Starve a Child, Save a Gay

I was in Nashville when the text message arrived: “Have you kept up with what’s going on with World Vision?”

Only barely, I replied. I’m on the road.

Prior to heading out of Seattle earlier this week I had read a story about World Vision’s decision to hire Christians in Same-Sex marriages. World Vision is a Christian organization that does good works around the world, primarily focusing on the needs of the impoverished, particularly children.  To be honest, I didn’t give the announcement by Richard Stearns much thought. Given the size of World Vision, I assumed Gays were already working for the organization. So the announcement seemed more like an afterthought to me.

But I was on a plane all day Tuesday and away from Social Media most of Wednesday, so I was completely unaware of the firestorm World Vision’s leadership came under as a result of the announcement, which is why my friend was texting me.

What do you think of all this? she wanted to know. 

Before I’ve even had time to process the first announcement Stearns has made another rescinding his first one. It was all a mistake, Stearns said. Not very well thought out. He failed to seek enough input, or wise counsel. Mea Culpa.

Somewhere between the first announcement and his second one this is what happened – Jesus people threatened to withdraw their funding for hurting children worldwide.


That’s right.

Because they took offense to the notion of supporting same-sex marriages the Jesus people decided that they could no longer help hurting children.

They sought to punish World Vision, and Stearns in particular, for taking what they deemed a political stand – the acknowledgement of same sex marriages. I wonder if God is sorry he created Humanity. Surely he is utterly embarrassed by us Jesus people.

Wouldn’t you think an organization built upon the desire to perform acts of mercy and compassion for the hurting in this world would apply that same theology consistently throughout its organization – whether it is dealing with the poor in Ecuador or the depressed in Everett?

Oh, I don’t blame Stearns or World Vision for backing off their position. The threats of Jesus people are real, not imagined. Their collective fiscal power is mighty indeed. You don’t know wrath until you’ve incurred the wrath of God’s people. There is no bully greater than a bully with unlimited online access and Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

And here I was naive enough to think when Fred Phelps died his convoluted approach to theology died with him.

All those who bullied World Vision into retracting their position might as well marched alongside Westboro Baptist at military funerals with placards claiming Starve a Child, Save a Gay.







About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • April Terry

    Awesome. I just can’t reconcile how this could possibly reflect well on Christianity.

    • Kimberly

      It doesn’t at all and not only do I imagine there will be a flood of people who begin to consider leaving, I am pretty sure I am one of t hem. I imagine there will also be millions that might have considered exploring our tribe who will now look elsewhere for Grace. I know I am.

      • April Terry

        Well, Kimberly, I don’t blame your feelings at all. I know that the Christ I love looks nothing like this. He stood at the side of a woman condemned to be stoned and refused to condemn her. That’s why I am a Christian, but it’s also why I don’t go to church. *sigh*

        • Laurel

          Please remember, we’re supposed to follow Christ; not Christians. Humans sure do screw things up.

  • Kimberly

    Well done Karen. Thank you!

  • Laurel

    I totally agree with you… but to give people the benefit of the doubt, I would hope that the people who threatened to withdraw their money from World Vision, would have given it to some other group that worked toward alleviating hunger, especially for children. I’m not Evangelical, but I would really hope that they would have (or will) still contribute to feeding the hungry.

  • Caspian

    Wendy Murry posted about this fiasco too. As I did for her, I’d like to thank you for this article, Karen; especially being on the Evangelical Channel. Too often I
    see self congratulatory articles and sad attempts at justification for acts
    like this on the Patheos evangelical channel. It’s getting to the point that I no longer want to associate my christian walk with this crowd. Your post is a glimmer of hope.

    The rest below is just a little of what I posted at Wendy’s blog, I hope you don’t mind me posting here was well.

    World Vision is not a church, it’s a parachurch organization. It employs people from widely divergent theological views. But when WV proceeded to be consistent
    with that view, the evangelical ‘In crowd’ tilted back their collective heads and howled; threatening to defund the organization.

