July 28, 2014

Ashamed!

Copyright David Hayward - www.nakedpastor.com - Used with permission.

Copyright David Hayward – www.nakedpastor.com – Used with permission.

Let me be clear. This post is not about homosexuality. This post is not about what the Bible does or does not say about the topic. This post is not about the rightness or wrongness of the decision of World Vision USA to open up employment to those in same-sex marriages. This post is not about the rightness or wrongness of their sudden reversal forty-eight hours later. So if you want to go to any of these areas with your comments, don’t be surprised if your comments disappear.

What this post is about is the response of so many in the evangelical community. Quite frankly, I am ashamed. More about this later in my rant.

David Hayward’s cartoon depicts my first thoughts quite well. Those who would deprive children of their means of sustenance because of an organization’s hiring policy, while at the same time purchasing their groceries from a store that has similar hiring policies are hypocrites. Hypocrites. Making children suffer because you disagree with World Vision is disgusting. These children simply can’t join another program. They have no options. You are taking away their basic necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter.

When I was growing up I learned in Sunday School about Sodom and Gomorrah. I learned that the story was the origin of the word sodomy. What no one bothered to tell me until I was in my early forties was what the prophet Ezekiel had to say about Sodom:

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They deprived food from children because they disagreed with a hiring policy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” – Ezekiel 16:49-50

Yeah, I know I slipped an extra sentence in there. You can misquote Revelation 22:19 at me if you want to make a point. My point is that the response that Evangelicals had to World Vision fits in quite nicely with the condemnation of Sodom. When we, in all our excess, seek to deprive food, shelter, and security from those who have nothing, we are acting in a way that is arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, not helping the poor and needy, haughty and detestable.

To the two thousand or so who withdrew their support over two days: Do you have any idea what harmful impact your decisions have made to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How many youth in North America are going to abandon the faith, or not consider faith in Christ because they are sickened by your hypocrisy. Trust me, there will be many, we are already hearing their stories. How does Jesus feel about this?

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” – Mark 9:42

Do you know how much these young people are repulsed by Fred Phelps sign “God hates Fags”? Well, in the minds of many you have just held up another two thousand signs. Fred Phelps died last week, and many said “good riddance”. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that so many would step up so quickly to take his place.

I have some thoughts for Franklin Graham at Samaritan’s Purse who was one of the first to condemn World Vision. Franklin, you do know that the point of story of the Good Samaritan is that those who we revile the most are those that we are commanded to love as our neighbor? So if Jesus was directing this parable at the Evangelical community it wouldn’t be a Samaritan walking down the road in his story… it would be two guys holding hands. You of all people should know this. By joining the voices condemning World Vision, you to have caused children to suffer. (By the way, choosing to withdraw support from Samaritan’s Purse because of their stand is just as hypocritical as those choosing to withdraw support from World Vision because of their stand.)

While I did say that this post would not be about the rightness or wrongness of World Vision’s decision, I would be amiss if I didn’t add a bit of Canadian perspective before I give my final thoughts. A friend of mine is a senior staff in World Vision having served in the Canadian and then U.S. headquarters for fifteen years (though not involved in this decision.) I had the privilege of chatting with him Wednesday evening. I guessed, correctly as it turned out, that Canada’s hiring policy did not mirror the American one. In fact, he informed me that when it comes to sexual orientation, World Vision Canada has had a nondiscriminatory policy for over fifteen years. Last time I checked the sky hadn’t fallen and Lord’s return wasn’t hastened as a result. (And yes, I did read this week that the Lord’s return would be hastened because of the World Vision decision.)

So where does all of this leave me? Last week I was listening to one of my old tapes, recorded in 1981 when Bruce Cockburn was doing a solo tour. Parts of the concerts were being played on CBC radio interspersed with segments of an interview. The subject of Christianity came up. I will paraphrase here, because it will take to long to find the spot for the direct quote. The interviewer, Ralph Benmergui, asked, “You are a Christian. It must be hard for you with all those TV Evangelists and the like… it must be hard for you to say that you’re not like one of them.” Bruce responded, “Yeah, I used to spend a lot of time apologizing for them, but more and more I have come to realize that what they are offering is just bullshit.”

