The Church And Orphan Homes

Forrest D. Moyer
Sunnyvale, Calif.

It is needless to express the division that exists in the brotherhood today over the church and her relationship to orphan homes. It is the purpose of this paper to seek to clarify the issues involved.

When we speak of the church, we are referring to a local congregation since this is the only unit of organization that there is. A local church is a group of Christians who meet together for worship and work in a given locality. An example is Phil.1:1-"saints . . . with the bishops and deacons." The local church, under the oversight of the elders, is charged with the work of preaching, teaching, and giving aid to saints in distress.

What is an Orphan Home

Here is where there is much misunderstanding. Some seem to think that all that is involved is simply a place where destitute children live. Such is not the case! In witness of such, please refer to the charter of Boles Home.

"I. The name of this corporation shall be BOLES ORPHAN HOME, Greenville, Texas.

"II. The purposes of this corporation are to provide a home for destitute children. . . "

Now please observe: the corporation has a name. The name is Boles Orphan Home. Therefore, Boles Orphan Home is not a place where children live-it is a corporation. A corporation is "a number of persons united in one body." Thus, Boles Home is a group of persons united in one body. (This one body is different to the church; Bro. Oler says it is not the church.)

This corporation has a purpose. "The purposes of this corporation are to provide a home for destitute children. . ." Observe that the dwelling place for destitute children is to be provided by the corporation. The orphan home is, therefore, an institution which in turn provides the place for the care of children. It is much more than just a dwelling place.

The Orphan Home is a Human Organization

1. It is built according to a human plan. There is no pattern in the Bible for it.

2. It has a human board-the Bible doesn't prescribe the board nor the qualifications for such.

3. It has a human charter. None would deny this.

4. It has a human name. Again, this will not be denied.

Therefore, it is a human organization. It is strange indeed that some will say that it is a divine institution. Bro. Roy Osborne, a leading advocate of church supported orphan homes, says: "In the first place the claim is made that the orphan home is a human institution. . . Well, it's a human institution, I'll have to grant that. So what?" Thus, it is quite clear that the orphan home is a human organization.

The Problem Facing the Church

It is quite obvious that up to this point, there would be nothing that could cause division among brethren. The real problem may be simply stated. Is the church authorized by the scriptures to donate money to this human corporation, the orphan home? Some say that the church can do so. Others deny that it can be scripturally done. As simply as it can be stated, the church is not authorized by the word of God to donate money to any human organization. Where is the scripture that authorizes such? There is none. Hence, when a church donates money to an orphan home it does that which is not authorized. In order to justify such, it will be necessary to find these things in the scriptures:

I. The church. This of course is easily done.

2. It will be necessary to find a human organzation such as an orphan home.

3. It will be necessary to find the churches either donating money to this human institution or authorized to do so. Until this is found, there can be no authorization for such.

Efforts to Justify Such

There have been many efforts made to justify a church's donating money to an orphan home.

1. One effort is thus stated : "God didn't say how, and we can do it any way we see fit."

Answer: The question is not the HOW, but the ORGANIZATION. True, the church may use any legitimate method in doing its work. But where did God authorize the church to donate money to another organization to do its work? Such cannot be found.

2. Some have said: "An orphan home (corporation) is like an individual's home. Since the church can donate money to a private home (such as a preacher's home or a needy family), it can donate money to the orphan home."

Answer: Where is the scripture that authorizes the church to donate money to a private home or preacher's home? I know of none, and I don't know of any congregation practicing such. The church gives money to me (a preacher) as an an individual. It is the responsibility of the church to do so (I Cor. 9.) I support my family myself, for this is my responsibility (I Tim. 5:8.) The church donates money to a poor saint and he in turn supplies the needs of his family. Giving money to an individual is not the same as giving money to a corporation. Anyone can see the difference. One is the New Testament; the other is not.

There is simply no scripture authorizing the church to donate money to an orphan home or to any other organization. Please, brethren, let's not do that which the Bible doesn't authorize. If brethren want to operate an orphan home, let them do so. But keep the orphan homes free from the church, and there will never be any trouble or division over orphan homes.

Truth Magazine IV:11, pp. 10-11
August 1960