So I've done some Bible study on how God views the orphan and what our response is to be towards them in light of God's view. I'm starting a multi part post on some things I have learned, studied and thought about.
I’ve learned more, now, than ever that most people have very decided ideas or thoughts about what orphans are and aren’t. But, even for Christians I find that very little of what God has to say about the orphan has very little effect on how people view parentless or abandoned children.
Now I am not here to “set people straight”. I don’t view my thoughts as always correct or even authoritative, but I think that as Christians we should ALWAYS endeavor to see circumstances and people how God sees them and in the light of His Word. This is true “wisdom”… “seeing the true nature of things.”
So, in my observation, these are some things people “do” with orphans.
Objectify them… Orphans become a faceless number or a statistic, nothing more. Most people are unable to see an orphan as a person with hopes, problems and aspirations. One quote I read said, “...orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms...” So to many, orphans are a statistic to be analyzed and a problem to be ignored or remedied through programs or funding.
Criminalize them… Orphans (particularly foster children in the US) are viewed as society’s downfall. That is why many children are “adopted out” of their society. Their birth country’s are often ashamed of them, have religious or society prejudices against them and they never have a chance to function as “good citizens.” They were doomed them moment they became an orphan, foster child or placed for adoption. Criminalizing orphans is nothing new, it is seen in every society and among every people group and only a few religions promote their care and betterment.
“Demonize” (Fear) them… People (often other parents) view orphans or adopted children as hazardous or “damaged goods” (note how this common phrase objectifies orphans.) Many people have the notion that, “If you adopt a child, they will struggle later in life and rebel and cause lots of problems….etc.” However, they are not admitting that many non-adopted children rebel at very similar amounts and degrees. When we fear or demonize children we are tarnishing the image of God that all children (and people) are given. We fail to see the image that God has placed in each child from their conception and we put more emphasis on the sin of there circumstances than on the grace and love that God freely grants and “lavishes on all His children.”
Idolize them… By some, adopted children are viewed as special, more deserving and viewed with a higher regard because of being orphaned. Often people treat them with undue preference and indulgence because they may have had a harder start in life. More often it is potential adoptive parents that hold this view. Along with idolizing children, some adoptive parents experience a clinical depression called “post-adoptive depression” because they realize their “special” child is really a completely normal child or one that is hurting or struggles with basic things like trust and bonding. To them, their children don’t measure up to the unrealistic expectations placed on them by these false thought patterns and presumptions that idolizing manifests. Idolizing a child too is wrong, godless and not in the best interest of the child.
It is my opinion that none of these views are the way God views orphans and none of these bring glory to God through His perfect will and design for children that are or were orphaned. But, interestingly I think it is very very easy for people of all kinds (including “good Christians”) to unknowingly view orphaned children in one or more of these ways. However, our challenge isn’t to think the way that comes most natural to us, that is the “flesh” thinking. Romans 8:10 says, “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” We died to our “fleshly” thinking and are challenged to… “not be conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2)
So, I think it is fairly easy to see that in this situation, the “pattern of the world” is to view orphans or adoption through our own patterns and perceptions, not that of God. The "pattern of the world" is the most basic principles of how the world functions or how we as humans think. God nearly always is the complete opposite of this… if we get mad and want to punish who wronged us, God says we should give grace, turn the other cheek. If we feel entitled to have lots of things, God says, sell it all and leave it all behind. So when we say, “Orphans are something to steer clear of,” what does God say?
We will talk about that next time.
How are you or were you most inclined to think about orphans and adoption?