It would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall at World Vision over the last few days. On Monday they released a statement that they were changing their staff handbook to allow employees who were in same-sex marriages. While at the same time strangely saying this did not mean that they had changed their own definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. It was surely a little naive to think as they said on Monday that they were not picking sides in a debate. Only 48 hours later they released another statement to say that they had made a mistake. Here are their words:
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
There would appear to be some very deep differences of opinion in the board at World Vision for these two statements to come out within a 48 hour period. They MUST have known the first statement would have resulted in the inevitable backlash that it did – surely they considered this? Which makes the second statement in such a short space of time so interesting. I’m sure there have been some pretty intense conversations over the past 48 hours. I’m sure they regret making the first statement.
I can’t help but feel however it is a decision based on expediency rather than principle (I’m sure this is not true for all). But I’m sure the original decision even at these early stages resulted sadly in the loss of much support. At the end of the day many children would lose sponsorship, this whole affair is fairly tragic. I have supported World Vision since a child completing the Sponsored Famines and now as one of the African agencies with a sponsored child. In choosing to help support those in need however I do strongly look at not just the aid that is being provided, but the motivation and message that is being spread. As Gary Skinner from Watoto told me once, “We want to give a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus”. Justice is spread not just with physical redemption, but also spiritual “Jesus centered” redemption and for that to take place we do need a clear view of law, sin, repentance and the substitution of Jesus.
What are your thoughts – do you choose to support an organization purely on physical aid or also because of the message they embody?