I officially know what an aneurysm feels like, because I think I just had one this morning.
Brace yourself, because you might have one too. At least we’ll all go through it together.
Yesterday as told via Christianity Today, the Christian relief organization World Vision announced that it was making a major policy change in their hiring practices here in America: they will now hire gay Christians who are married. As a Christian organization, World Vision has long had some pretty strict ethical requirements of their employees, as they still do. For example, single employees are required to abstain from sex until marriage. Married couples are required to be faithful to their marriage. In the announcement yesterday however, World Vision announced that they would now hire gay Christians if they were married and faithful to their marriage.
The reason for the change is that World Vision recognized that they are not a church, but a Christian NGO. Having seen the way Christianity in America has become divided over this issue, they decided to take a reasonable, peace-making approach. Since they are a broad Christian organization representing many Christian traditions, and a growing number of Christian traditions have embraced same sex marriage, they thought that that a reasonable approach to the issue was the best way to encompass the diversity in the body of Christ. In an interview with Christianity Today, President Richard Sterns said the change “should be viewed by others as ‘symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.'”
In the original piece, Sterns goes onto say that as an NGO, it’s not their place to take a theological stance on divisive issues– that’s the role of local churches:
“Denominations disagree on many, many things: on divorce and remarriage, modes of baptism, women in leadership roles in the church, beliefs on evolution, etc.,” he said. “So our practice has always been to defer to the authority and autonomy of local churches and denominational bodies on matters of doctrine that go beyond the Apostles’ Creed and our statement of faith. We unite around our [Trinitarian beliefs], and we have always deferred to the local church on these other matters.”
What World Vision is doing is a beautiful example of Jesus’ command to be peace makers. They are not a church, they are not theologians– they are relief workers. As such, they have decided to leave the theological debates up to the theologians and instead focus on bringing more Christians into the fold of helping the poor and oppressed of this world. From the OP:
“It’s been heartbreaking to watch this issue rip through the church,” he said. “It’s tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We’ve got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity.”
I applaud World Vision for taking the difficult path of peace-making. However, not everyone is. The conservative Christian internet (especially the Southern Baptist internet) is exploding with promises to pull their child sponsorships, sponsorships which provide clean water, food, medicine and education to impoverished children around the globe. Here are a few of the comments that made me want to smash my face into my computer screen:
Translation: “I have sponsored this child for many years now and built a relationship with them. Yes, I know that this is a specific child with a real name and real story who will miss my letters. I know that this child may end up dying from lack of access to clean water or medicine without my help. I understand that without the education my donation provides, this child is at high risk of a life of trafficking and exploitation. Yes, I know that my donation makes sure they get three square meals a day and that without it, they’re going to be hungry. But, I simply must abandon this child now that I realize Janice from accounting has a wife.” Rage Against the Minivan said it best:
“Is access to food, water, and education trumped by keeping gay people out of a job at a nonprofit? If we want to serve people, we should not make distinctions about who we serve, and we should not deny those we serve out of disunity or division. It’s astounding to me that Christians would take food from starving children because a gay person might have helped in getting it there.”
Here’s the irony in all this: the folks pulling their support and the Baptist machine that feeds them are actually the ones who should be bid “farewell” (Christian code-word for having left orthodox Christianity). Any time your theology causes you to leave hungry children with empty bellies or sick children without medicine, it has ceased to be orthodox theology. And you can quote me on that one.
At any rate, I hope by now you’re as pissed off as I am, but this this is where I flip the article around on you.
Conservative Christians appear to be abandoning these children in droves, and someone needs to stand in the gap and do the right thing. Enter you (and me), stage left.
When I wrote an article about poverty a few weeks ago, 73,400 of you shared it on social media. It’s time to see if we just enjoy posting about Christian hypocrisy, or if we’re actually serious about being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Sponsoring a child through World Vision costs an astounding $35 bucks a month– that’s basically what it costs to get a single drink at Starbucks (seriously, Sbux is EXPENSIVE). For your $35, World Vision provides things like clean water, healthcare, education, food, child protection, and economic development. When you sponsor a child, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know them, exchange letters and pictures, and actually be a part of their life albeit from a distance. Sponsoring a child as a beautiful and engaging experience. And it’s only $35 bucks a month.
So the question becomes: do we believe in this stuff enough to put our money where our mouth is? If you believe that World Vision is doing great work around the world and that their policy changes is a good Christ-like example, and if you believe that it’s disgusting that so many Christians are leaving their children high and dry over the issue, are you willing to step in with your $35 and say “I am outraged enough to take action”? Please, join me. As soon as I publish this piece, I’m going straight to the World Vision website, and that $35 a month is coming straight off the top of my royalty checks.
But, I’m just one person– I need you to join me. I need you to stand in the gap with me and so many other Christians who refuse to allow children to be exploited because some of us refuse to be reasonable on the issue of same sex marriage. Don’t leave me hanging on this one, let’s do this together and watch our sponsored children grow together. I want to hear how it changes you, and changes your sponsored child– and I’ll be inviting all of you along for the ride with the new child I sponsor so that we can all walk this road together.
If you sponsor a child today, please say so in the comments section so that we can encourage more people to follow suit. Please share this piece on social medial and encourage others to sponsor a child today so that we can get a movement going to make up for all the folks pulling support. We can make up this difference if we all work together. Let’s get those sponsorships rolling in! Just click the image below to sponsor your child:
* Update ** My family just sponsored a child through the World Vision website! Her name is Jacquis and she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We’re excited to support her, and to be part of her life. Please join us– sponsoring a child takes less than five minutes when you go to the website!