Shame on us

THE WORLD VISION SAME SEX DECISIONS AND THE REPERCUSSIONS

Interesting… I was halfway through writing this blog Wednesday and everything flipped on its head. If you missed the scoop, here’s the skinny:

-       A few days ago international world relief organization World Vision decided to “hire gay Christians in same sex marriages.”

-       In response, evangelical Christians began pulling their support for World Vision, which, according to some sources with contacts at World Vision, resulted in thousands of children losing their sponsorships.

-       Then late Wednesday, March 26th, World Vision reversed its decision, posting, “We failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own statement of faith.”

It’s sad to see how these events are polarizing people. I have just two things to say:

(and before you crucify me for either one of the points, please read both)

1. I’m disappointed with World Vision for their first decision. I think they were not only inconsistent with their beliefs in their own statement of faith, they were inconsiderate of their church partners.

Yes, like many others, I disagree with World Vision’s first decision theologically, but sadly, their decision also trickled down to every pastor who has ever supported World Vision. This week every evangelical pastor across the U.S. began receiving phone calls, “Are we still going to sponsor World Vision?”

Today I happened to be eating lunch with a pastor of a large church in the Sacramento Suburbs. I asked him, “How is this World Vision decision affecting you?”

He said, “Jonathan. We just raised $360,000 for a water project with World Vision in Ethiopia. I already have people bailing out on their commitment to that project, and we’ve committed to do it. I don’t want people in Ethiopia to suffer because of this decision.”

This decision was already affecting my church. Every year my church embarks on an AIDS kit build with World Vision. We raise about $25,000 and put together over 1,000 care kits to help people with AIDS around the world. In the last few days my pastor has been receiving calls, “Are we going to do the kit build this year?”

World Vision hurt its church partners when it made this decision, and only time will tell how people will actually react to its reversal.

But almost more than I’m upset with World Vision…

2. I’m equally disappointed with so many evangelicals who were cancelling their sponsorships of children all over the world.

I sponsor a child with World Vision. I have for years.

Let me be clear:

I’m not going to punish a 13-year-old girl in Ethiopia for a decision made in a World Vision boardroom in the U.S.

Yes, the decision World Vision made has ramifications to consider. I agree wholeheartedly and will definitively deliberate about those issues in the future. Maybe the next kid I sponsor will be with Compassion. But if I made a commitment to a kid with World Vision… then cancelling a sponsorship primarily hurts that kid.

What is my little girl in Ethiopia going to think of Christians, and ultimately, Christ, if I pull my support and stop writing her letters?

Why should multiple villages who were going to receive a fresh water source be punished?

And Now…
And now the decision is reversed… and some are rejoicing.

I can’t really see much to rejoice about. No matter what, Christians come out looking like idiots with this one.

Shame on us.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
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21 Responses to Shame on us

  1. Jenny R says:

    We, as a collective church, are bungling up this issue, in such a big way. We need to love, not judge, and treat this like all other sins, not like a “special sin.” I am in agreement with your points Jon…shame on WV to begin with, but why take that out on hurting, starving children…just shameful!! We need to be more thoughtful and compassionate when making decisions. Perhaps ask for a minute, what would Jesus do, instead of making knee jerk reactions…anyone who reads and studies about Jesus in the Bible would know he loves, but did not justify behavior, he told the adulterous woman to go and sin no more, he did not cast that stone that ONLY he would be worthy to cast. You are right, we’re looking like idiots…again…

  2. Greg Krauss says:

    Totally agree with you Jonathan. What it says to me though about World Vision is the following: “while we have listened to you, we have changed our views back to how they used to be… But we really don’t believe that statement anymore.”

    Hard for me to believe that the minds that changed the policy have had a change of heart or a convicting encounter with God to truly change their minds about this.

  3. Sean says:

    Slighly confused by the problem. Honestly.

    From what I can figure you guys are mad that this charity has allowed Gay Christians in same sex marriages to work for them?

    If that’s what I’m reading, then this sudden reversal will eventually reverse right back to allowing it. Hope you guys know that.

    • Yeah, we realize that Sean. My main concern is that children are the ones taking shrapnel (sp?) in the meantime. No cool.

      • Sean says:

        Agree completely. that the allowing of gay married Christians to work for this charity was enough to cause kids in need to miss out doesn’t make your side look good at all.Trivial issue to my side. Something y’all will have to continue to work on I guess. People are moving on, and so is this charity. An overwhelming number voted in favor originally and only reversed because of back lash. Which means time will pass and as more people become accepting the issue will reverse right back. Might as well accept it now and look at the bigger picture, which in this case is helping kids. Surely not the hiring of people who I doubt are out to harm anyone.

