She Asks for Bread

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Hmmmm….This sounds a lot like the LDS church and the LDSFS’s treatment of single expectant mothers. It also parallels the church’s teaching that adoption
“blesses” the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity and that it should be considered a gift to all involved. Sacred, even.

Is it really a gift and blessing to be severed from your heritage, your ancestors, your people, and your mother for eternity, thanks to the sealing ordinance? Is it really a gift and blessing to be severed from your child, your future grandchildren, and your descendants for eternity?  Is having your existence expunged from history, a complete and total annihilation of your motherhood – from a legal and a doctrinal point of view  – really a gift?

Most of us with any heart or conscience would say no, those are not true gifts nor are they blessings.

Yet these are the gifts and blessings a Mormon god and his people give the most vulnerable of among the church, single mothers and their newborn children. She asks the Mormon god for bread, but is given a stone instead.

After all, she got herself into this mess. She can live with the consequences.

Deus aderit

Dear Ms Feverfew:

Over the past several years, I have learned three critical life lessons.

First, God is good, even when we don’t want to or simply can’t acknowledge him.  As Erasmus said, “Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit.”  Called or uncalled, God is present.  Not only is He present, but He is so very aware of our sorrows and fears. He alone knows how best to deliver the deep medicine we need to heal, medicine that tastes of grace, love, and mercy. Second, God is crazy about us, even when we don’t feel like we deserve His love and attention. Third, everything will be all right, in the end. It might hurt a lot and there might be a lot of tears, and it might take an entire lifetime, but truly – everything will work together for our good. Even this.

Much love and belief –

M.

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.

Dear Person Who Found this Blog By Searching for “pro-adoption scripture”

Dear Person Who Found this Blog By Searching for “pro-adoption scripture” –

There are none.

At least not if one is looking for scriptural justification to take another woman’s child, lie about that child’s parentage on a falsified birth certificate, and then raise that child as their own. Ain’t. Gonna. Find. It.

Don’t believe me? Go read this forthcoming article by David M. Smolin, Professor of Law titled “Of Orphans And Adoption, Parents And The Poor, Exploitation And Rescue:  A Scriptural And Theological Critique Of The Evangelical Christian Adoption And Orphan Care Movement.” It will be published in the Regent International Law Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, in Spring 2012. Full document can be downloaded from this link as well : adoption.christian.regent.smolindraft1.2.12-1.

He makes so many cogent points in this article, but there are two that have really stuck with me since I first read the article. The first one is about Joseph and his treatment of a young unwed mother.

“…what Joseph did in helping an otherwise “single mother” to keep and raise her own child was consistent with the ministries of Jesus and Elijah in assisting single women and their children in staying together. Honoring the “birth” mother—honoring the motherhood of Mary—is exactly contrary to the kinds of adoptions advocated by the modern Christian adoption movement, which typically takes children from living mothers and gives them to non-related people as their adoptive children.  If Joseph had acted in a way typical of the Christian adoption movement, Mary would have lost Jesus at birth.” (Emphasis mine).

The next deals with “pro-adoption” scriptures in the New Testament.

“Despite the claims of the Christian adoption and orphan care movement of a fundamental New Testament call to horizontal adoption—and specifically to the adoption of orphan children—-the New Testament does not record a single such event.  If Jesus and the apostles were calling the New Testament church to practice horizontal adoption of orphans, it seems to have escaped the notice of the writers of the New Testament entirely.   Despite clear New Testament admonishments to assist the poor and widows, and despite a clear New Testament record of the early church in fact engaging in organized efforts to assist the poor and widows, there is no parallel New Testament record of anyone being urged to adopt an orphan, or of anyone doing so….Hence, we have the mysterious gap of a Bible supposedly urging horizontal adoption as a fundamental practice of the church, without any Biblical record of anyone actually encouraging Christians to adopt, and without any record of Christians actually adopting orphan children. “ (Emphasis mine).

So put on your pointy-headed thinking cap, pull out a red pencil and go read Smolin’s article and then get back with me about “pro-adoption scriptures.”

Sincerely,

M.

