This whole World Vision debacle is so heartbreaking to me. I feel embarrassed, angry, frustrated, and sad.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, let me quickly recap. A few days ago, World Vision released a statement to Christianity Today saying that they were going to open employment to gay Christians in a same-sex marriage while explicitly stating, “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.” Evangelicals around the country exploded, canceling their monthly donations that go to support children and families around the globe, and calling others to do the same. World Vision lost sponsorship for over 2,000 children, and its estimated revenue loss is $840,000. My former denomination of the Assemblies of God asked their church members to reconsider their support of World Vision, and clearly, many responded. Following all this backlash, World Vision reversed their decision, and seemingly their convictions, when they said, “We failed to be consistent with…our own statement of faith.”
Here are my thoughts. As Christians, our job is to emulate Christ. That is the very definition of Christianity. So, I look to Christ for my example of how to live. Christ dined with “sinners,” comforted the poor, healed the sick. He defined himself through his actions of love and sacrifice. So why is it that nowadays, Christians are known far more for the things they are against, and the things they don’t do, rather than their acts of love? People literally pulled their financial support from starving children because of a change in policy they did not agree with at a corporation. Christians have become known for their legalism, their “personal convictions,” and their politicized fights over biblical interpretation, and we have lost our ability to love people. Jesus said, “You hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin [sic]. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law- justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:23-24, NIV). This is a harsh wake up call from the very one we claim to be following. Jesus is not asking us to leave our personal convictions, but he IS asking us to continue to do good works and not get caught up in legalism.
Besides all of my disappointment with Christians pulling support, I am also disappointed with World Vision for backing down on their decision. They made it very clear from the beginning that they were not trying to make a statement about same-sex marriage, and that in fact, their views on same-sex marriage had not changed. But under the weight of enormous backlash, they caved, and reversed their decision. I was taught growing up to never compromise. Never back down on what you believe, remain firm to your convictions and decisions. This applied not only to spirituality and faith, but to everyday life. People will not always agree with what you do, but if you hold to your decisions with convictions regardless of what people will say, you will earn respect. You may lose support from some, but you will gain it from others. It’s not easy, I know. But where two days ago I applauded World Vision for making such a difficult decision, I have now lost respect in their convictions.
Hear me on this. Regardless of your personal convictions on same-sex marriage, I want Christians everywhere to come together in acts of love. Let’s not get lost in the legalism of doctrine and dogma and forget about the poor and the starving and the orphans. The Bible calls us to care for these FAR MORE OFTEN than it makes statements about homosexuality, and it is this oversight that Christ was calling the Pharisees out on. We have become so caught up in the minutia that we have forgotten to love and serve.
So, if you have sponsored a child, please- do not stop sponsoring them. They need you. If you are not sponsoring a child, please- do not let the drama of the past few days affect your decision to help one. If anything, let it fuel you to do something positive in the life of one who needs help. Let’s learn to come together as a people of love and service, REGARDLESS of personal conviction and differences. For if we only serve those who are like us, what good is that?
Let there be love, let there be light, and may it start with me.