Perhaps World Vision Should Ask Evangelicals: “Who Did You Think We Were?”

By Scott Fowler

John Mayer, the popular guitar player and singer, has a song called “Who Did You Think I Was?” Part of the lyrics go like this:

Every mornin when the day begins

I make up my mind but change it back again

I’m a shifter of the shape I’m in

Who did you think I was?

This article asks this question of World Vision and its leadership.

In his article, How World Vision Can Regain Trust, Dr. Michael Brown’s perspective is right on. We must accept World Vision’s statement of repentance. I also think his list of questions for President Stearns are essential to answer moving forward. But there is something else we should ask of ourselves: What is World Vision? Does it claim to be evangelical? Who did we think they were before all of this happened? Were we accurate? I am fully aware that there are genuine evangelicals working in the midst of World Vision but are they in the minority? I personally never assumed World Vision was evangelical. Yet we find that evangelicals are holding World Vision to an evangelical standard. Who did we think they were?

I have read World Vision’s statement expressing its core values. It is a laudable expression of Christian faith and compassion. But we have made certain assumptions. We have assumed that we define Christianity the same. We have assumed that we share the same definition of sin. Do we?

While I agree with Dr. Brown that we should accept World Vision’s statement of repentance, I believe it is fair to ask of Wolrd Vision and its leadership, “Are you repenting of causing displeasure to your evangelical supporters or are you repenting that you slipped into a compromised view of homosexuality? How is it possible that after praying for years about this issue you can make such a decision only to reverse it just two days later? When you made the initial decision to hire same-sex couples was it because you decided that homosexuality was normative? Yes, you said you were deferring to the authority of the local churches, but it seems that you deferred to the authority of local churches that accept same-sex marriage and embrace gay Christianity! Did you decide that it just didn’t matter in the face of doing good deeds unto humanity? If so, isn’t that the definition of a social gospel?

After reading Mr. Stearns’ interview with Sarah Pulliam Baily in the Huffington Post given after the reversal, I have concerns that cause me again to ask, “What do we think World Vision is?” In response to the question:

Did anyone come out in the time between the announced decision and the reversal? In other words, are there any employees in same-sex marriages currently?”

Mr. Stearns answered, “

As far as we know, we don’t have any World Vision U.S. employees involved in a same-sex marriage. With a population of 1,100 employees, I’m sure we have people with a same-sex orientation on our staff. But I think it’s important to say that we respect the privacy of our employees. We don’t ask about sexual orientation in the interview or in hiring because we do welcome people regardless of their sexual orientation if they can affirm the Apostle’s Creed and the statement of faith, and if they can abide by our conduct policy. The conduct policy applies to heterosexuals and homosexuals. We’re not trying to exclude someone because they have a same-sex orientation, but we do have a conduct standard that governs all employees.

So, World Vision has no problem with gay Christianity.

When asked,

What kind of church do you attend, and has that informed your personal view on same-sex marriage?

Stearns answered,

“It’s a Presbyterian Church (USA) in the Seattle area, but I don’t want to drag them into this. I’m not telling people where I stand on same-sex marriage because I don’t think it’s relevant.

Even the Huffington Post recognizes that a person’s church affiliation affects one’s opinions and that those opinions affect one’s decisions!

When asked about his opinion concerning the emphasis evangelicals put on sexual morality, Stearn, in part, said,

“But we all have to admit that issues like this distract us and take up more time than they should or than they ought to. We’re trying to call people to our mission and let’s come together and change the world. I wrote a whole book called “Unfinished” that’s about the kingdom mission that was given to Christ is unfinished 2,000 years later, and we need to finish the job, working across differences. That’s not saying we shouldn’t violate core principles of our faith in various faith communities, but we have to come together to finish this kingdom mission.”

As far as I can see from World Vision’s statement of their core values, their mission is to relieve human suffering among the poorest of the poor. Who doesn’t applaud that? But that is not the kingdom mission! The mission is to go into all the world, preach the gospel, teach people to obey Jesus commands, baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to make disciples. In the process of fulfilling that great commission, yes we meet human need, regardless of our success at converting those in need. BUT, we can’t compromise the biblical truth and principles of the spiritual mission for the sake of completing the social aspect of the mission.

