fact :: World Vision is in the top ten charities in America, took in over a billion dollars last year, and serves over 100 million people in 100 countries. they feed starving children. yesterday alone they helped 4 million kids.
as most readers may have heard by now, yesterday marked a shift in World Vision’s employment policy regarding sexual activity. as has always been the case, employees are expected not to engage in sex outside of marriage; but recently, the organization determined those in legal, state-sanctioned gay and lesbian marriages would no longer be discriminated against in its employment.
‘It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there. This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate,’ World Vision CEO richard stearns declared. ‘We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.’
sterns continued, ‘Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues.’
as CT reported, World Vision has staff from more than 50 denominations – a number of which have sanctioned same-sex marriages or unions in recent years (e.g., United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the ELCA and PCUSA denominations). marriage equality is the law of the land in 17 states plus the district of columbia, and federal judges have consistently struck down bans in other states, as well as the US Supreme Court declaring the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ unconstitutional this summer.
‘Denominations disagree on many, many things: on divorce and remarriage, modes of baptism, women in leadership roles in the church, beliefs on evolution, et cetera,’ stearns said. ‘So our practice has always been to defer to the authority and autonomy of local churches and denominational bodies on matters of doctrine that go beyond the Apostle’s Creed and our statement of faith. We unite around our [Trinitarian beliefs], and we have always deferred to the local church on these matters.’
makes sense. right?
apparently not for everybody.
the response was strong and swift.
franklin graham quipped, ‘It’s obvious World Vision doesn’t believe in the Bible. I am sickened and heartbroken.’ shortly afterwards, he edited the official statement on his website to say he was ‘shocked’ and that one of his friends would be ‘heartbroken.’
al mohler responded, ‘The shift announced yesterday by World Vision points to disaster. We can only pray that there is yet time for World Vision to rethink this matter, correct their course, stand without compromise on the authority of Scripture, and point the way for evangelical Christians to follow once again.’
john piper quickly crafted a blog post which declared that the poor would be those who suffer most as World Vision ‘will go the way of worldliness and weakness’ calling the decision a ‘shipwreck of their legacy of compassion for the poor.’ justin taylor agreed.
trevin wax at The Gospel Coalition wrote that the decision by World Vision will cause children to suffer as evangelicals ‘lose trust in and withdraw support’ from the organization. the post continued to say the true cause of suffering (which the author grieves) stems from them ‘growing up in a culture in which sexual idolatry distorts the meaning of marriage and the beauty of God’s original design.’
unsurpsingly and dishearteningly, amidst the online fallout and encouragement from prominent evangelical leaders ‘withdrawing support’ from World Vision is precisely what happened. across facebook pages and twitter feeds and in the comments of many blogs, self-professing evangelical christians declared they were canceling their sponsorship of children as a result of this policy.
this isn’t about following jesus. it can’t be. not because i’m opposed to someone having a conservative or traditional theological perspective on matters of faith and sexuality; that isn’t the point. but to claim that the reaction of choosing to ‘hold to your guns’ over a doctrinal matter like homosexuality brings you to the point that you withhold aid and food from starving children seems more than just a little ridiculous. it’s outrageous. it’s hypocritical. it’s bullshit. we’re less upset about the fact there are kids starving than we are about the possibility of some gay folks bringing them food in the name of christ. using the lives of starving children as pawns in your political chess match isn’t something jesus wants you to do. i’m certain.
i recall jesus saying a few things about divorce and remarriage. does world vision have divorced and remarried folks working there, too? they do. where was the outrage then? why not withhold food from children and withdraw sponsorships because of divorce? if this is about following jesus and his teaching, where was the outcry to cease funding about that?
even those with a traditional and conservative theological position regarding human sexuality should be able to take an objective step back and recognize that World Vision employs folks with all kinds of sins, failures, mistakes, shortcomings and differences in their lives. all kinds.
so does every other parachurch ministry.
so does every other religious institution.
so does your church.
this isn’t about maintaining integrity or purity or biblical standards. this is about something much bigger, something much deeper – and whatever that is, it isn’t in cahoots with the spirit of christ.
when our commitment to any doctrinal position determines that we remove funding to an organization that provides food for starving children in an effort to make a point about the differences between ‘us’ and ‘them’, we need to reconsider our doctrines.
when one can say that hiring gay people is the ‘collapse of christianity‘ while simultaneously encouraging folks to pull funding that provides daily bread for the least of these, we might have missed the mark.
when our dogma dictates we claim others dismiss the scriptures and don’t read or believe their bibles while we encourage our tribe to stop giving to the poor, perhaps it is us that need to look again at jesus’ teachings.
as i read through the letters in red, i see a lot more ink spilled on caring for the poor, loving children and standing in solidarity with the marginalized than i do anything else. i see nothing said about homosexuality or taking a stand against gay marriage policies, regardless of our theological conviction.
my friend brandan robertson wrote for RLC this morning,
‘We are living in a day where we as Evangelicals value our political positions and doctrinal systems over real, living people. Children whose lives are stake. Children who rely on our simple donation of $35 dollars a month to sustain them and give them a hope and future. And yet we, in our waywardness, are willing to withhold this simple act of charity from these children in order to make a political point. And we justify it by saying this is an issue of “the Gospel”. But in the words of Brian McLaren, “If the Gospel we preach is not first and foremost good news to the poor, then it isn’t the Gospel of Jesus.”
he who has ears, let him hear. he who has eyes, let him see.
what do you think?