Bethany Christian Services change in policy
Jesus is pleased to gather His elect children unto Himself by giving believing parents in the church the gift of children. It is also His will to gather His elect seed unto His bosom by working in the hearts of Christian parents the conviction legally to adopt a child or children into their family. What a beautiful picture earthly adoption is of God’s saving work to adopt His children into His covenant family. Galatians 4 teaches that God sent Jesus Christ in the fullness of time that He might “redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (v. 5).
To adopt a child lawfully, many Christian parents have worked with and through Bethany Christian Services. Bethany Christian Services was founded in Grand Rapids, MI in 1944. In 1951, it received its license to place children with parents and thus officially became an adoption agency. In that first year, Bethany served 25 families. Since its origin over 60 years ago, Bethany has grown to be a worldwide organization. The numbers are staggering. Despite the hindrances caused by the global pandemic, over 65,000 clients were served worldwide by Bethany in 2020. From its inception, Bethany has operated on an explicitly biblical foundation, striving “to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children and families through quality social services.”1
It is with sadness, therefore, that I report on their recent policy change.
The policy change is to work with and place children for foster care or adoption with LGBTQ “couples.” In January of 2021, the corporate board of Bethany Christian Services adopted the following motion in a unanimous vote of 14-0. I quote it in full:
Whereas, Bethany Christian Services (Bethany) is deeply committed to its historic mission to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus to vulnerable children, youth, and families; and Whereas, Bethany recognizes that Christians of mutual good faith can reasonably disagree on various doctrinal issues, about which Bethany does not maintain an organizational position; and Whereas, Bethany aspires to be a diverse coalition of Christians in pursuit of its mission; Therefore, the Corporate Board of Directors hereby resolves to implement a nationwide policy of inclusivity in order to serve all families across Bethany’s core service lines.2
The policy does not explicitly refer to LGBTQ couples. However, the language of “inclusivity” has as its purpose to open the door to placing children in the homes of LGBTQ couples. The reflections of Chris Palusky, the current president of Bethany, demonstrate Bethany’s departure from the Christian foundation on which the organization was founded: “For the past 75 years, Bethany Christian Services has never wavered from our mission of demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus to children and families. We help families stay together, we reunify families who are separated, and we help vulnerable children find safe, stable homes when they cannot remain in their own. These days, families look a lot different than they did when we started. And Bethany is committed to welcoming and serving all of them.”3
The entertainment industry’s attack on young children
It has always been the case that the entertainment industry has been a weapon in the devil’s hand to attack and attempt to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. Specifically, it is a weapon that sets its sight on the children and youth of God’s church. In many ways, the attack is overt, making available with one click of a button or one swipe of the finger the pornography, sex, profanity, and violence of this corrupt world. In many other ways, the attack is more subtle and nuanced, sending subliminal messages through television and music to influence children’s minds, thoughts, and ideologies. A combination of the subtle and overt is found now in the programming produced for the youngest children. Of late, several well known shows have pushed the LBGQT agenda, corrupting the youngest viewers’ minds.
One of the most well known children’s TV shows is Sesame Street. Since the show’s beginning in 1969, Sesame Street and its familiar cast of characters such as Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and others have entered the homes of millions of Americans. Airing right before Father’s Day and during pride month (June), Sesame Street ran an episode in which they showcased a family consisting of a young girl with her two fathers, Frank and Dave. The context of their appearance was a party celebrating family. This quote from the episode captures the main message: “Yeah, there’s all kinds of different families. But what makes us a family is that we love each other.”4
What is important to realize is the deliberate nature of those who produce this material. They understand full well how viewing this type of material influences children. For this reason, the response from those who support this liberal agenda was so very positive. The following reflections from two women in higher education make clear how well this point is understood by those who push this godless ideology. Christy Terrell- Corbin of the University of Maryland said, “One of the many wonderful things about young children is they are very accepting—it’s really when they are exposed to attitudes or context where there’s bias that they begin to develop those biases. In the introduction of Dave, Frank and Mia, there was no bias. There was no, ‘this is a different type of family than you’re used to.’ It was just, ‘this is one of many types of families’.”5 And Naomi A. Moland of the American University’s School of International Service, after indicating that it gave her goose bumps to think about her two-year one day watching this episode, said, “I think that would come very soon where we might say, ‘Oh look that girl has two dads, just like you have two moms. It’s just a way of normalizing it’.”6 Reading this quote gives me goosebumps too, but for a very different reason.
At the beginning of this section, I wrote that there have been several children’s productions pushing this liberal agenda. Without commentary, I list other examples to demonstrate the current trend in the children entertainment industry. In Muppet Babies on Disney Junior, the character Gonzo is shown cross-dressing in a princess dress.7 In a reboot of Rugrats, the two main characters’ mother is a single lesbian.8 The children’s programming network Nickelodeon will feature its first openly identified transgender 13-year-old in a program called Danger Force.9 Finally, moving away from the screen and to the page, Robin, the well-known sidekick of Batman, came out as bisexual in a recent comic.10
God’s Word is clear: protect and nurture the children of the church of Jesus Christ. We hear the command of Jesus to Peter, and thus to leaders in the church of Christ throughout the new dispensation, in John 21:15, “Feed my lambs,” which was spoken to Peter after he responded to Jesus’ question, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” The essential point is clear: to love Jesus is to love the lambs in the church. We hear the warning that Jesus pronounces regarding offending and hurting the little ones in the church in Matthew 18:6, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
May the reading of these examples lead us to protect Christ’s lambs, exercising vigilance in overseeing what enters their minds and hearts through their eyes and ears. Moreover, may it lead us to nurture and teach our children, even our very young children, by filling their minds and hearts with the truth of the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Last, may God be pleased to preserve unto Himself the next generation of His adopted sons and daughters in Jesus Christ.
4 https://www.newsmax.com/thewire/sesame-street-gay-pridemonth/ 2021/06/21/id/1025858.
5 ht tps : / /www.washing tonpos t . com/a r t s – e nt e r t a inment/ 2021/06/21/sesame-street-pride-month-episode.
7 https://www.christianpost.com/news/muppet-babies-disneyshow- features-cross-dressing-gonzo.html.
9 https://www.christianpost.com/news/nickelodeon-to-featurefirst- trans-identified-teen-on-kids-show.html.
10 https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-pop-culture/robin-explores- bisexuality-new-batman-comic-rcna1647.