Best (or worst?) Ever Search Term

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Today, someone found these letters using the search terms, “scripture god prepares orphans for adoption.”

Really.

I am not sure what the searcher is looking for. I certainly hope they aren’t looking for scriptural support of a  God who destroys a family through death, disease, poverty, abuse, war, or famine, etc., simply to “prepare” a child for a couple who wants to “grow” their family via adoption.

That would be a cruel and petty God indeed. And guess what? No need to bring God into the equation. We humans are perfectly capable of deconstructing families all on our own, by hook or by crook or by ignorance and greed, without assistance from God.

M.

God Doesn’t Do Adoption ~ The King Solomon Version

A few weeks ago in Gospel Doctrine class, we covered  the wisdom of King Solomon.  One of the “talking points” of the class study guide is this: “Two women take a child to Solomon, who wisely determines which woman is the mother of the child (3:16–28).”

Judgement of Solomon

“Judgment of Solomon” by Gustave Dore

Now this story is of particular import to me because it was used as a scriptural example and justification for relinquishing my daughter for adoption. After all,  a “real” mother would sacrifice her own “selfish wants” to parent her own child. A “real” mother would love her baby so much she would let him or her be raised by some other woman. Within the past few days, this same reasoning has been applied again to the John Wyatt case – if he really loves his daughter, he would “do the right thing” and let her be raised by someone else who claims to be her parents.

Just to refresh your memory, I have copied the entire text of this particular scripture, straight from the LDS edition of the KJV Bible.

1 Kings 3

16 ¶ Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.

17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.

18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.

19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she aoverlaid it.

20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.

21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.

22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.

23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.

24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.

25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.

27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.

28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the awisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

.

An interesting bit of history:  this story is the first recorded and published legal decision in all of the history of legal jurisprudence.

Hmmm…. The first recorded instance of a legal decision has to do with family law. Interesting.

So we read the story and the class started discussing how brilliant Solomon was and what it must have been like for him to come up with his decision. But I, being the constant questioner, the habitual wonderer, the inquisitive child, went wait just a second. (Mind you, this was in my head – I don’t usually raise my hand in Gospel Doctrine to point out things like this because that would bring down the fury and wrath of the LDS culture upon my head for merely questioning a policy of the church – not doctrine – but a policy. If there is anything you DO NOT do in the LDS faith, it is question, even honestly, a strongly held cultural practice. I mean, have you ever tried to suggest that green jello might be good with something else other than shredded carrots in it or that gasp, it might be  good just all by itself? But I digress, back to the story.)

I thought to myself, “Did anyone else catch that?”  And I went back and re-read the story again. Yep. There it is. I flipped to the front of my scriptures to make sure I had the correct LDS-sanctioned version of the Bible. Yep, I do. I flipped back to 1 Kings 3. Yep, it’s still there.

Who did King Solomon, in the wisdom of God (see verse 28) send the baby home with?

Was it his natural mother?

Or was it the woman who was so desperate for a child that she was willing to steal the baby of another woman and lie about being that child’s mother?

Oh. That’s right. King Solomon was wise enough to see through the ruse of falsified birth records AND to send that child home to be raised by his NATURAL mother (verse 27).

But wait just a minute…wasn’t that natural mother a single mother???? Oh and waaaaaaaaaaiiiiittt a second here – wasn’t she not only a single mother, but a harlot as well (verse 16)?

HANG ON AN EVER LOVIN’ SECOND: The wisest man in all of God’s creation, in a decision that has been heralded throughout time as a brilliant move of legal jurisprudence, sent that baby home with a SINGLE MOTHER who was a prostitute???????

Certainly there had to be at least ONE woman in all of Israel that was married, wealthy, and childless who “deserved” to be a mother, who knew all of the basics of child nutrition and discipline, who had started saving for the child’s education, who had a support system in place that would exist for the next 18 years, who knew of all the community resources available to help her, you know – the kind of woman who could answer all the questions from LDSFS the “right” way. King Solomon probably had a lot of them in his court! Why didn’t he just tell the natural mother that if she really loved that baby, she would let some other (presumably) more righteous, more wealthy woman raise her son? It’s about love, you know, and if she just loved that baby enough, she would let him be  raised by someone else.

Because King Solomon, in all of his wisdom, understood the bonds of a natural family. King Solomon, in all of his wisdom, understood that societal position or wealth did not entitle one woman to take another woman’s child.

In the first recorded act of jurisprudence, the wise and brilliant King Solomon ruled in favor of family preservation.

So here is yet another scripture reference that I believed supported my decision to relinquish my daughter for adoption, but now with the clarity of the years, I realize it was telling me the exact opposite. In every case so far, except for Moses because he was about to be killed by the directive of his future adoptive father, God has ruled in favor of family preservation.

Oi. I think I need some Tylenol now.

Love,

M.

