All the Children
Paul speaks to the early Christians in I Timothy. He makes it clear that they are to provide for relatives and members of their household. [i] He directs this to individuals and not the church at large. Paul emphasized that men in the family are obligated to take care of their families. This admonition is still true today, yet we find that 80% of children institutionalized in orphanages and group homes throughout the world have a living relative. Many, of which, are single parents.
“By the end of the 19th century, orphanages were considered one of best methods for caring for dependent children.”[ii] Single parents found that placing their child in an orphanage could be a stopgap while they recovered from hard times. Sadly, many children remained institutionalized. Children left without parents due to death had no other place to go.
In 1920, orphanages were being phased out with the rise of Foster Care programs. Psychologists said that institutionalized children have delayed cognitive and social development due to the lack of personal attention and care that would be found in a family setting.
By the 1960’s most orphanages were closed.[iii] Yet, by 2000 group homes and residential treatment homes have in essence become orphanages without the moniker.
The need to care for the children of the world continues as countless families lost jobs and loved ones to the pandemic. Time will tell how many children will be left parentless by the war in Ukraine.
The UN adopted “Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children” declares “the family [is] the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth, well-being and protection of children.”[iv] In 2021 a bill was put before Congress entitled Children in Family Security Act in 2021. The purpose of the bill was to help insure that those children in adversity throughout the world are taken care of outside of institutional care. The bill defined those children as:
• having not attained 18 years of age, and
• are experiencing conditions of serious deprivation and danger including living at risk without family care; experiencing violence; affected by humanitarian crisis; orphans; living with disabilities…[v]
It is interesting, considering Paul’s exhortation, that most orphanages were started by Christians. Christians have done incredible work protecting and providing for children. Many thousands of Christians have adopted their children from orphanages all over the world in recognition that children are best raised in the family unit.
Have we done enough to protect and preserve the family? Why now must the government step in? Do we want to relinquish more of our freedoms by placing the most vulnerable of the world in the hands of government policy?
Yes, the secular world is recognizing the sanctity of the family, but never forget, Jesus is the creator of the true family; man and woman joined as one and blessed with children. In a world where “family” is loosely defined, dare we choose to give up what God has defined in favor of “for the better good of the world’s children”? Let us ponder the words of Mathew 26:40 “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
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[i] I Timothy 5:8 ESV [ii] http://history-of-foster-care-nj.org/history-orphanages/ [iii] http://history-of-foster-care-nj.org/history-orphanages/ [iv]https://www.refworld.org/docid/4c3acd162.html#:~:text=%20%20%20Title%20%20%20Guidelines%20for,%20%20A%2FRES%2F64%2F142%20%204%20more%20rows%20 [v] https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3280/text?r=59&s=1