Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus (1635)
A week ago, a Democratic lobbyist named Hilary Rosen said that Mitt Romney’s wife Ann “has actually never worked a day in her life,” since she’s a stay-at-home mom. A lot of people, particularly stay-at-home parents, were understandably upset. But that doesn’t justify the response of the Catholic League, via Twitter, claiming that adoptive motherhood isn’t real motherhood:
Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.
And while Rosen has apologized, Catholic League refuses to, and just sends out more defensive tweets, instead. I would have been more shocked at this sentiment, if I hadn’t recently heard something even worse from a Protestant commenter calling himself MackQuigly. In response to a post I wrote on why the Marian doctrines matter, MackQuigly responded:
She [Mary] wasn’t perfect – she even lied publicly about who Christ’s father was – Luke 2:48.
It’s the same argument: that adoptive parents aren’t really parents. What’s weird about all of this is that both of the speakers here are professed Christians, and Christianity has some really clear things to say about adoptive parenting. Let’s review.
- Jesus Christ was adopted. Obviously, given the Virgin Birth (Mt. 1:23; Lk. 1:34), Jesus doesn’t have a biological father. So God entrusts Jesus to the care of St. Joseph, who is responsible for, amongst other things, naming Him “Jesus” (Mt. 1:21, 25).
- St. Joseph is considered Jesus’ father. Ironically, the very passage that MackQuigly uses to “prove” that Mary lied about Jesus’ paternity begins this way: “Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover” (Lk. 2:41), and then says that when Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem,” “His parents did not know it” (Lk. 2:43; see also Lk. 2:27). In the passage immediately preceding this one, Luke is even more explicit, saying that Jesus’ “father and His mother marveled at what was said about Him” (Lk. 2:33). So Scripture is clear that, as His adoptive father, St. Joseph is Jesus’ father. And the young Jesus Christ responds accordingly, submitting to the authority of both Mary and Joseph (Lk. 2:51).
- Messianic Prophesies are fulfilled through St. Joseph’s lineage. St. Matthew’s Gospel opens on this line: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Mt. 1:1). The Old Testament promised that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham and of David, so Matthew’s explaining how Jesus fulfills this. What’s remarkable is that he measures the genealogy from Abraham down to “Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah” (Mt. 1:16). That is, he traces Joseph’s family tree, even though Jesus was likely a descendant of Abraham and David through Mary’s lineage as well.
- Christ teaches that biological fatherhood isn’t the only source of fatherhood. When certain Jewish interlocutors claim to be sons of Abraham (which they are in a biological sense), Christ rejects this notion of sonship, since they don’t follow the way of Abraham (John 8:31-47). This ties in with the general pattern of the New Testament prioritizing spiritual fatherhood, the same reason we call priests father, or that St. Paul calls himself Timothy’s father through the Gospel (1 Cor 4:15).
Henrik Olrik, Sermon on the Mount (19th c.)
- We are sons of God through adoption. Ephesians 1:5 says that God the Father “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Jesus is the only-Begotten Son of the Father (John 3:16), while we are His sons and daughters through adoption. We dare to pray the “Our Father” (Mt. 6:9) only because we believe that adoptive Fatherhood is true Fatherhood.
- The Church has a Patron Saint for Adoptive Children. It’s St. William of Perth, himself an adoptive father.
|James Tissot, Jesus Found in the Temple (1890)|