    In short, the evangelical community would rather see children starve then allow same-sex couples to even imagine they have a place at the table.

    Sickening! This is the height of selfishness from the dark side of Christianity.

    They’re lost in a forest of grace, blinded by the doctrinal trees.

    Faithfully, God once again uses the things of the world to confound the ‘wise’. A fair number of ‘unrepentant homosexuals’ began contributing funds as a sign of support for the welcome ‘breathe of fresh air’ from WV. Despite being betrayed and kicked in the proverbial teeth; they’ve decided to continue to support their
    child, accepting the responsibility they took upon themselves. Knowing that, at the end of the day, the child’s needs don’t begin and end with shallow biblical observances.

  • Shaun G. Lynch

    Uhmmm… has World Vision checked to make sure that none of their employees, straight or gay, are living in common-law relationships? Or, for that matter, engaging in sexual intercourse outside of marriage? I’m willing to bet that they even have employees who have tattoos (see Leviticus 19:28)!

    Way to go, phobic Christian* World Vision followers! You just gave Bill Maher and his atheist buddies yet another solid reason to identify all Christians as inherent hypocrites.

    *”Phobic Christian” is my term for Christians whose personal theology is driven by an overwhelming fear of personal eternal damnation should they fail to believe or act “correctly,” as defined by their narrow and generally superficial understanding of holy scripture. Put in biblical terms, this approach is more pharisaic than Christian.

    • Thursday1

      There is a distinction between sin and open and defiant sin.

      • Shaun G. Lynch

        I don’t recall any biblical source that makes a distinction between sin and “open and defiant” sin. Isn’t ALL sin, by definition, “open and defiant?” And aren’t we ALL sinners? So, if the rules require us to discriminate against sinners (again, biblical source needed), then doesn’t that mean that none of us should ever have anything to do with any others among us?

        • Steve Knudsen

          there is a biblical distinction, in Hebrews and in the OT law (Leviticus?) — easy to find with or some such

          • Shaun G. Lynch

            I’m not finding any evidence of that distinction.

          • Steve Knudsen

            Here is evidence. If you find counterevidence, either scriptural or theological, fine. I am not axe-grinding, just googling :)
            Hebrews 10:26-31, 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profanedthe blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

          • Shaun G. Lynch

            Thanks Steve! I hadn’t known what to look for.

            That said, this doesn’t really change my point. Christians who engage in premarital sexual relations — gay or straight — are likely well aware that such behaviour is sinful from a biblical perspective. The expression “living in sin” speaks to the widespread awareness of that. So for World Vision to discriminate against gay people in loving, committed relationships, but NOT against straight people who eschew similar commitment is, in my opinion, hypocritical.

            And for anyone opposed to gay marriage to have threatened to withhold funding from needy children in order to express their disagreement with World Vision’s now-abandoned stance in favour of hiring individuals in same-sex marriages is unconscionable.

  • Al Cruise

    The truth is Fred Phelps was just the tip of the iceberg. He was what you could see. The rest of the iceberg is mostly out of sight , and is the largest part. Such as The GC, Frank Graham, Albert Mohler, etc. In private the lower part of that iceberg was in total agreement with Fred. They would never say it like he did out of fear of political correctness , and to protect their own self image.

    • thekingscrier

      Or to avoid the inevitable backlash. Such is the way of prejudice and discrimination. There is a racist bigot on every street corner and in every household in America. But we don’t talk about that.

  • Jen K

    Thank you for writing this.

    And yes, I assume there are probably gay or lesbians of faith already working for World Vision. Probably also divorced-and-remarried people. Sigh.