 

 

What is Missing

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are frequently accused of trying to earn our way in to heaven through our good works and righteous behavior, as opposed to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

I can see how many believe that; even some within our own church preach we have to earn our way into heaven. After all, we teach a person can’t be saved by grace alone, right? It has been hammered into the devout Mormon’s head throughout years of Primary, Young Women’s, and Relief Society. Grace has become a four letter word in the Mormon culture* because it is our good works that save us! Good works, good works, and more good works are what get us in to heaven!!!!

Blech. I can totally see how other Christians look at very busy Mormons, busily working our way to salvation and say, “What about grace?”

So what about grace? Yesterday, I watched a devotional given by Brad Wilcox on July 12, 2011 titled “His Grace is Sufficient” that pretty much sums up what I have learned about grace. It can be seen at http://byutv.org/watch/49475abb-10d4-4f45-a757-7000b9945468 .

I loved when Wilcox says,

“Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. Its about filling us. Jesus…paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

It is finished. What a beautiful phrase, full of mercy. Of grace.

Wilcox’s talk has set me to thinking about the issues of justice, mercy, and grace as it applies to single expectant parents in the LDS church. For too long, single expectant parents have only been treated with the hand of justice.  This heavy hand demands perfection – perfection in families, perfection in people – and punishment when we fall short.

Frequently when a young LDS woman falls short of perfection and finds herself single and pregnant, our culture* demands she pay the price for her sins: marriage or relinquish her baby. Any other option is considered selfish and of putting her “wants” about a child’s “needs.”   The implied principle is through the “good works” of relinquishing her child, she shows she is willing to pay the price for her sins.

But the miracle of the Atonement – the miracle of grace – teaches us that Jesus Christ has already paid that price. His grace is sufficient to cover us – all of us. However, many single expectant mothers in the LDS culture are treated as if grace stops short of their front door. They are treated as if grace doesn’t pay the price for them in full, just like it does every one else.  We require the single expectant mother to prove her repentance by either marrying the man that got her pregnant or paying the ultimate price, by placing her broken heart, her mother’s love, and ultimately her child on the altar of adoption. Only then do we declare the demands of justice have been satisfied.

So what is missing in this equation? Grace.

The kind of grace that steps in and says, “It is finished. Jesus paid the debt, in full.” The kind of grace with bounty enough to enfold a mother and her growing child in the arms of merciful love, sheltering her from a culture that clamors for justice in the form of a hasty marriage or adoption. Grace, which whispers in a young mother’s ear, “You are enough.” The kind of grace that sits with a young mother while she labors her baby into the world and places the babe, still slippery with her mother’s blood and amniotic fluid, into the arms of her mother, not the arms of a more “qualified” woman waiting to take custody of this newest member of the human race.

What is lacking in the LDS church grace that takes a young mother by the shoulders and looks her squarely in the eyes and says, “Yes, this is scary and this will be hard, but you are ready to be a mother. With me, you are ready.”

This same grace then turns to the rest of us and looks us squarely in the eyes and says, “Love her. Support her. Help her become the best mother she possibly can. Help her learn and grow in the gospel of love” (see Elder Quinten L. Cook’s conference address from April 2011). This is the same grace that then leans close, takes us by the shoulders and whispers in our ear, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Yes, grace is what is missing. Justice we have plenty of. Self-righteous foot-stomping by people who have done it “the right way” and “deserve” a baby we have plenty of.  What we need is grace. And lots of it.

____________________________________________

*Please note I said culture, not doctrine. There’s a BIG difference between the two in many instances. Unfortunately.

Am I right or am I right?

Sit back, grab of a cup of hot cocoa and be prepared for a long read. Hopefully there is something of value in this letter.

Yesterday was a watershed day for me in many ways.  I did not write about everything that transpired, but let’s just say it was real, it was raw, and it was needed.  Let me also say I am eternally grateful for a loving, compassionate, and wise husband who loves me – all of me – even the real and raw parts of me.

One of the things I spent the day wrestling with God over was this issue of the “doctrine” of adoption that Sister Beck spoke of at the LDSFS/Families Supporting Adoption conference in August. This struggle with God went on all day – I ended up neglecting many of my responsibilities around the home. God bless Jeff  – literally – for coming home, putting his arms around me and holding me tight, then doing the dishes, making dinner, giving the wee ones baths and putting them to bed all while I stomped around behind him, jabbering and frequently cursing about all of this. There are few men finer than Jeff in this world – if more men could be like him, there would be a heck of a lot less sadness and heartache.

