Monday, December 22, 2008

Sticks, Stones, and Words that Hurt...The Gospel and Adoption

My sons and me camping in a great spot...their bedroom.

Keva has been away from the blog for a while and ask me (Trevor) to do a guest post. She specifically wanted me to post something regarding a situation we find ourselves in quite a bit, especially during the Christmas season. So, hello to everyone out there and here we go.

The other day picked up a flyer with these troubling words in bold- ADOPT A CHILD FOR CHRISTMAS. Granted, the intentions were very good and in support of a cause I also supported, the language, however, left something to be desired and communicated an incorrect message about adoption and the truth of the Gospel.

At risk of sounding like a jerk or a societal adoption-moralist watchdog (I am already a licensed wordsmith and member of the grammar police), I think it is important to think about the words one uses. Admittedly, we (Keva and I) thought nothing of the occasional “adopt a highway” sign or speaking in terms of “adopting” animals from a shelter. But, despite the cultural “adoption” of these word uses as the norm, I’d like to propose to all of you good readers (describing you the reader, not your ability to read…in which case I would have written “all of you who read well…see, grammar police), to think about breaking the cultural norm and thinking in terms of highest use of the word adoption.
As a believer of the Gospel, (the fact that Jesus Christ was born, fully God, fully man, lived a sinless life, was crucified and killed, buried, and resurrected to pay the penalty for my sin, giving me his righteousness and the freedom to no longer be enslaved to sin but to be a servant of the one true, living God and enjoy him forever) the Bible describes me as a son of God. By way of both new birth and by way of adoption. This, in no way, is given as any sort of temporary condition. It is permanent…eternal…and beautiful. When we use it as a word indicating a temporary relationship, we dilute the power, beauty, and permanency it is intended to convey.

We don’t adopt children for a season. We may sponsor a child to provide gifts for at Christmas…and in the case of the flyer, the purpose was to share and give credence to the very Gospel that the Bible speaks of in terms of adoption. It’s almost as if two different ideas are being communicated with the simple misuse of a word. “We will adopt you temporarily…and that’s what God wants to do…adopt you!” What does that say about God’s intentions for us with adoption?

We don’t adopt dogs. We care for them. We provide for them, but we do not, and should not hold them as humans or our children and use language that communicates that relationship. While seemingly innocent, what do we communicate about the worth of bearing God’s image, as humans do and animals do not?

Finally, as most of you know, my two sons are adopted. All of their short lives with us, we have told them of the glory of God in adoption and related our adoption of them with how God adopts his children. It is permanent, eternal, and beautiful. My sons (especially Micah) are very proud that they are adopted because they know it is a permanent expression of Momma and Daddy’s love for them.

Now, think for a moment, all of those who think I am overreacting, about the day Micah can read well (as he is already beginning to pick it up). There he is, flier in hand, “Adopt a Child for Christmas.” Think of the questions that raises in his mind about adoption. Is it permanent? Is it just a nice thing people do? Did my Momma and Daddy just adopt me as a Christmas present?

Think again about a person doting over their animals and speaking of their adoption as children. What does that say to my boys? What does that say about God’s adoption of his children?

I don’t want at all for this to be a rebuke, or to make anyone feel guilty. That is not my intention. It is simply something we deal with quite frequently and will more as our boys grow. I am simply asking all of us to think about what our words and common phrases communicate. Not just for my kids sake, but for the sake of saturating our language with the truth of the Gospel, of which adoption has a rather prominent position.

We love you all and wish you a Merry Christmas. We pray you are an adopted child of God and follower of Jesus Christ, in whose name we celebrate all year long because through him, we have peace with God and the spirit of sonship by which we can call the God of the Universe our “Daddy”.