Anonymous Reader asked for opinions in a comment at Dalrock’s. A friend of his is on a handyman crew that his church sends out to help with home repairs and other husband-type duties for various unmarried women in the church. The sticking point is that they’ve been instructed to treat all unmarried women the same — the widow the same as the woman who kicked her husband out and is living happily on his paycheck:
What should he do? By his actions he is approving of babymomma-life, elevating a choice mommy or three to the same level as a woman who still grieves for the father of her children. But he doesn’t see any way to differentiate between the unmarried women he’s sent to help without being cruel to some, and disobeying what he’s been instructed to do.
So what should he do? What would I do?
In general, I wouldn’t refuse. If I felt called to do that work, I’d do it. We’re all sinners. I certainly can’t claim to have “deserved” all the help I’ve gotten from family and friends over the years. Perhaps there were times when someone’s help encouraged me to keep making the same mistake instead of changing, so it would have been better for them to let me work through it myself. That’s hard to judge even when you know the person closely, let alone when it’s someone you know vaguely through church.
Also, when the context is church-based charity, presumably the effort to share the gospel and bring people closer to Christ is tied up in it. You can’t do that if you can’t get in the door. Jesus reached out to major sinners. Of course, he didn’t condone their sins, but he was also able to see into their hearts and judge the extent of their repentance and their resolve to reform (and drive out their demons for good if necessary). We can’t do that. So generally, I’d say if a woman is coming to church (and bringing her children), and she doesn’t go around bragging about her child support winnings or all the dates she’s getting, there’s no reason the church shouldn’t help her out.
There are some lines I wouldn’t cross, though. If I showed up to clean a woman’s gutters and she had a boyfriend there, I’d make a 180 and walk right back out. You have a boyfriend? Then he can do your odd jobs; there are truly needy people out there. And if I knew that the woman’s ex-husband was being treated poorly by the church, I’d raise hell until that changed. Many a man has left his church because he didn’t feel welcome any more after his wife divorced him, and knowing that some of your friends are over there fixing her gutters — on a house you paid for — while you sit home alone is a slap in the face. I also wouldn’t stand for it if actual widows were being neglected because everyone wanted to go do chores for the hot MILF who just joined the church.
Those specific exceptions aside, I think there are some things he might be able to do to nudge the operation in a better direction. First, I’d be after the priest/pastor, asking him whether he’s talking to these women about finding new husbands or reconciling with the ones they really still have. Are they temporarily alone and only needing this help for a while until there’s a man in the house again, or is the situation open-ended until she feels lonely? What’s he doing to rectify their feral status? Does he have a policy on single mothers beyond making sure they’re comfortable? If a marriage gets rocky in that church in the future, will the focus be on keeping it together, or will it be on helping the woman escape and survive alone?
Also, are there any elderly or frivorced men in the church who could use some of this help? Not every man has the skills and ability to clean his own gutters and change his own oil, after all. Extending the charity to some men would help shake the idea that it’s all about “vagina = deserving.” For that matter, there might be some young families who could use the help too. Make it about helping people in need, not about helping “single moms.”
There are a lot of single moms out there. Most of them brought it on themselves and their children. They shouldn’t be rewarded for it, and married women shouldn’t be given the impression that they can blow up their marriages and be protected from the consequences. But we do want to encourage repentance and reform, and we don’t want to punish her children for her sins.
In the final analysis, I guess I’d try to decide whether my actions were doing more good or harm, and if the harm seemed too great, talk to the pastor about shifting the focus. If that didn’t help, I’d bow out and look for personal opportunities to help the people I felt comfortable helping — maybe those elderly men I mentioned.