  • Doug Johnson

    By the tone of this blog, I assume God is well pleased with you and not well pleased with those with whom you disagree. It is probably the most disheartening thing I face when Christian people condemn each other over politics or scripture interpretation. This whole “gay thing” is going to severely damage the Church, regardless of which side people are on. I can’t give up the Bible and I can’t give up gays. I don’t really know how I should deal with this but I do know this: Condemnation among ourselves is not it. Whatever fate awaits humanity, it awaits us all and the same God judges us all. We followers of Christ (weak and strong, gay or straight, pious or spiritual failures) all ride in the same boat. To cast out masses of lifelong, conscientious believers over this issue is unacceptable. I’m not leaving the Church and I’m not taking the easy road on this issue. Will you vow to do the same or should I abandon the Faith of my childhood and prepare for Hell?

  • attytjj466

    OK, so not giving to World Vision is the equivalent of starving a child? Really? And not supporting World Vision policy toward gay marriage is equivalent to being Westboro Baptist Church? Really? Last I knew, there were many many faith based organizations doing great work around the world feeding children and the like. Many doing a much better job than World Vision, dollar for dollar. Who one gives money to is a personal decision. Not a test of how good or bad a Christian one is, or so I thought. But I guess Jesus is ashamed if we don’t give to WV. Who knew. Interesting that WV markets itself to Evangelicals, and wants their money, which not doubt they need when they pay the president of WV over 1 million dollars. Apparently the good Christians, whom Jesus is not ashamed of, don’t give enough money to keep WV afloat, go figure. WV also needs the tainted fundy dollars too. Would kids starve before that salary was ever touch? Something to think about. But in any case, don’t embarrass Jesus, keep sending your money you hateful Evangelical gay haters like Westboro Baptist Church, but keep your backward opinions and thoughts to yourself, or the author, speaker, and journalism instructor might have to write another nasty blog about you and how you starve children.

    • thekingscrier

      If your god exists, it should be ashamed of hypocrisy. The hypocrisy presented in this case is: Everyone is god’s child, unless you’re gay or want to treat gay people as equals under the law. Then you’re not a “true” Christian or one of god’s children.

      • Damien Van Der Putten

        So hypothetically, if Christians withdrew their support of WV because WV promoted pedophilia would you still call them hypocrites?

        • thekingscrier

          Nice try. Pedophilia is both a crime and a mental-sexual disorder according to every mental health organization. I would hope Christians could be decent enough to not give money to an organization that promoted pedophilia. Then again, the Catholic Church still gets plenty of money each year, so there you go.

          I have to say, as a bisexual man, your implication that homosexuality is similar to pedophilia is disgusting on a moral level. There is a massive difference between two consenting adults of the same gender having sex and someone raping a child.

          You also did not address the hypocrisy I mentioned concerning the Christian message. Try to stay on topic.

        • Guest

          When people compare homosexuality to pedophilia, I always wonder if those Christians have guilty consciences from molesting their own kids.

    • silicon28

      Jesus is ashamed of Christians doing exactly the same thing and living out the same attitudes of those scribes and Pharisees that he reserved his anger and indignation for more than any other group. We has met the enemy… and he is us – especially when such sarcasm is considered “adult” or reasonable behavior in the public arena…

      • TapestryGarden

        Amazing you can speak for Jesus! I was completely unaware He had returned to this earth!

        • radiofreerome

          Why not? Is it only bigots like you who get to write of fabrications and fantasies as though they are facts?

  • Laro

    You act as though World Vision is the only Organization out there capable of helping these starving children with our Jesus momey. The money won’t stop coming in to help these children, just through some other organization that calls itself a Christian organization and lives up to Christian standards without compromising Christian beliefs based on the BIBLE.

    • Thursday1

      Amen. The criticisms leveled here and elsewhere often don’t even make basic sense.

    • silicon28

      Which “Christian beliefs” based on the BIBLE (nice SHOUTING, by the way…) would you be talking about? Those prohibiting menstruating women from worship because they are an “abomination?” Perhaps those that don’t deal with slaves the way that same BIBLE tells them to? Or maybe that little problem with Ephesians chapter 5 that the conservative evangelicals have never figured out where they erroneously support their “males-only” vision of leadership? In other words? It’s SO, so easy to shout out little sound bites. It’s actually more difficult to truly understand what you are actually shouting about…

      • TapestryGarden

        Before referring to the Bible, please gain some knowledge about what it contains, the difference between the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and New Testament and which applies to whom. If you had a clue about what the Bible says you would know that Christ freed us from the laws of the Hewbrew Bible regarding menstruating women, food, wearing blended fabrics etc. It’s a good try but you don’t know what you are talking about.