P.S. As an interesting sidenote, when you click through the link for the cross reference to “wisdom” in verse 28, it takes you to a scripture from 2 Ne 21:2 in direct reference to Jesus Christ, the Great Healer and Physician, The One who can mend a broken heart and a broken life.

“And the aSpirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of bwisdom and cunderstanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;”

Sooooo…the folks who do the cross-referencing with the Book of Mormon thought this instance of King Solomon’s wisdom which ruled in favor of family preservation was important enough to reference to the wisdom and understanding that Christ possesses.

Hmmm…interesting. Very interesting.

God Doesn’t Do Adoption ~ Paul’s Version

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

My friend Cricket was recently attacked by a “Christian” PAP who proceeded to spout chapter and verse about how we are all adopted into God’s family, therefore adoption of infants is  a good thing. (Actually, that doesn’t quite sum up the full extent of the nastiness of this PAP’s reasoning, but for here, it will do.)

Here’s what set me off this morning:

“We also look forward to spending eternaty [sic] worshiping and adoring Him with all of His adopted sons and daughters. “God sent forth his Son…….so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galations 4:4-5 I’ve been adopted into God’s family and I hope that you will be too.” – Alicia, hopeful adoptive parent of her husband’s cousin’s dead but not-yet-buried wife’s baby. (Yes you read that right.)

Once again, I was left sputtering and stammering at my computer screen. I don’t get it – why on earth do “Christians” keep using those same couple of verses to justify adoption? So here’s my response to this, yet again. I realize I am not a theologian by any measure, but I am a thinker. Following is the scripture Alicia is referencing:

Galations 4:5 To redeem that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (KJV)

So yes. Paul says “adoption” right there in the Bible. He actually uses it a couple of times, but if one examines the text as written in the original Greek, one begins to understand that Paul didn’t mean “adoption” like the modern world means “adoption. ” His original Greek word huiothesia meant something else entirely.

The original Greek word in this scripture (and the others where Paul was translated as saying “adoption”) is huiothesia, derived from the huios (“a son”) and thesis (“a placing”), so literally the placing of/as a son. (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985).

The “placing as a son” imagery was something with which Paul and his readers of Galatia would have been entirely familiar (Mitchell, 1993; Zanker, 1988). Basically, it was a ceremony that occurred within the Roman culture in which a male child of a citizen achieved the status of manhood. Prior to the ceremony, a son was considered to have the status of a slave in his father’s house (The Story of Civilization, Vol. 3: Caesar and Christ, 1972, p. 57), even though he had the potential to inherit his father’s wealth. The “placing as a son” ceremony occurred around a boy’s teen years, when his father determined it was time for him to pass from being a child (and under the absolute power of his father) into adulthood.

In this public ceremony, the young man would remove the toga he wore as a boy and put on the toga virilis (toga of manhood). This ceremony marked his entry into full citizenship in the empire and the right to vote in the assembly. The toga virilis also allowed for visual identification between a natural-born Roman opposed to a naturalized citizen of Rome (foreign born people who then became Romans).  Not only this, but after the “placing as a son” ceremony the son became fully legally vested with all of the rights, powers, and privileges of being a son and heir to his father’s possessions, wealth, and status. No longer was he viewed as a child – he was a fully participating member of his society and family. (Harrill, 2002; Fraschetti, 1997; “Roman Children,” ClassicsUnveiled.com). It should be noted that the one who was “placed as a son” was generally already the child of the father, thus it was not an adoption into the father’s household.

Paul’s original imagery of our huiothesia, literally “placing as a son”  (as opposed to being adopted) within God’s kingdom profoundly affects our relationship with God.  Adoption as applied to our relationship with God is problematic as it changes our fundamental status as God’s offspring. When a child is adopted into a family, he remains physically the same person. No change of name or falsification of birth records will ever eliminate the biological reality – he is still the offspring of his natural parents.  That child’s DNA will always remain different, separate, and unrelated to his adoptive parents.

However, God has told us we are his literal offspring, created in his image, especially as we consider that He was the Father of Adam and Eve (Acts 17:28-29; Luke 3:38).  As their descendants, our own DNA carries the fingerprints of divine origins. God even tells us that he is intimately involved with the physical creation of each one of us – He “knits” us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16).

Although we maintain this divine heritage from God, when we are born we essentially become slaves of the mortal, fallen world we are born into. However, this does not change our status as God’s offspring. We are still His children – we are just separated from His household because of sin. Fortunately, a loving Father provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him, to have those chains of slavery broken.  That way is through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. The act of becoming a disciple and follower of Christ allows us to begin the process of what Paul called huiothesia – of becoming a full and participatory member of our Father’s household, with the full rights as His children. (If you are an endowed member of the church, ponder the meaning of huiothesia carefully in relation to putting an article of clothing which signifies a lesser position and putting on a new one that symbolizes the acceptance of a higher one, and then being welcomed back into the Father’s presence.)

