Are Church "Day Care" Centers Scriptural?
J. F. Dancer, Jr.
In recent years more and more churches are involved in a program called "day care." This simply means they "baby sit" with preschool children, sometimes as much as eleven hours daily while the mothers work outside the home. Most brethren who are involved in this refuse to try to justify it. They usually resort to ridicule and scorn when questioned. However, in the Jan. 31, 1971 issue of the Gospel Caller (the bulletin of the East Frayser Church here in Memphis), Hoyt White tries to justify the practice. Let's notice his efforts at "Justification."
(1) "Today, 37 = percent of all wives work, and among young families (husbands 25 years old or younger), 42 percent of the wives work. Face this fact! These children of pre-school age must be cared for! We can preach against working mothers and refuse to help them with the problem of rearing their children, or we can recognize that young mothers are going to work outside the home, and we can help them by caring for their children in a Christian environment." Talk of situation ethics! Some mothers are going to work, so the church should take over the problem of rearing their children! I suppose on the same basis since some young girls are going to commit fornication, the church should take over the problem of caring for "unwed mothers" and venereal diseases. Some men and women are going to become drunkards, so the church should take over the problem of caring for alcoholics! And since some politicians are going to become corrupted, maybe the church should take over the problem of civil government! It logically follows.
(2) "The daily Bible lessons are helpful moments in character building for the children. Sound, scriptural lessons are presented to the children. Nothing akin (sic) to church doctrine is taught. Now, I agree that daily Bible lessons are helpful they might even help the parents to see the need to care for their own children (Eph. 6:4). But anyone knows you do not have to keep a child all day to teach him a Bible lesson daily. Im not sure what is meant by "nothing akin to church doctrine is taught" unless he is saying to the denominationalist, "let us care for your children and we will promise not to teach them anything with which you might disagree."
(3) The finest role the church can play toward small children is to be their nursemaid. The Bible points this out. Moses was adopted by Pharaohs daughter, and educated by Egyptian scholars. He we trained to become a ruler in Egypt. But his life took a radically different direction due to Moses nursemaid who attended him during pre-school years." Now, brother White failed to point out that Moses nursemaid was his mother (Ex. 2:7-9)! The influence of a godly mother is also seen in 2 Tim. 1:5. But where is the scripture that teaches the church is a "nursemaid"? He said the "Bible points it out," but failed to show where. He then concludes this argument by saying, "What better way to have a future Moses than to develop little children during pre-school years." This is true and parents need to recognize their responsibility to bring up their children in the nurture of the Lord, and truly when they are old they will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6). But here we have "situation ethics" again; the end justifies the means! The church is not a nursemaid!
(4) "Jesus set the permanent example of caring for children." Here reference is made to Matt. 19:13-15 but the passage is not given. What example did Jesus set? Parents were bringing their children to him that he might "bless" them. Can the church follow that example today? Of course not! Remember Jesus also set the example of making wine (Jno. 2) and of washing feet (Jno. 13). Is the church to follow this also? Brother White then said, "But Jesus said, you must let little children come to me, and you must never stop them!" This simple proves that Jesus did not want the disciples to forbid children to come to him at that time. But they cannot come like that today the came to him personally! People come to Jesus today by faith through baptism (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26, 27). Are we ready for baptizing pre-school children?? I think not.
Brother White concludes with "some might suppose that the church has more important functions than caring for pre-school children." And I agree. It has! It has the function of preaching the gospel to the lost (Mat. 28:18-20; I Tim. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:2) and of perfecting the saints (Eph. 4:12). Let parents accept their responsibility to care for their children and the church not be charged that it may go about its business of taking the gospel to the lost. Even though 37 = percent of all wives may work outside of the home, I dare say very few of them NEED to do so. Most do so because it is more "interesting" than being a true mother and a homemaker (see Titus 2:3-5). The reasoning used by Hoyt White is typical of those in the liberal and institutional churches and is all the "scriptural proof" they require or expect for a practice. However, we are still in need of someone to show where the "Bible points it out" so we can honestly justify churches being involved in "day care" programs.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 30, pp. 5-6