I’m blessed to have Frank, otherwise known as stardf29, write two guest posts for us here on Beneath the Tangles. Frank has been an anime fan for a good while, though has only really been following the deeper world of anime since 2007 and has only very recently entered the anime blogosphere with his blog, A Series of Miracles. He frequently goes by “stardf29” online, which is short for “Star Defender 29”, a reference to the “Star Defender” series that he himself is trying to write. He is also a Christian actively involved with his church, and when he is not watching anime or writing stories, he likes to help out with his church’s youth group.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
– 1 John 3:1, ESV
Father’s Day may have come and gone for this year, but I still feel that it is fitting to write a post on anime fathers and divine Fatherhood. After all, for Christians, every day is Father’s Day, at least with regards to God, our Heavenly Father. However, in talking about divine Fatherhood, I will specifically point out something important: it is an adoptive Fatherhood.
One of my favorite types of stories, including in anime, is the adoption story. When talking about an adoption story, there are two important factors that define such a story: what a child is being adopted from, and what that child is being adopted into. Obviously, the type of adoption story that is sweet and heartwarming (and therefore what I like) involves being adopted into a situation that is better than what the child is being adopted from (when the reverse happens, it’s a much more tragic story).
A great example of this type of adoption story in anime is Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop). Rin is presented in the story as the estranged, illegitimate 6-year-old daughter of 30-year-old Daikichi’s grandfather… talk about awkward! Her dubious background is the reason why none of Daikichi’s family members want anything to do with Rin, much less adopting her. Daikichi, on the other hand, feels sorry for how everyone is treating Rin, and takes it upon himself to adopt her and raise her.
Looking at this story from an adoption perspective, Rin gets adopted from a situation where her father is dead, her mother is nowhere in the picture, and her other family members, sans Daikichi, consider her an outcast. She gets adopted into a situation where she is fully loved by Daikichi, and can enjoy a nice life with friends and something that can be called “family” because of that. All in all, she can definitely be said to have been adopted into a better life.
Adopted From Law
How does this relate to God’s divine adoptive Fatherhood? To understand the nature of our adoption as God’s children, we first must look at what we are being adopted from, as described by Galatians 3:23-24:
“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”
– ESV, emphasis mine
In other words, before being adopted, we were captive to the law, meaning that it is our ability to follow the law perfectly that determines what our worth is. One way to imagine this is to consider a person with much wealth but no heir born to him. He plans to leave his wealth to someone before he dies, but of course, it would be preposterous for any random stranger to just walk up to him, ask for that inheritance, and expect to just get it immediately. There must be some basis on which he is deemed worthy of that inheritance. One such way is to do something that proves his worth according to a written standard. Likewise, the law is God’s standard by which He can decide someone to be worthy by his works. The problem here is, that standard is nothing but perfection, and all of us have sinned and are therefore incapable of attaining that standard, hence we are “captive” to the law and therefore unworthy of partaking in God’s goodness—in fact, captivity to the law brings nothing but death.
This is quite similar to the situation Rin was in before adoption. While she herself is not to blame for the situation that causes the other family members to not adopt her, they are judging her based on a “law” in their minds that an illegitimate daughter is not worthy of becoming part of their family. Unfortunately for Rin, there is nothing she can do to change that, so she is stuck captive to her dubious history.
So if Christians were adopted from captivity under the law, what are we adopted into? The answer is in Galatians 4:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
– Galatians 4:4-7, ESV, emphasis mine
Going back to the wealthy person looking to bestow his inheritance, aside from finding someone worthy based on a written standard, he may choose instead to adopt someone, out of nothing but gracious love, as his son, which would then give said son legal rights to his inheritance. More than just material wealth, though, to be adopted into being a child of God means we gain the Spirit of his Son, a.k.a. the Holy Spirit, and are inheritors of the full extent of God’s love, including His gift of eternal life.
It is worth noting, though, that this adoption has nothing to do with what we have done, and everything to do with God’s birth son, Jesus Christ, who attained the standard of perfection set by the law and therefore was able to redeem us by dying on the cross in our place.
Going back to Bunny Drop, we have Daikichi, who out of gracious love, accepted Rin and adopted her out of her captivity to her history, and into his care, where Rin could gain a spirit that could call him… well, not really “Father”, as things turn out, but… something really nice. (It is something I do not want to spoil if anyone has not watched this show yet. I should mention that the show will be back up on Crunchyroll on July 1st, so if you have not seen it yet, mark your calendars!)
All in all, this picture of adoption is a beautiful one, because it reflects how we Christians are adopted out of a life of captivity and death into a life of love and eternal life—and shows like Bunny Drop are a great reminder of how beautiful adoption is. In Part 2, I will introduce yet another show that displays the beauty of adoption, as well as provides a warning to anyone who thinks that the “inheritance” we get when we are adopted into God’s family is earthly wealth.