Bethany Christian Services Compromises Biblical Principles

Proverbs 24:10: “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.”

The topic of today’s Albany Update is compromise.

In some circumstances, compromise is a good thing. Philippians 2:4 says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others”. As Christians seek to live out this passage in our relationships with our spouses, our neighbors, and our co-workers, there are many contexts in which the ability to compromise is important—especially when conflicts arise. Compromise is also important in government. For example: If a mayor desires to cut city spending by two percent, but the city council does not wish to cut spending at all, they may be able to agree upon a one percent spending cut by compromising.

When it comes to the truth of God’s Word, however, compromise is not good. It is evil.

Last month, Bethany Christian Services (BCS) announced that it would begin placing children in homes headed by same-sex couples in its foster care and foster-to-adopt programs in the State of Michigan. According to Christianity Today, BCS is “the largest Christian adoption and foster agency in the United States.” The BCS website states that the organization shows “the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting children, empowering youth, and strengthening families through quality social services.” BCS operates in 35 states, including New York; it has offices in Albany, New York City, and Rochester.

Until recently, the State of Michigan had allowed faith-based adoption agencies to opt out of placing children in same-sex households. However, in settling a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of same-sex couples, the state agreed to change this policy. According to NBC News, the State of Michigan will now “[prevent] faith-based agencies from refusing to place children in LGBTQ households for religious reasons if it has accepted them for referral from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.” While the policy change is being challenged in court by St. Vincent Catholic Charities, the board of Bethany Family Services has chosen to comply with it instead of fighting back. In a statement, BCS said, “‘We are disappointed with how this settlement agreement has been implemented by the state government. Nonetheless, Bethany will continue operations in Michigan, in compliance with our legal contract requirements.’” The statement added that the “‘mission and beliefs of Bethany Christian Services have not changed.’”

There are no clean hands in this situation. The State of Michigan should not have given in to the ACLU and its LGBT agenda-pushing, the ACLU has had a pernicious influence on American courts for nearly 100 years, and a combination of activist court decisions and ill-advised legislative actions has combined to create an unfavorable legal landscape for religious liberty across the nation. However, none of this excuses Bethany Christian Services for abdicating its moral responsibilities as a Christian organization. If the leadership of BCS does not believe the clear Biblical teachings about marriage, family, and sexuality, it should be honest about its position. If BCS leadership truly does hold to the Bible’s teachings on marriage, family, and sexuality, it must not harm children by placing them in homes that feature disordered and immoral sexual partnerships. In this situation, BCS ought to have followed the example of New Hope Family Services, which filed suit last December to challenge a similarly coercive policy here in New York.

In 2009, Chuck Colson and other Christian leaders drafted the Manhattan Declaration. At this time, the final sentences of the Declaration are worth recalling:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.