Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 11, 1958
NUMBER 32, PAGE 1,9b

Is The Home A Divine Organization?

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

In the current discussions of benevolence, as related to the work of the church, much has been said about the home as a divine organization. It has been claimed by some that the home is a divine organization, while others have maintained that it is a human organization. This difference of position is not characteristic of people on the different sides of the present controversy concerning the benevolent work of the church, but the difference exists among those who are engaged in the promotion of institutional homes for the needy. Some of them have said definitely that the home is a human organization, among whom are Reuel Lemmons and V. E. Howard, but others of them have contended that the home is a divine organization, among whom are Guy N. Woods, Thomas B. Warren, Roy Deaver and others. In their efforts to defend institutional homes in the field of benevolence, they have claimed that the home is a divine organization, and when the child has lost its home, or the home is destroyed by reason of death of the parents, the home of the child is restored in our present institutional arrangements. And since the home that was destroyed was a divine organization, then the restoration of the home is also a divine organization and should be supported by churches just as the original home when in need.

This position has placed them in many difficulties from which they have not been able to extricate themselves. For if the private home is a divine organization, such cannot be limited to the homes of Christians, but the homes of others — Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian homes — are also divine organizations. If the home of Baptist children is destroyed, do not the people associated with them have a right to "restore" the home of the child? And when they build Buckner Home in Dallas, Texas, to care for their children bereft of their parents, would it not be a "restoration" of the home the child lost? If the building of Boles Home is a restoration of the home the child lost among us, why would not a similar arrangement be so among them? And if so, then Buckner Home is just as much a "divine organization" as is Boles Home, and if one must be supported because it is a divine organization, why not the other also? They have never been able to satisfy themselves with an explanation of these matters. They have tried to console themselves with the idea that there is no obligation to support those who teach false doctrine, as is done Buckner Home, and that the cases are therefore not parallel. But on that basis they could not help a Baptist private home that might be in deep distress. Yet they have had a lot to say about God's universal law of love that requires help for everybody.

As to whether the home is a divine organization depends entirely upon what is meant by the "home." We often refer to the "church" as a divine organization, although its membership is made up of human beings. Why would it not be a "human organization" since it is composed of human beings? When we refer to the church as a divine organization, we refer to a relationship. Present day English dictionaries will define the word church to mean "a building set apart for public worship." Yet we never refer to such buildings as divine organizations. Certainly, there must be a "place" for the assembly of the church, either a building erected for the purpose, some other building, or some place of some kind. Paul spoke about the church coming together "in one place." 1 Cor. 14:23. And in 1 Cor. 11:18 he stated that people could "come together in the church." Likewise in Rom. 16:5 we have reference made to "the church that is in their house." But we never regard the house as a divine organization. When we speak of the church as a divine organization, we mean much more than a "place." A divinely ordained relationship exists between the Lord and his people, and we always have in mind this relationship when we refer to the church as a divine organization. This relationship may he seen in the following:

1. "I will build my church." (Matt. 16:18.)

2. "All baptized into one body." (1 Cor. 12:13.)

3. "We being many are one body in Christ." (Rom. 12:5.)

4. "Christ is the head of the church." (Eph. 5:23.)

With such a relationship divinely ordained, we have a divine organization. And without this divinely ordained relationship there is no "church" that we could call a "divine organization."

Likewise is it true regarding the "home." The word "home" often is defined to be the "place where a person lives." And many times we find statements in the word of the Lord that bear out this meaning of the term, as the following clearly shows: "They returned home." (Acts 21:6. "Let him eat at home." 1 Cor. 11:34. "Servant lieth at home sick." (Matt. 8:6.) Certainly we could not call a "home" in the sense of the place where one lives a divine organization. But there is a divinely ordained relationship that we have in mind when we speak of the home as a divine organization. The marriage relationship was divinely ordained as is shown by the following:

1. "He which made them at the beginning." (Matt. 19:4.)

2. "They shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:24.)

3. "What God hath joined together." (Matt. 19:6.)

4. "Husband is head of wife." (Eph. 5:23.)

Thus we see that when God made man in the beginning that he ordained that they be "one flesh" when "joined together" in the marriage relationship, and that the husband is the head of the wife. This divinely ordained relationship is similar to the relationship already shown with regard to the church. And when we speak of a "home" in the sense of this relationship, we refer to it as a divine organization. Certainly, the relationship is entered into by human beings, just as human beings comprise the membership of the church, but as both relationships are divinely ordained, we speak of them as divine organizations. I do not recall any passage of Scripture where the word "home" is actually used in this sense, but only in this sense could the word be used to mean a divine organization. If it refers simply to a place where people live, it could not mean a divine organization, for after all, a "place" is not an organization, either human or divine.

If, therefore, we are to consider the home a divine organization, we must have in mind the divinely ordained marriage relationship. And where this relationship has never existed there can be no "home" in the sense of a "divine organization." The institutional homes among us are not based upon this relationship — this relationship does not exist — and such homes cannot be called "divine organizations." Therefore, any argument to the effect that we must support them because they are divine organizations is without any foundation in fact. The "place" where the needy are sheltered and cared for is not an organization at all. And the "Benevolent Corporation" that provides the home is not divinely ordained and is a human organization instead of a divine organization.

It has been shown many times that present institutional homes are not "restorations" of the original homes that were destroyed. In order to restore the homes the children lost by the death of their parents, parents would have to be raised from the dead. Without this there is no restoration of their homes. A place may be arranged in which the children may be cared for. A benevolent board may be set up to provide and maintain such a "home" for the needy. But such could be nothing more than a human substitution for a divine organization — it is not a restoration at all