World Vision, Sin, and The Good World

World Vision(My last post was about the original decision.)

First off, if you would, please just join me for a minute in accepting that this whole situation, the last few days, really sucks. It just sucks. And it doesn’t, at the root, suck because of stupid decisions, or peer pressure, or hypocrisy, or anything like that. The situation sucks because we live in a fallen, broken, sin-marred world, and things will suck off and on again until Jesus returns and makes all things new.

World Vision, the international relief organization run on Christian principles and doctrine, has reversed its decision from earlier this week. People in state-recognized same-sex marriages are once again restricted from being employees.

The article linked above says that sponsors dropped around 2,000 children in the last two days due to the decision. Many have come forward to fill that gap, but probably not enough so far. One wonders whether those who dropped will return (hopefully with forgiveness in their hearts), or will stay gone (as a warning rather than an act of mercy). Some Christians around the world will weep bitter tears over this reversal, and in many ways: some because their theology affords same-sex marriage easily, and some because “love” trumps “theology” in their minds and there’s no problem with affirming gay marriages as long as more children get help. Others will express gratitude for the reversal, again, in many different ways: stalwart theological conviction, a sense of consistency (I’ll get to this), or irrational preferential hatred of the sin of homosexuality, to name a few.

I’m not sure how I feel. A part of me knows that gay people are getting married every day, whether I want them to or not. I also know that God doesn’t have to recognize gay marriage just because the state does. And the idea of more people being able to be hired on to this organization sounds pretty great on its own:

“Do you want more people to be able to work for this great Christian charity?”

“Sure!”

“They’re in homosexual marriages.”

“Oh… Um…”

On the other hand, I believe in the Bible. I don’t use words like “inerrant” and “infallible” because they conjure in my mind the people who say belief in the literal truth of the Noah’s ark story is a Heaven-or-Hell decision. At the same time, I believe that the Bible reveals the nature and character of God, partially (which is all we’ll get here and now), and explains the major scope of how He wants us to live. And boy, homosexual sex gets taken to the mat in the Bible. It’s not like blended fabric (mentioned once in Leviticus 19:19 and once in Deuteronomy 22:11) or like abortion (never specifically mentioned in the Bible, but it makes it into Didache 2). Homosexuality is condemned in Old Testament and New, through divine decree (Lev. 20:13) and church letter (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9; Jude 7), even directly from the mouth of Jesus (Mark 7:20-23 if you ask me, and it’s my blog, so…).

Here’s a link to the World Vision statement of faith, apparently a creed all who work there must affirm. When the first story broke earlier this week, an article I read said that the company required that its employees refrain from extramarital sex. Thus, unmarried employees were to eschew sex altogether. To mandate a rule most Americans would find appallingly strict while opening up employment to partners in sexual relationships an overwhelming majority of Christian scholars and pastors would call sinful just doesn’t make sense to me. I respect the decision to offer jobs helping needy children to more people, but this act placed the organization’s two feet in separate canoes.

If I were running the organization, I’m not sure I would require Christian faith and adherence to Christian ethics for my employees. The university where I got my Divinity degree required undergrads to attend chapel almost daily, but gave “chapel credits” away as prizes. There’s not an easier way, in my mind, to set Christian worship up as a punishment than that. So no, I wouldn’t say something like, “Get caught having sex and we’ll possibly fire you,” but I would make it a damn hard place for an anti-Christian to work. Bible studies in conference rooms, Christian music in the elevators, a spirit of love and forgiveness in all dealings, the constant refrain of Jesus as our missional model, that kind of thing.

So did they make the right move? Was it the right call to about-face on the homosexual marriage decision? I honestly do think it prevents them from being double-minded about things. In the end, we must take the scriptures we don’t like with the ones we do, the ones the world doesn’t understand with the ones it does. We must follow Jesus wherever he goes. We mustn’t be afraid of what it will cost us, especially the praise of our fellow Christians who place an idea of “love” higher than Jesus’ words. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” That’s a friendship worth everything.

Prodigal Rembrandt CropYou know what would be really great? If people’s hearts were pricked, if the Holy Spirit moved greatly, and if a huge wave of sponsorships swept into World Vision’s offices, and the offices of a great many similar organizations. It’d be great if all this served as a reminder of the desperate need children around the world face, and of the way we can help. It’d be great for people to realize all over again how much they have, and how much love they have to give. People asked if Jesus would end his sponsorship because of World Vision’s initial decision. Jesus wouldn’t have ever had thirty-five free dollars to give to the organization, but he’d probably shake hands when they met out in the fields and slums.

It sucks that it had to be like this. It sucks that, once again, a group of Christians had to ask what God wanted from them, and a host of earthly voices rose up in cacophony. It sucks that people will be grieved and angered no matter what, that both the decision and its reversal have cost us all something. It sucks that some will see this as an act devoid of love, and hate Christianity all the more for it, and it sucks that some will see the initial act as one of theological compromise, and not forgive it. But it sucks most of all that this is a fallen world, that this is a world where poverty and hunger exists where it need not, that we all could do more, and don’t.

But this is a marvelous world, too. One where organizations like World Vision choose to exist, choose to try to change things, and where people around the world join in on that effort. This is a world God is working in, with a people He’s working through, and we all are invited to join in. This is a world where sins can be forgiven, where the hungry and thirsty will not hunger and thirst forever, where all things are being made new. Come, Lord Jesus.

One thought on “World Vision, Sin, and The Good World

  1. I am with you that it is so sad that people took away their support of this organization, but it was their own belief and idealism that required them to stand for what they did or did not believe in. I stand with the Bible on homosexuality. I do not believe a person has to BE his sexual desire. That is a personal choice. I believe we can decide not to commit that sin. I think it is harder to control the tongue than the other parts! I pray that the folks who decided to leave World Vision will start their own missions for children because children are the innocent victims in all of this.

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