I mentioned yesterday that Joseph adopted Jesus. When the angel came to Joseph and told him not to fear taking Mary as his wife, and then that HE was to name the baby, the angel was telling Joseph to take responsibility for Jesus. And he did it. Think about that for a minute. Our King Jesus was adopted! The Savior of the world was adopted! The One that we place our hope and faith in for the salvation of our souls was adopted by a human father. We see in Joseph the standard of what it means for men to take responsibility for those that are not their blood and treat them as their own.
One person who has thought through this issue is Russell D. Moore. If you have never read his book, Adopted for Life, you should. It is not just a book on adoption, it is a theology of adoption. Chapter three in his book is entitled, "Joseph of Nazareth vs. Planned Parenthood: What's at Stake When We Talk about Adoption." The book is worth the cost just for this chapter. Here are a few of my favorite sections from this chapter.
"When we talk about Joseph at all, we spend most of our time talking about what he was not. We believe (rightly) with the apostles that Jesus was conceived in a virgin's womb. Joseph was not Jesus' biological father; not a trace of Joseph's sperm was involved in the formation of the embryo Christ. No amount of Joseph's DNA could be found in the dried blood of Jesus peeled from the wood of Golgotha's cross. Jesus was conceived by the Holly Spirit completely apart from the will or exertion of any man. That noted, though, we need to be careful that we don't reduce Joseph simply to a truthful first-century Bill Clinton: "He did not have sexual relations with that woman." There's much more to be said. Joseph is not Jesus' biological father, but he is his real father. In his adoption of Jesus, Joseph is rightly identified by the Spirit speaking through the Scriptures as Jesus' father (Luke 2:41, 48)" (66-67).
"Joseph is unique in one sense. He is called to provide for and protect the Christ of God. But in other ways Joseph is not unique at all. All of us, as followers of Christ, are called to protect children. And protecting children doesn't simply mean saving their lives--although it certainly means that--or providing for their material needs--although, again, it does mean that. Governments are called to protect the innocent and to punish evildoers (Rom. 13:1-5), which is why we should work to outlaw abortion, infanticide, child abuse, and other threats to children. Governments and private agencies can play a role in providing economic relief to the impoverished, which is why Christians weigh in on issues such as divorce policy, labor laws, and welfare reform. But picturing the fatherhood of god means more than these things. His fatherhood is personal, familial. Protecting children means rolling back the curse of fatherlessness, inasmuch as it lies within our power to do so" (69).
"Joseph's faith was the same kind of faith that saves us. Very few, if any, of us will have a dream directing us to adopt a child. None of us will be directed to do what Joseph did--to teach Jesus Christ how to saw through wood or to recite Deuteronomy in Hebrew. But all of us are called to be compassionate. Al of us are called to remember the poor. All of us are called to remember the fatherless and the widows. That will look different in our different lives, with the different situations and resourced God has given us. But for all of us there'll be a judgment to test the genuineness of our faith. And for some of us, there'll be some orphan faces there" (82-83).