I was quite disappointed yesterday by World Vision president Richard Stearns’ announcement that the mamouth mercy ministry “will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman”. While I do not agree with the decision World Vision to cave on the issue of marriage, it was not so much the decision that disturbs me, as much as it was the gauling shallowness of the rationale.
Stearns, with an apparent lack of incredulity, declared that he made this decision for the “unity of the church”. What a crock. Whether the decision was valid or not, don’t hide behind such a cowardly and codnescending facade.
I initially read the article with sincere hopes that he would give good reason for the policy change. I suspect that there are a variety good – or at least plausible – reasons an organization with the scope and mission of World Vision could be led to adopt this new policy without necessarily compromising. These reasons would probably not apply to groups such as Young Life or Campus Crusade, which are distinctly evangelistic. But World Vision is primarily humanitarian. I suspect it is quite possible to make sure people have water, and food, and other necessities, without all who play a role in the logistics necessarily believing the gospel or live consistently with the implications of the gospel.
But Stearns does not come close to giving a reasonable reason – nor, in my opinion, even an honest one. If he and the organization want to drop a commitment to Biblical authority, that would be their right I suppose. But please spare us the baloney.
It is insulting that Stearns thinks likening this issue to differering perspectives on doctrines like baptism or ecclesiology is an acceptable argument. That’s like comparing apples to potatos. While he has a point that the church is inconsistent on the issue of divorce and remarriage, at least part of the reason for the inconsistencey is because there are both biblical reasons and bibilcal prohibitions for the allowance of divorce. Each divorce requires church leaders to give diligent, thoughtful consideration in light of the biblical parameters. Often times it gets messy, because you are dealing with hurting broken people. And while a number of churches are slack because of the complexities of individual divorce cases, it is something altogether to declare behaviors that have no biblical support whatsoever fall into the same category. Increased public support in recent years is not the same as a change in the biblical standard.
OK, no doubt one can find theologians from the denominations Stearns cited who embrace and encourage the support of gay marriage. But then again, every one of those denominations long ago forsook the Bible as their authoritative standard – to be God’s Word. That is not to say that there are no faithful people in the churches of these denomination, only that the denominations as a whole long ago left the faith of their fathers behind. Those holding to historic biblical principles are a minority in those groups. So citing those who have vacated their historic standard as being the authorities on the standard they they no longer believe seems fallacious.
(NOTE: While my perspective could easily be dismissed as merely a biased opinion, I suspect leaders in each of these denominations would proudly declare themselves to have moved beyond the “primitive” teachings of the Bible. So I do not think I am saying anything that would be offensive to them.)
No doubt much more will be written on this subject in the days ahead. In the mean time I thought I would post some other opinions I consider worth reading:
- Franklin Graham
- Russell Moore
- Justin Taylor
- John Piper
- Kevin DeYoung – here & here (updated 3/26/14)
- Darrell Bock (added 3/26/14)
Of course all of these voices are speaking out against the action of World Vision. Wantitng to be fair, I will update this post and add thoughtful opinions of proponents when I find them.
UPDATE (3/28/14) – On Wednesday March 26 World Vision reversed plans to change their policy with regards to hiring those in same-sex marriages. This change came less than 48 hours after their initial announcement. Below are a few accounts of World Vision’s reversal: