As the news filtered through my twitter feed last night that World Vision, a Christian charity organization had decided to allow the hiring of gay people, my heart sunk. My heart sunk because it soon became clear from some of the tweets I read that there were many who lamented the decision but mostly because there were others who were considering the removal of support, financially and otherwise to World Vision.
For many the issue of gay marriage has become a cornerstone of your stance as a true Evangelical and Christian. A strange stance to have since Jesus never made a clear one and certainly didn’t consider it a factor in whether you could enjoy life in Him.
A strange stance to have considering all the other problems that we have in the world. Many that Jesus cared deeply about. Issues such as corrupt powers, poverty and feeding the hungry.
A strange stance to have since Jesus Himself said that the two greatest commands were to love God and to love others.
If any other organization was to openly state that they would now accept gay people to roles in their company, the rest of the world would respond with a resounding “yeah well duh, of course they should.” Yet somehow inclusiveness is something that many Christian organizations don’t seem to understand. Sure, the normal response of “but we are not called to live to the standards of this world” will no doubt be used but since when has allowing those who are gay to work for a Christian organization been a threat to God or to His kingdom?
The truth is, it isn’t. The truth is as much as many would like us to believe that the stances by Word Vision and other Christians are simply the beginning of a slippery slope, this is simply not true.
There are those who have claimed that this is simply another example of the erosion of marriage. This is also simply not true. It can only be described as hypocritical if as a community of believers we attack gay people for destroying marriage, until we start to care about the way that heterosexual marriages are destroying marriage.
A recent study by Baylor found that divorce rates among Evangelical Christians is higher than those who claim no religion. If this is indeed a matter of the erosion of marriage we should perhaps remove the plank from our own marriages before attempting to remove the spec from others.
But of course, this is not really about that.
Neither is it really about the children who may lose out when people remove their support from World Vision and consequently them. Are we truly willing to be known as people who fight for laws even if those very laws mean people will be denied the love they may not experience through other means?
Have we considered that for many children, they will have taken from them, the only love of a God who when on Earth showed He cared deeply about children just like them.
Will the very essence of World Vision’s work, just as one tweet I read mentioned, change if they hire a lesbian accountant?
One blog, already writing off World Vision noted that “It will take time for evangelicals to start new organizations that maintain historic Christian concepts of sin, faith, and repentance.”
But what about the historic Christian concepts of love, peace, hope and restoration? Again opinions such as the one above are playing into the very deep fears that Fundamentalist Christians have played on for far too long.
Because what this is really about is fear. The fear of sin and the fear of a God who is too small and too insignificant to be able to work in this world unless we uphold His name.
This is really about whether we believe that those in the gay community can be part of God’s kingdom. Here and now. It is about how we continually sideline those who are gay and love God and want to serve Him. It is about how we have put up our own barriers to salvation which can not be shifted or torn down.
When considering our support for World Vision, we should also consider Jesus condemnation by the Pharisees while He and His disciples were out picking food on the Sabbath. Something that was forbidden for them to do. His response of “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” speaks greatly to what Jesus considered important.
Similarly shortly after, when a man was brought to Jesus to be healed on the sabbath, the Pharisees tried to catch him out. Yet again, His response points towards Jesus attitude to law and freedom.
He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Of course, these do not address Jesus opinion on gay marriage (I suspect He didn’t have one) but these are not isolated events that have no bearing on how we view others. They show us that Jesus priority was not that we follow a set of arbitrary rules but that our highest goal should be love.
God came to fulfill the law in a new wonderful way and we are called to imitate that.
I’m not sure how removing support for an organization that works tirelessly for those who have no voice, can achieve that.
If you truly feel the need to remove support for World Vision and the work they do, that is your choice, but please do not use the name of Jesus while doing so.
Gay marriage won’t tarnish His name but taking a stand even when others suffer needlessly for it, will.