So back to Sister Beck and what she had to tell all those folks at the conference in August. This is what she said:

“The Atonement of Christ brings us that covenant and makes us heirs with Him, so that we have the same inheritance that He has with our Father,” she said.

It is through making covenants that individuals are adopted into the kingdom of God.

“It is very doctrinally based,” she said. “We believe in literal adoption, the literal gathering of bringing people into that covenant. … [Beck, J. (2011). “Rooted in Love.” As reported in Church News 20 Aug 2011].

Now maybe my version of the scriptures is different than hers. I highly doubt it since I have double checked to make sure I am using the most current edition of the LDS standard works, but…. The stuff I remember reading about covenants and the Atonement is about being born again through the blood of our Savior, the waters of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Last night, as I lay in bed drifting off to sleep, one of the last thoughts I had was, “God, either she is right or I am. We can’t both be right. Either we are adopted into the kingdom of God or we are born into it through the waters of baptism and the blood of Christ.”

When I got up this morning at 5:00 a.m. to take my older son to early morning seminary, I spent about 15 minutes reading in the Book of Mormon. The daughter of one of the ladies I Visit Teach is turning eight years old in October and  issued a challenge to the ward members to read the entire Book of Mormon by her birthday. I took her up on the challenge and have been reading about 10 pages a day in the wee small hours of the morning as Captain Knuckle gets ready to leave.

This morning, this verse was on the very first page I read:

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:7)

Hmmm. It seems pretty clear in this particular verse from a scripture of the restoration. Begotten. Born. Because of the covenant. Is it just me, or am I not seeing adoption anywhere in that verse?

This led me to search out other scriptures (yet again) about the Atonement and becoming a son or daughter of Christ. This is what I found

“But as many received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 KJV)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:3, 18-19)

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world…” (1 John 5:4)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 KJV

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7, KJV)

“And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters…” (Mosiah 27:25)

“…preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again.” (Alma 5:49)

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experience this mighty change in your hearts? (Alma 5:14)

“Now I say unto you that ye must repent and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God…” (Alma 7:14)

“I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.”(Alma 36:23)

“And behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and the of the Spirit– (D&C 5:16)

“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.” (Moses 6:59)

[An aside: I looooooove that it was Moses, a late-discovery adoptee, who was given the clearest explanation of what being “born again” entails.  God tells this man, this adoptee who has most likely spent a lifetime struggling with his identity, that to become a son of God, he has to be born again, just like he was born physically. To this prophet/adoptee, God clearly states that the process of sanctification from all sin is one of RE-BIRTH, not adoption.]

I think any reasonable, thinking adult can see those scriptures all point to being born as the way we become sons and daughters of Christ. However, even after reading all of them this morning, something in the back of my mind was bothering me. Sister Beck specifically said that adoption was “doctrine.” If it is doctrine, then certainly it must be found in the scripture, yes?  So I turned to “The Guide to the Scriptures” found on the www.lds.org website, and read this:

Adoption

The scriptures speak of two types of adoption.

(1) A person who is of non-Israelite lineage becomes a member of the family of Abraham and the house of Israel by having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized by immersion, and receiving the Holy Ghost (2 Ne. 31:17–18; D&C 84:73–74; Abr. 2:6, 11). (my emphasis)

(2) All who have received the saving ordinances of the gospel become sons and daughters of Jesus Christ by continued obedience to his commandments (Rom. 8:15–17; Gal. 3:24–29; 4:5–7; Mosiah 5:7–8).

Interesting. Both of these instances point back to being baptized as the process through which people are “adopted” into the household of faith.  But…..didn’t all of those scriptures I just found tell me that ordinance of baptism is about being born again? And just a second there. Mosiah 5:7 is being used as a reference to support “adoption” as being the way that we become children of Christ?  Gosh, I could have sworn that it said very clearly we are born again.

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:7)

Oh yeah. It does say “born of him” NOTHING about adoption.

So then I clicked through to the link “Children of Christ.” This is what I found.

