UPDATE: World Vision’s Near-Sighted Decision to Support Homosexuality Reversed!
World Vision (hereafter referred to as WV) believes that changing its policy to allow homosexuals in same-sex “marriages” will help to “unite” the church around their mission of serving the poor. This change only affects the US division of WV and not the global umbrella. Richard Stearns, president of the US division, said:
“Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues. It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.”
What exactly does Stearns and WV believe is a divisive issue? As a pastor and student of theology there is nothing arbitrary or grey about what the Bible teaches regarding homosexuality. And though an unrepentant and lost culture might reject the Bible’s teaching, why would that impact the decision of a “Christian” organization? Does WV silently condone divorce, abortion, adultery, pornography, and other black and white biblical issues in the same way it is now condoning homosexuality?
According to Stearns this is not “caving” to any pressure, or starting down a slippery slope, he commented:
“This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support. We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us. This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.”
Wait a minute. Stearns wants to be an “operational arm” of the local church and believes the best way to do that is to support unbiblical and sinful lifestyles that evangelical churches roundly oppose? Maybe it’s just me, but that seems to be one of the worst business decisions anyone could make. WV just told all their supporting churches that they want to be a partner with them to help the poor while they simultaneously endorse sin. What church wants that package deal?
John Piper wrote a very informative article on this subject in which he commented on the message WV is now sending to people, employees, and churches:
“When World Vision says, ‘We cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue,’ here is the side they do, in fact, jump onto: We forbid fornication and adultery as acceptable lifestyles among our employees (which they do), but we will not forbid the regular practice of homosexual intercourse. To presume that this position is not ‘jumping into the fight on one side or the other’ is fanciful.”
Stearns went on to make one of the most interesting and equally absurd statements in his interview with Christianity Today regarding the issue of same-sex “marriage” and the church, he said:
“It’s tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We’ve got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity.”
I agree with him that it is tearing churches and denominations apart. But it’s doing so for a worthy reason; it’s dividing truth from lie. The Bible makes the issue clear and it is impossible to support the homosexual lifestyle with any biblical evidence. So the “tearing apart” that Stearns speaks of is between those adhering to the biblical definition of sexuality and marriage, the truth, and those accepting the lie propagated by culture.
But for Stearns to say that the board “felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another in this issue” is absurd. They have not only jumped into the issue, they have taken a side. They have abandoned their long held position of adhering to the biblical position and have now decided to accept the false, cultural position. That, Mr. Stearns, is a side.
On this idea that WV is neutral on the issue, Dr. Albert Mohler wrote:
[I]it is ridiculous to argue that World Vision is not taking sides on the issue. The objective fact is that World Vision will now employ openly-gay employees involved in openly homosexual relationships. There is no rational sense in claiming that this represents neutrality.”
Stearns went on to say that WV as a whole is committed to being a Christian organization and making sure every employee is a follower of Jesus Christ. This shows a disconnect between theology and practice that is not only dividing churches but is wreaking havoc in the personal lives of Christians. It is absolutely impossible for an organization to desire to be Christian while simultaneously endorsing and supporting things the Bible calls sin. It is equally impossible to desire employees to be followers of Jesus while endorsing their sinful lifestyle.
Regarding the point of trying to be a “Christian” organization and see people follow Jesus, Russell Moore writes:
“There’s an entire corps of people out there who make their living off of evangelicals but who are wanting to ‘evolve’ on the sexuality issue without alienating their base. I don’t mind people switching sides and standing up for things that they believe in. But just be honest about what you want to do. Don’t say ‘Hath God said?’ and then tell us you’re doing it to advance the gospel and the unity of the church. Donor bases come and go. But the gospel of Jesus Christ stands forever. World Vision is a good thing to have, unless the world is all you can see.”
That statement by Moore might be the most clearly communicated message on this issue I’ve read yet. What WV is doing is spelled out in Moore’s statement so astutely that I couldn’t enhance it if I tried.
There can be no doubt that many organizations are seeking to create the largest donor base and support base they can by going soft on core issues of Christianity. First it was baptism and divorce, next came women preachers, and now its sexuality. Along the way critical convictions were left to die in favor of picking up a few bucks and some more volunteers. After all, we’re doing “God’s work.” At some point people might want to consider that their donor and volunteer base is drying up because their convictions are changing and God is simply not interested in supporting their work. But I digress.
Somehow WV thinks this decision will unify the church. They believe that endorsing sinful lifestyles will bring people together rather than cause division. To me that is about as likely as a Baptist, Catholic, and Mormon agreeing on what happens when a person dies. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and president of Samaritan’s Purse finds the idea “offensive”:
“World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church.”
Graham is right, it’s offensive to calmly ask Christians to support sin and look the other way in the name of humanitarian aid. Stearns and the board at WV can list all their reasons for this decision and announce it as happily and enthusiastically as they want, but in the end, it’s about the authority of the Bible and standing for biblical truth; two things WV has not done. Furthermore, WV can claim that this decision has nothing to do with money, political or social pressure, or anything else but, I can assure you that those are factors that play a role in the decisions of nearly every organization.
In the end WV has announced to the world that their vision is changing, getting worse, and will soon be completely gone.
Update: World Vision has released a statement reversing the decision to hire openly gay people in same-sex “marriages. Christianity Today reports: “Stephen Hayner, president of Columbia Theological Seminary, told World, ‘The Board of World Vision is just concluding a meeting and will be releasing a statement shortly reversing the decision that was made. It was never the intention of the Board to undermine our firm commitment to the authority of the Scripture.’”
This is good news that will, hopefully, regain lost support and help solidify World Vision’s position. However, if World Vision thought their first decision was controversial and caused a “firestorm,” what they will likely experience from LGBT activists will be difficult to handle. This is NOT the time for Christians to attack or abandon WV. They made a mistake, they corrected the mistake and asked forgiveness. Now is the time for Christians to rally around WV and stand in defense when others attack.
More articles about World Vision’s reversal of their decision to support homosexuality.
Should you feel led to contact WV, their information is below:
World Vision, Inc.
34834 Weyerhaeuser Way South
Federal Way, WA 98001