"We degrade Providence too much by attributing our ideas to it out of annoyance at being unable to understand it."

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The following comment was left on Jared's facebook (it was in reference to a convicting John Piper quote Jared posted, from this Piper sermon)

The comment is bothering me, and I'm not sure why. So I thought I'd just leave it here and let you have at it (or have at me) in the comments thread if you're so inclined

Here's the comment: "If the prolife movement were consistent, the orphanages would be empty."


Trackback URL: http://thinklings.org/bloo.trackback.php/6224.

Comments on "Comments?":
1. Alex Costa - 10/27/2010 12:17 am CDT

They would be less empty, but last time I heard, there were 143,000,000 orphans in the world and there are not enough prolifers to adopt all of them.

Besides, if our natural tendency is to be evil, mankind would just take advantage of the generosity of Christians/prolifers. It seems obvious to me that it would get to the point where parents would just be like "I don't feel like taking care of my kids anymore and I know that somebody else would, so I give up." If not that, then something along those lines.

2. MzEllen - 10/27/2010 1:09 am CDT

Does anybody know what the waiting time for adoption is?

Does anybody know how difficult (and expensive) it is do get a foreign adoption?

And how many "pro-lifers" can afford it?

How many kids in the "system" are unadoptable? (meaning legally - they are temporarily in the system with the intent of moving back into their biological family.)

If you include all institutional care (foster care homes) - how many foster families **ARE** Christian families - taking in kids that they know they're going to have to give up soon?

As far as the "pro-life" movement being cosistent - being primarily concerned with abortion - how long is the wait to adopt an infant?

There are many special needs kids out there who need homes - how does the church help equip families to take care of these kids?

The answers to these questions might help address Piper's concerns.

3. jez - 10/27/2010 3:51 am CDT

It's a reasonable comment (up to a point), but poorly made.
The idea that every couple, not just pro-life families, should consider adoption is a good one.
I don't think that Alex's concern about parents giving up their children out of laziness is a serious one. As animals, our natural tendency is to nurture our children. "Tendency to evil" is a worse approximation than "humans as animals".

4. Bill - 10/27/2010 7:15 am CDT

Jez, you know you're my favorite atheist :-) - but some of the best examples of our tendency to evil is parents (albeit, and hopefully, a very small percentage) who ignore their natural, God-given tendencies to nurture and who rather abuse (or even murder) their children.

5. nhe - 10/27/2010 7:17 am CDT

I think the comment is somewhat reacting to the hypocrisy of the pro-life assertion that "every child is a wanted child" - so, if that's true, make it so.

I know that's much easier said than done - but I don't think it's as much the focus of the pro-life movement as it should be.

6. Bird - 10/27/2010 7:17 am CDT

I like the idea of adoption from the standpoint of taking a kid who you don't know from Adam, and bringing him or her into your family and loving them like they're you're flesh and blood.

Reminds me of Romans 8:15, "For you did not receive a spirit of bondage again to fear, but a spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father'".

7. Manders - 10/27/2010 7:35 am CDT

nhe, I think you pretty much nailed it. But yeah, there are major things to go through in order to adopt, especially if you're doing foreign adoptions (just ask my folks, who had to pay something like $60K during my adoption process--this was in the '80s, so it's probably a little bit better, but still). And not everyone is called or equipped to deal with the unique challenges adopted kids can bring around, especially the older kids that orphanages tend to be full of. But who said this was ever going to be easy?

8. Jared - 10/27/2010 7:49 am CDT

I want to reiterate what Bill clearly said in his post, which is that the "orphanages would be empty" comment is not Piper's but a commenter under my quoting of Piper.

This is the Piper quote I posted:

"We will honor the president by not withdrawing into little communes of disengaged isolation from American culture but by trying to do as much good as we possibly can for the unborn, & for unwanted children, & for women in distress, so that we will not be thought insolent or inconsistent in asking from the president wh...at we are not willing to do ourselves." - John Piper, how pro-lifers honor pro-choice presidents

"Do as much good as we possibly can" is his urging, and it is to the church corporately. I know of nowhere where Piper says every Christian family must adopt a child. (Even though he has an adopted daughter.)

I have heard the statement that if every Christian family adopted one orphan, there'd be no more orphans, but I always wondered about the math on that.

I know many adoptive families -- and by God's grace, we may be one some day -- so I know it is not an easy, inexpensive, or efficient process. There's no need for guilt trips, in any event. But I think more Christian families could be made aware of the biblical basis for adoption and more churches should help families adopt.

9. Brian in Fresno - 10/27/2010 9:40 am CDT

As with nearly all statements like this it is so simplistic as to be entirely wrong. There is no real thought behind it at all.

10. jmj - 10/27/2010 11:01 am CDT

the comment, although simplistic, does capture some other related issues we prolifers tend to ignore:

What do we do with single mothers who cannot afford to raise a child? Do we help to facilitate/provide job training/education and child care so that they can.

Etc. etc.