Children of Christ

Those who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child is greatest, Matt. 18:1–4
  • Believe in the light that ye may be the children of light, John 12:36
  • Put off the natural man and become as a child, Mosiah 3:19, Mosiah 27:25–26
  • Because of the covenant ye shall be called the children of Christ, Mosiah 5:7
  • If ye will lay hold upon every good thing, ye certainly will be a child of Christ, Moro. 7:19
  • As many as received me, gave I power to become my sons, D&C 39:4
  • Fear not, little children, for you are mine, D&C 50:40–41
  • Thou art one in me, a son of God, Moses 6:68

Darn it all, there are those “pesky” words again: Begotten. Born again. Born of God. Sons and Daughters of God. No adopted.

Then I clicked through to:

Sons and Daughters of God

The scriptures use these terms in two ways. In one sense, we are all literal spirit children of our Heavenly Father. In another sense, God’s sons and daughters are those who have been born again through the atonement of Christ.

Dang it all, Sister Beck! There those words are again!!!! Atonement. Begotten. Born again. Born of God. Children of Christ.

Essentially, what I discovered this morning is the basis for claiming we are “adopted” into Abraham’s family is because we enter into the covenant of baptism, allowing the Atonement to take effect in our lives….which is clearly the process of being BORN AGAIN.  Which is not adoption. Ask any adoptee. Adoption and being born are two very separate things.

______________________________________

As I wrestle with this issue this morning, the only thing I can come up with is that members of the church play loose and fast with the word “adoption,” using it as a metaphor for being “born again.” Maybe I just need to get my proverbial doctrinal panties out of a wad and just go with the metaphor of adoption = being born.

But I can’t.

I know the difference on a very intimate level, much like Moses. Adoption is not a sufficient metaphor for the very real, very visceral, very messy and difficult process of being born again, of becoming a child of Christ. The Book of Mormon tells me very plainly that I am born again, made a new creation in Christ. It is another witness to what the Holy Bible teaches me about who I am and to whom I belong. The Book of Mormon, side by side with the Bible, clearly testifies I am born into the household of faith through the waters of baptism, the blood of the Atonement, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Born. Not adopted.

There is no other way. (John 14:6; D&C 132:12)

Much love,

M.

For Whatever Reason

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Last April at General Conference, Elder Cook gave a talk titled, “LDS Women are Incredible!.”  I have to agree, for the most part. Most of the women I hang out with who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are pretty amazing, accomplished, and intelligent women. They are women who have figured out how to balance the rewarding demands of being a mother with the rewarding demands of a life “outside of the home” as well. And GASP (said tongue in cheek) some of them are even single women. In fact, a few of them have never married but have adopted older children from the foster care system. Yes, that means they are single parents. By choice. Single mothers of previously unwanted and unruly teenagers who flourish under their loving, consistent care.

An overarching theme of this spring’s General Conference was that of service and charitable works for others.  Elder Cook’s talk was tucked in amongst others such as Elder Eyring’s “Opportunities to Do Good” and Elder Ballard’s “Finding Joy Through Loving Service.”   I particularly loved Elder Ballard’s emphasis on showing our appreciation of the Atonement of Jesus Christ by doing as He did – “simple, compassionate acts of service.” To me, this is where true Christianity is manifest – when we do as Christ would have done.

But back to Elder Cook’s address. When he gave his talk, one phrase jumped out at me. Perhaps it is because of my history of being a single parent, both with you and with Captain Knuckle that my ear and heart are attuned to these kinds of things. But for whatever reason, I was heartened by his words,

“You devoted sisters who are single parents for whatever reason, our hearts reach out to you with appreciation. Prophets have made it clear ‘that many hands stand ready to help you. The Lord is not unmindful of you. Neither is His Church.’ ” (April, 2011. Elder Quinten L. Cook, quoting President Gordon B. Hinkley from 1996; emphasis mine).

Single parents. For whatever reason.

Here is a man I believe to be an apostle of the Lord, admonishing His followers to reach out to single mothers — regardless of how or why they became single parents. He is telling us to reach out with hands ready to help and appreciative hearts.  His words fortified my courage – my future efforts to reach out to single expectant mothers is in complete keeping with newly established official policy and directly in line with divinely inspired advice from a modern-day apostle of Jesus Christ.

While my heart and mind soared at the possibilities this new authority could afford my efforts, another part of my heart sank into despair.

