Update: On March 26, news reports show that World Vision has reversed its decision. The story is developing, and here is a link to the letter: http://ow.ly/i/525Mz/original Please pray for World Vision and its leaders.
On Monday, March 24, Christians were met with news that World Vision International, a prominent evangelical Christian relief organization, would now hire people who are in same sex “marriage” arrangements.
Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. said, “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. It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.”
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was among the first to react in his blog, russellmoore.com.
“At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it,” said Dr. Moore. “If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2,000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish. . . . We empower darkness when we refuse to warn of judgment. We empower the darkness when we refuse to offer forgiveness through the blood of the cross.”
Once again, the issue of homosexuality has served as a line in the sand for professing Christians. As someone who agrees with Dr. Moore and the Southern Baptist view, I wish to offer a few observations about World Vision’s position.
Methinks he doth protest too much
Stearns went well out of his way to insist this action was not a compromise. “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support. We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us,” he said.
Anytime someone is that emphatic against the obvious explanation for a decision (in this case, sweeping social change in attitudes on homosexuality), you have to wonder what really did factor into the decision. It is difficult to maintain that Stearns, or any of us, have not been affected by the media and movement pushing the change of public opinion on the issue of same-sex “marriage.” Indeed, only those among us who are willing to be mocked and considered abject fools appear to be the ones who really have our position unchanged and are not threatened by outside pressures.
You can’t eat your cake and have it too
Stearns public statements give the impression that he thinks this move in no way makes a statement on the same-sex “marriage” debate. Where he is mistaken is that actions speak louder than words. You cannot condone the marriage of, say, two men (one of whom will serve the ministry as an employee) and say you are not, at least tacitly, giving approval to the very idea of same-sex unions.
Denominations are valuable
In decades past, deep divisions among Christian denominations have proven a barrier to working together for the Gospel and common good. As the culture grows increasingly hostile to the Christian worldview—especially as it pertains to traditional moral principles—groups that normally would not affiliate are moving closer together. Consider how Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists are working together on the issues of stopping abortion, protecting religious liberty and upholding marriage.
For decades, parachurch organizations and trans-denominational groups have served capably and brought Christians of all stripes together. But in a day when more and more of these groups are losing their moral bearings, as we saw with Exodus International and now World Vision, it becomes evident that it probably will not be a generic, watered-down Christianity who will advance of the Gospel and preserve the Faith in the future, but rather coalitions of solidly-grounded Christian denominations, ones who are committed to our roots and the enduring virtues of the Bible. This World Vision episode suggests more dominoes are sure to fall, and those left standing may very well be the denominations who are least susceptible to change and cultural whims.
It’s all about the worldview
Somewhere along the line, World Vision’s leaders experienced a change in worldview. Many professing Christians and churches sadly are sliding along this slippery slope. Only God knows where this ends. Yet when your worldview on a core issue like Christian ethics and sexuality can change, there is no telling on what view you will compromise next. Our worldview (or way of looking at the world) must be defined, developed and checked against God’s unchanging Word. If it is not, then in our worldviews, we will sow the wind and reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).