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I have rewritten an opening sentence to this post many times. Each time the words have found their way into the deleted folder. Truly, I am at a loss, words elude me, and you know words rarely elude me. I have read many comments made by Christians concerning World Vision’s recent decision to end discriminatory non-hiring practices against homosexuals. You can read more about the decision here.

In many ways, this is the church’s front burner issue that needs conversation. The chasm is wide and there are deep wounds, deep beliefs, and deep-seated distrust , and even hatred, that exist on both sides. The responses that I have read by Christians against World Vision angers and astounds me. That any Christian would choose to not help communities in need and withdraw their support for vulnerable children  because World Vision has chosen not to discriminate is outrageous, wrong, and definitely not Christian.

In a letter to his employees, The president of World Vision, Rich Strearns, said this:

“Each of us has his or her own views on a wide range of potentially divisive issues, and the board and I are not asking anyone to change their personal views. We are asking, rather, that you not let your differences on this issue or others distract us from our work. We are asking you to unite around our sacred and urgent mission in the world and to treat those who don’t share your exact views with respect. If we cannot love one another, how will we show Christ’s love to the world?”

In this case, whether I agree or disagree with homosexuality is not even the question. The questions are many, the issues are complex and the importance is critical, however, there are a few things I would ask those who are so ready to boycott, and disavow World Vision  consider.

1. World Vision Is Not The Church.

While WV is a Christian organization, they are not a church. They are a business that protects and empowers vulnerable children all around the world because of what Jesus Christ has done. Since World Vision is not a church, they are also not the theological stewards on all issues. If you will only buy product and support a business that is theologically correct according to your interpretation of the Scriptures, go right ahead, but I think you might need to live on a self-sustaining farm. Currently, 4.3 million children are being helped by sponsorship dollars. Should you choose to withdraw your support the reality is that you will affect the access those children will have to food, water, clothing, shelter, education and sanitation. World Vision’s purpose is not to be a Church and determine theological differences, they are: a “Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.” And guess what, there are Christians who also happen to be gay.

2. Christians Should Stand Against Discrimination, not encourage it.

It is intellectually impossible to read the Gospels and not realize that Jesus was the champion of the vulnerable, marginalized, outcast, broken, and divinely disconnected people who lived with discrimination daily. In Jesus, those who were outside of the accepted societal systems finally found a voice. They encountered someone who loved them as they were. Someone who helped them regardless of their life situation. Someone who saw value and worth in their humanity even if they didn’t fit the “norm.” I think if Christ were here he would say, “please put down your stones.”  The prophet Micah reveals the heart of God, and what kind of people He desires that we become:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8)

Of all the peoples in the world, it should be Christians who stand for justice and mercy. This happens when we walk in humility. When Christians seek to force discrimination I truly wonder where their head and heart are. It’s one thing to disagree in a mature way, but maturity is not what I have witnessed. It is still possible to love and disagree.

3. Children’s Lives Are Literally At Stake.

I have been sponsoring kids through World Vision for about 20+ years, and I will continue to do so. I have taken trips to visit my sponsored Kids as well as spearhead projects to fund clean water systems, sanitation and education. I am currently working on taking a group back to Uganda in the near future where we have been working together with WV to make an impact on the lives of many different people.

World Vision does an incredible job and I am proud of all that they do.  Truly, they are living out what Jesus calls all Christians to live out…a life that shows love, compassion,mercy, and advocacy for everyone. So I am asking that you not withdraw your sponsored child’s support. I also don’t think Jesus would ask you to withdraw your sponsored child’s support either. There is a greater story going on, and to allow a child to suffer because of theological disagreements is ludicrous and lacks compassion.

I assure you, this decision was not easy for the leadership of WV  to make. It was not made in a vacuum and not made without much prayer. I sense that their decision reflects the organizations global purpose and also shows that they long to see discrimination abolished everywhere, even in the United States.

It’s time for a deeper dialog on this issue rather than entrenched polarization. Ultimately, when we allow religious politics to trump love, everyone loses, especially the children who are being helped in Christs’ name.

23 Comments

  1. What we do with the gospel in our lives shows to those around us by what we do. Anyone can say they are following Christ. But the mark of a follower of Christ is the following, not just the saying.

    You’ve done a good thing here, pastor, in the saying and in the following.

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  2. We all should applaud WV for breaking stride with religiosity and taking the less traveled Higher path which truly demonstrates the heart of our Heavenly Father.
    How quickly we choose to pick up stones. But truth be known, if judged on similar criteria, we would have all been pummeled a long time ago.
    It’s time to realize, embrace and demonstrate the only True Standard, and to love those who are hungry, sick, suffering from acts of injustice, who have no voice.

