World Vision’s Decision & the Hazard of Drawing Lines

World Vision’s announcement they will accept same-sex married couples into their employ has stirred a backlash. In arguing against this concession, one well-known website has argued:

“To treat regular homosexual intercourse as less dangerous than fornication, adultery, greed, theft, and drunkenness is to treat perdition as if it were a small thing, or not really coming. [This list is derived from 1 Corinthians 6]. The same text that imperils active fornicators and adulterers and thieves and coveters, also imperils those who practice homosexuality.”

My point is not take issue with the whether or not you agree with the validity of Paul’s sense of things. My point pertains to the above-noted reasoning: if fornication, greed, theft etc. are as imperiling as homosexuality (according to Paul and according to the Christian web site), then why not also prohibit fornicators, materialists, and plagiarists (which is theft) from also being hired? Do Christian employers  hire people who are greedy? Who look longingly at their neighbor’s new car? Where is this line drawn when it comes to Paul’s list of imperiling sins? If we apply the same mandate (no hiring of practicing sinners) to all issues highlighted by Paul in his lists* of imperiling sins, which, as noted above are “equally dangerous,” then Christian workplaces ought also to expunge the following:

Anyone who is hostile and unkind; who drinks too much, eats too much, talks too much and stirs up conflict; anyone who pursues self-serving ambition, flies into a rage, displays jealously toward others; who envies those whom they secretly hate; anyone who hosts or attends rage-rs; who peeps at pornography or other dirty pictures; who wishes they had their neighbor’s patio furniture; who loses their cool; who picks a fight; who is needlessly quarrelsome or pugilistic; who thinks nasty thoughts; who indulges in fantasies; who speaks harshly of another and to another; who bullies people with words or gestures; who harbors bitterness; who exhibits self-righteousness; who makes up stories about someone; who dreams of other men (or women)–not their spouse; who goes after money first; who takes what belongs to someone else, whether for preaching, teaching, or writing — and also who takes another’s dignity; who abuses someone who trusts or depends on them; who cheats; who has cheap sex (hetero or homo), even with a spouse (yes, it is possible to “fornicate” with one’s spouse); who lies about God; who serves something or someone other than God; who expresses hate; who tricks people; who back-stabs people who’ve been good to them; who thinks he/she knows more than everybody else and looks down on people; who makes sure everybody hears their story, especially how great they are; who doesn’t keep their word; shows no helpfulness toward others, nor heart-felt compassion; who does not give credit to God but takes it; who kills people literally, or with words; who makes up stories about decent people and tells lies about them; who invents ways to rip people off; who shows no fidelity, no love, no mercy; who is idle; who talks nonsense; who says things they ought not to say; who meddles.

If one sin on Paul’s list is sufficient to warrant exclusion from employment, then all sins on Paul’s list ought to be similarly excluded. If this logic is selectively applied, whoever puts themselves in the position to draw these lines needs to explain why one sin is okay and another isn’t.

Imagine the workplace in which  all sinners have been expunged! Then the real Christians can get on with doing God’s work.


*Galatians 5; Philippians 3; Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 6; Romans 1; 1 Timothy 5

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About Wendy Murray

Wendy Murray is a veteran and award-winning journalist. She served as associate editor and Senior Writer at Christianity Today magazine and has written extensively for other publications such as Books & Culture and The Christian Century. She has written 11 books.

  • mhelbert

    “Imagine the workplace in which all sinners have been expunged!”
    There would be no one working anywhere.

    • RustbeltRick

      Exactly. Also, World Vision’s mission is to serve the poor. If they need to hire a Muslim well-digger and an atheist engineer to most effectively carry out a project that benefits the poor, is that really a problem?

      • Wendy Murray

        Well put. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • f_galton

    The difference is people who who covet their neighbor’s patio furniture won’t subvert your organization if you let them in.

    • Wendy Murray

      Dear f_galton,
      I disagree. How does unofficial acquiescence to covetousness (that is, accepting the mindset that allows someone to feel all right about coveting his neighbor’s patio furniture) — which in turn allows for the encroachment of materialism, self-interest, worldly thinking, and wasted self-focused money expenditures — NOT subvert the church? Indeed the church is already subverted and doesn’t see it, being too preoccupied selecting which subversions can be settled upon and which must be confronted. This is hypocrisy.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Dr Mike

    While I agree with your conclusion (i.e., that grace needs to be extended equally), I’m somewhat troubled by your argument at a couple of points. First, the reasoning you employ could lead to antinomianism: if no one is perfect, then no one can be expected to obey any of God’s commands. The sins of all should be overlooked because, for example, the sins of the gossip are no worse than those of the adulterer. It’s not a necessary outcome of your argument, but it is a possible one.

    Second, Luther* remarked,

    “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

    Certainly not all wisdom resided in or died with Luther but I think his point is applicable to this situation. We must fight with the resources God has given us (Eph 6.10-18) and we must act with humility, mercy, and grace – in short with godliness.

    * At least, Luther is credited with the comment by Schaeffer.