3 Reasons Why Christians Aren’t Caring For The Orphan
When we look at the world around us, we don’t have to look too far to find pain and suffering. For many, this is a reason to doubt God’s existence or even His goodness. They ask God, “Why?” and “don’t receive an answer.” However, the answer (generally speaking) is clear. Sin has broken the world God created, but through Jesus Christ, we are called to renew and restore it.
With the second Adam as our Head, we can fulfill God’s mandate (and blessing) to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28
As we fill the earth, we will have to combat suffering. But how? Throughout the Old and New Testament, we have clear instructions on how to do this. We want to focus on James 1:27.
“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.”
Who are the fatherless?
Because this word is commonly translated as “orphan” we sometimes limit our thinking to parentless children. However, the original is more accurately defined as “fatherless.” This would include:
- An unwanted child in the womb whose father and mother have not only stopped caring for him but have turned against him to kill him.
- Children being trafficked who have been taken (whether by force or voluntarily) from their parents and are no longer under the protection of a father.
- Children of single mothers whose fathers have either died or abandoned them.
- Parentless children who are without father or mother.
Are we being faithful?
It’s been said that society is the Church’s report card. If that’s true, then how is the Church doing when it comes to practicing pure and undefiled religion?
In the foster care system, there are approximately:
- 8,700 children in OR
- 25,397 in NY (with about 3600 waiting for adoption)
- 28,732 in TX (with 3600 waiting for adoptive families)
About 1 in 4 children in the US are being raised by a single mother. Almost one-third of these mothers were jobless the entire year.
The numbers alone indicate that the Body of the believers in the US isn’t making much of an impact.
Globally, the Church isn’t faring well either. There are almost 300,000 stateless children in Malaysia. Many of these are fatherless, though exact numbers are unknown as they are undocumented. About 1.2 million children are trafficked annually.
3 main problems that hinder the care of orphans
So why aren’t Christians being faithful in their duty to orphans? Here are three significant problems in our society today that are hindering the Church from practicing pure and undefiled religion.
But aren’t adoptions supposed to help children without families?
Yes, some adoptions help children in need. And adoption is a way to care for the orphan. However, many adoptions today take place to add children to the family. This is a Biblical option but it shouldn’t be seen as caring for the orphan.
Most of the time families are looking for a specific child. A certain age, race, gender, health status, etc. They will wait months or years for that child.
However, there are children who need care right now.
*Another issue to consider with adoptions, especially international adoptions, is the reality that children are MADE orphans because there is “demand” for them.
As one example, human trafficking agents often target pregnant women. They will “lend them money” and later force them to sell their babies to “pay back the loan.” As a result, international adoption agencies have been put under heavy regulations. However, this only slows down the process for true orphans to be cared for by a family, while human traffickers continue their work in secret.
As Christians, we need to be careful not to assume that because adoptions are happening, orphans are being cared for.
2. Lack of concern & delegating responsibility
These two problems go hand-in-hand. Many Christians aren’t concerned about orphans because “someone else” is taking care of them. Whether Christians defer the care of orphans to the government or to families more qualified to adopt, they’re neglecting the practice of pure and undefiled religion. God doesn’t call all families to adopt, but He does call all of us to care for the widow and fatherless in their distress.
If you find yourself unmotivated to care for the orphan, we pray that God will soften your heart. As you seek His face, pray that He will expose the hidden areas of your heart or your mindset that specifically hinder you from caring for the orphan.
It may also be helpful to read some of the articles below to be made aware of what the orphan’s distress looks like in our modern world:
- Facts and figures relating to the frequency of abortion in the United States
- Personal testimonies from women (and men) who have gone through an abortion
- Facts on foster care in America (ABC News)
- The alarming rise of children in foster care (Huffington Post)
- The disturbing reality of human trafficking and children (Huffington Post)
- Combating human trafficking in Southeast Asia
(Please note: These articles do not necessarily reflect our views on the issues. However, they provide information that highlights the problems facing the fatherless today. As one example, the last article discusses the “causes” of child trafficking from a secular worldview, we hope you realize that one of the primary causes is that Christians are not taking a stand against evil.)
Many Christians we’ve talked to feel unable to care for orphans. Most of the time, they feel this way because they don’t feel qualified to adopt but as we just mentioned, adoption isn’t the only solution and some adoptions aren’t focused on caring for the orphan.
If this is you, don’t despair. God has given all of us different gifts to meet different needs. Caring for orphans encompasses a vast array of needs and giftings. We will dive into this more in our next article:
Practical ways Christians can be caring for orphans in our own neighborhoods
It’s very clear that the Christian’s duty is to be courageous in the face of suffering, especially for the sake of those who are in pain. As Christ was victorious over death, we can be assured that in Him, our efforts against suffering will be no less effective.
Please send us your feedback!
As we lay the foundations of what caring for the orphan looks like, we want to include real-life examples. If you or someone you know is caring for orphans sacrificially, obediently and practically, please let us know by filling out the contact form below!
We look forward to hearing from you!
Helen is a happy wife and mother of twins. As she passes along her love of learning to her students and children, she hopes God’s Word will radiate through them. She prays for a generation that will stand up for the oppressed, protect the vulnerable, and care for the widow and fatherless.