Friday, May 04, 2007

The Evangelical Push for Adoption . . . and Singles

There’s interesting news out of an evangelical push for churches to start adoption and foster care ministries. Focus on the Family and Rick Warren are among those backing this push.

That is certainly commendable. There is an important need. And God Himself adopts us. (e.g. Romans 8:15, Ephesians 1:5)

But I can see this creating tension in some churches, particularly with singles.

It rarely is out front, but there is a prejudice against singles in some evangelical circles. It is usually at least somewhat subtle – naming a church “family church”, insisting on married pastors, etc.

But there are times when it’s not so subtle. I know. It became clear at a previous church that a key leader was prejudiced against singles. That was one factor in my leaving.

I’m glad to say, positive biblical attitudes toward singleness have been important in choosing churches since then. And, yes, I asked pointed questions of leaders at those churches before joining. Hey, you know me . . . .

Anyway, if a church holds prejudiced attitudes toward singles, starting an adoption/foster care ministry will make it more difficult to obscure that. What if a church makes it clear in some fashion that only the married need apply? What if a godly, mature single who is well thought of is turned away from seeking to adopt through a church adoption ministry? Or what about single parents who aren’t seeking to adopt but simply find their church considers them not qualified to adopt regardless of how well they are doing with their own children?

(And, please, spare me the “A mom and dad are better for kids than a single parent” bit. All other things being equal, that may be true. But when are all other things equal? And such bromides marginalize single parents.)

For all their family orientation, the large evangelical churches most likely to take on an adoption ministry tend to have a lot of singles in their midst. Those churches which consider mature singles unfit or unqualified to adopt or give foster care may find their prejudice backfiring on them. A lot of singles will then have their eyes opened to their church’s prejudice against them. Many of them may not put up with such prejudice once an adoption ministry makes it more out front. Of course, the issue with most won’t be that they want to adopt. The issue will be the prejudice against singles that would then be more clear and institutionalized.

I don’t know if such discord will make the news. It will likely be behind the scenes for the most part. But I predict this will become an issue between singles and some churches.

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