TAKING CARE OF ORPHANS
T. PIERCE BROWN
The primary objections to the church supporting orphan homes seem to be twofold: First, it is affirmed that the home is engaged in the support of those for whom the church is not responsible (non-saints). Second, it is affirmed that since the church is a God-ordained organization, sufficient to do all the work God authorized it to do, no other institution or organization is necessary or scriptural.
Of course books could be written, and have been, discussing the validity of those points, and the application of them. I do not assume this short article can do justice to the subject, but at least it may in a summary fashion touch some significant points.
First, if the church is only authorized to help saints, it cannot practice pure and undefiled religion, for Paul said it involved “visiting the fatherless and the widows” without any specification regarding their status as Christians (James1:27). Then Paul says, “Let us do good unto all men, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal.6:10) It is claimed by many that this is only written to individual Christians. However, the letter was addressed to the churches ofGalatia. Furthermore, this opinion would have a person asserting that the church has no right to act like a Christian should act, and that the body of Christ cannot even demonstrate the mind of Christ, for it cannot be denied that he loved and helped all kinds of persons.
We admit and affirm that the church is all-sufficient to do whatever God wants the church to do. The improper application of that truth, however, would lead one into all kinds of illogical and even ridiculous situations. For example, the church is sufficient to take the gospel into the world. This excludes a missionary society, parallel to the church doing the work of the church, but does not exclude the church using a car dealership to provide transportation to do the job, or a publishing house to print tracts (although both are organizations separate from the church). The church is sufficient to do what God charged it to do, but it was never charged to act as a home. He only charged it to provide a home, or whatever is needed to “visit” the fatherless and widows. Certainly any Bible student should know that “visit” does not simply mean “go by their place of residence or where they work” and “pass the time of day” with them.
Since God did not specify the exact details of how to provide for the needs of widows and orphans, any method that does not conflict with other teachings of God is proper. For any person to bind other restrictions on how God wants it done is to add to God’s word, and is condemned.
It is certainly true that the church is not to take care of widows that are not “widows indeed” or who have relatives who will take care of them (1 Tim. 5:16), but the issue here is, “May the church provide support for a home of some kind to take care of those for whom it is responsible to care?”