What the World Vision debate was really about.

The saying that “A week is a long time in Politics” can now be surpassed with “two days is a long time in Evangelicalism.” Two days ago, you could not be gay and work for World Vision, yesterday you could and now today you can’t again.

Much of the discussion centered around the children that would possibly lose out if people decided to remove their support for World Vision. Both Fundamental Evangelicals and Progressive Christians feared that donors would pull out from support because of the initial decision and that it seemed, was where any agreement ended.

While Evangelicals blamed World Vision’s decision for that loss of support, Progressives pointed to the donors apparent lack of sense. In fact, by some reports, up to 2000 donors cancelled their support.

This for anyone on any side of the debate should be something we mourn. Whether this had an impact on the boards decision to reverse their employment policy remains to be seen. It is difficult to see how it could not.

Both sides played the “think of the children” card and it could be argued by some that it was simply an emotional ploy from both sides to force their point. For Evangelicals that being gay is a sin and can not be something associated with a Christian organization and for Progressives, that we should welcome all brothers and sisters regardless of their sexual orientation.

So this is where we are. Two days is not a long time and unfortunately we have not been able to see how this would have played out. Certainly if 2000 donors have pulled out that is a big dent. It was amazing to see many people offering to replace some of those donors and others offering to begin supporting children. But was it enough to make up for the loss of financial support? Was the reversal based more on the hurt and betrayal that many Evangelicals felt than any financial loss? Would this rate of decline have continued or slowed down? We will never know.

Which is why supporters for the initial policy change now have a choice to make.

It is very possible that the potential loss felt by the children, physically and emotionally, could now be reversed because donors that may have withdrawn, will now not. The children may even be better off now.

So if we truly care about the children is it more important that World Vision are completely inclusive in their hiring process even if children would suffer?

On the face of it, the Evangelicals may claim the victory. However I believe that if World Vision had allowed some time for things to settle, they would have soon seen that their decision would not have had a lasting impact on the organization or the people they serve.

I believe we would have seen a major breakthrough in how those who are Christian and gay are treated by the wider church. I believe we would have opened up God’s Kingdom in new and beautiful ways.

I had an initial post ready which I scrapped after hearing about the reversal.

But one thing I wrote remains true. Our job is not one of do we care about the children OR inclusiveness. It is one of BOTH.

I need to answer the challenge that I have set myself and the challenge that many of us have set perhaps inadvertently. That we literally put our money where our blog posts are and continue to support World Vision. That we don’t give up on equality for all. That we keep working for peace in the church and begin to open up a way for gay Christians to belong.

We can write blog posts forever on this but whether this really changes anything is doubtful. If we wait until the next controversy to show our support for gay Christians we don’t really support them. It begins to look more like we want a fight. That we just like to disagree.

What will change things is if we act graciously towards those who disagree with us and not let it compromise our offering peace, love, grace and healing to everyone. The Pharisees never changed their opinion of Jesus when they debated Him. Yet some of those who oppressed and killed Him did when they saw the sacrifice He made. This is where we will really change the Evangelical view of gay people. Not be debating but by showing that love is the answer. Some will come on board and some will be left behind.

So, this is where we see how good we are at loving our enemies.

This is how we see how much we really want to follow Jesus.

The best way to show the gay community we love them is by standing up for them and welcoming them into our homes and our families and our communities everyday. Otherwise they are just a project. Otherwise we have made it us v them. Which ironically is often the very accusation we throw at the people we disagree with.

So for Evangelicals are you willing to let doctrine or theology take front seat to showing respect and love to everyone? For Progressives, do we truly believe in restoration for all?

Even those who we think have got it majorly wrong?

Unlike the last couple of days, only time will tell.

2 thoughts on “What the World Vision debate was really about.

  1. Paul, brilliant post, as usual. I, too, was quite disappointed in World Vision’s reversal. I think many would have stepped up to the plate to replace and more than replenish those 2000 donors. It is sad that the bonds of hate won out over love; the chains of judgment won out over inclusion; the shackles of division won out over unity. Jesus came here to free us from captivity; I, like you, will continue to write about the things which Jesus spoke and pray that, one by one, eyes, ears and hearts will be opened and that all we become free.

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