Some will say this article is mean-spirited. It is not meant to be. But we must answer the most fundamental questions concerning where we stand on gay Christianity. If we don’t, the same thing that happened to World Vision is going to happen to churches and ministries all across America. Genuine evangelicals must consider their endorsements and ask themselves, “Who did we think they were?”

It’s not about same-sex marriage! It’s about gay Christianity!

By Scott Fowler

It is time to re-frame the discussion going on in evangelical Christianity concerning homosexuality. For a very long time now we have allowed the discussion to be couched in terms of same-sex marriage. But the elephant in the room is gay Christianity! The reason true evangelicals can’t support a ministry willing to hire same-sex couples is that we can’t support gay Christianity! It is as simple as that! It’s not about hate. It’s not about politics. It’s not that we don’t care about hungry children. It’s about the fact that biblical Christianity does not endorse same-sex attraction, same-sex relationships or for that matter, celibate homosexuals who embrace homosexuality as normative and God created! Genuine Christianity cannot embrace homosexuality. And we cannot support a ministry that operates in Jesus’ name but rejects His commandments.

Two Typical Responses

The responses to the forgoing statements will be predictable. From inside the church will come those who say, “We support Christians who have committed adultery or who have been guilty of lying and stealing! Why do we single out the sin of homosexuality?” Anyone with this response simply isn’t paying attention to the flow of logic and reason. First of all, this response is an apple to my statement about oranges. Gays and lesbians are not showing up at our churches and asking us to accept them in the midst of their sin of homosexuality. If they were we would embrace them (don’t judge all Christians by the few who would not embrace repentant homosexuals). On the contrary, gays and lesbians are showing up to our churches and saying, “Accept our lifestyle as godly.” (By the way, we don’t embrace adulterers and thieves, we embrace people who have fallen into those sins and we call them to repentance!)

Others from inside and outside the gay community will ask, “How can you reject gay Christians simply because they have a different interpretation of Scripture and a different theology?” There are some issues where Christians can differ and remain in fellowship with one another: predictions about the Rapture, whether or not it’s ok to drink, sprinkling or immersion, even speaking in tongues. But no serious Christian would suggest that a community of Christians embracing open sex among their families should be accepted into fellowship! We would point out the error of their ways and if they did not repent we would distance ourselves from them and expose them because adultery and promiscuous sexual activity are sins! So, how can we embrace homosexuality as simply a different theology when we believe it is a sin before God? We can’t! We can preach and teach the truth. We can share with the gay community the error of their ways. But if they do not agree and cannot repent, we cannot embrace them and fellowship with them as Christians.

Rights and Double Standards

A gay person can certainly reject my perspective on this matter and embrace homosexuality and even proceed to embrace Christianity as well. Likewise, I have the right to reject homosexuality as a lifestyle and walk according to my convictions. But this is not good enough for the gay community because it demands that all people accept them as normal. Biblical Christianity simply cannot do this!

Here’s an example…

Typical evangelical churches are being asked to accept gay Christianity in the same way we would ask a Baptist Christian to fellowship with a Pentecostal: put away your non-essential differences and rally around your profession of Christ or around your desire to feed children. We can’t do it. Our differences are essential! But do you imagine for one minute that a congregation of gay Christians would hire a pastor for their staff who rejects homosexuality as normative? No way! Because they too believe that acceptance of homosexuality is essential!

Gays can be gay. They can marry where it’s legal (coming to a state near year if it hasn’t already arrived). They can form unofficial marital bonds if they like. They can live together. They can promote whatever they want to promote. It’s America. But I am free to stand by my convictions and preach and teach biblical truth exactly as I see it. The reason this is increasingly hard for the culture and the gay community in particular to accept is that homosexuality has been elevated to the level of a civil right.

