Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 23, 1958
NUMBER 37, PAGE 6-7a

"The Church Is Not A Home"

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

In current discussions in the brotherhood relative to the care of the needy, it is amazing to see the positions advocated by brethren who are trying to defend present efforts being made in the field of benevolence. They have had to shift from one position to another with such rapidity that it has almost become monotonous. They have found themselves, at this time, with about two things left to depend on. One is, as some have done, to deny that any such thing as an "in between organization," known as a benevolent society, actually exists. And the other is to emphasize that the church is not a home. The idea is that the home is one thing, and the church is another; that the function of the home is one thing, and the function of the church is another. They tell us they believe in the all - sufficiency of the church, but that they also believe in the all - sufficiency of the home. The church, they say, has its work to do, and the home has its work, and when each performs its function, there is no rivalry between them. And from this point they argue that the function of the church is to provide the money, and it is the function of the home to provide the care. The church cannot care for the needy. The only thing the church can do is to provide the funds. But it is the work of the home to administer the care. The church performs its work when it furnishes the money. Its duty does not reach beyond that. And when the home takes over and provides the care, it is not doing the work of the church, but its own work. So the homes among us do not usurp the function of the church, and they have the right to exist as they are, because they are doing their own work.

This argument is the best they can offer for the existence of benevolent societies to render care for the needy. It was introduced by Brother Guy N. Woods in the debate at Paragould, Arkansas, and since that debate, in his articles in the Gospel Advocate, he has elaborated much upon this point. Others have adopted the argument and continue to sing that THE CHURCH IS NOT A HOME. Bro. John D. Cox, in a statement of "his convictions" in the Gospel Advocate, August 8, 1957, relied upon this argument to justify his change, which, I believe, he did not admit. Then Bro. Jack Meyer, Sr., in the Gospel Advocate of October 31, 1957, in an article titled "A Change of Conviction," tells us that he has "finally seen the point" because of this argument. At least, Bro. Meyer, unlike so many other brethren who have crawled on the band wagon, admits that he has changed. He is to be admired in this. Others have changed just as much but still deny that any change has ever occurred. Since Bro. Meyer, in his article, quotes from the article of Bro. Cox, I shall just make a quotation from the Meyer article, and then we will have the statements of both of them. Here is the statement:

"During the past two years I have engaged in an intensive restudy of the issues involved in this question, and have been won to the changed conviction that a home such as Childhaven does not substitute for or compete with the church, but does its best to restore, to stand in the place of the original home which the orphan lost. I have finally seen the point, therefore, that it is not comparable to a missionary society, for the missionary society certainly does supplant or compete with the church in preaching. John D. Cox, of Florence, Ala. (Gospel Advocate, page 498, August 8, 1957), exactly expresses the truth on this point which I have accepted: 'It is the responsibility of the church to provide, supply, or furnish the means whereby the needy may be cared for. After the means for the care of the needy have been provided by the church, the care must still be given. This care may be provided for in the original home of the needy if it still exists, or in another private home which has taken the needy ones in, or in a substitute home which has been set up by individuals for the purpose of caring for the needy.' I believe that the obligations to provide the means of caring for the needy is ordered in the New Testament (Gal. 6:10; James 1:27; 1 Tim. 5:16), but the method of care is not stipulated, and is thus in the realm of expediency. Therefore I no longer hold to the view that orphanages must be under local elder-ships, and hereby publicly repudiate my past teaching on that point, including the quotations mentioned in my book." — Gospel Advocate, page 690, October 31, 1957

The above quotation, containing statements by both Bro. John D. Cox and Jack Meyer, Sr., certainly show that I have correctly stated the argument upon which brethren are relying to prove the present practices of the churches. In my recent debate with Bro. Roy Deaver at Dumas, Texas, he made the same argument. He argued, as they all do, that the church cannot provide the care for the needy — the only thing it can do is to provide the funds. He stated that the church cannot spank children, or in any way administer the care for children, but that is the work of the home. And if the church undertakes to render the care, it invades the function of the home and usurps the work of the home. God never intended for the church to be a home, we were told, but if it provides the care, it becomes a home. So he argued that I was trying to make a home out of the church. Let the church do its work — provide the funds, and let the home do its work — provide the care. In reply to this argument I present the following chart:

Chart Goes Here Church Provides Money


Can Home Do This? Home Provides Care


Church Cannot Do This Function Of Church And Home

The line of distinction which they make between the work of the church and the work of the home is shown on the chart. The CHURCH PROVIDES MONEY. Bro. Deaver said this is the work of the church. So I have placed it on the chart, and at the right and parallel with it, I have placed a rectangle in which I have listed "Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, Dollars." This is some of what the church provides when it does its work. But the HOME PROVIDES CARE. As he said this is the work of the home, I have thus placed it on the chart, and at the right and parallel with it, I have placed another rectangle in which I have listed "Feeds, Clothes, Bathes, Spanks." This is some of what the home provides when it does its work. At the right of the chart I have an arrow, beginning at the upper right hand corner and running to the lower rectangle — to the work of the home. Bro. Deaver says, as indicated, "The church cannot do this." If the church does this, it invades the function of the home and becomes a home. Therefore, it would be wrong for the church to feed, clothe, bathe and spank children. The home must do this. Then at the lower right hand corner of the chart another arrow begins and runs to the upper rectangle — to the work of the church. Here I have printed the question for Bro. Deaver: "Can the home do this?" Can a home provide any pennies, nickels, dimes and dollars for the care of the needy? According to the argument, a home cannot do this. This is the function of the church. And if a home undertakes to do this, it invades the function of the church and becomes a church. If the church becomes a home when it furnishes care, then a home becomes a church when it furnishes funds. So according to Bro. Deaver's argument, a private home cannot provide any money to care for the needy. Only the church can do that. And, actually, this would forever eliminate any money for the care of orphans, for the money the church provides comes from the home in the first place. If the home cannot provide it, the church cannot obtain it, and so there is no money to be provided for such work.

This chart shows the fallacy of their argument. There is not a man among them that can even begin to clear up their difficulty here. Bro. Deaver felt the force of it, saw his argument had blown up, and so he said that he thought I knew that their functions overlapped. I told him that I did, and that such was what I was trying to get him to see. But when he admitted that the function of the church and the function of the home overlapped, he surrendered the argument. If the functions overlap, there is not a thing on earth to their argument. So I asked him which way the overlapping goes. Does it overlap from the home to the money only? Or does some of the overlapping extend from the church to the care?

Certainly, the home can provide money without becoming a church; and the church can provide care without becoming a home. A church can provide care for the needy — it can feed, clothe, bathe and spank children — in exactly the same way that a benevolent organization or corporation can. It can provide a place, employ personnel, and have children cared for; and when it provides funds for such, directs and oversees the work, it is doing its work and does not become a home. The argument upon which promotional brethren have been placing the greatest stress turns out to be about the weakest thing they could introduce. No, the church is not a home and does not function as a home, but it can provide a place for the care of the needy. The home is not a church and does not function as a church, but it can provide money for such work. Also a church is not a bus or an automobile, but a church can provide a bus to transport people to and from its services. When it does so, I wonder if the church becomes an automobile? Does it function as a bus? All of this shows the absurdity of this argument — THE CHURCH IS NOT A HOME. And it ought to enable Bro. Meyer and Bro. Cox to "see the point" that their "restudy of the issues" has not been "intensive" enough, and they should give up such a ridiculous argument and return to their former stand against human organizations to do the work of the church.