World Vision: God, Gays, and Giving

World Vision US HeadquartersChristianity Today broke the story that World Vision has changed their hiring policy to permit the hiring of gay people who are in same-sex marriages. Multiple sources have confirmed to me that this change was never intended to be some kind of grand statement on the issue of same-sex marriage but was rather being quietly rolled out on a department-by-department basis. However, when a disgruntled employee contacted Christianity Today with the news that same-sex marriage was now going to be embraced by one of the biggest Christian charity organizations in the world, World Vision had no choice but to make a public statement.

In a nutshell, the statement can be paraphrased like this: World Vision has both supporters and employees from all across the Christian spectrum. Some of these churches represented affirm gay couples and others do not so rather than take sides we’re going to accept that there are good people on both sides of the issue and hire people from both sides of the issue equally. Because really, it’s all about the poor not church politics.

The reaction from the Christian Right to this news was as predictable as it was pointed. Everybody on the spectrum from Franklin Graham to Matt Anderson and even David Cloud expressed outrage or began calling for Christians to drop World Vision support. Apparently unable to withstand the threat of a massive loss of support, World Vision was forced to reverse its policy change and reaffirm traditional marriages as the only ones they would recognize for their employees.

As I read these sweeping condemnations my heart sank because I’ve been on the other side of the world and I’ve seen the joy on the faces of children who found out they are being sponsored. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be one of those kids who suddenly stops hearing from their sponsor and is eventually told they’ll never read a letter or receive a care package from that person again. All this because that sponsor thinks Jesus would rather that child’s spirits be dashed than a married gay person get a job in a charity office.

But I’ll admit that I was equally upset when I heard that people like Rachel Held Evans had been encouraging people to take on child sponsorship BECAUSE of the World Vision policy change. Predictably, the narrative that the pro-marriage-equality crowd took up was (in so many words): the conservatives care more about their politics than they do about the poor so let’s go sponsor kids as a statement of support for World Vision’s new policy! This is no less a terrible motivation for establishing a relationship with a child. Now that World Vision has reversed its position how long will these sponsorships-as-statement withstand?

Rachel at least asked the right question: “who’s this child sponsorship about anyway?”

The answer is that for a whole lot of American Christians our charity is more about us than it is about the needy. If the fact that gay hands wearing a wedding ring might touch your money on its way to heal the sick or feed the hungry is enough to make you stick your cash back in your jeans then shame on you. But by the same token, if a person has the resources and is perfectly aware of the needs in the world, why does it take the opportunity to support a political agenda to make them want to take up the challenge? That kind of charity is hardly charitable.

I suspected that most people from both sides of the aisle never take the time to look at the specifics of where their giving goes and — given the amazing level of sensitivity that has been highlighted this week — perhaps that’s just as well. When you give a dollar to World Vision that money is funneled into a community where the World Vision staff probably don’t look like or believe exactly like the people in your church. They could be anything from the most conservative Catholic to the most effervescent Episcopal. They might drink alcohol. They might be pro-choice. They might even be Socialists. Egads.

What’s more, from those World Vision field offices the projects that are funded are managed via Community Based Organizations where the people involved may not even be Christians. That’s right, folks: Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist hands may touch your money before it cleans one drop of water, plants one seed, or teaches one child to read.

And that’s ok.

Because giving isn’t about you and your agendas. And it’s not about me and mine. And it’s not about the hundred thousand virtual words spilled on the Internet this week as Christians who should know better engage in the perpetual Game of Stones hurled back and forth. Its not even about Franklin, or David, or Rachel. It’s about the call to meet the physical needs of people who are struggling on the edge of despair.

Feeding the hungry. Clothing the naked. Healing the Sick. Sound familiar?

So here’s the deal: if you have it in your heart to make a difference in a life, then sponsor a child through whichever organization you think has the best chance of making a difference in that child’s life. I’m still recommending that you do it through World Vision because I know they get results. Real lives are saved. Real children get hope. I’ve been there and I’ve seen it.

If, on the other hand, your charity is about pride, or politics, or some kind of personal agenda then take that money on your next trip to the mall and save some child the future heartache of being abandoned so that you can make a statement or when the statement you were trying to make is no longer valid. Maybe somebody else will help that kid. Maybe.

I don’t remember Jesus treating the poor like pawns in his religious game. It’s a pity so many of his followers have different priorities.

253 thoughts on “World Vision: God, Gays, and Giving”

  1. It matters what we believe as Christians. If you are a follower of Jesus and the bible we don’t get to “choose” which social and cultural issues we support and are against.

    1. We don’t get to choose which verses to accept or reject? Fine. From now on, as a believer, I fully expect to cast out devils, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, drink deadly poison, and lay hands on the sick so they recover. Believe, and these signs SHALL follow. Thus says Jesus Christ our Saviour. Now, where’s that rattlesnake . . .

