can you see?

mjkimpan  —  March 25, 2014 — 36 Comments


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?


  • Rod Wallace

    Once again, you’ve nailed it, Michael. Thank you.

  • simone

    someone said to me “b/c of this policy change, it makes me question the way the leadership of WV handle the Word of God. Homosexuality isn’t a gray area like divorce, it’s black and white. If they can ignore this biblical principle, how can i trust their decision to make other biblical decisions and still call themselves a Christian organization?” thoughts?

    • I would say that divorce is much more ‘black and white’ than gay marriage as Jesus actually mentions it. I think Michael has written about that before.

    • i just saw eric’s comment in response (see below), and would make the same case. additionally, i’d ask the individual if they acknowledge that *regardless* of their own conviction on homosexuality that things aren’t really as black and white as our english translations state. james brownson has written an excellent academic work entitled ‘bible gender sexuality’ and matthew vine’s is popularizing that work in his forthcoming book, ‘God and the Gay Christian’

      even if someone arrives at different conclusions, any amount of intellectual honesty in the reading of the text should allow for the acknowledgment that many other christians have arrived at different conclusions…which to me, makes this a matter of personal conviction, not orthodoxy. how we treat our neighbors, how we care for the poor – *these* things are black and white.

      does that make sense?

    • TokyoMommy

      I work for an organization that at one time had the sole purpose of sharing Christ and being a union of believers, but it has lost it’s way from a theological perspective in every sense of the word, however, I am a genuine believer in Christ Jesus and am continuing to work there regardless. You would be surprised how many Christian organizations have really blown it in some way or another, but God is still working there without a doubt. I feel horrible about this. WV is well known all over the world and respected by Christians and Non-Christians alike. They made a mistake but owned up to its and corrected it faster than ever. I am willing to cut them some slack.

  • Heather

    amen michael! i’m heartbroken that once again, the poor and marginalized are the ones who suffer because of the ‘christian’s’ sin of judgment }

  • Julie

    Amen to every word.

  • Grace

    Awesome post as usual Michael

  • Dave

    World Vision isn’t the only organization that feeds the poor. Just the biggest. I will go with a smaller organization that matches my values.

    • which is most certainly your prerogative, dave. i just wonder how those who are pulling support and sponsorships from existing children rationalize that decision knowing that other organizations won’t be sponsoring that same child? i just can’t wrap my mind around that.

  • Michael Rogers

    Interesting piece. I’ve been heartsick all day about this. I understand that folks are upset about the way WV has “handled Scripture” but in WV’s defense they don’t claim expertise in handling Scripture and gladly defer theological matters elsewhere…they only claim expertise in handling food and medicine and have demonstrated ability to do just that. I’ve been a supporter of WV for 15 years and don’t plan to stop.

    • thanks for reading, michael.

      • And those who “handled scripture” really well (religious leaders) didn’t even recognize Christ when he came! And they’re the only ones Jesus blasted. We seem to keep forgetting it’s not about handling scriptures, it’s about trusting in Christ. This is not an autopsy on a dead god – it’s a relationship with a living one.

        • fascinating parallels to be made there, susan – between the words and actions of the pharisees of jesus’ day and those who promote themselves to the position of ‘boundary keeper’ today.

          earlier today i quoted richard rohr as saying,

          ‘Jesus frequently showed respect to ‘sinners’ publicly (John 8:10) and even ate with them (Luke 19:2-10; Mark 2:16-17). In doing so, he was openly dismissing the ego made honor/shame system. He not only ignored it, he even went publicly in the opposite direction.

          That preachers and theologians have failed to see this is culpable ignorance.’

          • Yes, I saw that quote and loved it. “Culpable ignorance.” So true. Love your posts.

            • thanks so much, susan! means a lot coming from you.

              really looking forward to working together in the upcoming parent conference.

  • Matt Magrum

    I agree. From my perspective, this is exactly the point of Philippians 1:15-18 – it doesn’t matter the motive or the person, only that the gospel is preached. I don’t recall the gospel including a section on gay marriage…the last I checked, it was about Christ crucified for the ungodly, which includes everyone.

  • Rene

    I worked for World Vision in the Vice Presidents office. Don’t be fooled–the children won’t be hurt by withdrawing support. They are the big emotional draw to the public to get the big bucks which go wherever the wind blows.

    • according to my sources, at least 2,000 children sponsorships were dropped as a result of this decision, which was subsequently reversed this morning.

      i’m meeting with a representative of world vision next week, and will be interested to hear what the actual numbers are.

  • Stephen Patterson

    dude my FB page got wild yesterday; 254 comments on this. it just seems like evangelicals don’t want unity…

    • jontrouten

      No, they want unity — against gays and gay families!

    • wow, stephen. on this subject, or on this post?

