Equipping the Generations: From Adopted to Adopting -- By: Justin Taylor

Journal: Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry
Volume: JDFM 02:1 (Fall 2011)
Article: Equipping the Generations: From Adopted to Adopting
Author: Justin Taylor

Equipping the Generations:
From Adopted to Adopting

Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor is Vice President for Book Publishing at Crossway Books an elder at New Covenant Bible Church in St. Charles, Illinois, and blogs daily at “Between Two Worlds,” hosted by The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife have adopted three children. This article originally appeared at Boundless.org.

We were talking recently with our next-door neighbors, a family from India, when the topic of adoption came up. The father had some confident advice for us: “Make sure you never tell your kids they were adopted. It’s best that way.”

My neighbor is a very nice fellow but not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer: Our son is African American, and my wife and I are Caucasian. We gently explained that we will tell them, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and we suspected it would dawn on our son before too long anyway.

Adoption tends to be something appreciated or admired in America. But in other cultures, it’s often a stigma. A friend who is a missionary to Middle Easterners once told me the fascinating story of why adoption is often a taboo for Muslims.

Adoption In Islam

The prophet Mohammed had adopted a former slave named Zayd. When Zayd grew up he married a woman named Zaynab, with whom Mohammed himself eventually fell in love. Zayd divorced her in anger, and Mohammed took her as a wife. Soon afterward, Mohammed received a “revelation” from Allah making adoption illegal: “Allah does not regard...your adopted sons as your own.”

It is now legal for some Muslims to adopt, but there are a number of rules surrounding it. Adopted sons are to be named after their biological father instead of taking the surname of their adoptive parents. The Qur’an tells adoptive parents that they are simply the “trustees” of someone else’s child. Inheritance still comes from the birth parents, not the adoptive family. Adoptive siblings can even marry each other when they are grown. An adoptive family can refer to their adoptive son as a “son,” but they know that it’s really just a name to use, not a legal reality.

Adoption In Christianity

One of the problems in Islam, I think, is that they have a concept of Allah as creator and ruler—but there’s no concept of “the fatherhood of God.” Consequently, they do not have a concept of being spiritually and legally adopted into the household of faith, which is at the

center of biblical Christianity.

The great theologian, J.I. Packer (whose three children are adopted), has written an attention-grabbing line in his cl...

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