World Vision, a well-known, well-regarded, and well-funded Christian charity has decided to abandon its policy that prohibits the hiring of those who engage in homosexual activity. World Vision U.S. will now hire homosexuals as long as they are in a legal (but false) “marriage.” While allowing employees who affirm homosexuality to work for World Vision, they will continue to prohibit the hiring of those who engage in fornication or adultery despite the fact that adultery is no more serious a sin than is homosexuality.
World Vision president, Richard Stearns, describes this stunning abandonment of biblical truth as “a very narrow policy change…symbolic of… [Christian] unity” and analogous to doctrinal differences over modes of baptism and beliefs on evolution.
The liberal shibboleth of “unity” rears its ugly head again. Unity, however, never trumps truth, and on the issue of homosexual relations, the Bible is unequivocal in its condemnation.
Are different views of homosexual “marriage” analogous to other doctrinal differences?
Both Theologian Russell Moore and Pastor Kevin DeYoung argue against the view that Steans appears to defend. Both argue that homosexual “marriage” is a concept which no church can biblically defend.
Moore illuminates the gravity of the theological issue that Steans attempts to trivialize by comparing it to other denominational and doctrinal differences:
At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.
DeYoung elaborates on this point arguing that there exists no justification for viewing differences on homosexual “marriage” as analogous to denominational disagreements on a host of other issues. In other words, all theological differences are not created equal:
To be sure, like many evangelical parachurch organizations, World Vision allows for diversity in millennial views, sacramental views, soteriological views, and any numbers of doctrinal issues which distinguish denomination from denomination. Stearns would have us believe that homosexuality is just another one of these issues, no different from determining whether the water in baptism can be measured by liters or milliliters. But the analogy does not work. Unlike the differences concerning the mode of baptism, there is no long historical record of the church debating whether men can marry men. In fact, there is no record of the church debating anything of the sort until the last forty or fifty years. And more to the point, there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that getting the mode of baptism wrong puts your eternal soul in jeopardy, when there are plenty of verses to suggest that living in unrepentant sexual sin will do just that (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Jude 5-7).
What is marriage?
In rationalizing this policy change, Steans digs an even deeper, darker, more tortuous theological hole:
Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues….It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage…. This is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more. (emphasis added)
Nothing more? What else is left once you’ve gutted biblical truth about marriage? Marriage is not a creation of man to “solemnize” consensual romantic/erotic unions. Marriage is picture of the union between Christ and his bride, the church. Marriage is not a union of two identical partners. It is the union of God and man and reflects the ontological difference between the marriage partners. One would expect World Vision’s leaders to understand better the relationship between earthly marriage–central to which is sexual complementarity–and the gospel story of creation and redemption.
When Steans says this policy allows World Vision to treat legally “married” homosexual couples the same as married heterosexual couples, he is acceding to the proposition that two men or two women can in reality be married. But our secular government’s legal recognition of same-sex unions as “marriages” does not marriages make.
Steans should know what John Piper makes clear in a sermon on marriage:
The point is not only that so-called same-sex marriage shouldn’t exist, but that it doesn’t and it can’t. Those who believe that God has spoken to us truthfully in the Bible should not concede that the committed, life-long partnership and sexual relations of two men or two women is marriage. It isn’t.
The Implications of World Vision’s Worldly Change
Kevin DeYoung warns what this “about face” by World Vision portends:
The about face in World Vision’s hiring policy deserves comment both because their reasons for the switch will become terribly common and because the reasons themselves are so terrifically thin. Serving in a mainline denomination, I’ve heard all the assurances and euphemisms before: “We still affirm traditional marriage. We aren’t taking sides. This is only a narrow change. We are trying to find common ground. This is about unity. It’s all about staying on mission.” But of course, there is nothing neutral about the policy at all. The new policy makes no sense if World Vision thinks homosexual behavior is a sin, which is, after all, how it views fornication and adultery. There are no allowances for their employees to solemnize other transgressions of the law of God.
DeYoung asks if the following assertions are true:
Jesus Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead (Acts 17:31; Rev. 19:11-21). Those who repent of their sins and believe in Christ (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 17:30) and those who overcome (Rev. 21:7) will live forever in eternal bliss with God in his holy heaven (Rev. 21:1-27) through the atoning work of Christ on the cross (Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:1-21; Cor. 5:21). Those who are not born again (John 3:5), do not believe in Christ (John 3:18), and continue to make practice of sinning (1 John 3:4-10) will face eternal punishment and the just wrath of God in hell (John 3:36; 5:29). Among those who will face the second death in the lake that burns with fire are the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, the murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars (Rev. 21:8), and among the sins included in the category of sexual immorality is unrepentant sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Jude 5-7).
He then asserts that “If the Bible does not teach these things, or if we no longer have the courage to believe them, let us say so openly and make the case why the whole history of the Christian church has been so wrong for so long. But if the Bible does teach the paragraph above, how can we be casual about such a serious matter or think that Jesus would be so indifferent to the celebration of the same?”
Steans claims that World Vision leaders are “not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us….This is not us compromising.” The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks.
What to do about current sponsorship
World Vision will lose donors, as it should. For many who are currently sponsoring a needy child, this decision is difficult. The ultimate cause for the suffering of children who lose sponsors rests not, however, with donors who cannot in good conscience support the efforts of an organization that abandons foundational biblical principles, the adherence to which was what led them to support the organization in the first place. The ultimate cause is the foolish decision of World Vision’s leaders.
For those sponsors who decide to cease donating immediately, there are other options, one of which is Compassion International. Compassion International works with impoverished children all around the world and currently, has over 4,500 children in need of support.
Other World Vision sponsors, however, may believe they should complete their sponsorship of a particular child, which ends when the child reaches age 21 or earlier for a variety of reasons. In such cases, IFI recommends informing World Vision that after sponsorship of their current child ends, they will no longer be supporting World Vision.
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