Pure Religion Involves “Visiting” the Fatherless in Their Trouble

By Randy Blackaby

Many have undertaken to write in recent years of the desperate social conditions and the moral vacuum being created by the growth of fatherless homes. Our response has been to decry out-of-wedlock births, divorce, and do- nothing fatherhood.

That is as it should be.

But one issue is often overlooked. What is the answer for those children, who through no fault of their own, must grow up without a father? What answers do we give Chris- tian mothers widowed or abandoned by their mates?

We’ve done a good job chronicling the handicaps fa- therless children face. Problems often include poverty, increased health problems, lower educational achievement, child abuse, greater involvement in crime, proclivities to- ward violence and a likelihood they will become involved in adolescent child bearing.

But do the sins of failed fathers or the crises brought on by untimely death demand a sentence of doom for their children?

Ezekiel 18 addresses the general question of sinful fathers and their children and says “the soul who sins shall die.” The prophet adds, “If, however, he (a sinful father — RB) begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise . . . he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live!”

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Indeed, we all recognize the possibility and the hope of these fatherless children learning what a good father would have taught them.

A mother working doubly hard to inculcate the word of God, children observing the lives of intact, godly families, faith in God’s ways without benefit of an earthly father’s supporting guidance and experience — all are avenues of aid.

But there may be more that concerned Christians can and should do to promote, feed and build the faith and behavior of fatherless children.

The Bible is filled with commands for God’s people to give attention to the needs of the orphan or fatherless. We are instructed in James 1:27 that “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans (the fatherless — KJV) and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

What does this entail? Going by and saying hello every couple of months? Taking care of their physical needs, if need be?

Yes, but more. The word “visit” is translated from the Greek word episkeptomai and means to look upon, care for, exercise oversight, visit with help.

We meet many fatherless children whose need is not food or clothing but spiritual guidance. They need to be pointed toward their heavenly Father.

The Lord’s church today finds a growing number of fatherless children in its midst. Whether they are so because of death or divorce or the sins of one or both parents, they still should be visited (helped) in their need.

There is no circumstance of life and no environment conducive to sin for which God does not provide a “way of escape” (1 Cor. 10:13).

So, while we must continue to preach boldly and loudly the critical role of fatherhood in the development of righteous families and make clear there is no human substitute for his position in the home, we also must be careful not to paint a picture of complete hopelessness for the fatherless child. Such would be completely contrary to the faith we hold.

Such must be discouraging to mothers and children looking for help and hope.