While I wouldn’t go as far as Bruce, I am now ashamed to call myself an Evangelical. I have never liked labels anyway, preferring the much more generic term “Christian”. While I still prefer to worship in the Evangelical tradition (comments about powerpoint will be deleted as well :) ), I don’t believe I will ever refer to myself as an Evangelical ever again. Quite frankly, I would be too ashamed to use the term.

However, for those who would write me off entirely, and would want to quote Romans to me, let me finish with my own quote from Romans and some final thoughts.

“…I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:19

When Jesus started his ministry he went into the temple and proclaimed the good news:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor…” – Luke 4:18a

Kind of like the work that World Vision is doing.

* * *

Disclaimer: My wife and I sponsored a World Vision child for over ten years. We concluded our sponsorship when she left the program.

Comments

  1. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    Random thought: This week employees of Mozilla (the folks who make the Firefox browser) called upon their new CEO to resign because he, as a private individual, supported proposition 8. Where is the outrage over that? How much longer until it gets to, “We don’t want so and so to work here because they attend a Catholic Church and the Catholic Church is anti-gay?”

    • Melissa,

      You obviously haven’t gotten the memo. Only Christians with traditional biblical beliefs about these issues are the haters. That is essentially what Mr. Bell’s post is saying. Evangelicals, because they hold to what Scripture teaches on sexuality, and take that teaching to its logical extent, are hateful. You will not be given an opportunity to defend yourself, because whatever the cultural zeitgeist is currently is how morality is defined. The feelings of sinners determine how the message of Christ is delivered.

      Seriously, try going to Rachel Held Evans or even this humble Internet Monastery, and leave a comment that does nothing more than express what the Bible teaches on homosexuality. Watch the Buzzsaw of Tolerance come out.

      • Ben,

        I don’t believe I even expressed my views on homosexuality in this post. I have evangelical friends, including most of the members of my church, who have very conservative views on homosexuality. I do not consider them hateful because they hold those views. But… If they chose to withdraw support from children because they didn’t like a directional change of an organization, I would be all over them.

        To give a somewhat of a hypothetical example. Samaritan’s Purse doesn’t include inerrancy in their statement of faith. I would venture that 99% of people who give to SP don’t know that. Imagine though that they did have it in, and decided to remove it to be more inclusive. Let us also assume, for the sake of argument, that you hold to inerrancy.. Let us also say, for arguments sake, that you could sponsor a child directly through Samaritans purse. Would you withdraw your support because Samaritan’s purse was no longer being biblical.

        • Hypothetical scenarios aside, those who withdrew support did not withdraw from helping the poor. Read the best post on this above by Miguel.

          • Right, they just withdrew support for the poor that they originally committed to, in order to help other poor people because they liked the marriage status of the person who handled the paperwork better. Thereby stating that their financial committments to the poor are about as reliable as a wet noodle.

        • Mike,

          World Vision claims to be a Christian organization. The Bible affirms that God created a sexual polarity in humanity for the purpose of displaying Christ’s love for the Church, and that this is a great mystery. If World Vision suddenly disregards this teaching of Scripture, and permits its employees to be in same-sex “marriages,” then it is no longer a meaningfully Christian organization. To the extent it would then try to teach Christian doctrine to poor children abroad, it would probably be teaching them error and leading them astray.

          The logical conclusion for the conscientious Christian is to withdraw support and go elsewhere. The fact that World Vision believed that making this change would not bother their supporters whatever testifies to how little fear of God exists there. Their reversal of position was purely for monetary reasons.

          You say you are “ashamed” of such Christians and no longer wish to be called an Evangelical. That suggests you don’t see why the doctrine of God’s Creation Order in male and female is a terribly big deal. Since you are already egalitarian, I suppose this position follows logically from your beliefs.