  4. Matthew says:

    I cannot imagine a scenario where someone is truly honouring God and worshipping Jesus, when the statement they make is “God has called me to help the poor and needy, but only if I totally agree with a company’s policies.”

    As you’ve said, it makes zero sense to hurt a child by pulling sponsorship away, and it only cripples the witness of Christ in that family, community, and maybe even country.

  5. Steven Bales says:

    Excellent article Jonathan. I totally agree with you. Jesus called us to be like Him To love everyone and the least of these. World Vision made some poor choices, but those who pull their sponsorship aren’t hurting World Vision, they are hurting those that God has called us to help. Jesus hung out with some pretty messed up people, he didn’t chose to help only those that followed his teachings. He wanted to help everyone to have a relationship with his father and we should do the same.

    Keep up the great work Jonathan!

  6. Ann Holeso says:

    Amen Jon! I totally agree, shame on them, shame on us…only ones to suffer are the children.

  7. Tracey says:

    Thanks Jonathan. We had this EXACT discussion last night at our Bible Study. Several people there support children thru WV and they were not pulling their sponsorships for the reasons you stated. Unfortunately, WV will lose overall when people’s sponsorships end and like you mentioned, may find another org. to work with. WV has tainted their pool of willing Christians to support them, because it’s the same as politicians telling us that a tax increase is temporary.” Wink, wink. ( I live in IL and this is going on right now) At some point, this is a snare that Christians will either have to support and lose or die and gain.

  8. Nathanael Taylor says:

    I understand the overriding disappointment at the children being those hurt in the end, but I must look at this from a Biblical perspective. I need to love these children – we are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that the greatest of spiritual gifts is love. But when I look at the character of God (and I see love, patience, kindness and many other attributes), I am hit smack between the eyes with His holiness. Every other attribute emanates from and must satisfy his holiness. When a group like World Vision chooses to go against a clear teaching of scripture (the Bible uses the word sodomy to include the whole gay/lesbian issue) I must remind myself that to do God’s work of loving these children in a way that disregards His holiness is sin. I am compelled in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I would hope that those who have pulled their support from World Vision were fervently searching for an alternative means of supporting the same causes. As a Christian, I must be steadfast always abounding in the work of the Lord. I cannot let someone else’s choice cause me to quit serving God in the capacity in which He has directed me. But neither can I continue partnering with the same organization that chooses to oppose clear teachings of Scripture. And let me paint with a broad brush for a moment, the Gay/Lesbian issue may be a frontrunner on the church scene right now, but there are plenty of other issues that should cause me to reconsider my associations.

    Jonathan, I believe that I have the same heart goal as you, but I must disagree with at least your title. Shame on World Vision for going against Scripture. Shame on Us only if we cut association with them and do nothing to replace their association with another organization that will help us continue to accomplish the showing of God’s love to those in need.

    Thanks for all you do to provoke Christians to love and good works.

  9. Rick Nier says:

    Agreed. I find it interesting, especially since I deal with teens consistently, that World Vision, and many of its supporters, both appear to be guilty of making quick decisions. Isn’t this what we discourage in teenagers?

    Take your time. Think through the consequences of an action. Then make a thoughtful response.

    Our youth group has been doing the 30 Hour Famine. We’ve only just begun this year’s process, but I immediately thought through the consequences of going ahead or changing plans. But the one thing I did not do was instantly email all my group and tell them it’s off. I still may wait a day or two because…who knows?

  10. Ryan Jacobs says:

    I think that WV could have completed their objective if they would have done it in another way. By labeling it as “uniting the church” it is clearly against scripture. We are called to bring the kingdom of God near to all people groups. They could have hired anybody they wanted to and said that they are trying to bring those people into a righteous relationship with God by bringing the kingdom of God near to them. The way they went about it was wrong.

    On the other hand, we as Christians should not be so legalistic to punish a disenfranchised child to prove a point. Voice your concerns, but what affect will pulling support have on the people? Christ came for people, not to give a new set of rules. Do you think that the person who loses their support is going to even think about it being because of a decision about a hiring process?

    In the end it is clear, WV made the wrong choice, but so did its supporters.

  11. Carolyn Putney says:

    While I’m glad WV reversed its original decision, they did not change their heart! The next step should be for member churches to push for change at the center of this organization. Just because the world says homosexuality and same sex marriages are OK does not mean it is OK in God’s Word. If we say we believe the Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then we better stick to that. To do otherwise is sin. Period. World Vision better do some internal examination and either decide they are going to reflect Jesus and the word He has given us 100% or get out of the business of being about God’s work. They just can’t have it both ways! And, it is going to take the pressure of member churches to emphasize that is not negotiable. A Christian school in CA recently told a 8 yr. old girl’s guardians that because her hair was cut too short, and she preferred to dress “like a boy” that their school may not be an appropriate place for her. When Christians do this sort of thing, it sets back any progress those of us who are trying to win our families for Jesus back more than anything! Why can’t we live what we say we believe and not waver from it. In Matthew 25 we are warned about this!!

