are you putting people on a guilt trip?”

Let me explain. James 1:27 says very clearly, “True religion is caring for orphans and widows in their distress.”

Plain and simple, it is part of God’s plan that we, as Christians, care for the orphans and widows when they are in distress.

The New Testament times were ones where if one was a widow or one was an orphan, you can pretty much guarantee that they were in distress. Without a male family member who was “out there” to earn a living, life was hard.

Look back at the Bible verse – does it say, “Thou shalt open your home up and adopt one or more orphaned children?”

Nope, doesn’t say that. God doesn’t want us all to adopt an orphan.

Did you hear that?

God doesn’t want us all to adopt. That’s not a call that He has laid on all of our hearts.

Yes, He has called some of us to adopt, but not everyone. Not everyone is able to handle the realities of adoption, not everyone is able to handle the realities of additional children and the struggles they have.

And that’s okay. Actually that’s good.

But that’s not what a lot of the “big names” in adoption and the church movements are saying. They are making a clear and obvious call that we need more families for the children who need homes.

And we do need them. From what I’ve heard, there are way more children who need homes and families than there are families for them.

But when you throw James 1:27 in front of the church and “strongly imply” that it means more people from your church should adopt, I believe you are putting a guilt trip on the church that is not productive and actually harms children.

God calls all of us to care for the orphans BUT He doesn’t call all of us to adopt.

And if “the church” is calling people to adopt – and laying a guilt trip on those who won’t adopt or can’t adopt, then the church is failing in its mission to care for the orphans.

It’s failing because people who aren’t supposed to be adopting feel guilty and end up making bad decisions.

It’s failing because people feel bad about not adopting and then don’t do anything.

God calls us to take care of the orphans.

Just because I adopted two doesn’t mean you should.

But God wants you

and you

and you

and that guy over there

and your backyard neighbor

and your uncle and aunt

and your grown children

to do something to help the children who are orphaned and in distress.

And that’s where the focus of the church needs to be. Everyone needs to do something.

Everyone needs to do something to help the orphans. And if everyone does, those who God calls to adopt or foster will rise up and take up that responsibility.

And it’s our job to support them when they do.

Because that’s what James 1:27 says.


P.S.  Want to read more about “My Church and The church?”

2 thoughts on “Questions – Is the Church Laying on a Guilt Trip?

  1. Sarah

    Tom, I found your blog through the dreamers and builders fb group and wanted to comment here rather than there bc the convo there seems to have gone in a different direction. I actually think (still developing my belief/opinion) that I have an issue with this “theology of adoption” all together. I think part of the problem is that by comparing adoptive parents to God and a child to sinful humans is making the adoptive parents/family out to be heroes who “saved” a child who is made out to have something inherently wrong with them because they are an orphan. Most times the orphans have no choice in the matter and at all times adoptive parents are just as sinful as the parents who could not care for their child for whatever reason. I do feel that God calls us to care for orphans, and I do feel their are parallels between God’s love for us and our love for children, but making adoptive families out to be some hero is what really puts the pressure on. Does this make sense? Sorry I’m still working through my thoughts but just wanted to share what I have so far!

    1. tomvanderwell Post author

      Sarah – thanks for commenting – that does make sense and a “portion” of what you said is currently bouncing around in my head for a future blog post. “Adoptive Parents are not Super Heroes” – that should be fun to write…….


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