Although the tempest surrounding World Vision’s policy change and abrupt reversal of policy change on hiring men and women in homosexual unions recognized legally as “marriages” has died down, the trickier issue of trust restoration remains.
For many theologically orthodox Catholics and Protestants, trust cannot be restored unless there are leadership changes at World Vision U.S. Those board members who voted to allow the U.S. branch of World Vision to hire men and women in legal homosexual “marriages,” need to resign in order for many Christians to believe that the policy reversal reflects biblical orthodoxy rather than financial considerations.
In addition to the many troubling comments from World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns in the Christianity Today article that revealed the policy change, subsequent information suggests the need for clearer evidence of path-straightening that will likely come only from board changes.
The Washington Post reports that in 2013 World Vision received $145 million from the federal government, which many fear contributed to the decision to hire “married” homosexuals. Many Christians justifiably fear the corrupting influence of government money on World Vision’s decisions. (Don’t be surprised if homosexual activists now set their sights on World Vision’s government funding, because for them, everything—including the welfare of impoverished children—takes a backseat to normalizing sexual perversion.)
We should be concerned with the effect of de facto government subsidies on not just World Vision but on all churches and parachurch organizations, which in the future will likely be compelled either to lose their tax-exempt status or lose the freedom to teach the whole counsel of God on matters related to homosexuality and gender confusion.
Supporters (and former supporters) of World Vision are also concerned about the theological commitments of board members. Following the reversal of policy, board president Richard Stearns was asked in an interview what “kind of church” he attends and whether his church has shaped his views on same-sex “marriage.” Stearns provided the kind of evasive response one would expect from a politician and the kind of dismissive response one would expect from a theological liberal: “It’s a Presbyterian Church (USA) in the Seattle area, but I don’t want to drag them into this. I’m not telling people where I stand on same-sex marriage because I don’t think it’s relevant.”
The issue of whether same-sex “marriage” can in reality exist is, indeed, relevant to any purportedly Christian organization and it’s at least as relevant to the Christian life as premarital abstinence, which the board saw fit to retain in employment policy even while they jettisoned the requirement regarding homoerotic activity. But it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a member of the notoriously liberal PCUSA church would find the biblical understanding of marriage irrelevant to a Christian organization or Christian mission.
Stearns is not the only PCUSA member on the World Vision board. Dr. Stephen Hayner president of Columbia Theological Seminary, which is a PCUSA seminary, also serves on the board.
In August 2012, the liberal Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia announced that it would “allow same-sex student couples to live in campus housing designated for married students following a year-long effort by gay-rights advocates.”
The new policy states that “’Students, their qualified domestic partners (e.g., those in civil marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships as established by the laws of any state, the United States or a foreign jurisdiction), and their children are eligible to live in campus housing.’”
Hayner said this about the housing policy change: “[O]ur community is committed to being a place of open theological and Biblical inquiry and hospitality for all who attend.” I wonder if Hayner believes that “being a place of open theological and biblical inquiry and hospitality” requires the school to allow polyamorists to live in campus housing. Wouldn’t intellectual consistency demand that they be shown the same kind of “hospitality” that homosexuals in legal but ontologically non-existent “marriages” are shown?
Yet another World Vision board member, Reverend John Crosby, is also member of the liberal PCUSA denomination. His vote in favor of the disastrous and now defunct policy change is curious in that he strongly opposed his denomination’s decision to ordain openly affirming homosexuals three years ago, arguing that “’We [the Presbyterians] have tried to create such a big tent trying to make everybody happy theologically. I fear the tent has collapsed without a center.’”
Although Crosby opposed his denomination’s decision to ordain homosexual clergy, he voted for World Vision’s anti-biblical policy change, arguing implausibly in Christianity Today that “the issue of theology and how to interpret Scripture should be left to the local church.” Is he actually arguing that theology and how to interpret Scripture on all issues should be left to the local church? If that were the case, then why did World Vision maintain policy regarding abstinence outside of marriage? Shouldn’t theological issues regarding fornication be left to local churches as well?
We can hope and pray for a return to theological orthodoxy and subsequent restoration of public trust in World Vision, but we should also prepare ourselves to witness more apostasy within not only our parachurch organizations but within our churches too. And as individuals we should prepare for the persecution that we are promised will come to those who claim to be cross-bearers.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done (Matt. 16: 24-27).
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