World Vision Shifts Course and Approves Same-Sex Marriage for its Employees
Faith Driven Consumers must now make a stewardship decision
In a move that has shocked the Evangelical Christian community in the United States, World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns announced yesterday in an exclusive Christianity Today interview that it has changed its employee conduct policy and will now allow persons in same-sex marriages who profess belief in Jesus to work for the Christian organization.
As one of the largest Christian charities in the world – taking in more than one billion dollars in revenues in 2013 and serving more than 100 million in 100 countries – the decision highlights a theological shift away from biblical orthodoxy on a matter that many Evangelical donors consider to be nonnegotiable – the definition of marriage as exclusively limited to one man and one woman.
Like a washing machine on high-spin cycle, Stearns gamely insisted that the decision was nothing more than a "very narrow policy change" that should be seen by Christians as "symbolic not of compromise but of unity." He cautioned against reading “more into this decision than is really there," and claimed the policy change “is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage...Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.”
Remarkably, in defending the decision Stearns revealed, "We're 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. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues.”
But what about deferring to the authority of Scripture? Here, on the all-important theological issue of God’s created intent for human sexuality, marriage and family, Stearns argued that Christian parachurch organizations should not be concerned with theological issues and said that World Vision’s board – which overwhelmingly favored the change – has “decided we are not going to get into that debate.”
Not surprisingly, many thoughtful and concerned biblically orthodox observers weighed in on the decision. The Gospel Coalition pointed out that the very children that World Vision seeks to help tragically will suffer from this bad theology. And culture warrior Matt Barber argued that the apostasy of World Vision is a “betrayal of the gospel, a betrayal of the Lord, a betrayal of the family, and a betrayal of the countless thousands of Christians who have put their trust in World Vision as a legitimate Christian organization.”
Similar to the Boy Scouts, which fought for the right to hold to its beliefs as a private organization before ultimately capitulating to internal and external gay activist pressures, it appears that World Vision has – after also publicly defending the right of religious groups to hold to their beliefs – positioned itself on the slippery slope of cultural and theological accommodation.
Given this, Faith Driven Consumers who support World Vision now find themselves at a point of convergence where they must prayerfully decide if the dollars they have stewarded toward the work of World Vision might be better directed toward ministries that clearly hold to the unambiguous biblical teaching on how marriage is defined.
Here, we would argue that – despite Stearns’ protestations to the contrary – there are, indeed, some core distinctives to the Christian faith that we must go to the mat over as followers of Jesus. And God’s definition of marriage is a big deal. It’s foundational to how we humans bear His image as male and female and it is this binary ordination upon which human life – families, children, churches, communities, societies and cultures – is formed.
Are you a supporter of the work of World Vision? If so, what do you think about this decision?