National Adoption Month 2010, Week Two: Consider the Scripture
Note: This blog post is part two of a five-part, month-long series by the Miriam Project intended to celebrate and treasure the miracle of adoption during National Adoption Month. We hope that you will check back each week in our effort to improve awareness, education and perspectives about adoption. You can view subsequent parts of our blog series as they become available by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, or bookmarking the NAM2010 link.
By Rob Heaton, Miriam Project Student Assistant
We’ve heard before that the term “Christian” makes an excellent noun, but a poor adjective. Just think, for example, of the wide variety of nouns that can be described by the adjective “Christian”: from music, books, T-shirts, mission projects and action figures to movies and cartoons. Hopefully, what is meant by the term is not that these things are really to be personified as Christians, but rather merely as congruent with a life of discipleship under God through Jesus Christ.
When we say that the Miriam Project is a Christian adoption agency, this is exactly our message. In commanding His followers to care for the motherless and fatherless children—the orphans—of the world, God has spoken loud and clear. Adoption is Biblically mandated, both in principle and practice.
In fact, the Miriam Project takes its name from Moses’ adoption into the house of Pharaoh in Egypt. The story of Moses is the most powerful example of adoption in the Bible; after all, his direct access to Pharaoh was instrumental in his ability to lead his people out of Egypt. And just as the adoption of Moses was a divinely ordained event in the history of the Israelites, we believe that God places each adopted child with specific family to fulfill his or her uniquely significant purpose.
It is especially noteworthy that this adoption story comes from Exodus in the Old Testament, given that in ancient Israelite culture, Mosaic Law handled the problems associated with motherless and fatherless children in other ways. As P.G. Matthew wrote for the Grace Valley Christian Center, these included polygamy and levirate marriage. Rightfully so, our society looks down on these practices and accepts adoption. And yet, some 115,000 American children are awaiting adoption today!
With an eye toward the New Testament, we challenge you this week to consider Scriptures related to adoption.
- In his letters to the churches at Rome, Ephesus, and Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote five times about adoption (Greek υἱοθεσία = huiothesia, meaning “son-placement”). You can view these five uses of the term in proper context on Bible Gateway, but for now, consider Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV:
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Just as Jesus took “gospel,” a very political term in Roman Empire, and turned it entirely on its head, Paul borrows “adoption to sonship” from the Romans to paint a beautiful portrait of our closeness with a God who chose us for His purposes. While originally intended to connote one’s legal entitlements as an heir, the term is also used by Paul to exemplify our presence with God three times in Romans and once in Galatians.
You may also notice that Paul hints at a relationship between adoption and creation. Please take the time to visit our friends and fellow advocates for adoption at Together for Adoption, who explain how adoption is part of God’s creation-renewal process.
- Even more than this ideological and theological perspective on adoption is its application for followers of Christ. James, the epistle that most poignantly discusses the necessity for both faith and works, includes a pertinent challenge for followers to care for those who are overlooked by society at large. Consider James 1:27 NLT:
27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
The writer of James does not say that pure and genuine religion is going to church every Sunday, praying over your evening meal, or even leading a Bible study (though these are certainly in line with a life of discipleship!). For him, a community’s religious authenticity is better measured by the degree to which it cares for those who cannot provide for themselves—in this case, children who have lost their parents and married people who have lost spouses.
The Bible is not undecided about adoption. On the contrary, a life of discipleship does not merely advocate for the care of orphans, but requires it! In fact, just as we are adopted as sons and daughters under God’s wing through faith in Christ, each of us has the opportunity to touch the lives of children in need of a basic life necessity: parental love.
With this perspective on adoption, we believe that everyone in the process is to be applauded and celebrated: adoptive families, for their responsiveness to a calling and willingness to open up their homes; children, for their adaptability in times of uncertainty; birth parents, for their selfless and redeeming love in choosing to place their child for adoption; and the community of faith, for its never-ending support. And not the least of all these is God, for His willingness to work through our imperfections to accomplish His purposes in the lives of children.
We state emphatically that adoption is a Kingdom-activity. We know not everyone and every adoption agency sees it that way, but unequivocally so, we do.
 Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis.