Yesterday, Richard Stearns, the president of the American branch of the Christian charity World Vision, announced that the board had voted to change its policy and would now permit legally married gay Christians to work for the organization.
Insisting that this was just a "very narrow policy change," Stearns took great pains to make the case that this should not be seen as any sort of "compromise" on the issue of gay marriage:
"Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues," he said. "It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage."
Stearns took pains to emphasize what World Vision is not communicating by the policy change.
"It's easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there," he said. "This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support."
"We're not caving to some kind of pressure. We're not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us," said Stearns. "This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We're an operational arm of the global church, we're not a theological arm of the church.
"This is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more."
Needless to say, anti-gay activists are not buying World Vision's defense and have wasted no time in savaging the decision and accusing the organization of "apostasy."
Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, issued a scathing rebuke of World Vision, during an appearance the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio program.
“It’s obvious World Vision doesn’t believe in the Bible,” said Graham. “I am sickened and heartbroken.”
"I was shocked today to hear of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God. World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin.”
This is a betrayal of the gospel, a betrayal of the Lord, a betrayal of the family, and a betrayal of the countless thousands of Christians who have put their trust in World Vision as a legitimate Christian organization.
In no way does it contribute to “building a better world for children” – one of the fundamental goals of World Vision. In fact, it does the opposite.
[I]f claiming that two men can “marry” and their sexual acts be holy in God’s sight is not “wavering,” then words have no meaning.
Let it be stated plainly to the leadership and board of directors of World Vision U.S.: The Lord Jesus is no longer central in the corporate life of your organization. You have denied his lordship by your actions.
[I]t is ridiculous to argue that World Vision is not taking sides on the issue. The objective fact is that World Vision will now employ openly-gay employees involved in openly homosexual relationships. There is no rational sense in claiming that this represents neutrality.
The worst aspect of the World Vision U.S. policy shift is the fact that it will mislead the world about the reality of sin and the urgent need of salvation. Willingly recognizing same-sex marriage and validating openly homosexual employees in their homosexuality is a grave and tragic act that confirms sinners in their sin — and that is an act that violates the gospel of Christ.
The shift announced yesterday by World Vision points to disaster. We can only pray that there is yet time for World Vision to rethink this matter, correct their course, stand without compromise on the authority of Scripture, and point the way for evangelical Christians to follow once again.
“Just because you say you’re not an official wing of the church or that you’re a para-Christian organization does not release you from the command to adhere to biblical truth and biblical reality as it pertains to sexual morality,” he maintains. “So that is a cop-out – and anyone with a clear understanding of scripture can recognize it as such.”
The Christian columnist believes anyone who claims to be Christian is expected to follow God’s Word, not the world. World Vision, he says, has made it clear where its loyalties lie.
“This very dramatic, counter-biblical, apostate move by World Vision shows where they stand,” he concludes. “They have destroyed their credibility as a Christian organization with one fell swoop – and it’s heart-wrenching.”
When God has spoken as clearly and as repeatedly as he has on the subject of marriage and homosexuality, it is a waste of breath to ask him if he's changed his mind.
World Vision long ago abandoned evangelism, as a condition of accepting money from the federal government. Now they have abandoned morality as well. Is there now anything, anything at all, that makes this an organization worthy of evangelical support?
World Vision's experience is a sobering reminder that once you abandon God at one point (evangelism) eventually it is inevitable that you will abandon him on other points (sexual morality). One compromise ineluctably leads to another until all is gone.
Christianity identifies greed as a form of idolatry, an expression of the worship of the false god Mammon. Greed, quite simply, is doing something you should not do for the sake of money.
World Vision’s sellout is part of a disturbing trend in evangelicalism to capitulate in the Culture War over homosexuality–while the pro-LGBT lobby only ramps up its advocacy of sexually immoral laws and corporate policies.
Lastly, World Vision does a great spiritual disservice to its “gay married” employees. By implying that unrepentant, practicing homosexuals can be faithful servants of Jesus Christ while living openly in grave sexual sin and mocking true marriage, WV becomes an impediment to their repentance before God. Salvation requires humbly acknowledging and turning away from sin, just as genuine marriage requires two people of the opposite sex joining to produce a natural family.