The Impasse and the Hate Card

Finally, we are at a fundamental, immovable, insurmountable impasse. Okay, that happens. But it is childish for the gay community to continually characterize Christians as haters and murderers simply because we disagree. Disagreement is not hate. It is not murder. And I have to wonder what kind of arrested emotional development identifies disagreement in such a way?

Genuine Christians will love people regardless of their sins or even their wrong beliefs and views, but we cannot compromise  our convictions.

World Vision’s “Lose-Lose-Lose” Situation

By Scott Fowler

As any who are following the story have already heard by now, World Vision reversed its decision to hire same-sex married couples. Unfortunately, this situation is a lose-lose-lose situation.

The first loss came when the initial decision was made. According to an Associated Press article report (Major Evangelical Charity To Hire Married Gay Christians), Richard Stearns, President of World Vision indicated that “the World Vision board had prayed for years about how to handle the issue as Christian denominations took different stands on recognizing same-sex relationships.” Initial response to World Vision’s decision from traditional evangelicals was sadness, disappointment, dismay, even rebuke. It’s decision to hire same-sex married couples in order to avoid division thereby shirking its responsibility to stand behind its own statement of faith in some attempt to remain neutral by deferring to the authority of local churches all while claiming that it was not compromising but holding true to Scripture was a ludicrous attempt at a balancing act that was doomed to fail. And fail it did, setting up the second loss.

The second loss came two days later when the decision that came after years of prayer was reversed and labeled a mistake. Okay. It’s a tough spot to be in for World Vision. By their own admission they “failed to seek enough counsel” from their own Christian partners (World Vision Reverses Gay Marriage Decision). It is possible to become myopic when we allow ourselves to become too isolated. It happens. But the problem now is that we are left to surmise that if the leadership at World Vision had felt no negative feedback it would have stood by its decision to hire married same-sex couples. The current leadership at World Vision is capable of making this kind of decision when left to its own counsel. So, even though their decision has been reversed and a sincere apology has been given, it seems that we now know where the leadership of World Vision really stands on the issue. This is a demonstration of its biblical hermeneutic.

The third loss is felt by true evangelicalism as a whole. It is just one more prominent ministry that has demonstrated that it does not understand the full seriousness of the battle that is engulfing evangelicalism and the believing Church. One by one ministries, leaders, politicians, and families are succumbing to the pressure of the culture and their own subjective experiences to compromise in their beliefs causing the Church’s cultured despisers to question just how deep our convictions go.

 

World Vision: Unable to Identify the Slippery Slope

And the hits just keep on coming! World Vision, a ministry that I would have considered to be more of a mainline, social gospel relief agency than any genuine evangelistic outreach, has decided to hire “Christians in same-sex marriages.” (Click on this link for the article Major Evangelical Charity to Hire Married Gay Christians – NBC News.com) Why? Because they are trying to

“prevent this divisive issue from tearing World Vision apart and potentially crippling our ability to accomplish our vital kingdom mission of living and serving the poorest of the poor in the name of Christ.”

Two very interesting pieces of logic come with this report: First, the motivation for this move is to keep World Vision from being torn apart so that it can keep doing what it is doing in the name of Christ. Once again, a subjective need or concern (which amounts to a financial issue) trumps integrity. I would suggest that what we do in the name of Christ cannot be separated from what we choose to ignore. I would also suggest that World Vision is hiring same-sex Christians (a term that is actually an oxymoron) in the name of Christ.

Second, Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, tries to thread the needle by saying they are not endorsing same-sex marriage “but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue.” So, following this logic, you can do whatever you want or abstain from operating with integrity just so long as you are not a local church. I suppose pro-abortion Christians are ok as well.

But, finally, a word of encouragement comes! Stearns assures us that World Vision is “not sliding down some slippery slope of compromise, nor are we diminishing the authority of Scripture in our work. . . . We are the same World Vision you have always believed in.” Whew! Thank goodness! In reality, this is yet another attempt to demonstrate how we can try to claim allegiance to Scripture while at the same time not following its instruction.