When Bullies Win, the Kingdom Loses: Thoughts on World Vision

by Camille on March 27, 2014

By now, you’re most likely aware of the World Vision hiring practice controversy. But just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, here’s a recap:

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March 24: Christianity Today publishes an article detailing how World Vision’s American branch, one of the world’s largest Christian charities, will now allow for the hiring of gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages.

– World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns explains the decision isn’t an endorsement of gay marriage or a renouncing of traditional marriage, but a recognition of the different beliefs and practices within the Christian community and an attempt at unity in serving the poor.

“In short, World Vision hopes to dodge the division currently “tearing churches apart” over same-sex relationships by solidifying its long-held philosophy as a parachurch organization: to defer to churches and denominations on theological issues, so that it can focus on uniting Christians around serving the poor.”

– March 24-25: Evangelical Christians unite in losing their collective shit and transform into menacing playground bullies reminiscent of this guy.

Bullying

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– Thousands of “Christians” cancel sponsorships to needy children in third-world countries, because apparently God is much more disturbed by a gay secretary working at World Vision than he is about starving, sick, or trafficked children.

– March 26: World Vision, pummeled into submission in the corner of the playground, revokes their decision, begs forgiveness, and promises to walk the evangelical party-line.

– LGBT folks and their supporters go punch pillows, pour glasses of wine, and cry out to God in frustration and sadness.

I have a whole mess of thoughts, so in no particular order, here ya go:

To LGBT folks: 

I’m so sorry. When World Vision made the initial decision, I know many of you were encouraged. It seemed like a tiny but positive step in the right direction from the Christian culture that so often seems hell-bent on keeping you out. You got invited to the table, and then promptly had the door slammed in your face. Some of you, excited at the invitation, even put in applications to work. Now, you feel hurt and betrayed, and you have every right. I pray at times like this that you can separate Christ from the often hateful actions of Christians. I pray you know the God who created you continues to crazy love you, value you, and find joy in you….just as you are. Please don’t stop fighting for change, and let those of us who love you know how to help.

To World Vision: 

My first thoughts were something along the lines of “Where are your balls?!” Sorry. Unproductive, I know. But surely after the controversies resulting from Oreos, Chick-fil-a, scouts, and more, you had to expect some serious backlash. Did you adequately prepare your public relations department? Did you plan financially for the almost guaranteed repercussions? I admire your attempt, but so many have been deeply hurt by your quick reversal…your unwillingness to stand behind your initial convictions in the face of controversy. It’s not that I don’t understand; another blogger said you basically had a gun held to your head, and I’m sure as thousands of sponsorship cancellations poured in, you decided to admit defeat with your overarching goal being to fight poverty and injustice. I don’t doubt your commitment to the world’s poor and making a positive difference, but guys, you let the bullies win this one, and the thing about bullies is that they just keep coming. What will the battle be next time?

Also, maybe you could have had just a little more faith here? I’m going to assume you didn’t make the decision on policy change lightly. I’m going to assume there were numerous discussions and prayers, and no doubt, many on your board supported the decision. Thus, if you moved forward believing you were doing the right thing, why not have the faith to see it through? Do you think the God who watches the sparrows cannot handle replacing a few thousand sponsorships? Dozens of renowned bloggers rallied to your defense and took to Twitter to recruit new sponsors.

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She surpassed her goal. You couldn’t hang on for another few days? FAITH people. Try it!

To People Who Cancelled Sponsorships: 

So many words that I should probably avoid typing here. <Inserts head into pillow and screams>. You made a commitment to a child. One, particular child with a specific name, story, and needs. That child wrote you letters and drew you pictures and prayed for you at night with his or her family. Do you honestly feel like Jesus is rejoicing that you decided to break your commitment to that child because you disagree with an organization’s hiring practices? If you can abandon your commitment to a child that easily, than perhaps you should reexamine your motives in sponsorship. If any cute kid will do to put on the refrigerator, then maybe it’s more about you feeling good about yourself than about serving others, because that money you took back to make a point….there’s a real person you’re hurting on the other end.

Also, there’s just a little hypocrisy here. So as an evangelical Christian, you don’t want to support a charity that employs married gay people. Would it not then make sense that you would not wish to support other businesses or organizations that employ such persons? I mean, if you can cut off support to a non-profit busy feeding hungry kids to satisfy your moral objections, then certainly you shouldn’t be buying clothes, food, gas, or other material things from organizations employing sinners, right? I mean, some of these companies even pay for benefits for same-sex partners and host community support groups or other services. For instance…

Apple

Nike

Ford Motor

Google

Chevron

eBay

Disney

Johnson & Johnson

General Mills

So where are you doing your shopping these days? Just curious. (No Cheerios for you!)

Oh, and let’s pretend for argument’s sake that I agree with you that gay marriage is a sin.Why should World Vision have policies against hiring persons with that one particular sin and not others? Are they still allowed to hire unrepentant gluttons? Divorced and remarried persons?

Oh, isn’t being legalistic with Biblical interpretation just so interesting!

To Evangelical Christians:

I love so many of you dearly. I owe much of my own journey with God to your patient guidance and faithful lives. You have been the body of Christ to me on many occasions.

But guys, you are breaking my heart with the way you’re treating my LGBT brothers and sisters. I spend a lot of time with young people these days, and you are succeeding in driving away future generations from the Jesus you proclaim to want them to know. They look at you and see hatred, hypocrisy, judgment, and a self-serving interpretation of who is “in” and who is “out.” Your angry words drown out the whispers of grace and mercy. Your shadow freezes the warmth offered by a loving community of believers. Your actions bind the hands and feet of Christ.

Do you think all those cancelled sponsorships won hearts for the kingdom? Do you think a single LGBT person read the judgmental blog posts and hateful comments and felt the love of Jesus? Do you think a single non-believer thought, “Gee. These Christians sure showed World Vision by taking money from those needy kids. Man! They’re awesome. I’m totally gonna go get baptized now.”

I’m thinking not. I’m thinking that yesterday, right-winged believers patted one another on the back and returned to life behind their carefully monitored walls while those on the fringes took another step away from the Church. The bullies won, but the Kingdom lost.

And as one who has experienced amazing grace, that breaks my heart.

So please, pray about this with an open mind. Read Torn, by Justin Lee, and pray some more. And before joining in the next anti-gay campaign, ask yourself these questions:

Are my words or actions going to invite someone closer to Jesus?

If the answer is no, then please just go stuff your head in a pillow and scream.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Nancy April 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I am just sick about all of the children that are going hungry right now because of this ridiculous, short-sighted, hypocritical situation. I know thoughtful people who hold differing opinions about LGBT relationships being within the bounds of God’s design for sexuality, but KEEP YOUR PROMISES to the children you purport to love in Christ’s name. I was also wondering how many of the sponsors of those 10,000 kids view porn, or have sex outside marriage . . . and how many already working for WV struggle with those things. We make no sense, and we are absolutely driving people away from Jesus.

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