UPDATE: On the afternoon of Wednesday March 26th, 2014, World Vision reversed its decision to make changes to their employment conduct policy regarding same-sex marriage. Click here to read more.
World Vision is one of the world’s largest benevolent organizations, and has been extremely effective in serving the poor around the world. Now, according to President Richard Stearns’ letter to their employees, their board has chosen “to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.” What does God think about this decision? Consider four biblical principles.
First, unity is often more important than uniformity. In Acts 15, church leaders chose not to force Jewish legal standards on Gentile converts, placing Christian unity before doctrinal conformity. World Vision does not require its employees to agree on methods of baptism, views on evolution, and a number of other divisive theological issues. It clearly views its decision on same-sex marriage in the same way. But should it?
Second, God’s word is consistent regarding same-sex marriage. Every time the Bible addresses homosexual activity, it forbids it. Stearns responds: “People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear on this issue,’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.'” Yes, but these theologians and denominations defend their position by denying or limiting biblical authority.
They argue that Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 applied only to Jewish priests and so are irrelevant today. And they claim that Paul’s prohibitions (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:8-11) were addressed to heterosexuals who engaged in homosexual behavior, either as prostitutes or to subjugate others. They argue that Paul had no concept of homosexual orientation or loving, monogamous homosexual relationships. So we are forced to conclude that the Holy Spirit led Paul to a theological assertion that was partial and misleading. This is the theological position to which Stearns refers while assuring employees that “we hold a strong view of the authority of Scripture in the life of the church.”
Third, we should “count the cost” of our decisions (Luke 14:28). If World Vision will employ a person in a same-sex marriage simply because it is legal and sanctioned by some denomination, will they employ a person in a polygamous marriage on the same grounds? What about those who abuse marijuana in states where it is legal, or those who argue for elective abortion? Are we to believe that homosexual employees will not advocate for their lifestyle when working with impoverished children and families?
Last, Jesus prays for us to be united, but under his authority. Stearns’ letter refers to our Lord’s intercession for unity (John 17:23), but it omits his claim, “All authority in heaven and under earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). He was clear in endorsing heterosexual, monogamous marriage (Matthew 19:4-6). We will find unity only when we are united in him.
These biblical principles lead me to believe that God grieves World Vision’s decision. They will be able to employ some people they previously could not, but at what cost? They have not sidestepped the issue of homosexuality—their decision has brought it inside their work force and made their crucial ministry an instrument of further division in the body of Christ. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).