          If you are fine with fellow Christians having certain beliefs but don’t like it when those beliefs actually inform their choices, you don’t like those beliefs. At some point, a connection must be made. And I would suggest, at a deeper level, you don’t like those beliefs because as an egalitarian you have a pre-conceived position against what Scripture teaches about men and women. Hence, what’s the big deal about men marrying men or women marrying women? Galatians 3:28 trumps everything, right?

          • As I have already commented. I don’t have any problem with people’s beliefs informing their choices. But if that choice involves a young child, then I think that people need to think twice about their actions.

            As for created order I am a little confused. Are you arguing that because animals were created before man that animals are superior, or are you arguing that because woman was created after man women are superior.

            I can tell you what I believe, I believe that men and women are both created in the image of God. I believe that God gifts people for service as he sees fit. I would also note that man ruling woman, and Adam naming Eve (thus showing dominance) came as a result of the fall not as a result of any created order.

            Finally assuming that my egalitarian views naturally mean that I have certain views of homosexuality would be akin to me saying that your complementarian views naturally mean that you beat your wife. Both claims are ridiculous in the extreme.

  2. Essentially we all from time to time concern ourselves with what does proper religion look like.

    James the Apostle summed it up nicely with this quote from Jesus that religion pure and undefiled in the eyes of God is this the care of widows and orphans in their time of need and keeping ourselves clean. pretty easy to say but more difficult to perform Shalom Jim

  3. i believe the Bible, so i don’t support organizations that:
    1) allow women to speak
    2) don’t have the men pray with their holy hands lifted high
    3) have any divorcees on staff

    obviously my list is ridiculous. well, hopefully that’s obvious, and yet we don’t bat an eye…

  4. The first I knew of this was here: http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.ch/2014/03/world-vision-parable-of-gay-samaritan.html, where funnily enough, he rewrote the parable of the Good Samaritan in the same vein as your post here.

    As that verse in Proverbs says, it seems convincing, until you hear the opposing point of view.

    I think that the major hole in your argument here – which is hinted at in another comment – is that you have no way of knowing if those protesters weren’t going to give the same money elsewhere, so the “think of the children” argument falls slightly flat.

    Also I think it’s more about logical consistency than about the children. Apparently World Vision weren’t just about giving to poor children, but giving to poor children ‘christianly’ (whatever that might mean). I suspect that this was not ‘beside the point’, but one of their main selling points. So if they suddenly change their ‘product definition’, some ‘customers’ will obviously rebel, or go elsewhere.

    Maybe this says something about the feasibility/desirability of having a ‘hard link’ between the ‘Christian’ and the ‘helping the poor’? Dunno.

  5. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    The company I work for hires and extends insurance benefits to same sex couples. I donate money to two local charities that aren’t church affiliated, but I like the work that they do with victims of crime. They might hire gay people. I don’t know. I didn’t ask. The point is that they are not claiming to represent Christian beliefs. However, when a Christian organization starts doing that, I do have a problem with it. Sorry. I just do, and I will either find another Christian organization or a religiously unaffiliated organization to give my money to.

  6. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” – James 2:15

    I can understand pulling funding from an organization in which the funds are being used to do more harm than good, but if someone removes funds, funds that they committed to a child, to an impoverished person in need of help, over a policy disagreement with an organization. Well, I think it begs the question of whether that person was really giving because they wanted to truly help “the least of these”, or did they just want something to make them feel good, or be able to check another box on their “Yup, I’m a Christian” checklist?

    I would think that if you were donating, you were doing so because you truly believed your money was doing good work, but pulling back funding that was doing good work over a policy decision makes me think that you didn’t truly believe in it in the first place which leads me to question why you even gave in the first place? To those who think that this is an illogical argument because they will just move their funds to another organization makes me even more concerned about how people think of helping others when they view funding commitments to children as something so easily swapped out as a pair of shoes. If your money is really making a difference and you truly believe that it is, who the person stamping and filing the paperwork is married to should be the least of your concerns