So there it is. Again. God doesn’t do adoption. ‘Specially since we are already His children. He is into restoring things to their proper order and place in His household.

Really, some of these people should study history.

Much love,

Your mother who reads. A lot. And thinks about things.

P.S. Over on Cricket’s blog there are some amazing responses to Alicia’s letter to her.  In particular, take time to read the one left by T. Laurel Sulfate Friday, March 5, 2010 9:35:00 PM EST ,  Jenni Friday, March 5, 2010 10:01:00 PM EST and Christina on behalf of Goog82 Saturday, March 6, 2010 1:14:00 PM EST

References:

Harrill, J. A. (2002). Coming of Age and Putting on Christ: The Toga Virilis Ceremony, Its Paraenesis, and Paul’s Interpretation of Baptism in Galatians. Novum Testamentum,  44, (3), p. 252-277.

Fraschetti, A. (1994). Roman Youth. Storia dei giovani, Vol. 1, Dall’antichita all’eta moderna.  G. Levi & J.C. Schmited, Eds., trans. Naish, C. as A History of Young People in the West, vol. 1, Ancient and Medieval Rites of Passage. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, p. 51-82.

Mitchell, S. (1993). Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor, vol 2. In The Rise of the Church, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 3-10.

Vine, W. E., & Unger, M. F. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: With Topical Index. Thomas Nelson.

Zanker, P. (1988). The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. Jerome Lectures 16; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, p. 215-23.


God Doesn’t Do Adoption ~ The Jesus Was (NOT) Adopted Version

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Wanna know what really chaps my proverbial hide? The claim that “God chose adoption for Jesus”, ergo adoption is a holy, Godly thing.

Uh, Jesus wasn’t adopted folks. He was raised by Joseph, yes. But Joseph was his step-father. And guess what else? He was raised by his mother.

There was no adoption that took place. An “adoption” would mean that Joseph had publicly shamed Mary by telling the community that the child was not his and then married her any way and “adopted” Jesus as his own.  However, we know this isn’t what happened  (please refer to  Matthew 1:19-20 for the story of the angel appearing to Joseph and telling him he needed to wed Mary in spite of the fact that she was pregnant with some other individual’s child).  Because Joseph did the angel’s bidding and married Mary instead of “putting her away privily,” the locals all assumed that Joseph was Jesus’ “real” father. Remember, this was one of the locals big beefs with Jesus during his ministry on earth. They had a tough time accepting him as the Son of God because they had known him his whole life as merely the son of Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth.

But Joseph knew the truth. Mary knew the truth. And Jesus knew it as well.

Even at the tender age of 12, Jesus understood Joseph’s role in his life as his step-father. Remember that time Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus behind in Jerusalem after Passover?  After an entire day of travel, they realize he was missing & they could not find him among their extended family or his friends.  (Can you imagine their prayers that night? “Dear God – we seem to have lost your Only Begotten Son in the flesh.  You probably already knew that but if you wouldn’t mind, please keep him safe and let him know how much we love him. Amen. P.S. Please forgive us – we promise to pay more attention to his whereabouts next time we head into town.”)

Three days later they find him at the temple in Jerusalem, talking with the learned men who were astonished at his answers and his understanding.  Like any mother, Mary was upset with him about staying behind without letting her know where he was.  Now pay careful attention to Jesus’ response to his mother. He says to her:  “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

Not Joseph’s business.  His Father’s business. Jesus distinguishes the difference, even when others don’t.

(Side note: Isn’t it delicious irony that Jesus pointing out who his real Father is appears at the end of the very same chapter in Luke which the “Jesus was adopted” crowd likes to quote? There’s something so piquant about it, wouldn’t you agree?)

But back to the matter at hand. Even God appreciated and respected the mother/infant bond. He didn’t send his only begotten Son in the flesh to be raised by anyone other than his “birth” mother.   Certainly there were more “capable” women in Israel to raise the Son of God – someone married, more mature, financially secure and had a college fund set up for her future child, someone who knew all the ins & outs of child development, nutrition and discipline, had a support system that would be in place for the next 18 years – you know “worthy”  – someone who could answer all these questions the “right” way.  However, Jesus was not secreted away after his birth to be raised by another woman claiming to be his “real” mother. Mary raised him. Jesus stayed with his natural mother, his first mother, his mother.  With this kind of example of family preservation, why is it so difficult for some people to grasp the vital importance of attempting everything possible to preserve the original family unit – a mother and her baby?

If family preservation was in the best interest of the only begotten Son of the Father,  I think we are safe to assume it is in the best interest of all of His children whenever possible.

So Ms. Feverfew, when people start in with the “Jesus was adopted” thing, you can now discuss it with them logically and with scriptural backing.  God didn’t cho0se adoption for Jesus – God chose family preservation.

Much love and belief –

M.

P.S. And don’t even get me started with the “Well, Moses was adopted” thing right now.  That would take several chapters for me to address…