We're great at getting crisis pregnancy babies born, but not so great at helping moms and families after the birth.

11. jez - 10/27/2010 1:02 pm CDT

Jared, I saw a recent estimate from unicef that there are 15 million orphans world-wide (sorry for pulling that number out of nowhere, but for what it's worth my recollection of it is quite vivid), while wikipedia reports that there are 173 million adult christians just in America. So maybe the arithmetic does work out, but I agree that it's pointlessly glib to command christians, pro-lifers, whoever, to adopt. But adoption is something I think about a lot, especially as I'm just starting my own family. I have friends who have adopted too, and there are a stupid amount of hoops to jump through.

Piper says it best himself. Your commenter is at best redundant.

Thanks Bill. You're a darn nice fella too, but I know too many nice christians to pick favourites!

12. t.smith - 10/27/2010 2:35 pm CDT

Maybe the comment is a strawman arguement, that's why it bothers you? Since reading this post, I've looked up several definitions of "strawman" and trying to understand it. How about this instead: if parents around the world were consistently parental, there would be no orphanges, or since the Enemy of God is consistently His enemy, there will always be orphanges?

13. Bill - 10/27/2010 2:35 pm CDT

Thanks Jez :-)

14. Bill - 10/27/2010 2:41 pm CDT

t smith,

I'm not sure, exactly, why it bothered me. I've learned as I've gotten older that often times things that bother me are really just my conscience being convicted.

That being said: the person who wrote the comment is, I'm pretty sure, pro-life. I've generally read these kinds of comments from pro-choice people, stated as a "gotcha". I read a similar statement a year or two ago by a pro-choice Christian who wrote, basically, that no one could call themselves pro-life unless they had adopted an unwanted baby. (in her defence, the person who wrote that was probably 22 or so, and I've learned to have more grace toward the opinions of people in that age bracket over time)

The implication is that you're not really pro-life unless you've adopted an unwanted child or done something else of that magnitude. That's what I'm wrestling with a bit here.

15. Jared - 10/27/2010 2:57 pm CDT

To my knowledge, the commenter in question does not have an adopted child himself. For whatever that's worth.

16. Evan - 10/27/2010 6:39 pm CDT

The idea that "consistent" prolifers have a responsibility to adopt all orphans is largely just a continuation of the idea spouted by many abortion advocates that goes something like, "Unless a child is going to be healthy; and furthermore have loving, financially secure parents, the child is better off not being born."

There is an explicit command for Christians to help orphans, and no doubt most of us fall far short of fulfilling that obligation. But fighting for a child's right to exist, even if their life is filled with difficulty as an orphan, is still a good and worthwhile thing by itself.

17. t.smith - 10/28/2010 12:09 am CDT

Thank you Bill for the reminder to look at the commenter through the lens of Grace! Here's a link to a list of famous people who were orphaned and/or adopted - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_orphans_and_foundlings
Also, I think of the orphanges in Haiti, and other places in the world that I've read about, good ones that are a wonderful refuge for children. You know, I just think God is too Big, His designs for our lives too graceful to think He can't work wonderous things in children who may grow up in an orphanage. He can work out His purposes anywhere, even in an orphanage!

18. Shrode - 10/28/2010 10:27 am CDT

Another way in which I think we can give the commenter grace is by acknowledging that what was written (on facebook!) was probably hyperbole.

In limited space especially (facebook, twitter, soundbite on TV) strongly worded statements, and maybe even some exageration, is sometimes used just to make a point.

In this case, I think the person's point is pretty clear. Christians ought to walk the talk and show that every child's life is precious and valuable through action.

And wouldn't we all agree with that?

If the commenter read y'alls responses I'm pretty sure the person would agree that orphanages will never truly be empty until Jesus comes back. (It's similar to Jesus' statement - "The poor you will always have with you.")

As long as we live in a sinful world there will always be orphans. But just as that doesn't free up the Christian from helping the poor in Jesus' name, neither does that free the Christian from helping the orphans in Jesus' name.

19. Shrode - 10/28/2010 10:30 am CDT

I remember another pro-life sermon that Piper gave, where he said, "There ARE NO unwanted Children!" And he repeated the statement, and underlined it verbally, and put big exclamation marks on it. He went on to say that his own church members illustrated by their actions, that every child could have a home and that Christian families are willing to take them in.

I would also give him grace on that statement, without sitting down and doing math. He was making a point.

20. Shrode - 10/28/2010 10:31 am CDT

Oh, and what are the chances that this poor facebook commenter might read all the stuff we've written here? :gsmile:

Hello there anonymous commenter, we love you! Thanks for providing us with good fodder!

21. GinH - 10/30/2010 8:20 am CDT

Just a small point, but a LOT of orphanages are run by Christian people, too, and are places where unwanted abandoned children are loved on and introduced to Christ. I was a relief houseparent at a Baptist children's home and worked at 5 houses of twelve. Not to say that ALL the houseparents were a blessing to the kids, but a LOT of them were.

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