World Vision: Why Labels Are Important

As of today, March 26th, World Vision has reversed its decision according to this article in Christianity Today. I’m thankful that their leadership listened to wise, biblical counsel and I trust that the men who supported the initial policy change have repented of any sin that might have led them to this decision. We all face decisions on a daily basis where we have the opportunity to give into the fear of man. May Jesus continue to give us strength and courage though the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we face such decisions.

Yesterday, World Vision, the global non-profit organization that brings aid and resources to people in need all over the world, announced a new policy for hiring employees in its American branch. According to this article in Christianity Today, President Richard Stearns announced they will now no longer require their employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman allowing people in same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian charities.

Hello My Name Is

While the world responds on their social media platform of choice, I thought I’d take a moment to work through my own initial thoughts.

First, I have been a fan of World Vision for many years, working with them to help raise support through various events and concerts all over the nation. Their headquarters is a short drive from the city I currently reside in and I’ve had a handful of friends work for them over the years. Their work all over the globe to be a hand of aid and resource to people in need has made a significant difference in the lives of hurting people.

It’s because of my past connection and my knowledge of their efforts that makes this news even more difficult to digest. So let me get to the heart of what is so disturbing for me.

World Vision promotes itself as a Christian humanitarian organization.

Now, if they just promoted them self as a humanitarian organization I would have no reason to be disturbed. I believe that businesses and organizations have every right to create policies and run themselves as they feel led according to their own conscious as they come under the authority, rules, and ordinances of the government they reside within. I also believe that free citizens should have the right to choose whom they support through patronage and support.

Now, this may shock you but it’s my opinion that most Christians tend to do a poor job of playing well with others. This is most likely the reason World Vision was initially created. Christians saw a need to be a part of the solution to fight global poverty and created an organization to steward the resources and efforts of like-minded people to do just that. While I do think that driven and gifted Christians should be using their talents to create businesses and organizations to change and serve the world I also believe that partnering with effective organizations who are already in place and have a history of success is a viable option and might be the best option.

The church that I have the great pleasure of serving as a Pastor, Mars Hill Church Olympia, has moved its offices, Sunday services, and events into a building to serve as our home in downtown Olympia. We are currently researching and talking with local organizations who are already making a difference in our community by serving people in need. While some of these organizations have Biblical roots and values, such as the Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission, there are other organizations that do not share our Biblical values that we still find common ground together in desiring to serve those people who find themselves in need in our beautiful city.

The issue with World Vision is not their history and ability to do good work.

The issue is that they call them self a Christian organization who now has implemented a policy that is clearly not in alignment with Biblical values. Their argument is that they don’t want to get into the debate of same-sex marriage but by their own policy change it lands them directly in the middle of it.

Let me be clear. The issue for me is not that they support same-sex marriage. The issue is that they call them self a Christian organization while supporting something that is clearly not Biblical. Now, you may disagree with that statement and tell me that in your brand of Christianity same-sex marriage is perfectly acceptable. And I would say your foolish. But that’s really a whole other post for another day, but I’ll give you a quick example why.

If a Jewish deli moves into town and brands itself as “Goldberg’s Jewish Deli” I am expecting it to be a Jewish deli giving me a Jewish deli experience when I go there. And let’s say I go there and fall in love with the food, even to the point of telling people that Jewish food is now my favorite and I become the ambassador for people to experience Jewish food at Goldberg’s. Now, let’s say a Jewish family moves next door to me and I rave about this Jewish deli and we go together to share a meal there. As we sit down and look over the menu my new Jewish friend begins to chuckle. I ask him what’s so funny and he looks at me with that smile and tells me that hardly anything on the menu actually represents Jewish food. Sure, there’s a few Jewish items but for the most part the menu is actually a sampling of all types of Middle Eastern cuisines.

Here’s the rub. I’ve been going around town the last two years raving about this place and compelling other people to join in this Jewish experience. The problem is, it’s not really a Jewish experience and I’ve led people astray, especially myself.

That’s why this is so disturbing to me and it’s not just World Vision, it’s all sorts of organizations parading themselves as Christian churches and organizations who treat Christianity like Thomas Jefferson treated his bible and cut out all of the sections that he didn’t agree with. Guess what? That’s not Christianity. That’s something else entirely.

I get it. You like Jesus. He talks about love and serving and doing good things. But you’re ignoring a lot of other stuff Jesus said and because it offends you, you brush it off and tell yourself Jesus was just having a bad day and didn’t really mean it. This is foolishness.

I believe that one of the foundational elements of being a Christian is being under the authority and guidance of the entire Bible where Jesus reveals who he is, what he has done, and what he calls us to do and because I believe I see clearly throughout both the Old and New Testament that same-sex relationships is not his desired intentions for our lives I cannot support World Vision calling themselves a Christian organization.

To do so would be to encourage people to participate in an organization that is not truthful to who it says it is, good work aside. To call yourself Christian means you need to agree and align yourself with all that Jesus says. And I fully understand that none of us are perfect, we’re all sinners and we’re all going to mess up. That’s not what this is. Here we find an organization that isn’t just messing up but rather, is blatantly trying to rewrite what is Christian and that I can not support.

My encouragement to World Vision is to no longer associate yourself as a Christian organization. Be a humanitarian organization that does great work, in the same vein as the Red Cross. But don’t call yourself a Christian organization, because it’s obvious you no longer are.

And that’s why I can not and will not support you until you either reverse your policy change or remove the Christian affiliation from your branding. Now, some of you will be upset by this because you love World Vision and you don’t want kids in need to suffer. For you, I have a final recommendation.

Make sure you clearly understand what your World Vision support goes to. Shaun Groves has a great post on this and you’ll find all this information on the World Vision website as well to validate this. I have seen many posts pleading with people not to drop their support because the child you sponsor and whose picture hangs from your fridge will stop getting meals and support. While World Vision support may effect your child on a macro level, you might need a little more education on what World Vision actually does and how it functions in regards to serving the needs of your specific child. If you are considering moving your support to a Christian organization that works with children in need all over the world, I would encourage you to check out Compassion International. Our church has been working with them, specifically in the country of Ethiopia where I recently returned from a trip and I love their heart to invest their funds into the lives of these children directly through the work of the local church.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.