The Blindness of World Vision

HidingBlind

Yesterday’s surprise announcement by World Vision president Richard Stearns has the internet humming—or rather howling. In an exclusive interview with Christianity Today, Stearns said that the Christian humanitarian organization will no longer bar actively gay people from employment, on condition that those individuals are in a sanctioned marriage.

Stearns insists that the move is nothing more than a narrow policy change that reflects the diversity amongst churches today. “I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue.” Of course, this reasoning is deplorably thin. By setting World Visions standards to accommodate those of the most radicalized denominations, the organization is counted in their number.  How can their policy change be anything but an endorsement of same-sex marriage? I am deeply disappointed, no—I am grieved. This is another death.

Because of World Vision’s illustrious past, the reactions have been swift and numerous. Here are some:

“When World Vision says “We cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue,” here is the side they do in fact jump onto: We forbid fornication and adultery as acceptable lifestyles among our employees (which they do), but we will not forbid the regular practice of homosexual intercourse. To presume that this position is not “jumping into the fight on one side or the other” is fanciful.”
John Piper

“World Vision has decided that to be a practicing homosexual and a practicing Christian is no contradiction in terms. Despite the claims of neutrality, Richard Stearns and World Vision are not neutral. They believe what the Bible calls an abomination is not a big deal, not a serious issue like adultery, not a life threatening concern like malnutrition, not something that the Bible addresses clearly or warns against urgently.”
Kevin DeYoung

“There’s an entire corps of people out there who make their living off of evangelicals but who are wanting to “evolve” on the sexuality issue without alienating their base. I don’t mind people switching sides and standing up for things that they believe in. But just be honest about what you want to do. Don’t say “Hath God said?” and then tell us you’re doing it to advance the gospel and the unity of the church.”
Russell Moore

“No matter what you think about this decision, I hope you feel a sense of grief… for the children. This is a story of deep and lasting significance, because there are children’s lives at stake in how we respond. Children will suffer as evangelicals lose trust in and withdraw support from World Vision in the future. It will take time for evangelicals to start new organizations that maintain historic Christian concepts of sin, faith, and repentance. In the meantime, children will suffer. Needlessly.”
Trevin Wax

This issue is effectively sifting the chaff from the wheat within evangelicalism, and while each capitulation hurts, the church will be stronger for it. Those willing to bear their cross and follow Jesus will never walk alone. I do not fear the future, but I do grieve for today. I lament the loss of a venerable institution and I mourn over lost opportunity. Mostly, I’m sad for the children.

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11 thoughts on “The Blindness of World Vision

  1. Appears World Vision has taken on the world’s view. This is distressing as we have supported a child with this organization for nearly 7 years and don’t want to leave her hanging because of the decision’s of those at the top.

  2. And as Christians and the modern day church, do we sit idly by and allow this blindness to occur without response?

  3. We’re currently supporting 3 kids. Same as Josie’s comment, we don’t want to abandon them, but definitely want to send a message to World Vision that the decision is unacceptable!

  4. We do not have to abandon the children. There are other Christian organizations to support – Samaritan’s Purse, for example.

  5. I hate surrendering the support I’ve given to my child in Brazil. I grieve the fact that through World Vision’s unwillingness to stand the children are the ones who will suffer the consequences.

  6. I do not sponsor a child through World Vision, so this does not affect me directly. However, I am concerned by the number of Christians I see so willing to drop their sponsorship IMMEDIATELY regarding this announcement. I disagree with the decision and believe it was naive at best and dishonest at worst for World Vision to assume they could put on airs of being completely neutral and assume no one would be offended. That being said, shouldn’t sponsors prayerfully consider what to do rather than dying on this hill? One commenter said we don’t have to abandon the children because other organizations are doing the same work. I agree that other children can be sponsored, but the relationship is lost with your current child. From what I understand, you have a personal relationship of some sort with your sponsor child. I assume that, as Christians, sponsors want to meet physical needs with the ultimate goal of seeing a spiritual need fulfilled with the child coming to Christ. In my opinion, the risk of breaking that relationship far outweighs the risk of supporting a child through an organization with bad hiring practices but good vision. Ultimately, I hope Christian sponsors will go to the Lord in prayer and follow His prompting, whatever that may be.

    • Amber,
      Your concern for those who are supporting a child through WV is well placed. Like you, I’m not in this predicament but many are. These people feel pulled between their biblical convictions and their commitment to a child they have grown to love. There are some helpful commentaries on this situation online. The best one I have read is by Matthew Lee Anderson. You can find it at mereorthodoxy.com.
      I imagine most sponsored children will continue to receive aid. My grief is in lost opportunity. Many faithful Christians will rightly avoid the organization in the future and this historically magnificent agency will look less and less like its founding. And because of this, today and tomorrow’s children will lose.

  7. World Vision lost my support 31 years ago when we got to know a fairly highly placed employee. Some theological issues that made me question whether they were infact a Christian organization. Some business actions made me question how committed they were to the children. This policy angers me but does not surprise me.

  8. Wonderful news! World Vision has reversed its decision and returned to its original code of conduct. Below is Richard Stearns’ open letter. I’m thanking God for this grace. My grieving has turned to rejoicing!

    Dear Friends,

    Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our employment conduct policy. The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.

    We are writing to you our trusted partners and Christian leaders who have come to us in the spirit of Matthew 18 to express your concern in love and conviction. You share our desire to come together in the Body of Christ around our mission to serve the poorest of the poor. We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.

    In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, 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, which says, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.

    We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority. We ask that you understand that this was never the board’s intent. We are asking for your continued support. We commit to you that we will continue to listen to the wise counsel of Christian brothers and sisters, and we will reach out to key partners in the weeks ahead.

    While World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage, we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.

    Please know that World Vision continues to serve all people in our ministry around the world. We pray that you will continue to join with us in our mission to be “an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.”

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Richard Stearns, President
    Jim Beré, Chairman of the World Vision U.S. Board

  9. Wow, what a humble and amazing statement from World Vision. Thank you for sharing. Eugene, as always, thank you for being a pastor who speaks truth. Like many others, over the last 24 hrs. I have read many comments on social media and articles demonstrating anger and frustration towards Christians for not supporting World Vision’s decision. The whole thing made me sad. Sad to see how easily Satan blurs the truth, sad to see how easily we jump on the bandwagon of what “feels” right and fear of offending someone. I am proud of the partners and Christian leaders who brought their concern to WV and I am proud of people like you who spoke the truth no matter how hard it is to swallow.

  10. What Colleen said, Amen! I didn’t feel I qualified or was needed to defend you in the social media over this blog because the Bible already backs you up. Expect to be attacked when you stand up for Biblical truth. Praying for you and my church.

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