        • silicon28

          I know enough to both say shame on you and to rebuke you to review Romans 14:4 in regard to your obvious – and sinful – judgmental spirit… Let’s all put our heads together to discover what God thinks about that? I’d say Matthew chapter 7 or Luke chapter 6 is more than an ample beginning… (And by the way: Not only do you ignore both of my N.T. examples, you should also revisit the heresy of Marcion – you are awfully close there as well…)

          • TapestryGarden

            Quoting a few verses, completely out of context just proves you truly do not know enough about the Bible to start making claims about my “spirit.” How ironic in claiming I am judgmental that you have proven YOU are judgmental. None of this is relevant to the actual issue. People are free to choose where to donate their money and if they do not believe the organization’s philosophy or its practices are in accordance with the donor’s beliefs, why should they be demonized for wanting to donate to an organization with which they agree? There are many organizations that spend their funds on the children and not promoting a gay agenda. That WV was so unconcerned about their mission that they jeopardized it to help the gay agenda move forward indicates they are not using their funds in the most effective manner.

          • silicon28

            Show me the error of my ways, o thou great learned one! Enlighten me as to where I’m so confused and taking a “few verses” out of context! All I see is someone angry as hell and lashing out at anyone who disagrees with him or her – with absolutely no supporting evidence to back up their point of view besides snarky insults that all but prove your own lack of maturity and theological insight. But we’ll wait; here’s your chance to save our souls… (I’ll bet you can’t resist just another insulting little rant…)

          • TapestryGarden

            Interesting your powers of interpretation. I’m not the slightest bit angry. I am just amazed at how much hysteria was generated by an organization that made an apparently misguided decision that detracted from its mission. Suddenly those who do not want to support WV’s policy change are likened to Mr Phelps (whom I have seen in action before his recent death). Have you ever heard the quote that when the argument is lost, slander is the tool of the loser. (Socrates not the Bible FWIW). Instead of defending WV’s decision, those who disagree with private individuals who apparently made a decision regarding THEIR donations have declared such individuals are bigots or H8ERs or any of the usual suspects when anyone dare disagree with the gay lobby’s determination to shove their disordered attractions upon the greater public.

            But no I am not at all angry, just amused at the way a simple decision on the part of WV and its donor base has been ginned up into such a bloody froth.

          • silicon28

            Yeah… I didn’t think you would actually respond to defend your first points made in a comment to me. (And trust me – the majority of your 255 comments make it perfectly clear how incredibly angry you are; anyone with the slightest bit of pastoral counseling experience sees that…)

            But Okie dokie then… I think you can simply be ignored from this point on…

          • TapestryGarden

            Ditto :-)

          • Steve Knudsen

            OK, TapestryGarden and silicon28, stop wasting your words! I think your epistemological and hermeneutical positions are clear enough, and now you are just tearing each other down!

          • silicon28

            You are two days late, perhaps a dollar short – and apparently didn’t read to the end here Steve. But a nice play at being “mama” in public with people that probably aren’t really impressed with your vocabulary choices… (I.E., jumping in and acting like “the adult in the room” a couple of days late is really condescending and arrogant.)

    • axelbeingcivil

      Actually, that money will stop coming in to help these children, because the infrastructure to help the children that World Vision is helping is managed through their organization. If that infrastructure disappears, it will take time and money to reestablish it, assuming it ever is, as there are so many kids out there in need that, quite simply, many will get left behind.

      You need to ask yourself a question: Is the harm you will do by diverting funds worth the stand you are taking? Are children starving and villages losing schools and doctors worth declaring that gays cannot work with Christians to help those in need?

