Shortly after I broke the news on my radio broadcast and on social media, Christianity Today confirmed the report: World Vision has decided to embrace homosexual “marriage” among its employees and to recognize practicing homosexual employees who profess faith in Jesus as true Christians.
This is a betrayal of the gospel, a betrayal of the Lord, a betrayal of the family and a betrayal of the countless thousands of Christians who have put their trust in World Vision as a legitimate Christian organization.
In no way does it contribute to “building a better world for children”—one of the fundamental goals of World Vision. In fact, it does the opposite.
Last June, World Vision U.S President Richard Stearns stated, “No one ever died of gay marriage,” thereby trivializing the importance of the issue, as if it contrasted with the organization’s mission of providing tangible relief to suffering humanity.
Today, he went much further, claiming that this radical, unbiblical move is actually a “very narrow policy change” that should be viewed as “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.”
What? World Vision redefines the nature of marriage—the most fundamental institution of society, ordained by God in Genesis 2 as the lifelong union of a man and a woman and reaffirmed by Jesus as such in Matthew 19—and ignores the explicit and repeated condemnation of homosexual practice throughout the Scriptures and then claims it is a “very narrow policy change”?
What? World Vision mocks the sentiments, convictions and sensibilities of countless thousands of its Christian constituents, rejects the historic testimony of virtually all branches of Christianity, decides to take a terribly controversial stand on the most socially divisive issue of the day, and then claims that this is “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity”?
With all respect to the massive amount of good that Richard Stearns and World Vision have done in helping the poor and needy for many years now, his words strain Christian credulity.
Stearns states, “We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us. This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.”
No slippery slope? No compromise? By sanctioning homosexual relationships, World Vision is “deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues”?
Worst of all, World Vision did not make this decision under duress or pressure, making their decision all the more inexcusable.
Stearns says, “It’s been heartbreaking to watch this issue rip through the church. It’s tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We’ve got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity.”
Is this not the height of self-deception? Does World Vision not realize that they have just exponentially increased that “tearing apart” of believers? Do they actually think that this divisive, destructive policy change will unite Christians around serving the poor? Does their board, which overwhelmingly approved the policy, actually feel that they have not “jump[ed] into the fight on one side or another on this issue”? It would be like saying, “Because politics can be so divisive and we don’t want to get into the fight, we’ll just vote for the Democrats.”
Anonymous sources informed me about this coming change two weeks ago, telling me how the convictions of committed Christians within World Vision were scorned when the new policy was announced. This is the way to find “unity in our diversity”? (One family activist suggested to me that the organization be renamed World DiVision.)
The fact is that World Vision claims to be a Christian organization, with phrases like this on its website: “World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization. … Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ … ” As Stearns reiterates, “World Vision is committed to our Christian identity. We are absolutely resolute about every employee being followers of Jesus Christ. We are not wavering on that.”
Well, if claiming that two men can marry and their sexual acts be holy in God’s sight is not wavering, then words have no meaning.
That’s why listeners to my radio show who supported World Vision called in today to express their shock, feeling deeply betrayed.
One caller said that he and his wife recently decided to sponsor a child through World Vision after being introduced to them at a Christian concert in New York City that featured Casting Crowns. Now he was flabbergasted to hear that they were recognizing “gay Christianity” and same-sex marriage among their employees.
According to the World Vision website, their first core value is “We Are Christian,” even stating, “We proclaim together, ‘Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Jesus is Lord.’ We desire him to be central in our individual and corporate life.”
Let it be stated plainly to the leadership and board of directors of World Vision U.S.: The Lord Jesus is no longer central in the corporate life of your organization. You have denied His lordship by your actions.
Remarkably, Stearns claims that World Vision’s moral standards have not changed, explaining that they still require “abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage” for their employees. So, just redefine your terms, and poof! Sin disappears.
This would be similar to saying that World Vision still requires sexual purity, except that fornication is now considered pure, or that they still require marital fidelity, except that adultery is now considered fidelity.
The fact is that no matter how much two men or two women love each other, their union is not marriage in God’s sight—nor will it ever be—and their sexual relations, even if totally monogamous, remain sinful in his eyes.
Now is the time for every church that works with World Vision, every Christian musician and artist that partners with World Vision, and every believer that supports World Vision to inform them that they have made a terrible choice and that they will no longer have your support.
And then, without missing a beat, partner together with other fine Christian, humanitarian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse or Food for the Hungry, and continue your compassionate giving.
And for every child who will fall through the cracks because of World Vision’s betrayal of its Christian principles, I say to Richard Stearns and those who made this decision together: You will have to answer to God.
Michael Brown is author of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.