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    1. Thanks for the reply Jim, we do pick up stones too quickly, and we are all worthy of receiving some rocks thrown at us…or as Jesus said, “Hey, take that log out of your eye before you try to remove your brothers splinter.”

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  3. Thank you for thoughtful response on this important issue. I am always surprised at how venomously some Christians hate homosexuals. It makes all Christians look hateful and is the opposite response of what Jesus would have. To withdraw your support from an impoverished and marginalized child to make a point is cruel. I applaud Word Vision on their lack of discrimination and will continue to sponsor my child in Uganda. I am also hoping to meet him on our upcoming trip to Uganda!

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  4. Love ya Monty and agree with you 100%! Living here in the NW has helped me with this issue on many levels. World Vision is a great organization that is simply trying to keep political and theological debates from interfering with their primary mission to love and help others. I honestly don’t see how their views on specific theological issues would keep someone from donating to help them feed and care for the poor???

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    1. too often christians get stuck in binary thinking. very black and white and that creates an inability to think in larger ways. It isn’t the choice between Love and Belief…as if I can’t love someone I disagree with right? Rather we should remember that when we discriminate based on our interpretation of scripture we are breaking the Law to uphold the Law…and Jesus dashed that kind of thinking on the rocks. When we make a binary choice to be right verses love (as if that is the only possibility) we will continue to become marginalized and our effect and affect will diminish. Should we choose Jesus style…we don’t see the two as mutually exclusive anymore.

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  5. My problem isn’t with their decision, it’s with how much money actually goes to help the kids. There are other organizations that help children in our own country and in others, and 100% goes to the child you sponsor. Not just a small amount. I haven’t supported WV for a long time.

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    1. Thanks 1711mom 🙂 I don’t know all the administrative cost breakdowns concerning different organizations, but as I also have another 501c3 organization called Planet Changer (check it out here: http://www.planetchanger.org ) that sends 100% of all donations to the project I run into some big hurdles. First I cannot afford to market or hire key staff that could increase the amount of help we can provide. So while I certainly understand your statement, as I have an organization that operates on those principals, I also wrestle with how much more we could do if I kept back some administrative money. World Vision’s scope of services is massive. But I appreciate your comment.

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  6. I continually find it amazing that we love to take certain sins (never our own sins of course) and place them in a category that has to be cleaned up and taken out of a person’s life before they can be considered a Christian. “oh you struggle with pride, dishonesty, gossip, alcohol, drugs or whatever, come on in, Jesus can help you, you just come in and let God work in your life….” compared to “GAY!!! you can’t be a Christian until you get that straightened out! Repentance means turning away from your sin not continuing to live in your sin so you must not be sincere, get that sin out of your life and then you will be welcome here…” If the requirement is to get sin out of your life before you are acceptable to God then no one has any possible hope and there is no Grace. Praise God he does not give us that requirement it is made by us and it is not part of the Gospel. Sin is sin, I am not claiming differently but hope and grace are available for all who come and all who come should be shown the same love and grace that we have been shown.

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    1. good thoughts Eric. you have hit on the heart of the issue…Jesus cleans us up…religion has you clean yourself in order to come to God…truth and compassion are not mutually exclusive…

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    2. The first word out of Messiah’s mouth was repent and believe. Not believe and repent when is most convenient or never.

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      1. His invitation seems also to be prefaced with: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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  7. ya they did Tony…there was a backlash of baptists and Assemblies people who were told to stop their support…so they reevaluated and reinstated. Even so, I believe in what they do and would never cast the commitment/covenant I made to take care of a child aside in order to make a point. They are real lives, I have no problem with people having a dialog on the issue and sharing their convictions…for me it will stay centered don the kids and the communities…and where I disagree I will use my voice in a more bibliocentric way than we saw many people in the wake of the first decision.

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  8. “Gay Christian” is an oxymoron. Unless you are using gay as in happy. However, a homosexual Christian is a contradiction. If you love the Lord you will obey His commandments.

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  9. We are all sinners, Adam. Including you. Jesus loves every one of us. ALL OF US. And no matter how many times we mess up (sin) Jesus is right there waiting for us to turn back to Him.

    God does not stop loving us. Ever. Jesus spent His time with the outcasts and the scourge of society. And He loved us. Each account that Jesus had in the Bible is a model for us as Jesus followers.

    Life is hard enough when we are simply trying to manage our own paths in Christianity. While we care about others and what they are doing in their lives, we are only responsible for our own. Take the log out of your eye before you help anyone else with the splinter in theirs. (I paraphrase)

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