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