As you, whoever has read the posts of the last month, would know, I recently gave my father on probation the tittle of dad. I’m still working on whether to give the wife the tittle of mom. In the time since then, I have thought about the comparison between what is an adoptive family vs what is a spiritual family. I had made this analysis in my head a long time ago, but I have never shared it… until today.
When I refer to adoptive family, I do not refer to the concept of legal adoption. I refer to non-legal, emotional, and consensual based adoption; where an adult (or two) and a young person choose to have a family type of human dynamic and social contract. The concept of spiritual family that I will use is the biblical one, where a spiritually more mature Christian takes on a less spiritually mature (usually younger) Christian under his or her wing to give spiritual guidance and covering through prayer.
When I look at these two concepts, I see similarities and differences. The spiritual parent is not there to be the substitute for your parents: no one is supposed to be that. What I really want to imply is that a spiritual parent isn’t necessarily a parent. At least what I researched indicated that a spiritual parent does not have the function of doing secondary prevention of a screwed up adult because of crappy parenting or satisfying the needs that young people have that their parents should have covered but didn’t/don’t. In fact, I don’t think that my church even thinks of this concept when it comes to spiritual parenting… and for good reason: it’s not part of the foundation of this type of dynamic.
An adoptive parent-child on the other hand, actually can serve the function of secondary prevention because since it’s not biblically restrained both the adoptive parent and the adoptive child can make of the dynamic that which can work for them without it not being parent/child dynamic ish. If both parties are Christians, then you could potentially have the benefit of a spiritual parent and the benefit of the adoptive parent-child dynamic. My experience is that adoptive family is mentioned before spiritual family, but that is because my church doesn’t endorse either publicly.
If I were given the choice of either spiritual or adoptive parent, I would choose adoptive any day. Sure it doesn’t have the biblical vocabulary, but to me a Christian adoptive parent is a spiritual parent yet the spiritual parent isn’t an adoptive parent. I can get more from an adoptive parent and I can sow what I want in an adoptive parent, as the spiritual parent has biblical restrictions.