Reverse Course

In a stunning announcement World Vision has reversed course two days after changing their employee handbook to allow for the hiring on people in open, unrepentant homosexual relationships.

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/03/26/world-vision-reverses-decision-sex-marriage-mistake/

In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.

 

World Vision has placed itself in the tragic position of creating a controversy and angering both sides of the issue.  I can’t imagine that Richard Stearns will not be shortly offering his resignation in order to restore credibility back to the organization. What ever might have been his motivations it appears that at least once in this controversy he made an unprincipled decision (your guess is as good as mine on whether it was Monday or Wednesday).  Neither conservative nor liberal supporters of World Vision can feel a deep sense of trust in his leadership.

Matthew Lee Anderson at Mere Orthodoxy went on a Twitter rant about the events of the last two days and shared some other thoughts on his blog. He discusses both World Vision’s misstep as well as whether or not Evangelicals are displaying a deeper commitment to fighting same-sex marriage than fighting poverty.  I think his comments are well worth reading.

Update:

This post from Timothy Dalrymple offers some great insight into what when wrong:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2014/03/27/the-right-lesson-to-learn-from-the-world-vision-debacle/

The core of the mistake, it seems to me, is precisely in regarding this as merely a “culture war issue.” When Richard Stearns addressed the Q Conference in Los Angeles in April, he pointed to Westboro Baptists as an example of “angry Christians protest[ing] gay marriage.” He then admonished Christians to be outraged by the right things. “As far as I know,” he said, “no one ever died of gay marriage.” That statement, I think, set off alarm bells amongst some Christian leaders, and that framed how they interpreted this change of policy. Even in the letters and phone calls and statements since the reversal, the leadership of World Vision has explained that they were trying to bracket a “culture war issue.”

That’s the problem right there. This is not a culture war issue. It’s much more than that.

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19 thoughts on “Reverse Course

  1. One thing that Matthew’s blog goes into is about how it’s unfair to say religious conservatives care more about opposing gay marriage than helping children. One of the arguments is that we don’t know if the people who withdraw their support from World Vision decided or did not decide to donate to another cause.

    But here’s the fact — they are determining where to donate their money based on the organizations’ opposition to people in “unrepentant” gay relationships. So, really, the author’s argument basically is, “Since World Vision isn’t the only anti-gay Christian organization, Christians can continue supporting children while being antigay by donating to any number of other organizations.”

    But if all anti-gay Christian organizations decided not to oppose people in “unrepentant” gay relationships, then presumably those anti-gay Christians wanting to support children would have no option (save to make new organizations).

  2. If you wanted to upset people on both sides of the issue, it’s hard to think of a better way to do it than what World Vision did. World Vision does good work, and it’s sad to see this happen.

  3. Andrew, I think you could expect such Christians to make new organizations immediately and/or to start partnering with similar organizations outside of the United States.

  4. She wrote:

    “So that’s another reason why a very small religion warrants a prominent place within the broader current discussion of religion, politics and culture: because Mormons have been where the Christian Right is collectively right now: we staked much of our political and personal identity and capital on a fight over the definition of marriage. We could see we were losing; we retrenched; we lost decisively. We sulked about it for a really long time, and now we just wish the whole sordid past could go away and stop haunting us.

    And then we managed not to learn anything from our mistake and did the same basic thing again a century or so later, but this time, we got a whole bunch of other people to join us.

  5. True, but it’s an interesting comparison. She was responding to Matt Anderson’s comment about what a post-gay-marriage jurisprudence might do to Christian Communities:

    “Anderson mentions as one possibility something called the “Benedict option, a kind of retrenchment into smaller communities where traditional Christian values about sexuality and so on are not just talked about but lived and handed on within generations as a way of, not escaping from the broader culture, but almost a monastic type strategy, if we’re going to carry on the inheritance that we have received, within the broader culture.””

    Anderson quote is from here:
    http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/7673/religious_freedom_extravaganza/

  6. From the RNS article “When asked whether parachurch organizations such as World Vision should defer to churches on theological issues…”

    …and from the mere Orthodoxy, “I would add that the @worldvision situation suggests we need to think a lot more about the problem of moral complicity.”

    Thinking about both comments it makes me wonder about the propriety tacking the word Christian onto groups that otherwise have no structure for accountability or reason to remain orthodox except out of concern of upsetting donors.

  7. I guess I am predictable, but I would rather, participate with secular charities where there is a need than even contemplate a Benedict option.

    Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

    1 Peter 2:16-17

  8. I don’t think there is a question about whether or not Christians can support secular charities. But in the case of poverty, there are worldview issues that play into the circumstances as much as a lack of resources. So it makes sense for Christians to favor institutions which favor their worldview.
    http://povertyunlocked.com/theology-of-poverty/

  9. This post from Timothy Dalrymple offers some great insight into what when wrong:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2014/03/27/the-right-lesson-to-learn-from-the-world-vision-debacle/

    The core of the mistake, it seems to me, is precisely in regarding this as merely a “culture war issue.” When Richard Stearns addressed the Q Conference in Los Angeles in April, he pointed to Westboro Baptists as an example of “angry Christians protest[ing] gay marriage.” He then admonished Christians to be outraged by the right things. “As far as I know,” he said, “no one ever died of gay marriage.” That statement, I think, set off alarm bells amongst some Christian leaders, and that framed how they interpreted this change of policy. Even in the letters and phone calls and statements since the reversal, the leadership of World Vision has explained that they were trying to bracket a “culture war issue.”

    That’s the problem right there. This is not a culture war issue. It’s much more than that.

  10. But in the case of poverty, there are worldview issues that play into the circumstances as much as a lack of resources.

    I absolutely agree, but I think almost any married Christian couple can share these worldview issues.

  11. I agree. 😉

    “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?

  12. Pingback: How Evangelical Christians Showed They Care Neither About Children Nor Marriage | Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  13. This is not about this post, per se, but in a way it is.

    Today is Maundy Thursday, from the Latin word Maundatum, which means ‘commandment’.

    [audio src="http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/the-last-day-of-jesus-life.mp3" /]

    The above is a superb sermon about Maundy Thursday and is a mirror to us in the face of how we have handled this “new commandment”.

    Thanks for allowing my digression.

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