World Vision Controversy: Still Loving the Least of These?

   On March 24, World Vision, a well-known Christian mission organization, made a controversial policy change.  For the first time, they would consider hiring employees that are in same-sex marriages.  But following an immediate outcry from evangelical Christians who spoke out against the move, they reversed their policy two days later.

     Unfortunately, these evangelical Christians spoke out against this policy in all the wrong ways.  First, they so strongly condemned an organization that believes in the truths and authoritative word of the Bible.  World Vision did not claim that homosexuality is not a sin; Richard Stearns, President of World Vision (U.S. branch), specifically commented, “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage…Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support…In some manner we haven’t finished Christ’s mission for the church because we’ve been divided and distracted by too many other things.”  This is not to say that these Christians should not discuss why they disagree with the policy change, but they should consider that perhaps the issue of same-sex marriage is not fundamental to the organization’s work, since it is not the core message of the Gospel.  World Vision’s goal was simply to bring Christians together to help the world’s poor and thus obey Jesus’ commandment to take care of the impoverished.

     Second, even more disheartening was the other way they spoke out against it:  by dropping their sponsorships.

     As a child sponsor myself with Compassion International, it deeply upsets me that around ten thousand people cancelled their sponsorships as a result of World Vision’s policy change.  Ten thousand poor children lost their sponsors in two days.  I think about my little girl from Ghana, Charlene.  I wonder what I would say to her if I decided to cancel my sponsorship because the organization I sponsor her through made a slight policy adjustment.  I find myself fighting tears.  These children depend on their sponsors’ support each month in order to meet their basic needs, and dropping a sponsorship only hurts this service.  Even for those children whose sponsors picked them back up after the policy change was reversed, it is still a traumatizing experience because their families hold out hope for these sponsors to help improve their kids’ lives.  Essentially, these are real people.  Period.

     Matthew 25:35-40 reads, “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink’…Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?’…The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”  Here, Jesus is calling His followers to help the marginalized and to love the innocent children whom He loves.  He challenges them to do this all the time, even in the event that some organization who aids these people decides to start hiring same-sex couples.

     World Vision’s initial policy change should be discussed among the Christian community.  However, those who speak out against the organization should consider the ways in which children may suffer as a result of their actions.



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