World Vision, the para-church organization dedicated to fighting world hunger through child sponsorships, has been embroiled in the “gay rights” controversy quite a bit of late.
On March 24, World Vision decided to change its hiring policies to allow married homosexuals to work for them. The new rule still required celibacy outside of marriage, but, in keeping with the doctrinal stands of a few denominations affiliated with the international charity, World Vision decided to consider “married” homosexuals eligible for employment.
This was an “ecumenical” decision apparently. Though World Vision requires potential employees to profess Christianity, its leadership didn’t want to draw a line in the sand that some major denominations in its circle of support had already undrawn.1
But then, just two days later on March 26, World Vision reversed its decision because of a huge outpouring of public disapproval. According to an opinion piece on CNN by “former” evangelical Rachel Held Evans:
Within a day of the initial announcement, more than 2,000 children sponsored by World Vision lost their financial support. And with more and more individuals, churches and organizations threatening to do the same, the charity stood to lose millions of dollars in aid that would otherwise reach the poor, sick, hungry and displaced people World Vision serves.
In other words, though the initial decision was “ecumenical,” its reversal was clearly “economical.” World Vision saw that its mission would be jeopardized if it stood firm on its revised hiring policies.
Many voices in the liberal community have decried World Vision for its reversal even more vehemently than they supported World Vision for its initial revision. Again, according to Evans,
Christians can disagree about what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about same-sex marriage. This is not an issue of orthodoxy. But when we begin using child sponsorships as bargaining tools in our debates, we’ve lost the way of Jesus.
So my question for those evangelicals is this: Is it worth it?
Is a “victory” against gay marriage really worth leaving thousands of needy children without financial support?
. . .
I, for one, am tired of arguing. I’m tired of trying to defend evangelicalism when its leaders behave indefensibly.
I’m going AWOL on evangelicalism’s culture wars so I can get back to following Jesus among its many refugees: LGBT people, women called to ministry, artists, science-lovers, misfits, sinners, doubters, thinkers and “the least of these.”
I actually do understand where Mrs. Evans (Or does she prefer “Ms.”?) is coming from, but I don’t agree with her. She says same-sex marriage is “not an issue of orthodoxy.” But then what is? Why are Mrs. Evans and other liberal Christians the final arbiter of orthodoxy? What would World Vision have to do in order for them to drop support? Evans might still be telling people to support World Vision for the sake of needy children, but many liberals have dropped their support over World Vision’s reversal. In fact, a board member resigned:
Jacquelline Fuller, director of corporate giving for Google Inc., said in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press that she remains a “huge fan” of the group’s work on behalf of the poor, but she resigned Friday “as I disagreed with the decision to exclude gay employees who marry.”
Why is this dropped support less reprehensible in Evans’ eyes? That is a double standard and hypocrisy.
In reality, if feeding the poor is the most important thing, why would Evans let an issue that is “not a matter of orthodoxy” get in the way of World Vision’s mission? You see, this argument cuts both ways. Obviously, the majority of people who claim to be Christians do not support same-sex marriage. Therefore, it would make sense, if World Vision is trying to be ecumenical, for them to side with the majority of churchgoers on this. But that isn’t good enough for Evans. She’s talking out of both sides of her mouth.
When World Vision revised its policy and purportedly saw thousands of sponsors drop their support, Evans should have been the first to tell them they had made the wrong decision. But, instead, she castigated the “close-mindedness” of other Christians and cast herself as a more Christ-like Christian than those who would use children as a bargaining chip. Hmmm. Well, what are those children to you, Mrs. Evans? If they are the most important factor in this debate, why would you allow your own personal views to get in the way of their support?
I don’t think World Vision made the right decision either way. Because they are basing their views on the ever-changing majority opinion. In an attempt to be “more inclusive,” they became divisive. Just like Mrs. Evans actually. In the end, everyone in this debate needs to recognize that we’re all close-minded on this issue. It’s impossible to be otherwise.
- Though, it is curious that they maintained a rule of celibacy outside of marriage, since many denominations have since loosened that requirement. [↩]