On Monday night, I decided that my Friday post would center on World Vision’s employment policy change, opening up the way for people in state-recognized same-sex unions to work at World Vision without violating the evangelically-inclined institution’s morality clause. Of course, as you likely know by now, WV has since reversed their decision, and threw in some convincing* (to my mind) mea culpa‘s, to boot. There are some in the Christian quarters of the internet that cheered this reversal, some that sneered, some that doubted Richard Stearns’ motives, and some that were relieved they personally didn’t have to make what they felt was a difficult moral decision. I was part of this last group.
I started sponsoring a child with World Vision about 10 years ago. I keep her pictures on my fridge. Her name is Meselech. I’ve blogged about her in the past. [Please pardon some squishy theology in that post, by the way–for what it’s worth, I was still an Arminian then, so who knows what other kinds of crazy stuff I believed**.]
I’ve since sponsored several others over the years. Some left their programs, some I just couldn’t afford to help anymore. But right now, I sponsor two girls through World Vision (one in Kenya and one in Haiti), and because I take this issue of marriage seriously, WV-USA’s corporate decision gave me pause.
I saw the digital slings and arrows from indignant people mocking Christians who felt the way I did, that confusion, that discomfort. People who said that anyone who wanted to end their association with WV on principle loved dogma more than children and shouldn’t call themselves followers of Jesus. [Yes, I saw your Facebook posts. I saw your tweets. I was offended, but I didn’t say anything, because, why? Would it have made a difference?]
I decided before making any decisions, I would talk to the person I know who has the strongest opinions on the issue of orphan care: my beloved fiancée. And even though the “issue” had been resolved by the time we could discuss it, I still wanted to hear her heart on the issue. She’s spent the last several years of her life and career focused on orphan-care issues, and this stuff matters to her. So her measured approach, which I appreciated, was that she would have finished her committed terms with the kids she was currently sponsoring, and then moved her money to a similar organization doing similar work that fit more in line with her beliefs. But she would have made sure that the children she was sponsoring were taken care of, first. I think this is where I would have landed on this question, as well. It seems like the best possible response.
This may make no sense to you, all this sturm und drang about same-sex unions in relief organizations. That’s fine. But it matters to me, because doctrine matters to me. Theology isn’t just an academic exercise; it bleeds over into all areas of life. If you don’t believe that, it’s not because your theology doesn’t affect your life; it’s probably because a different theology than the one you vocally espouse is the one that affects your life.
Everyone is a theologian. I think R.C. Sproul said that first, and it’s true. You, right now, reading this blog post, are a theologian, because you have some sort of belief system about God. It could be an atheist theology, an agnostic theology, an indifferent theology, a socially-focused theology, but it’s there, like the rebar reinforcing your moral and ideological foundations.
My theology, my beliefs about God, they say something about marriage. My theology says something about sexuality. My theology says something about caring for orphans and widows in their distress. I cannot in good conscience selectively apply my theology to one side of this discussion OR to the other.
Well, this is all sound and fury, signifying nothing, right? After all, World Vision reversed their position. Everyone can go back to the church potluck, right? No. Because this isn’t over. This is just the beginning of what I anticipate will be a lifetime of these kinds of discussions and decisions. This issue isn’t a fringe issue, and it isn’t going away. What we believe about sexuality, about marriage, and about God will always be an active part of how we live as humans in society and what we talk about in our communities. So it’s better to get this sorted now.
This was just a test. Like pressing the button on a smoke alarm. Screech, then silence, with just a bit of a ringing in our ears.
[*I know of several bloggers, pastors, and thinkers who didn’t feel this was convincing enough, and are assuming the apology was more in the “we’re sorry we got smacked” vein. While that’s certainly possible, I agree with Dr. Albert Mohler’s assessment that this apology went farther than the typical sheepish recoil of a chastised public figure. I also believe that the apology statement revealed a really doctrine-poor thought process generated the first announcement, and that has its own set of issues to discuss. For someone else, though.]
[**That’s a joke, people. Lighten up. I simply believed that I had the power to choose or reject Jesus of my own free will, completely unencumbered by one side or the other affecting my decision. Oh, and that I could have conversations with God “in my spirit” that were almost on par with what He tells me in His word. See? Totally rational…um…]