I want you to meet Eunice and Owen Johns.
Mrs. Johns, 62, and Mr. Johns, 65, live in the United Kingdom. They’ve raised four children and have been foster parents to a total of 15. By every measure they’ve done a terrific job. From the beginning of their fostering adventure, they’ve seen their noble calling rooted in Christian conviction. They have epitomized and embraced the words of James: “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
But now that same Christian faith that motivated them to foster parent in the first place is being cited as reason to declare them ineligible to foster parent anymore.
Simply put, Mr. and Mrs. Johns believe in traditional Christian teachings, including that heterosexual marriage is God’s ideal and that sex outside of biblical marriage between a man and a woman is a sin. As parents, they’ve obviously shared these beliefs with children in their care, and therein lies the crux of the matter.
According to the UK High Court which ruled earlier this week, the government can now mandate that foster parents communicate and demonstrate positive attitudes toward homosexuality. In other words, because the Johns’ hold a biblical perspective on this issue, they are somehow a threat to the general welfare of children.
In trying to grasp this illogical conclusion, it’s hard not to think that we’re living in a day and age when, to borrow the title of the old English ballad, the world has turned upside down.
When the ruling was issued, Mr. and Mrs. Johns were stunned and heartbroken. In a statement the couple reacted:
We wanted to offer a loving home to a child in need. But because of this ruling we are unsure how we can continue the application process. We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith, and a vulnerable child has now probably missed the chance of finding a safe and caring home. We do not believe that our ordinary Christian moral views are infectious, contrary to what the Equality and Human Rights Commission believes. Being a Christian is not a crime and should not stop us from raising children. Today, it looks as though a child has missed out on a home.
They are, of course, exactly right. My heart aches for Mr. and Mrs. Johns, but even more for the children who will be deprived of their love, guidance and affection. Once again, the effort of same-sex advocates to mandate mainstream approval for their beliefs is coming at the expense of kids in desperate need of stable homes.
As Americans, it might be easy to dismiss this development as an unfortunate matter of European political correctness. To do so, however, would be a grave mistake. Even today in the United States, some faith-based adoption agencies who refuse to place children with same-sex couples – like Catholic Charities of Boston – have been forced out of the adoption placement world.
Anyone who has ever attempted to either adopt or become approved for foster parenting is well aware just how personally invasive the approval process can be. From detailing your assets and tax records to case workers inquiring about your physical and mental health as well as your marital happiness, many couples find the process nerve racking. I want to be clear that there is good reason for this level of scrutiny – to protect children. But it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that what happened in the United Kingdom could eventually – and maybe sooner rather than later – happen in the U.S.
What does it mean for a Christian when the world turns upside down? It means that we’re presented with an enormous opportunity to help turn it right-side-up! We do that by holding firm, like the Johns, to our Christian convictions. If we do, we’ll be radiating and reflecting the love of Jesus Christ by standing in the gap for vulnerable kids. If you have ever considered either adopting or becoming a foster parent, I’d welcome you to learn more about Focus on the Family’s Wait No More ministry and the many opportunities in your state by clicking here. Just this past Saturday at one of our events in Atlanta, 165 more families started the process of foster care adoption.
Surely the news out of the UK startles, but doesn’t shock. The Bible tells us that godly wisdom will be regarded as foolishness and that what is good will be called evil. God’s word also regularly reminds us that we’re strangers in a foreign land (Hebrews 11:13). Yet, the Lord is sovereign. There is nothing to fear for those of us who love Jesus Christ.