Adoption provides a picture of the Gospel, Southern profs say
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--Reflection on how people become a part of God’s family and God’s command to care for orphans reveals the value and importance of adoption, Randy Stinson said recently at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The dean of the School of Leadership and Church Ministry and executive director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood said the nature of the Gospel shows that adoption is important to God and thus it should be important to the church.
“Outside of Christ, we are all orphans,” he said, speaking in January at the Pendergraph women’s ministry event. “All people are born outside of the family of God and the only way to get into the family of God is through Christ. The doctrine of adoption is at the heart of the Gospel and if we are going to be a Gospel-centered people we should take seriously this thing (adoption) that is in front of all of us. Actually adopting someone is a stark picture of the Gospel.”
Randy and his wife, Danna, along with Russell D. Moore and his wife, Maria, recounted their respective adoption experiences and fielded questions at the event. Moore is senior vice president of academic administration and dean of the School of Theology.
The Stinsons adopted two girls -- Eden, now 7, and Payton, now 5 -- from Taiwan in November 2004. Stinson pointed to the book of James’ teaching about orphans in Scripture as a key reason behind their interest in adoption.
“The first reason why Danna and I thought adoption was important is because in the book of James the Bible says it is,” he said. “It says this is true religion, ‘Taking care of widows and orphans.’ Adoption is highlighted by the fact that James talks about orphans and later in the same passage God talks about being a Father to the fatherless.”
In addition, Stinson said, he and his wife were active in pro-life causes and began to think they should adopt some of the children they consistently urged women to have. Stinson also said adoption is fundamentally connected to the husband’s role to lead, protect and provide.
“When I talk to other men, I try to get across to them that the roles of leading, providing and protecting are not just to be applied in the home,” he said. “Those roles are also supposed to spill out into the streets, and take form in caring for the weak, the helpless and for orphans. My challenge to men is to not be so self-preoccupied and self-absorbed and to think about the sacrificial act of adoption.”
Moore said people often ask him if the two boys he and Maria adopted from Russia were brothers.
“I usually say, ‘Well, they are now,’” Moore said to laughter.
The Moores adopted Benjamin and Timothy -- both now 5, but from different biological parents -- from a Russian orphanage in July 2002 after years of infertility and three miscarriages. Moore said the infertility and miscarriages, though difficult, matured him and Maria spiritually and has allowed them to minister to other couples in similar circumstances.
“Seeing the way that God moved in this (the infertility and adoption process) has helped us understand providence more and trust God more,” he said. “Infertility and miscarriage were horrible, but at the same time we are able to step back and say, ‘If it weren’t for infertility and miscarriage we wouldn’t have Benjamin and Timothy.’ We wouldn’t understand the grace of God the way that we understand it, we wouldn’t understand what it means to love each other the way that we understand it and we wouldn’t understand how to teach the Gospel.”
People struggling with infertility, Moore said, are susceptible to fall into sin not only through ethically questionable reproductive technologies, but also through idolatry.
“Infertile couples could develop an idolatry of having a drive to have their own genetic material in front of them. That is something that ought to be crucified,” he said. “We have had to sit down with infertile couples who are about to begin in vitro fertilization and tell them we don’t think this is right and here is why. I have said to them, ‘You are struggling not with infertility, but with idolatry because you are not really wanting children; you are wanting yourself.’”
Difficult life circumstances and a lack of resources should not prevent someone from considering adoption, Moore said.
“I was in the Ph.D. program throughout the process,” he said. “Our desire for getting children was so great that we decided to trust God to provide the finances. We had some friends pool some money and give it to us. We had someone come up to us and give us $10,000 to go toward getting the children.”
Stinson pointed to adoption as a way of fulfilling the Great Commission.
“The girls we adopted were in a situation of worshipping their ancestors,” he said. “We rescued them out of that life, out of life with no parents, and brought them into a Christian home.”