Beit Gamaliel

The confluence of knowledge and faith

Adopted or Adapted?

Somewhere along the line, modern religious thought has shifted from adoption to adaptation. Instead of abiding by the rules established by God Almighty as His adopted children, we have adapted to the moral temperature of the world around us in order to survive.

adoptionIn science, an adaptation is defined as “an anatomical, physiological, or behavioral trait that contributes to an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce (“fitness”) in competition with conspecifics in the environment in which it evolved (Williams, G. 1966. Adaptation and Natural Selection Princeton).” Adaptation is critical for survival of ANY living species. It could be argued tat every extinct species has become extinct due to an inability to adapt and survive to an ever-changing environment.

Adoption is defined as “taking a child into one’s own family through legal means and raise as one’s own child.” A friend of mine who was stationed in the Philippines was house-sitting for a missionary and his wife. While house-sitting, a single mother left a bundled child abandoned at the missionaries doorstep. Moved with compassion, he and his wife adopted the baby and raised it with their biological children. Even in adulthood, my friend and his wife continue to be involved in all of the children’s lives.

We had a conversation about raising the his children. I wondered if there were any issues with her being adopted. He let me know that as his daughter, she was afforded all of the benefits and privileges of all of his children, and will inherit an equal share of his possessions when he dies. Likewise, she was expected to comply with the rules and expectations established in the home, as were all of his children. That is the beauty of adoption! There is not special set of rules for the adopted child. There is not a unique set of expectations that are only applicable to the adopted child. And, in the end, the adopted child does not get a better inheritance, or lesser amount because of adoption.

In Romans 8 tells us that we “have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Messiah.” We have been adopted into the home of God! Ephesians explains it further: “You [non-Jews] were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshuah you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” We were the baby abandoned on the doorpost, an infant-stranger to loving family within, with no name, no place prepared for me in the house, and excluded from the inheritance of the biological children already inside. But Yeshuah opened the door, found us on the ground and brought us inside!

Somewhere along the line, modern religious thought has shifted from adoption to adaptation. Instead of abiding by the rules established by God Almighty as His adopted children, we have adapted to the moral temperature of the world around us in order to survive. What once was appalling in the church is now widely accepted. We have followed the five stages of grief:

  1. Denial. A few years ago I attended a meeting of ministers. When the issue of pornography came up, one denominational leaders said, “I don’t think that is a real problem among clergy.” According to a Christianity Today survey, nearly 40 percent of Christian pastors are struggling with pornography. I guess he was wrong.
  2. Anger. This is the classic holiness preacher. We have seen it play out in two ways: 1. the holiness preacher with ZERO tolerance for anyone trapped in sin, 2. the angry preacher railing against homosexuality because he himself is trapped in the sin.
  3. Bargaining. This is the stage when we realize that the failure of the church. Like the prophets we start begging God to revive His people, leveraging scripture against the Almighty as some obligation on His part to perform. But, like in the days before and following the exile, revival will never come.
  4. Depression. This stage is usually observed as silence. We see it played out in church as we sit on one end of the pew and watch the couple on the other end as their marriage slowly disintegrates. We see it happening before our eyes, but no one says a word.
  5. Acceptance. The last stage is the quiet acquiescence of the new reality, when what was once decried as profane is now the new normal.

May we be strengthened to withstand the attacks against our faith, both from within and without. May we declare with John, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” And may we live honorably before the Holy Father in accordance to His word, and the precepts of righteousness the He has established for His children.



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