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.
What is it that so captures the imagination of the believing Church when a genuine Christian gains success and notoriety in the public sphere? What is it that we think is happening when athletes like Tim Tebow, restaurant chains like Chick fil a, or actresses like Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) gain mainstream success?
I think when we see “one of our own” become successful we catch some glimpse of what the culture could be. Yes, we have seen some bad examples of Christians who have risen and then compromised, but when we see a Tebow we are blessed to see a guy who seems to sincerely love Jesus, who does not compromise his beliefs, and who is able to live out his faith at a high level of success. It seems to vindicate our belief that a person can live faithfully at the highest levels as a genuine Christian. But I think it says more. It says something about our vision for the culture.
Here is another more probing question that is important for us to ask: As genuine, believing Christians, what is our vision for the culture? Do we have one? Is it a Christ against culture approach that simply has us invading the culture on a search and rescue mission? Or do we have a plan for the culture? Are we trying to transform the culture or are we trying to rescue people from the culture?
What would your church do if suddenly the entire community came to your church this Sunday and gave their hearts to Jesus? What would you tell them to do next? Where should they work? How should they entertain themselves? What should their goals be as they go back out into the world?
I was a young adult during the heydays of Jim Bakker‘s PTL ministry. And for all of his failures and all of the damage done, I can’t help but remember how amazing it was that suddenly we had Christian ministries being televised 24/7! It was an enticing picture of the Church being a culture in itself. Hotels and theme parks and felowship and a place to guy like Disney World but for Christians! I don’t think Bakker’s approach was so much an attempt to transform the culture as it was to create an irresistable Christian counter culture. But I do know that it was an intentional attempt to answer Niebuhr’s question of what to do with human culture.