  12. Sean says:

    My oh my. I’d say some of you are half right. Stopping the support of children because a charity does something you don’t like is indeed shameful. However the usual anti-gay/lesbian nonsense continues to show you people being on the wrong side of history. But that’s your fate, people are moving on. I fail to see why this charity hiring gay married people is such an offense. The super evil gay powers don’t prevent you from helping these children does it? And aren’t these gay married Christians going to be helping children too. I don’t think they would work for WV just to flont their rainbows. One key issue some of your are forgetting is that this charity considers these people to be “Christians,” not gay non-believers, but actual Christians. So obviously they have the more liberal Christian mind set on the issue. An issue that they overwhelmingly agreed upon. So, if your happy they reversed the decision, well get prepared for it to eventually change. I really need to stop coming here. Especially just to get worked up about the new anti-gay article. Oh well. In any case it does my heart good knowing I can wake up everyday and see people as just people. That I appreciate someone elses form of love even if it’s different then my kind of love. You people can’t. It’s kind of funny. Jon, have no fear my friend, I think this will be my final post on your site. Good site. Don’t think my dad ever used anything from it though.

    • Alabaster says:

      You complain about people ditching a ministry cause they disagree, then you do exactly that. Your position is hypocritical and hateful. You put down others for doing what you are doing. You are not seeing the point. Homosexuality is immoral in the biblical view. Yes, we can’t forget the kids, but we also don’t compromise God’s truth just to approve of some people sins while we tell others they still need to surrender theirs to God. You are not the judge. The judge has spoken clearly on this sin. An immoral sexual act is not ‘love’. Matter of fact, any sexual act is not ‘love’, so its not love you are appriciating. its sin. You can compromise and think its love if you want, that is your right, but you will get confronted about your hypocrisy.

      • Sean says:

        No, no. See this is where you’ve got it wrong. See if you stop supporting this charity because you consider a gay relationship to be a sexual sin, then wouldn’t you stop supporting them for all sexual sins done by other employees? Sodomy is practiced by heterosexual couples too.can you guarantee that it’s not happening? Shouldn’t you stop supporting them just in case people workin for them are sinning? Also what If some employees are in relationships outside of marriage, do you stop then? If you consider it just a sexual sin then all sexual sins are the sAme. And since I’m sure your not adverse to one of the hundred sexual sins in the bible, I’d say that makes you quite the hypocrit. A relationship between two loving human beings is not something to hate or bash, regardless of the gender. Shame on you, and shame on all Christians.

  13. Ellie says:

    I think Sean definitely had some good points.
    If a person, homosexual or not, wants to make a difference in this world by working for an organization such as World Vision, then why should they be held back?
    I also think that it is hard for Christians to make decisions concerning homosexuality specifically, because we’re still in that in-between area where every decision we make has the potential to lead America and the world into the wrong direction. If we don’t withdraw support from such an organization, we feel as if we are advocating their beliefs and not only plunging America into darkness, but sinning against God.
    It is hard. But I think we need to think most about what is going to advance the Kingdom of God and win souls to Him.
    It is always a heart thing.

  14. Timothy L Pullin says:

    I find it troubling that the Christian with a conscience is always the one blamed for standing for what they believe. WV had to know that this decision would be controversial and that they would lose supporters by voting the way they did. Some of us simply refuse to support organizations that take such positions on these highly charged issues. And WV knew that before they voted the first time. They are the ones who created this situation by caving in to the pressure to be politically correct rather than biblically correct. They risked losing the support of loving, caring Christians by taking this stand and they lost. It was a foolish thing to do. But actions have consequences. And one consequence is that they have lost credibility both; by making the first decision, and then by their reversal. Do I feel badly for the kids? Absolutely! Is it unfair that they should suffer because of a decision made in a board room on the other side of the planet? Yes, shamefully so. But who bears the responaibility for creating the environment in which this backlash could occur? It was those board members!. And they are the ones who should be chastised. Not Chriastians who refuse to bow to this idol, no matter how many musicians are playing.

  15. Evelyn Archibald says:

    This is not the first controversal issue. A few years back WV fired emplyeees who were not Christian. Very few people heard or responded about oir. I had wondered why they were hired in the first place. But this is issue is a tough one – one that will continue to confront Christians. We need to search our hearts and see what God is telling us to do. We need to show God’s love but we also need to stand firm in his Commandments. So what is a Christian to ddo? Only God has the answeres.