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Laro: No. I don’t act like that. If your money is being devoted elsewhere and you aren’t at all affected by this blog posting, then why act like you have a dog in the fight?

  • dave

    What on earth ever made you qualified to express your opinion on a blog site like this? Clearly you had a friend who owed you one, or they were scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for someone with zero analytical skills or honesty.

    • axelbeingcivil

      Can I quote you? This is a pretty perfect example of an ad hominem attack and I’d like to record it to show others in future. You see, your post addresses precisely nothing this person said, instead questioning their credentials on something that, in truth, doesn’t really require credentials. This is an opinion piece, not a scientific journal. This is followed by an attack on their honesty, without ever addressing how.

      Yes, this is a picture-perfect example of a baseless and fallacious attack masquerading as a counter-argument.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Uh… it’s my blog.

  • dave

    If anyone is going to bury World Vision now, it’s these liberal zealots who think they should drive out the Christian conservatives who stand for real marriage. If World Vision goes under, I will blame the people who whined and cried when things didn’t go their way – people like Rachel Held Evans, who have a gay chip on their shoulders, and cannot see past their own short-sighted bigotry.

    • axelbeingcivil

      Wait, the people who are accept the lifestyles of others are bigots, while those who don’t, aren’t? You’ve got a funny dictionary there, my friend. Is war peace, freedom slavery, and ignorance strength?

  • RockyC

    Truly is it a shame–and life or death issue for the WV-sponsored children–for Christians to cancel their support. Had WV maintained their unbiblical SSM stance, Christians should simply fulfill their commitments until the kids graduate from the program and then support kids in other programs that don’t compromise.

    But surely Karen, you recognize that WV brought this upon themselves. They’re a Christian organization. They appeal to Christians to give. But when they say “give like Jesus would” with their right hand and then deny Jesus’ standards for sexuality with their left they are behaving in an Biblically incoherent manner that confuses everyone and hurts their worthy cause.

    Instead, why not simply maintain Biblical integrity and follow Jesus with both hands?

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Rocky: I don’t concede that WV brought this upon themselves. I think WV initial decision was entirely in keeping with their mission of being devotees to Christ. I don’t think that people who pulled their support, or threatened to pull their support acted much like Jesus.

      • RockyC

        Perhaps you are correct Karen about WV’s motives; you probably know better than I do. But it is very hard for me to believe that they didn’t anticipate some kind of negative reaction. I mean c’mon…really!?

        And as I stated, I’m in full agreement with you that canceling one’s child sponsorships was terribly misguided and potentially life-threatening for the children.

        But the whole ordeal was completely avoidable–WV simply had to remain in keeping with Jesus’ sexual standards. I noticed that you didn’t answer that question Why not? Does it not make sense?

        God Bless,


        • Karen Spears Zacharias

          I didn’t respond to it because I honestly don’t have a clue what that means – “Jesus’ sexual standards.” I can make an assumption that by that you mean Homosexuality as a lifestyle choice. As I stated in my book Where’s Your Jesus Now? for some it may be a lifestyle choice – a choice of promiscuity. But for many it is not a lifestyle choice. It it how they were created. If you want to argue about whether they were created that way, you’d have to take that matter up with God. There is a lot of mystery in life that I simply can’t explain or understand so I just trust. And what I trust in this matter is that the very God who created the gay man and/or the lesbian woman loves them every bit as much as he does me or you. That he loves them just as they are. The same way he loves you and me. And that he celebrates them, rejoices over them and would never mandate that they live up to some cultural norm in order to gain his approval or affection. I still maintain that WV first response was the correct one, the one most in line with their ministry of compassion and mercy, and most in line with Jesus’ example. I understand that many will not agree with me on this. What I don’t understand, however, is how they make the leap from not agreeing to “punishing”.

  • Steve Knudsen

    uh, no. You can support Compassion, International, and everyone has freedom of conscience to support World Vision, regardless of its position on its employees

  • Tony Russell

    Well said!