I wondered…why didn’t this include me all those years ago? Why didn’t it include us? The moment I found out I was pregnant with you, I turned my life “around” and returned to church. At the time I relinquished you, I had been actively participating in church services for over 16 months. I did my Visiting Teaching.  I attended Relief Society events. I held callings. I paid my tithing. I sang in ward choir.  I attended Sacrament meeting faithfully.

Was I not a devoted sister? Were you not just as precious and irreplaceable as my future children? Where were the many hands that should have stood ready to help me? Instead of support, I felt tremendous pressure from my culture and my priesthood leaders to “do the right thing” and place you for adoption, simply because I was single. That phrase, “It is never to late to do the right thing” is seared into my soul. Why was I held up as the paragon of a “good mother” by giving you away to strangers so you could have  “better” life? How completely sick and wrong is that??? More importantly, how is telling a young mother that her child was entitled to more than she could offer (at that moment in time) in keeping with the teachings of Jesus Christ? How is that loving, for either the mother or her child???

And where was God in all of this? An apostle of the Lord just told me that the Lord was mindful of me during that time period in my life as a single parent…but where was He?

I reject the idea that you had a “better” life than you would have had with me. Different, yes, but better? Was it better for you to grow up completely divorced from your culture, from your people? Was it better for you not to know your Samoan grandmother and aunties? Was it better for you to be raised without the knowledge of whose blood courses through your veins? Of the history of the mitochondrial DNA that powers your every breath? Was it better for you to be raised by people who don’t understand your love of words and the deep longing you have for education? Was it better for you to be raised not knowing your brothers and your sister?

Bottom line: Was it better for you to be raised by strangers or would it have been better for you to have remained with me?

Sure, there might have been more money (initially), but can money truly replace your heritage? Was that extra trip to Disneyland worth the loss of a mother who loves you beyond all reason and has from the moment she discovered she was pregnant? Were the piano lessons worth the sorrow your brothers feel at your absence in their lives? Was the college tuition worth not knowing you are an exact carbon copy of your mother, right down to the rhythms in your poetry?

Those are questions only you can answer.

And then I come back to the here and now and the lessons I learned from Elder Cook’s talk: We are called to love, support, and serve sisters who are single parents for whatever reason. This tells me it is not for me to determine who is worthy of my efforts, who is deserving to be a mother and who isn’t deserving. My role is to support and care for these single mothers and help strengthen their parenting skills. Period. Not convince them they are not able to parent. Not convince them their child would be better off with strangers, to be adopted and sealed away from their natural families for time and all eternity.

Support and love them in their role as mother in every way possible. That is the sum total of what we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are called to do. Not convince them they are not capable or able to parent.

I could spend another couple of hours pontificating, but I can hear little Penelope over the baby monitor. “Ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma” she says, with ever increasing intensity. It makes me wonder how long you called for me all those years ago and the heartbreak you must have felt when I never came for you. You didn’t understand I thought I was doing what was best for you, that I was trying to protect you from the “horrors” of being raised by a single mother.

All you knew is that you called out for me and I never returned.

I am so sorry for that.

M.

National Adoption Awareness Month ~ Day 8: Let Me See if I Can Be Perfectly Clear About This: God DOES NOT DO ADOPTION (Unless of course, the adoptive grandfather is trying to kill the child, then God makes an exception)

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Making the rounds out there on the internet is this video. Take a moment and watch it.

Sounds all well and good, right? We are a bunch of orphans, plopped on this little ol’ planet and God loves us so much He adopts us into His family.  Because we are trying to be like God, then we must adopt the orphans of the world to save them from a multitude of woes.

Wrong.

The truth of the matter is this: We are already God’s children. It is impossible to “adopt” something that is already yours. (Please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: Paul’s Version for further discussion about the word “adoption” in the Bible; also please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t” (Or in other words: A question for Fred Riley of LDS Family Services) for a better understanding of how we LDS folk view our relationship to God).

The scriptures are an epic love story. They are the story of a Father’s love for his children and the extreme measures He goes to bring them back from their wanderings. He never ceases to search for us. He never quits loving us regardless of the fact that we have “sold ourselves for naught.”  In fact, He loves us so much He sent his first born, his Only Begotten Son in the flesh to pay the ransom for the rest of His children – to atone for our sins and redeem  us from our spiritual bondage (please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: He’s Into Being Born Again for further elucidation about this reality). Not to adopt us. To redeem us. That is why our Savior Jesus Christ is known as the Great Redeemer. Not the Great Adopter.