    2. Ahhh, so your perspective of Jesus and the Bible is perfect? If we don’t conform, you consider us not to be Christians?

      That is a fundamentalist viewpoint, by the way. It is the viewpoint of a cult. It is NOT the viewpoint of Scripture itself, nor respectful of the fact that God the Holy Spirit has put people into the Body as it has pleased Him.

      Let us understand that we shall each of us give an account of ourselves to God. He will judge. Nor will he use Your Rules.

      I do not see compassion to those who are “out of the way” to be a fault for Christians. I do not see “enforcement” of discriminatory employment policies based on our religious viewpoints discounting the worth of others to be a Christian virtue.

      Someday you will find out that your perspective is not *THE* perspective. It may be what you need. It may not be what another needs. And God is far more into relationships than He is into rules.

    3. I would love to say we don’t pick and choose the issues….but when we come to Scripture we come lacking–lacking understanding of how our culture influences us fully, lacking the understanding of how the ancient culture influenced the people of Biblical times and how they interpreted things, lacking the linguistic nuances, lacking, many times, the way one piece fits into the big picture Scripture is painting.
      There are many people who come to the same Scriptures and interpret them differently–not because they don’t want to accept what it says in the english–but because they do want to hear the contexts and the inferences. And we disagree on the social implications. That is why the greatest commandment is love. We see things dimly now. But with love and in love we can live in Christ despite our different interpretations, trusting when we see Christ in glory all these things will be made right.

      1. Thanks Leanne. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m going through quite a time with my faith right now. All that can shake is being shaken, and it’s hard to tell where all the pieces are going to fall for me. But it’s comforting to know there are Christians like you out there, willing to take the risk of love in spite of the black and white of the bible. It gives me hope that at the other side of this thing I might be ok, after all.

        1. Why thank you. But the more I read the Bible the less Black and White it becomes for me. God really broke into a human culture at specific times which means he spoke and worked in those cultures in the ways they would understand and could handle.
          I pray God breaks into your life with all the divine mercy and grace in word and in deed in the way you need.

  2. I’m fighting sleep as I begin this so will hope to be brief.

    1. I agree with much of what you write here.

    2. I never assumed you left Christianity and questioning our beliefs is helpful. Unfortunately that is/was always a big bugaboo in fundamentalism

    3. Much of my discussion was triggered by your comments that (paraphrasing from memory) conservatives tend to be the most hateful and negative of ideologues. Having read so very many opinion and political pieces and seeing the comments I found that to be quite over the top. I don’t like to see it in anyone. As a registered Republican I was angry when liberals would refer to Pres, Bush 43 as “shrub” or any other manner of vitriol. At the same time I loathe those who call President Obama by any other words or title.

    4. You likewise sound like a person of reason and someone I would enjoy discussion and debate with knowing that we would ,likely agree to disagree.

    Thank you

    1. Thank you, John.

      We all look at things through the lens of our own experience. We resist attributing wrongness to the things we are associated with. We bristle when the sources we trust are attacked.

      I probably need to be more careful when describing group characteristics. I realize that we all label; we all paint with a broad brush; we all create “us” and “them” groups. I know I do. And while I believe I have very good reasons for most of the ways I see things and do things, I need to be more aware of the perspective of others.

      Perhaps if I remember Paul saying, “I am become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some” I can do a better job. I can’t be what I am not. I can become better. So I apologize for the offense.

      And yes, in many matters we are likely to disagree. That is not a problem for the most part. You can seek me out for conversation, if you like, particularly if you want a good debate. It is good for us to consider positions other than our own on issues of import.

  3. I’m curious if this pious perspective of support applies in reverse. Does your love of the poor compel you to support the suit-wearing, KJV thumper if he also selflessly clothes (or over-clothes) the naked?

    1. You show me an IFB aid organization that is doing the work of feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and clothing the naked without making it contingent on that person’s church attendance or profession and I’ll happily praise those efforts — especially if they are the only ones doing that kind of work in a given area.

      If you’ll recall, back when hurricane Sandy blew through I featured a picture of Thomas Road Baptist Church who opened their facilities to displaced people. God bless them for that.

      1. “Because giving isn’t about you and your agendas. And it’s not about me and mine.”

        Neat how easy that agenda separation thing works in some directions but not others.

        1. I’ve already responded to your initial question with the answer that I would set aside my “agendas” in order to see people helped — even if the helpers were fundamentalists.

          It seems like you’re more interested in making some kind of point instead of actually having a conversation.

