How do you view the issue of adopting children?


Before answering this question specifically, let us briefly review why children are being adopted. Adoption in this day and age is usually done because the couple do not have children of their own and want to raise one or more children, or, if they do have their own children, they wish to add to the family fold. This last possibility requires the co-operation of the other children, since it will impact them. In addition, single parents may also want to adopt children. An unfortunate modern trend is for homosexuals and lesbians to adopt children, bringing them up to accept their “alternative lifestyle,” which is clearly condemned by God in the Bible, for instance, in Romans 1:24-27. This unbiblical development only compounds the problem by the social acceptance and proliferation of more deviant sexual behavior. (You may want to read, in this context, our article in the World News Headlines section on “Germany’s Homosexuals.”)

We are addressing in this answer a “normal” adoption by heterosexual families who live in a God-ordained way. Even then, adoption is a life-long commitment, as well as a legal requirement, to care for, love, feed, nurture and educate children for the duration they are at home, and after they leave home, to continue to love them and to treat them as their own, including providing for them via an inheritance in one’s will. Therefore, if approved by Scripture, a decision to adopt children must never be taken lightly. It requires, in any event, a life-long commitment. It would have to be based on the financial ability, emotional commitment and responsibility to raise, educate and care for the adopted children.

We would like to say, in passing, that this, of course, is true as well for one’s natural children. To bring children into the world, perhaps as a result of temporary sexual “adventures,” is totally irresponsible. If it happens, though, abortion is NOT a solution (For more information, please read our free booklet, “Are You Already Born Again?”). In such a case, perhaps adoption of the child by caring adults might be an option.

Let us see what the Bible says about adoption.

Many Bible translations, for example, the Authorized Version, the New King James Bible, the ASV, the FLS (a French translation), the LITV and the MKJV, include five places, where the word “adoption” is used. The original Greek word (“huiothesia”) is defined by “The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,” under # 5206, as: “… the placing as a son, i.e. adoption (fig. Chr. sonship in respect to God): -adoption (of children, of sons).” The ALT version adds: “the formal and legal declaration that we are His children.”

The Scriptures in question are (using the rendering of the New King James Bible):

(1) Romans 8:15: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom [which] we cry out ‘Abba, Father.'”

(2) Romans 8:23: “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

(3) Romans 9:4: “… who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises…”

(4) Galatians 4:5: “… to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

(5) Ephesians 1:5: “… having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…”

However, we need to point out that many translations render the Greek word as “sonship” — not as “adoption.”

For instance, the NIV, RSV, Moffat and the Rotherham rendition translate Romans 8:15 as: “you have received the [a] spirit of sonship.”

So do the German Elberfelder Bible and the Menge Bible (“Geist der Sohnschaft”). Luther says: “you have received a spirit of children” (“einen kindlichen Geist”). The New English Bible and the Jewish New Testament by David Stern say: “…but a Spirit which makes us sons.” The Diaglot, containing the Original Greek Text, translates the above five scriptural reverences as “Sonship.”

As pointed out, the Greek word literally means, “placing as a son.” It COULD refer to adoption, but here, MORE is involved. When we receive God’s Spirit, we are not merely adopted children of God, but BEGOTTEN children of God. The Holy Spirit makes us sons by a begettal — not by adoption. We become God’s children, not only acquiring rights and privileges — as one does when he is adopted — but we acquire God’s very own, the divine nature (compare 2 Peter 1:4: “that… you may be partakers of the divine nature…”).

God does not just adopt us. Rather, He makes us part of His family, by begetting us as His very children. God is reproducing Himself — not just by adoption, but by actually multiplying Himself, in that He puts His very Spirit into His begotten children, so that they can become born again children in the resurrection — full God beings, with all the rights and privileges of God, but also with His very character and divine nature.

We have to therefore conclude that our relationship with God goes beyond adoption. It describes the process of literal sonship. However, we also conclude that our relationship of being begotten sons and daughters to be BORN AGAIN as Spirit beings — literal sons and daughters at the time of Christ’s return — encompasses the principle of adoption. God, in His great love and mercy, has given us the position of “sonship” which is inclusive of the principle of being adopted as His sons and daughters.

Therefore, strictly judging on a spiritual basis, the Bible does not prohibit adoption per se. This conclusion is supported by several positive Biblical examples, where children were raised in an “adoptive” environment. For instance, Joseph raised Jesus Christ as Christ’s stepfather (compare Luke 3:23). Jacob “adopted” his grandchildren, Ephraim and Manasseh, giving his name to them (compare Genesis 48:16). Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21). In a sense, Samuel was “adopted” by Eli the priest — Samuel was “given” to Eli, to be raised by him, as a servant of the Lord (compare 1 Samuel 1:11, 27-28; 2:11, 18-21).

This means, then, that we cannot say that it is wrong for humans to adopt children, giving them the legal status of sons and daughters. Some have misunderstood the teaching of the Church of God in this matter, wrongfully concluding that Herbert W. Armstrong, the late human leader of the Church of God, had taught against adoption. Although some overly “zealous” ministers might have taught this, they only expressed thereby their own personal (mis)understanding — but never the official teaching of the Church. The Church, under Mr. Armstrong, has always permitted, or did welcome, adoptions in certain circumstances.

In conclusion, it is a personal decision whether or not to adopt children — but all individual circumstances need to be carefully considered first. The decision for a heterosexual couple or single parent to adopt rests on their ability to financially and emotionally take care of the children to be adopted.

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