The atomic bomb blast you heard a few hours ago was the announcement in Christianity Today that “World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.”
In other words, the American branch of World Vision USA now equates heterosexual marriage with homosexual marriage. Partially informing their rationale is World Vision USA sees itself an operational organization to assist churches rather than a theological organization to teach churches. From World Vision USA president Richard Stearns:
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,” he said. “It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.
Then, in what seems to me an odd stance, Stearns asserted:
“It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there,” he said. “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.”
Easy to read more into the decision than is there?
C’mon Richard. We are men of action. A lack of logic does not become us. (Apologies to Westley.)
World Vision is keeping in place a rule requiring abstinence until marriage (and presumably faithfulness within it), yet affirming same-sex marriage on a level with heterosexual marriage. World Vision USA has made a specific, behavior affirming decision. Stearns has not only entered the same-sex marriage debate he has chosen a side. That he denies choosing a side means little.
A 3-year old can deny getting into the cookie jar all he wants but the crumbs give him away every time.
I cannot help but wonder the timing of this announcement a day before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Hobby Lobby’s case. (Personally I expect the nine robed wonders to rule against the craft supplier, but I could be mistaken.)
What does that mean to those of us who are convictionally against homosexual behavior, same-sex marriage, and abortifacients in a culture that, increasingly, aggressively supports such or shrugs its collective shoulders at our objections?
First, we should realize the extent to which we are a post-Christian America.
The last two or three years are not the evidence of a post-Christian America. They are the latest evidence of a post Christian America. Most of our churches do not reflect a biblical ethic. We have complained, campaigned, castigated, compromised and organized ourselves mostly into irrelevance. The waning of political power created a longing for a yesteryear that was never on the calendar. Our nostalgia, realistically is for the movies of Frank Capra than the movement of Jesus Christ.
We should remember: The destruction of political freedom is not the same as the destruction of biblical faith. We may eventually lose our right to worship, but we will never lose our ability to worship.
Second, we should consider what Christianity really is.
Thank you Constantine for doing more to inhibit movement Christianity than almost anyone else. We have never gotten over church buildings and lusts for power.
The first Christians were persecuted, questioned, mocked, misunderstood, and martyred. Yet, in the face of the most powerful empire the world had ever known, changed it from the inside out. The testimony of those believers lives to this day. Emperors were moved by them, peoples were changed as a result of the gospel, kingdoms were changed from within. But, Christianity started as a minority movement. If we return to that status, more good could come from it that we think.
Christianity is a movement of people whose lives have been changed by the living Christ. We live for this world and another world. We hold dual-citizenship. Christianity is not a building based social movement. It is not a set of programs to turn out good little boys and girls in lockstop with a prevailing morality.
In its truest and purest form Christianity has always been a visible expression of the salvation, rule and reign of Jesus Christ. Oddly enough, He’s never needed government approval or a meeting place to keep it going.
We were warned to expect hardship and are foolish when we do not.
Holding a biblical position (marriage is one woman and one man for life) is no small thing in a culture that redefines marriage based on current mores. Holding a biblical position (black people are humans created in the image of God) was no small thing in a culture that defined humanity based solely on skin color. Holding a biblical position (one should not be covetous) is no small thing in a culture that promotes bigger and more.
That so many Christ followers have responded with fear is an indicator we may not have taken all the teachings of Christ to heart. Perhaps we need to spend more time in the gospels. Perhaps we need to re-read the part or Hebrews 11 after Abel, Noah, Abraham and Sarah. You know, the verses where followers of Christ were eaten by lions, died in the wilderness, and were sawn asunder in logs.
Perhaps this is a reason why “friendship with the world is enmity against God” and we should not “wonder when the world hates” us. Friendship with the world is a fence that cannot be straddled.
Following Christ does not presuppose a life of ease. Far from it.
Despite the continuing changes in our culture, and the discouragement some are experiencing, we need not despair. “Love your neighbor as yourself” remains a guiding light for us. “Let your light so shine that people may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” is still in the Book. “Looking to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith” is our focus.
Think about it. If you are a follower of Christ, what is the very worst thing that can happen to you? You suffer, die and are received into the arms of the Father. Keep perspective between now and forever, the temporal and eternal. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed in us.”
And we’re really calling this suffering? Persecution? “If footmen tire you, what will horsemen do?” We, as a certain writer reminded the Hebrews, have not even endured to the death.
So, rejoice! Someday, we might be physical partakers in Christ’s suffering. For now, let us be the followers Christ has called us to be as witnesses both to His gospel and His grace.