      • Stephen Patterson

        this topic, and then spawned many other threads in the 300 comment range.

  • EvenMoreLove114


    Please stop rhetorically separating “Church” from “gay community.” The Church has always had gay people and has always been lead by droves and droves of people from the gay community. We ARE the Church.

    And the next time I hear your ANYONE use the phrase “same-sex attracted” person, I’m going to reach for my pistol. Granted, it will be the Joker’s pistol from the first Batman movie that fires a red flag imprinted with the word “Bang!” but a firearm nonetheless it shall be.

  • EvenMoreLove114


    We have assembled a collection of online resources to help you in your Christian vocation. Let’s live in the tension together by maintaining the prohibition on gay partnerships and shoring up the authority of the inerrant Word of God against these ongoing threats to traditional Christianity!


    Some Christans are getting the idea that we should be against slavery. But the Word of God clearly states:


    Voice your displeasure here:


    Some Christians are getting the idea that children shouldn’t participate in battle (or anyone, for that matter1) But the Word of God clearly states:


    Voice your displeasure here:


    Some Christians are getting the idea that religious tolerance is in keeping with the highest vision of the Gospel. But the Word of God clearly states:


    Voice your displeasure here


    Some Christians are proposing that we expand out the definition of marriage in order to allow Even More Love to flow into our World from the throneroom of Heaven. Since when was this necessary? For the Word of God clearly states:


    Men, help yourselves to Biblical marriage, and Voice your displeasure here:


  • EvenMoreLove114


    Elevating the discourse between Pro-Slavery Traditionalists and the slave community.

    The slave community’s position

    Uh…. The Exodus?

    Pro-Slavery Traditionalists

    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)
    If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

    When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

    Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

    OR we could just go with this:

    And Behold, I give unto thee a new teaching. Thou shalt find what thou doest look for. … TinderHeart++

    Or even better: Seek, and ye shall find.- JC

  • EvenMoreLove114


    If the label “Christian” is to have any meaning beyond what we project onto it, it has to mean, minimally, erring on the side of EXPANSIVE Love. You should be saying to God: “God, it is not within my power to discern why these verses in your Word say what they seem to say about gay relationships, but HERE AND NOW, I am going to stand with your Son, in the power of the Spirit that you promised to guide us, and I trust You to forgive me if I have dreamed too big. I will not COWER BEFORE YOU in the expectation that I will dream too small! God, you have entrusted this Life, this spiritual journey, into my safekeeping, and just like the servant who would not bury that which is entrusted to him, I will not abdicate my spiritual responsibility to your people and your World by ignoring the Holiness I think I see in the lives of my partnered gay brothers and sisters. They are bearing spiritual fruit, Lord Jesus. How can this be possible, in a universe impregnated with your Spirit, if they are living in a way contrary to your Spirit? Can a house divided against itself stand? Can Spirit be divided against Itself?

    So, Father God, let’s roll up our sleeves together and see just how much Holiness, just how much fruit of the Spirit, just how much Christ-likeness, we can wring from these relationships that, according to received wisdom, are supposed to be sinful and taboo. Let’s crack open the Scriptures together, with eyes unclouded by fear, and see just how much joyous justification and gracious interpretation we can find to support the work of the Spirit we think we see you doing in our midst.

    We Love You, and we trust in Your Love. Always, and before everything else, we trust in YOU. Not especially our conceptions of You, be they right or wrong. Not especially our beliefs about you, but YOU. To know You is to Love You and trust You. Knowing Your endless, always-kind of Love for us and all that is, we will be faithful and will likewise ALWAYS err on the side of Grace. We will ALWAYS err on the side of an expansive Love. We will ALWAYS err on the side of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

    And with Your continued help, we will teach others to do the same.”

  • EvenMoreLove114


    It is not fair to people in the public eye that they remain uncriticized. Spiritual growth can’t happen like that, from either end. We Love you enough to not pretend like LGBT apartheid in the Church, the Marin Foundation’s current strategy, is an acceptable Christian future, for either one of us. We want to be free, and we want YOU to be free. Our activism, growing directly up and out of the authentic, living lineage of Jesus, insists that Love, justice, and wholeness go together. We want wholeness, or shalom, for ourselves, and for you. We look forward to the day when your organization is a World leader in Truthful reconciliation and Deep Love, a leader that joyfully acknowledges the fullness of gay people in the totality of who we are, and celebrates our partnerships as the blessings they have always been to the Family, the Church, and the World. We think that you have good Hearts, and you are correct that, before anything else, this really matters. But for LGBT people, who frequently have no voice, and whose lives spiritual and otherwise might well hang in the balance of the decisions the Church makes TODAY about its future direction, good intentions are not enough. Justice must roll down like waters… preferably today.

    Even More Love,

    The People of St. Hildegard’s ++