Fatherless, Widows, Strangers & the Unborn

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

In scriptures, the orphans (or fatherless) are often referred to, together with strangers and widows, as typical examples of the defenceless and necessitous, who are particularly very likely to be oppressed in the society. They are destitute, desolate and most vulnerable. In the society, they sit at the bottom of the food chain as it were, voiceless and preyed upon. However, God has shown special interest in these groups of people. He has declared that they are under His special care. He is called the Father of the fatherless and the defender of the widow (Psalms 68:5), the helper of the fatherless (Psalms 10:14) and the of the fatherless as well as the oppressed (Psalms 10:18). In fact, in Mosaic laws, there are enormous benevolent considerations presented to these groups of people. There is a particular clause that protects them against affliction (Ex 22:22-24), a charitable fund is to be formed from the tithe for the relief of these groups of people (Deut. 14:28,29; 26:12-14), and gleanings are to be left in the field, olive garden, and vineyard for their benefit (Deut. 24:19-22).In the New Testament scriptures, the word “fatherless” used to describe the destitute, less fortunate and weak in the society occurs twice. Once in John 14:18, where it denotes being destitute of a teacher or guide; a void which the Holy Spirit now fills. The second time is in the epistle of James where he declares, in the spirit of the prophets of Old, that authentic religion (outward expression of worship) involves visiting the fatherless and widows (Jas 1:27). Here James is writing to believers in Christ, who by all accounts should have religion, and he is simply teaching them how their religion ought to be expressed. If Apostle James was going to write this same admonition to the church today, what groups of people are going to be the oppressed, weak and most vulnerable? Who are the disadvantaged, the voiceless and those who literally can’t fight for themselves in today’s society?
Unfortunately, to be included on the list of the less fortunate alongside the fatherless, strangers and widows will be the unborn babies. In our society today, it is very risky to be an unborn child. They are exposed by society, unprotected by the law and undefended by their parents. Just as the orphans and widows are very likely to be oppressed in Bible days, so are unborn babies likely to be killed today. In fact, it has been reported that annually more unborn babies die of abortion than people die of HIV/AIDS, smoking and cancer combined! Unborn babies are considered as everything but human. Some say they are the property of the mother, some others say the unborn child is just a part of the mother’s body and her fundamental human right allows her to do what she pleases with it. The scriptures, however, say that children are God’s property and possession, while unborn children are gifts from Him (Psalms 127:3). In fact, God is actively involved with unborn children as He is with the rest of us (Psalms 139:13-18). Hence, just as God is the Father to the fatherless and the defender of widows, He is the owner and judge of unborn babies. God’s eyes are on them as they are delicately woven together in the seclusion of their mother’s womb (Psalms 139:13); they count and matter a lot to God. For this reason, they should not be treated as trash or as someone’s personal belongings.
Unborn babies are voiceless, vulnerable and weak, that is why God planted them in their mother’s womb where they can be protected and provided for. The womb should be the safest place on earth but unfortunately, in this generation, the womb is one of the most dangerous places to be. There is about five times more chance of getting killed in your mother’s womb than dying of cancer. I admonish the church with James chapter 1 verse 27, “Religion that is pure and genuine in the sight of God the Father will show itself by such things as visiting orphans and widows…” and I dare to add “protecting the unborn babies”.