The following post is my original response to World Vision’s initial decision to allow same-sex couples to be employed within the company.
For more than six decades, World Vision has been providing humanitarian aid to those who desperately need it. Since its inception, World Vision has had a policy of hiring only those that agree to adhere to a certain set of beliefs/principles- including a strict lifestyle agreement. Among those things has been the requirement to abstain from sex outside of the marriage relationship between one man and one woman.
On March 24, 2014, that changed. On March 25th, we found out about it.
To be clear, Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, states:
“I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue. We have chosen not to exclude someone from employment at World Vision U.S. on this issue alone.”
In a nutshell, someone in a legal same-sex marriage/union would not be excluded from employment provided they agree to follow the other lifestyle guidelines and can affirm either the Apostle’s Creed or World Vision’s Statement of Faith.
World Vision views this move as a another step in their corporate journey toward uniting Christians and serving the poor. This is one of many divisive issues within the church that World Vision is deferring to the local church authority to provide theological guidance on. Other issues include whether or not to allow female clergy, the issue of divorce among clergy, whether or not baptism is required for salvation and how it should be administered in either case, etc.
In their words, “It’s been heartbreaking to watch this issue rip through 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.”
Now, those are the facts.
As you can imagine, this decision is being loudly praised by one crowd and loudly condemned by another- leaving many in the middle confused and tired of hearing all of the back-and-forth yelling over the issue.
So, I’ll try to provide a calm, rational opinion that will hopefully spark more calm, rational discussion through this thread.
As a basis for my opinion, let me begin with:
Matthew 25:31-46 (NLT)
The Final Judgment
31 “But when the Son of Man[a] comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations[b] will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[c] you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.[d] 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
I’ve been up most of the night wrestling with how I’m going to respond to this issue. For the purposes of full disclosure, my wife and I support children through world vision and have for years. My response as a pastor has the potential to have an effect beyond our personal feelings, so know that this is not a knee jerk reaction but is truly a heart-felt response. And while the issue is complex on a number of issues, I believe the response shouldn’t be.
In the above Scripture, Jesus tells us that our faith in Him will produce tangible results. These results include caring for those whom society has determined to be undesirable. If our Christian Faith allows us to care for only those that think and act like us, we have a problem with our Faith.
Some might argue that this issue isn’t about providing charity toward the gay community, but employment, so this issue wouldn’t apply here. I would respectfully disagree.
Jesus didn’t say that those who gave a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty at a church-approved function would be blessed. Jesus didn’t put limitations on our requirement to serve others. It might make one person feel better (read: PROUD) to help to minister to the suffering gay homeless man on the street, but if we limit ourselves to serving in that capacity aren’t we missing the point entirely?
Isn’t providing a job to “the undesirables” of the world better than waiting until abject poverty to provide assistance? Isn’t it accomplishing the same end- except one requires that we swallow our pride while another allows us to flaunt it?
Now, I am not arguing for these policy changes to be made within the local church body. These local churches should have the freedom to be directed by their own religious belief systems. I am a firm believer and supporter in that.
In our church, we will not be hiring those who are living in a same-sex relationship. I see it as living in a contradictory state to say you are a Christian and are refusing to modify behavior as called for in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures. This is true whether you are in a same-sex relationship (legal by the State or not), sleeping around, cheating on your taxes, abusing your spouse, or attempting to profit off of the suffering of others.
World Vision isn’t a church, though. They are a corporation that is trying to unite people around a common goal of serving people like Jesus did. They are not trying to direct the affairs of your church. They are not sending your money to activist organizations that are trying to destroy your way of life.
So, as you might have guessed, I am okay with World Vision’s policy change for their company. I will not be pulling my support from my adopted children through this organization. I will err on the side of providing relief to those that others refuse to- whether through charity or acts that prevent charity from being required.
And I would encourage you to do the same.
Care to share a calm, rational opinion on the matter? I’d love to see them in the comments below!
For the complete interview with Richard Stearns, visit World Vision Interview: Same-Sex Marriage