Charity or Approval?

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.

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10 thoughts on “Charity or Approval?

  1. Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

    Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,a and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows. 1 Timothy 5:3-16

  2. Anything other than temporary help to a “single” mother is an incentive to become a single mother, and therefore should be shunned. After all, when you incentive bad behavior, you will get more of it.

  3. Anonymous reader says, “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 church wives allow this? If she’s an elderly widow, that’s OK, but even then, I’ve been groped at a VFW fundraiser. It was 75’th birthday.

    Single mothers do have a man hunger. She might be boning an alpha, while the Christian betas come to do her yardwork. But if she can’t get an alpha, a Christian beta will do. I’m in my late 50’s, but not long ago, while watching my grandchildren at the playground, I received IOI’s from a late 20’s white trash mom, with multi-coloured bastards.

    That pastor should try to send men in groups, preferably with a church wife. We are males, and sometimes temptation strikes.

  4. RICanuck, I assumed from AR’s description that the crew does work as a group. But you’re right, it’s never a good idea for a married man to be alone with a woman who’s not his wife, especially one who might be looking for a new guy.

    The idea of sending a woman along with the crew is an interesting one. Given how few women today have good cooking or other housekeeping skills, that could be an opportunity to train the recipient of the charity a bit while the men are working on her stuff.

  5. I saw you left a quote from Dr Kurt Harris over at alpha game. I used to read his blog almost daily when I was on a health kick about 5 years back. I recently tried to go back but everything seems to have vanished. Do you happen to have some sort of archive of his posts by any chance?

  6. We should help widows. We can account some women who were abandoned by unfaithful spouses as such, but Paul told widows to remarry if under 60 because he required them to have a vow of chastity.
    And, as a man who has two left thumbs but a first class brain, I can PAY someone to fix my gutters and maintain the house. Support my brothers in Christ who are too old, too unskilled and too poor to either do it themselves or support their local tradesmen.

  7. “Anything other than temporary help to a “single” mother is an incentive to become a single mother, and therefore should be shunned. After all, when you incentive bad behavior, you will get more of it.”

    Using your logic, therefore, then Christian males have a moral responsibility to “shun” PUA sites like Roissy and Return Of Kings for their decidedly anti-Godly masculinity crusade, or at the very least offer comments to their acolytes that their actions put their souls in jeopardy.

  8. “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
    This is a very hard statement. Very hard. When obeyed. It is easy for the haves; the have not Christian can be destroyed by it, but must keep it. It is made harder when better off siblings leave the Christian holding the bag; and even worse when they admit that their wives would not tolerate taking their mothers-in law under their roof.

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