When a woman named Susan wrote the 700 Club looking for answers, she surely wasn’t expecting the kind she received. The mother of three adopted daughters, each from different countries, wrote to say that the men she was dating invariably got cold feet when it came to the subject of her children. “Why,” she asked, “are these men acting this way?”
Pat Robertson’s answer left audiences with their jaws hanging low. “A man doesn’t want to take on the United Nations,” he said, excusing the men, “and this woman’s got all these various children, a blended family. I mean what is it?”
Hint: The gospel.
Robertson went on to provide a reason why the men were justified in backing out. He mentioned a friend who adopted a child with “brain damage. . . . grew up weird. You just never know what’s been done to a child before you get that child.”
He’s right about that much. Adopted kids come from hard places, and you just don’t know what kind of problems they might have. Orphans are often victims of physical, psychological, sometimes even sexual abuse. They are deprived of food, starved for affection, and left to fend for themselves. That kind of maltreatment and deprivation can add up to serious social, psychological, and neurochemical problems for these kids.
Bringing kids from hard places into your home isn’t easy. As an adoptive father, I speak from some experience.
For Robertson these problems excuse the men in question. “You don’t have to take on someone else’s problems. I mean you really don’t. You can go help people. You can minister to people . . . but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to take all the orphans around the world into my home.”
In some measure, that’s a copout. Orphans don’t need people to help them or minister to them, not primarily. They need families, especially the kids who are — in Robertson’s indelicate word — “weird.” The reason they face maltreatment and deprivation in the first place is because they don’t have mothers and fathers to protect and care for them. Families are the only solution for these kids.
If the men Susan is dating aren’t up for that, then she’s obviously dating the wrong men. And she’s also evidently asking the wrong people for advice. Robertson’s answer does’t work. If we’re going to live the gospel, it’s absurd to say that it’s really hard so it’s reasonable to disengage. You don’t have to die on every hill, but Calvary requires your life nonetheless. What else does picking up your cross mean?
When Jesus clues us into the final exam in Matthew 25, he says something that applies directly to the situation. After the Lord returns in glory, he separates the righteous from the unrighteous. He then turns to the former and says, “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me. . . .”
The righteous are amazed. “Lord,” they say, “when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?”
“Assuredly, I say to you,” answers Jesus, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
Kids from hard places bear the image of God just like any other child, and no matter their age, sex, or color they look like Jesus.
Robertson prays for folks on air all the time. Instead of his baffling screed, he should have commended Susan and prayed that she find a man who can look upon these precious daughters as sisters in Christ and take them to his heart as readily as his own.