Every child is created in God's image with inherent dignity and worth, so all children should have the opportunity to grow up in families where they have meaningful and loving interaction with their parents. For many low-income families, especially during their child’s earliest years, this seems almost impossible.
As Christians committed to human life, it’s imperative that when we seek to support low-income families during their children’s early years, so we begin by looking at three interrelated Biblical concepts which God shows us from the very beginning of the world. These are image, structure, and wisdom. When we look back to God’s creation of the world and examine these concepts in relationship to one another, we begin to understand how we can respond to the challenges in the world around us.
Image. At the creation of the world, God shows us that humans are made in God’s image—and we are to bear God’s image in every area of life. We see in the creation that God made humans for community. We see the God who loves us call us to love our neighbors. The God who is justice exhorts us to do justice. The God who is the ultimate steward calls us to a life of good stewardship. From the beginning of the world, humans are made in God’s image.
Structure. In creating the world, God laid out its foundational structure. We are made for community, and from that comes diverse structures such as family, marriage, church, school, business, and government. Connecting the Biblical concepts of structure and image shows us our important God-given task—to discover and unfold the structure of the world so that every part of creation reflects God’s intent.
Wisdom. God has given us the gift of wisdom for how we fulfill our God-given task in the world we live in today. The human task of image-bearing and of developing the structures of the world began at creation. This task continues right at this very moment. When we bring the Biblical concepts of image, structure, and wisdom together, we recognize what it means to bear God’s image and the structures God created. We then can wisely seek to address the challenges of the world around us.
This means that when we think of how we work to support low-income families in their children’s early years, or address any other challenge we face in the modern world, we have three key considerations to make:
- What do we know about God that gives us wisdom for how we might address this challenge?
- What structures of society—like families, government, nonprofits and churches—have a role in addressing this challenge?
- And finally, for the structures of society that have a role, what are their respective responsibilities to address the challenge, based on what we know about God?
Throughout the country, low-income parents and children are supported by local churches, mosques, or synagogues who are often the provider of nurturing environments for children’s development and growth, whether through a daycare or pre-school. At times these programs are available for free or reduced cost to parents because of government funding that goes to support the decision making of parents about who will best care for and nurture their child. This is a practical way of empowering parents and encouraging a diversity of nurturing providers that should continue.
Relationships established between low-income parents and the members of nurturing congregations and nonprofit organizations can help provide a lifetime of support for a child.
These principles affirm a vital role for government, one that empowers parents and recognizes the diversity of needs and solutions for nurturing children. Government must seek to further encourage and empower low-income parents within the fullness of the rich tapestry of relationships in which young children are nurtured.
Citizens must advocate and work with government to ensure that public policies are designed to support a diversity of programs that empower low-income families to fulfill their responsibilities. Churches and nonprofits must offer programs that serve families in such a way. This approach is essential for children to escape poverty.