Blog Archive


Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

Powered by Blogger.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three Problems with the World Vision Decision

"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife."  1 Cor. 5:1

Yesterday's announcement by president Richard Stearns that World Vision will "allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed" at the ministry sent immediate shock waves through the Evangelical community. World Vision has required all of its employees to not only assent to a statement of faith, but also to abide by the ministry's Standards of Conduct Policy, which forbids any employee from participating in actions such as sex outside of marriage. Thus, making such an allowance for united homosexuals confused many supporters as it seemed completely out of step with World Vision policy.

In the official announcement, the company claimed to not be compromising their position. It reads:
Since World Vision is a multi-denominational organization that welcomes employees from more than 50 denominations, and since a number of these denominations in recent years have sanctioned same-sex marriage for Christians, the board—in keeping with our practice of deferring to church authority in the lives of our staff, and desiring to treat all of our employees equally—chose to adjust our policy. Thus, the board has modified our Employee Standards of Conduct to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.

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."
The notice also justified the policy change by stating "our board of directors is recognized as one of the leaders among Christian organizations in the U.S. It includes deeply spiritual and wise believers, among them several pastors, a seminary president, and a professor of theology." Interestingly, there is a biblical parallel here in the early church at Corinth. The Corinthian church also struggled with divisive theological battles. They also allowed people who practiced what the Bible clearly labeled as sexual sin within their ranks, and they also claimed themselves as wise. When addressing each of these issues in the epistle of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul took the church to task. "We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute… When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things."

World Vision's Failed Foresight

Of course, World Vision is trying to claim that it is remaining neutral on issues where good Christians disagree. Note the claim, "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." My response is that it is impossible to claim neutrality by implementing such a policy. Here are some reasons why:

First, World Vision, in recognizing same-sex "marriage" while keeping their abstinence provision has made a theological judgment: they have concluded that marriage is not something designed by God, but is something that can be redefined in whatever way some denomination's whims take it. As I've stated before, natural marriage can be easily seen in the fact that men and women's bodies couple in a unique way and the natural result of that coupling is offspring. The Bible says "the two shall become one flesh" and that is exactly what happens if there is nothing to impede nature. Realize, there is no institution other than marriage to properly bring children into this world. None. However, by equating same-sex unions to marriage, World Vision says biology, God's design for family, and the right of a child to have a mother and a father don't really matter. Marriage is what a partner denomination says it is.

Secondly, by maintaining the abstinence component of the Employee Standard of Conduct, World Vision sends a strong message that individuals who violate the Bible's prohibition on premarital sex are committing a greater sin than those practicing homosexual intercourse on a consistent basis. Both acts are condemned in the Bible, but one must assume that same-sex couples who went through a ceremony have the intent to repeatedly engage in sexual immorality. There is no repentance in such instances, and it is clear that World Vision therefore is making a theological claim that there is then no sin.

Lastly, I understand that different denominations hold to different views on a variety of theological topics. However, no Christian denomination teaches that one is in habitual sin by holding to the perseverance of the saints or whether baptism should be full-immersion only. We recognize that Christians will differ on these issues. Habitual sexual sin, though, is clearly taught to be a factor in one's salvation. Paul warns the Corinthians "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." So, deferring to denominations on matters of disagreement is fine, but not where the action bears on what it means to be a Christian.

"But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!" 1 Cor. 6:8

Spears states that part of the reason for the policy change is to keep them focused on their mission. "The board and I wanted to prevent this divisive issue from tearing World Vision apart and potentially crippling our ability to accomplish our vital kingdom mission of loving and serving the poorest of the poor in the name of Christ." The Corinthian church was also successful. They were "not lacking in any gift" (1:7) and were even able to contribute to the collection Paul was taking up for the Christians suffering in Jerusalem. But, their ministry and abilities were considered secondary to their obedience. He says by allowing such immorality go unchallenged they Corinthians are harming the body of Christ.

Many Christians today have been taking a live and let live approach to same-sex unions. "I may believe that homosexuality is wrong, but I don't want to judge others." Such a view is wrong. We are called to be stewards of one another first, and our ministry to the outside world is secondary. Homosexuality is physically dangerous, and as Paul has stressed, it is spiritually deadly. World Vision seems to have focused so much on its ministry to the world that it has gone blind to its ministry to the church.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Come Reason brandmark Convincing Christianity
An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
Check out more X