WORLD [DI]VISION: why homosexuality is not the issue

This week World Vision announced a new hiring policy.  They have lifted a ban on hiring gay Christians who are in same-sex marriages.  You can read more about the announcement in Christianity Today.

World Vision’s decision is applauded by some and appalling to others.  Preferences aside, whatever this announcement is, it is certainly not neutral.  Any commentary otherwise is naive mythology at best and calculated deception at worst.  I’d like to suggest that before the fundies pull funding or the libs empty their wallets, let’s first consider how we should think about this.

This announcement should outrage both the Christians who affirm homosexuality and the Christians who denounce it.

All of us approach truth with our fists tightly clinched to our haggered bag of things we want to be true, desperately hope are true and notions we’re hell bent on pretending are true regardless of what evidence and authority say otherwise.  This reality is as true for middle-aged white men, with bad suits and obvious comb-overs as it is for tattooed, hipster Christians, who are heavier on cynicism than orthodoxy.

Because we’re human, we likely read the announcement with a heart that was primed to affirm our preferences first.  For those of us who have cast our lot with Christ, we don’t stop there.  Instead of going with our gut.  Instead of going with consensus.  Instead of any other standard–we defer to the words of Jesus.  This commonly means that a paradox plays out in our hearts and minds as we submit our opinions, with glad reluctance, in exchange for truth.  This humbling affair is not lost on the serious reader of the Gospels.

Matthew 10:38-39 38  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39  Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. 

In short, following him means turning away from all other flashing beacons of enlightenment.  Covered in the dust of our rabbi, we press on in his wake.  We stand under his Word as we consider all things convenient and controversial.  We follow him even when and especially when doing so means denying ourselves.  If we are Christians who want homosexuality to be wrong–we submit that preference to him.  We choose his way over our own.  If we are Christians who want homosexuality to be right–we submit that preference to him.  We choose his way over our own.  As Christians, we affirm that his way is revealed in his Word, the Bible.

So what does this have to do with World Vision?

By their own admission, this  new stance is driven by the current events within American Christianity.  It isn’t that World Vision’s understanding of Scripture has changed, but that the moral landscape within churches and denominations is changing.

“Same-sex marriage has only been a huge issue in the church in the last decade or so. There used to be much more unity among churches on this issue, and that’s changed.”-Richard Stearns, President of World Vision

“World Vision is committed to our Christian identity. We are absolutely resolute about every employee being followers of Jesus Christ. We are not wavering on that.”  -Richard Stearns, President of World Vision

Clearly they want to maintain their Christian identity (following Jesus) and maintain the broadest unity possible.  What are Jesus followers supposed to do when maintaining unity with others requires pretending that Jesus’ words are not clear on a controversial matter?  If World Vision’s leadership legitimately believes that scripture is not clear, this is an issue of hermeneutics.  If they believe it is clear but pretend it’s not, this becomes an issue of integrity and authority.  It would seem that World Vision’s decision falls in the latter category.

Regardless of your preferences, if you are Christian who wants to trust and follow Jesus above all else, why would you entrust an organization with your dollars who will abandon Jesus for another authority when facing adversity and difficult decisions? 

I disagree with and am disappointed by World Vision.  Not because they risked standing for convictions, but because they risked conviction by daring not to stand.


About Rick Henderson

Happy husband. Proud father. Friend of Jesus Christ and desperate to introduce him to others. View all posts by Rick Henderson

7 responses to “WORLD [DI]VISION: why homosexuality is not the issue

  • Piehler

    Awesome! HEEEEEEEEERRRRRRREEEEEEE come the dumb comments from those who didn’t fully read your article in …. 3…. 2… 1…

  • Amy

    Very insightful. I think your post makes more sense than most of what I’ve read around the Internet regarding World Vision’s decision. It’s been hard for me to articulate how I feel/think about this issues.

  • Brittney

    I read the whole article and thought it was great. Sorry to steal your thunder Piehler if you were looking for a fight.

  • David Capp (@Dave_KC)

    Exactly. Very well said (but yes, you must read until the end). :)

  • Judy

    You either follow Christ or you don’t. We don’t have the right to pick and choose what is stated in the Bible. It is not a storybook it is a book that will show you the way to Jesus if you are willing to follow it diligently.

  • Vika

    Yes, the Bible has the final say. My question is where is the sin of homosexuality on the “scale” of sin. If it is not on the scale but same as any other sin, then other sins that are mentioned in the Bible with the sin of homosexuality should be screened and kept from churches and organizations like ” World Vision”.
    It seems to me that the sin of homosexuality has really had it’s peak in christian news during our generation, and this has drawn so much attention that other sins mentioned in the below passage are almost ignored.
    This is where a church must clearly define what is grace. Many churches take grace and stretch it out for the sake of showing God’s love. Their intentions are good, right? Show grace, and draw people to holy living with God. Or not?

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

  • Rev. Robert Barnes

    Good article, but this whole situation stinks. It reveals sin in WV and in the church.

    WV has been sliding into grave doctrinal error, liberalism in every sense, for over 20 years. I was told as a college student majoring in Social Ministry to avoid them since I was an evangelical. That was over 25 years ago.

    We are up in arms over their homosexuality stand, but where were we when they were hiring people who denied the deity of Christ? Who could not affirm the Apostle’ Creed? Who were not members of a Bible-believing church? Who could not even take communion in a normal evangelical church?

    Really, this just shows how homophobic evangelicals are and how little we are about doctrine. How little we care about the truth of the law and gospel and how much we care about punishing people who don’t despise homosexuals like we do.

    It’s very fair to say that we hate homosexuals more than we love Jesus when it’s a certain position on homosexuals that makes us protest and we are silent when a historical Christian position on the core of the faith
    is violated. And that grieves God’s Spirit.

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