        2. Show an IFB organization that feeds the hungry, heals the sick and clothes the naked, and …

          queue the agenda … without making it contingent on church attendance or profession
          condition 2 … IBF is the only one in a given area

          and the result … your praise

          But those people who put conditions on actual giving to World Vision – wow, what hypocrites!

        3. No, saying that an aid organization shouldn’t be discriminatory in who they help is the opposite of having an agenda.

          In the case of an IFB church that was forcing homeless people to listen to sermons before feeding them food, for example, the agenda would be on the side of the hypothetical IFB church who was doing the work

          And in the second part of that I said “especially.” Because if there’s only one option for really doing aid in some particular country then that good outweighs most other concerns.

        4. You will not find a long-term aid organization which does not make their giving conditional in some manner. You may, rightfully, debate what you think constitutes a legitimate condition, but you will not get away from your own conditions or agendas.

          If you supported World Vision before they allowed gay-married employees, you promoted an agenda. If you yank a poor child’s support because of an opinion on gay marriage you promote an agenda as well.

          I just get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that my motives are better than others and my agendas are the most pure and in the best interest of those most in need.

      2. To point out in fairness to Thomas Road…it’s hasn’t been IFB for close to 20 years and “it’s not your daddy’s TRBC”.

    2. I have helped support local fundy churches in their angel food ministries, etc.

      The thing is the fundy churches I know do not believe in working with parachurch organizations or ecumenical groups. So before you cry that there is hypocrisy going on, really look at the system. They don’t welcome outsiders help nor do they participate in the outside ministries. They really isolate themselves from others in more than just doctrine.

  4. When it comes to donating money to charities, I recommend going on line to a website called “Charity Navigator.” This organization does exhaustive research on how responsible various charities are by examining what percentage of their budget actually goes to helping people and how much goes to executive compensation and fund raising expenses. Charities that refuse to disclose financial information should become suspect no matter how much one may agree with their religious message. It is noteworthy that major televangelists have opted out of the disclosure requirements.

  5. after reading this article and comments it seems so odd that people want to claim to be Christian but they want to do it on their terms. porno is wrong but homosexuality is ok, white lies can be good but other lies will lead to destruction. Where does it say that we can pick and chose what rules God can hold us to? I am not trying to sound unkind or too fundamental, just Christian.
    I suggest that if you want to pick and chose what rules you want God to enforce, that you form your own religion, sort of an almost christian religion. just remember God is not mocked, you will harvest the seeds you plant.

    As for supporting WV, I have no problem supporting non christian groups but I do expect a christian charity that I support to reflect Christ and biblical values. there are many other Christian groups that while not as well connected are out there supporting children, digging wells, and building houses everyday.

    1. “after reading this article and comments it seems so odd that people want to claim to be Christian but they want to do it on their terms.”

      Macdaddy, I think you misunderstand. That’s okay, since a lot of people misunderstand. But maybe I can help.

      People want Christianity, not necessarily on *their* terms, but not on the terms of other so-called “authorities” either. We have seen the abuse. We have seen the lies. We have seen the hypocrisy.

      And if the message these people give about Christianity produces the lying, hypocritical, judgmental and wicked results that we see happening, then something is terribly wrong.

      Despite the way some feel, you cannot separate the messenger from the message. If what you do is wrong, what you believe must be wrong.

      So don’t blame us for looking elsewhere. Don’t blame us for wanting Christianity to be relevant. Don’t blame us for thinking that if Christ cannot save a Pastor from his lust and power-seeking that the gospel he preaches must be warped. I figure there will be an awful lot of preachers told, “Depart from me, you who work iniquity. I never knew you.”

      Where does it say we can pick and choose what rules we want? What about you? You do it.

      Do your women all wear head coverings in the church?
      Do you wear clothing with different kinds of fibers in it?
      Do you eat shellfish?
      Do you keep the Sabbath Day holy and do no work in it?
      Do you stone children who are rebellious?
      Do you dig pits for your excrement?
      Does your wife regard you with reverential fear and call you “Lord?”
      Do you keep slaves? You could, Biblically. Do you think slavery is right and God-approved?
      Do you think you can have multiple wives? Despite popular theology, nothing in the Scripture says that one man may only marry one woman with God’s approval. In fact, God told David that He had given David all of his multiple wives and concubines! If God didn’t approve of polygamy, why did God give David that message?
      And are all these rules anything at all? Really?

      You think Christianity is about Rules? That is why we reject your definition of Christianity! Christianity is not about rules, it is about a Savior, about God With Us.

      Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He rose again the third day. He will come again. There is the gospel. Do you have anything you want to add to it?

      Micah 6:8: He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

      Jesus said the entirety of the Law, all the Rules as it were, were completely found in two commandments. To love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

      When love becomes more important than the rules, you will have a faith worth sharing.

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