Four reasons fostering and adoption are in the DNA of the Church - part four

Reason four: Because, at our best, it is what we have always done.

I truly believe that caring for vulnerable children is right at the heartbeat of the character of God, and is therefore the calling of His Church. Fostering and adoption is part of our DNA because of many reasons, but here are four of the most significant

Reason four: Because, at our best, it is what we have always done

To look after vulnerable children is, for the Church, to continue what we have done for many centuries. Reflecting on the rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark suggests:

‘Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope… To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family.’ [1]

In the Ancient Roman world it was common practice to ‘expose’ unwanted babies; that is, leave them out in the open to die or (at rare best) be rescued by a benevolent stranger. The Church became vocal in its criticism of this practice and there are suggestions that this critique was accompanied with action; that is, rescuing the abandoned children.

As Gerhard Uhlhorn put it, ‘When we first meet with the mention of adoption and bringing up of foundlings, this work appears not as a novelty, but as one long practised.’ [2]

There isn’t the time or space for great amounts of detail concerning the innovation and compassion with which the Church has in its history cared for vulnerable children.

Certainly, there have also been tragic and reprehensible abuses of the care systems put in place, but at its best, the Church has always advocated on behalf of the vulnerable and put into practice our calls for society to protect and nurture children.

To encourage your Christian community to mobilise and support those involved in fostering and adoption is just one way of expressing this rich history and to participate in something that has been ‘long practised’.

To summarise this week’s series, we have seen that a commitment to fostering and adoption is aligned with the very essence of what it means to be Church. It reflects who God is, the story into which he has called us, a commitment to justice and shalom that marks our mission, our identity as adopted children of God, and our history of working out our faith in society.

A commitment to supporting fostering and adoption makes sense of where we have come from, who we are, and to whom we belong.

Read part one of the series Read part two of the series Read part three of the series

[1] Stark, Rodney. The Rise of Christianity: A sociologist reconsiders history. Chichester: Princeton University Press, 1996. (p.161)[2] Uhlhorn, Gerhard and Taylor, Sophia. Christian Charity in the Ancient Church. C. Scribner's Sons, 1883. (p.186) [Out of copyright; digitised version here]

Tim teaches Biblical Studies and Mission at Redcliffe College in Gloucester and has a PhD in the Old Testament. He leads the College’s newly established Fostering, Adoption and the Church research project and serves on Home for Good’s Council of Reference.

This series was originally published on Fostering, Adoption and the Church in October 2015

Author:
Dr Tim Davy


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