“The Bible teaches that the care of orphans, widows and the sick are given to the church, not to the government” – by the Rev. Phil Wages, senior pastor Winterville First Baptist Church in Georgia and a blogger (The Obamacare ‘scandal’ you haven’t heard about, CNN)
The typhoon hitting the Philippines the same day this article posted is a painful reminder that the church doesn’t nor is it called to have the resources to be the first or long-term responders to widows, orphans and the sick.
While churches have a powerful and incredibly important role in the community, they do NOT have a corner on social justice!
Is it fair to call Pastor Wages out for his comment? He wasn’t referring to widows, orphans and the sick around the world. And he definitely wasn’t aware of the natural disaster about to strike the Philippines.
The Bible does require the church to care for orphans, widows and the sick. We are called to invite the poor and the foreigners to glean our fields (Leviticus 19:10).
And Rev. Wages isn’t alone, a very loud majority of conservative Christian leaders scream for their members to vote the government out of their fields by reducing taxes despite not having ample resources to properly care for widows and orphans; or compassion to feed strangers.
Pastor Wages’ comment implies the government has no place in coming to the rescue of the typhoon victims. This typhoon is not the first natural disaster causing widows and orphans to be in need of care, and it unfortunately won’t be the last.
Despite Pastor Wages’ claim, most congregations have far more adopted kittens by church members than adopted or fostered children. And since the needs of children continue to outweigh the needs of kittens, this statistic is unlikely to change until our Lord returns.
I shamefully admit I have two adopted kittens, no adopted orphans and spent eight years of my life tipping the scales for the government by placing children at risk in foster homes.
The reality is that in most developed countries the government feeds, clothes and shelters more people than their churches. While government assistance is at best awkward and imperfect, it is no less flawed than care from the church. If someone loses their house, their job, their spouse or becomes ill, they are more likely to seek and receive more help from the government than the church.
While the church visits members who become widows or sick, and may occasionally take a collection to pay a medical bill, they don’t provide healthcare.
Did Pastor Wages and friends consider the story of Joseph, Egypt and the famine before placing God into a box upon an altar? How can we ignore the role of Egypt, the government, in God’s plan to save His people from famine?
How can we ignore the role of Rome, the government, in God’s plan to save everyone from death? So why ignore the government in providing care for widows and orphans today?
The church will play an important role in the Philippians. It will reach and bless many, but it is NOT called to alienate our fellow helpers in the field and miss the grace of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
God calls his followers to be joyful citizens and taxpayers (Romans 13:6 NIV). Instead of territorial wars, let’s join Jesus by making sure our government servants are able to respond! Let’s stop fighting! Let’s start working together for widows, orphans and the vulnerable in our communities and around the world! Amen!
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the orphan; plead the case of the widow.