By Robert Wayne La Coste
Contention and strife have been existent for decades now over the matter of caring for orphan children. Churches have been divided, preachers fired, and bitterness created over the matter. Scripture has been debated, both orally and in written discussion. One brother believes this on the passages and another brother believes the contrary. One thing is or certain! Both might be wrong, but one is definitely wrong, for two different positions have been advocated, namely: institutional care or individual care (in one’s own home). The honest Bible student can plainly see the difference between the individual and the church and the responsibilities relative to each; yet the war rages on and brethren everywhere continue to insist: “This is the best way to do it.” Is it really? Some are so foolish as to even comment, “This is the only way to do it.”
When I began studying these matters years ago, I was determined to find out what God had said and stick to that, and from those principles find out just which was the better way, both scripturally and otherwise. I was not simply going to preach against institutional care because “dear ole dad” did and simply because he had said, “There is no Scripture warranting the church support of such.” Although I believed he was and is preaching the truth on these matters, I wanted to know for myself!
The Scriptures were plain! James 1:27 and Galatians 6:10 were never a problem. Anyone who can read English and who knows the difference between personal pronouns and collective terms can see the teaching there! But the question in my mind was: Which would be better? That answer wasn’t long in coming either. No brother or sister anywhere who supports these things from the treasury of the church can honestly say that institutional care will ever surpass the divinely established family! If any of them is so naive as to believe that orphan homes are better than families and the love and care derived from having such, they have deceived themselves!
God instructed in particular fathers, “. . . Provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Question: Who did God think was better qualified to rear children in His truth, an institution or a father in a family? To ask such a question is to answer it!
Speaking of “dear ole dad,” he was reared in an orphan’s home for many a year. The Catholic home certainly provided all of the clothing, food and ‘ shelter necessary. A certain love and fondness was aroused between those over him and himself, but does one think this replaced the love of the mother he had lost in early childhood? Would one equate or think this care was better than his earthly parents could have offered? Proper love, discipline, and teaching is to be directed from the parents of children and absolutely nothing man can devise can or will take the place of God’s order!
Though all of this be true, certainly this does not mean that such institutions do not have a right to exist. They do have a right. I have yet to read about one existing during ‘the first century when God’s people served Him in His church; but notwithstanding, they, along with many other human organizations, do have a right to exist, as long as they do not seek to impeach the wisdom of God! When they start advocating, “We can do it better” or “We need the church to support us” or “This is the only way to do it,” they have overstepped their bounds, for none of these statements are valid! They have no basis, biblically or otherwise; they are just not so!
Many have asked me, “What will we do with all of these children if we don’t care for them in institutional homes?” I wonder what they did, in century number one when the apostles lived? Do you suppose they carted them off to a human institution? How could an inspired man write what he did about fathers in Ephesians 6, not to mention what he wrote to Timothy about widows in I Timothy 5, and do that? There was and is a better way! I tell you this: If these money begging institutions would open up their doors and cry throughout the land, “Come and get the children,” there would not be one left yet to be adopted within a week I How do I know this? Remember the Vietnam children and the baby lift after the conflict? Thousands of parents wanted them, but there just weren’t enough children to go around.
This is not going to happen however! To close down the orphan homes according to some of these people would be “terrible and tragic.” I pray God will hasten the day! May He hasten the day when children can awaken to a mommy and a daddy to talk with, to pray with, to cry with, instead of some appointed “parent” from some committee. Can a human institution which has so divided the church and kept children from mothers and fat-hers, as God intended, be smiled upon and blessed by God? We think not! These homes will not let them go I If they let them go, they would cease to exist and they know it. Again, I say, may God hasten the day!
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord . . . have we not done many wonderful works in thy name and then will I Profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23).
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 7, p. 207
April 4, 1985