World Vision USA announced yesterday that they were amending their hiring policy to include people who are in a legal homosexual marriage. Their requirements, as they were explained to me by Melissa, a “special agent” at World Vision are that all employees must be Christians, affirming the Apostles Creed or a World Vision statement regarding the Trinity (I was not able to find this statement, I would appreciate a link to it if anyone can find it.), and agree to submit to the World Vision USA policy on marriage. That is, employees must have a Christian worldview ethic on matters of sexuality, except when it comes to homosexual marriage, it seems.
This change, as Melissa explained, is because gay marriage is a very big and divisive issue in the Church, and World Vision USA works with several Churches (denominations) with varying beliefs in the areas of divorce, birth control (I didn’t ask her if this referred to abortion or not, sorry!), and homosexuality.
I asked a few questions, hoping to get Melissa off of her script, and to find out a little bit more. They accept donations from anyone, which is to be expected, I couldn’t imagine making potential donors read and agree to the Apostles Creed or the World Vision USA statement on the Trinity, and maybe the Westminster or other Confession. And, they work with what appears to be any group that calls itself a Church. As for their employees, they represent a diverse group that includes Roman Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterian Church USA (the dead liberal ones), Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA, this group is in a race with PCUSA to be the first to abandon all Christian doctrines.), United Methodists (who are currently fighting with themselves over gay marriage with the African Methodists trying to steer the ship back toward orthodoxy.), and any others that are willing to affirm the Apostles Creed.
In reading articles on World Vision USA’s announcement I found an article that explained a little more about World Vision International than what I knew, and reminded me of some concerns I already had with them.
World Vision International is a humanitarian aide organization, a Christian humanitarian aide organization. They operate all over the world working to improve the structure of villages to help support an economy and to provide for the residents to make a living and be able to sustain themselves. This includes building roads, wells, supplying animals for milk or meat, and training people on how to steward the land and resources they have. Though their flyers seem to indicate that a sponsorship goes to an individual child, that is not the case, rather that child represents a community that they are working in. Your sponsored child receives benefits as the community benefits, rather than benefits going directly to feeding that individual child. Letters mailed to the child do actually go to the child, of course.
World Vision International works with local and national governments to help these villages. This allows for donations to be more helpful as the national government of the country works with them to build the necessary infrastructure.
However, this also presents a problem, many governments are less than hospitable to Christians bearing the Gospel, so World Vision International agrees not to proclaim the Gospel to the people who they are aiding in these countries. This allows them to work in Muslim, Hindu, or even atheistic nations. So, the infrastructure is being built, but the Gospel may or may not be proclaimed, depending on the wishes of the national government.
To compare, Compassion International works directly with the child to meet their individual needs and to proclaim the Gospel to them. However, this likely means that they would not be allowed in to many nations that are more hostile to the Gospel.
Having read about these things, and praying about this, I decided that I could not in good conscience give money to World Vision USA any longer. I’ll now attempt to give the reasons for my decision, in hopes that others will also think this through and carefully weigh the matter.
The obvious, and already mentioned, catalyst is World Vision USA’s announcement that gay marriage is divisive and not important enough for them to take a stand against. I understand their reasoning, and in a pragmatic way I can see why they would make the decision. When much of the American Christian Churches are going liberal the donations and workers are going to dry up and they’ll look “intolerant.” Offending people is hard, and we all want unity. As I explained to Melissa, light can’t have unity with darkness.
Melissa reiterated the official press release, that this change is not in any way endorsing or promoting gay marriage or homosexuality. Unfortunately, making an official policy, and an announcement, on the subject is doing exactly what they have said they aren’t doing.
Authority of Scripture versus Pragmatism
World Vision USA and International, as Melissa was careful to remind me, is not a Church, rather it is a parachurch Christian humanitarian aide organization. A couple issues here, if it is Christian it needs to hold to the Bible as the ultimate authority and that requires that Scripture trumps pragmatism and unity. Yes, Jesus did pray that we would be united as one. Unfortunately, as Paul would remind us, there is and will be division among us because many have turned from the light to darkness. Light and darkness can’t have fellowship they are opposites.
Then there is the issue that World Vision is a parachurch organization. Being a parachurch organization it isn’t held accountable to any denominational synod or presbytery. Just like any secular charity it is only accountable to itself and those who donate to it.
Along with this comes the difficulty of trying to support something that is trying to serve part of the role of the Church while not being part of a Church. As I’m learning more as a Presbyterian one of the big things has been the Church, God’s chosen people. God’s grace is extended through the Church and God’s people are held accountable to the Church. Why should this ministry be outside of the Church? Wouldn’t it be better to support missionaries and humanitarian aide through the ordinary means God has provided through the Church? What does it say of our ecclesiology if we think the local congregation and the Church it is a part of isn’t where our giving should be focused? Why even give to a Christian organization that isn’t tied to the one Christian organization that God gave us, is this any different from giving to a secular group?
Last, and most important, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What good is it if we feed the world but don’t give them the thing they lack most? What is the role of the Church if not to proclaim the Gospel? Yes, humanitarian aide is good, and we should do it as we are able. But, that isn’t the command Jesus gave to the Church. The Great Commission is “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” World Vision International isn’t a Church and isn’t working toward the Great Commission. Don’t get me wrong, I think what they do is a good thing, I really do, but I think my money would be better used in giving it to the local church to support the Gospel being proclaimed locally, to support the two overseas missionary families my congregation supports, and to the denomination and the missionaries it supports.
Update: Today (3/26/14) World Vision USA announced they were taking back their policy change and not going to allow people in legal gay marriages to work for them. They also issued an apology.
However, for the reasons in my post, I still am not going to be funding them. I’ve also found out a little more, it seems World Vision doesn’t proclaim the Gospel at all.