The video I have linked here uses three specific examples from the Bible to illustrate why adoption is “God’s heart,” namely, the story of Moses, the story of Esther, and the preservation of the Messianic line through Joseph’s supposed adoption of Jesus. (I have already discussed the fallacy of this belief in the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: The Jesus Was NOT Adopted Version, but let me just reiterate one more time: Joseph was Jesus’ STEP-FATHER. I personally feel that misrepresenting this righteous, loving, and protective step-father as the adoptive father of Jesus is near heresy but that’s just my personal opinion. Joseph should be held up as the supreme example of what it means to be a loving step-father, not an adoptive father.)

I know that many Christians like to use the Moses story as an example of why adoption is such a great thing and I guess, if you follow the story all the way through, it is a great story about adoption. (Well, other than that part about Moses returning to his adoptive grandfather’s household years after killing an Egyptian and then calling down the 10 plagues of Israel onto his adoptive family’s kingdom, culminating with the first born of every household dying and then a whole bunch more of his adoptive family dying when they were drowned in the Red Sea. I guess that part isn’t such a great example of adoption, is it?)

Moses’s story starts off when his PAP sees how many Israelites there are and starts to get worried about the sheer number of them. A decree is set forth that the Hebrew midwives have to kill the Hebrew babies – when that doesn’t work, the Pharaoh orders all Hebrew male children tossed into the river.  This is the political environment Moses was born into – his death certificate had already been issued by his future adoptive grandfather before he was born.  His mother hid him (and nursed him) for three months, then put him in the river. His older sister followed along so she could offer the services of her mother as a wet-nurse to whomever found baby Moses.  Their plan worked wonderfully – the Pharaoh’s daughter found him, gave him back to his natural mother until he was weaned, then took Moses into the palace as her own son.

As we all know, with the killing of a “fellow” Egyptian Moses eventually rejected his adoptive family and culture. This precipitated his flight into the wilderness where he then spent 40 years learning of his true identity and heritage. While sojourning in the wilderness, Moses was reunited with his natural family and in this act, God’s heart is revealed: God is totally into family preservation. Eventually, Moses returned to his adoptive father’s palace, this time in his true identity and name – he returned to speak Truth to power and demand that his people be set free. His people – the Israelites, not the Egyptians.  Hmmm…now that I think about it I guess that would make Moses an angry, ungrateful,  bitter adoptee according to a lot of adoptive parents I know.

In case you missed it: the reason Moses was put into the basket and floated down the river was because his adopted grandfather had issued an order to kill him. So yeah, I guess God does do adoption in RARE and UNUSUAL circumstances where the life of the child is at risk.

Now the story of Esther being “adopted” is even easier: BOTH of her parents had died. Her COUSIN took her in a raised her as his own daughter. It was a kinship “adoption” – that whole family preservation theme again. That being said, it wasn’t an “adoption” as we conceive it. Adoption as we know it today (with the falsified and sealed birth records) is a purely modern legal arrangement that simply did not exist under Talmudic law. In Talmudic law, blood relations were all that mattered. Mordecai raised her because he was following the law of the land – orphans stay with their kin folk.

I have probably belabored the point by now.  I know I have very little hope of convincing any of my born-again Christian friends that God didn’t adopt us. Most won’t listen because *gasp* I am a Mormon. Frankly, I like the idea of being the literal child of God, created in image of my eternal parents. And frankly, that’s OK if they don’t listen to me. I still love them and think they are pretty interesting people.

Hmmm…just had an interesting thought.  Born-again Christians are the ones who most frequently use the “God adopted us” and “God’s heart is adoption” themes. Does anyone else see the irony in this? These folks claim to be born again (which is a good thing, BTW) in one breath, and in the next claim that God adopted them.  ?????? If they wanted more congruency between their name and their beliefs, perhaps they should call themselves “Adopted Christians” instead of “born again.”

Maybe it is just a little bit too late and I need to get some sleep. Maybe it won’t be so ironical in the morning. Is ironical even a word?

Much love,

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.

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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.