Why I Stopped Giving To World Vision

Today I received  a phone call from a World Vision representative asking if I’d want to renew my sponsorship of the child I’ve sponsored since 2009. With sadness, I had to tell her that no, I would not be renewing my support.

The controversy surrounding World Vision’s decision to hire practicing homosexuals (as long as they were legally married), and their almost immediate retraction of that decision has mostly blown over by this point. But I still have a picture of a 9-year-old boy from Albania on my fridge, and I haven’t yet forgotten what the decision of the President and board have cost him.

World Vision’s initial decision had a lot of people wondering whether or not they should remove support from the organization. Was it right to sacrifice the “well-being” of children and families in need over the peripheral issue of homosexuality? I struggled with this question hour by hour for the days leading up to World Vision’s reversal, and removed my support just the night before their retraction.

After prayer, thought, and discussion, my husband and I did choose to remove support, and therefore left my sweet little boy without a sponsor. There were a few factors that went into the decision at the time.

1) World Vision’s sponsorships work on a pool system. My understanding is that the money I sent in for my sponsored child wasn’t just going to him. The money was going into a larger pool of money that provided for the entire group of sponsored children. The retraction of my funds wasn’t going to mean that they would kick him out of school, or that his family would starve. It just meant that his support funds were going to have to come from other places within World Vision. That was important to me.

2) John Piper has said, “Christians should care about suffering — especially eternal suffering.” That quote (or paraphrase) has been very helpful to me as I think about the sort of issues that seem to pit the social gospel against biblical morality. Care for physical suffering should not come with the cost of eternal suffering. It is not one way or the other. In this situation, World Vision’s decision made it very clear to me that my sponsored child’s eternal needs were not going to be met in a good and true way.

3)The compromise of homosexuality in the church is a big compromise, and signifies what I think is a bigger problem of bad hermeneutics, disrespect for the Word of God, and an immoderate care for the whims of the world. An organization with those sorts of problems, in my opinion, ought not be trusted with the hearts of children we care about. Though my heart and prayers are with that little boy in Albania, I am a better steward of his heart and my money if I give elsewhere.

And then the next day, World Vision changed their mind. So what then? They apologetically reversed their decision, so that means it’s okay to give them support as they minister to children again, right? Well, I thought about it. On one hand, yes. They were reprimanded and seemed to come to good conclusion. The woman I spoke to on the phone was extremely apologetic, and said several times that she hoped that I could forgive them. I didn’t know what to say to that. I don’t think that they need forgiveness from me. Can you even forgive an organization?

And there’s still the other hand. Yes, they reversed their decision, and fast! But how long did it take them to reach the first decision? I don’t think that they came to the decision to hire married gays overnight. My guess is that they wrestled with the issues, sought counsel, etc. and came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do. But then — when they saw the negative response — they reversed their decision overnight. This makes me ask questions, like:

  • Who were they (the board) listening to, that told them this was a good idea? Obviously not someone to whom I would entrust souls that I care about.
  • What kind of people are on this board? Obviously people who are a) easily swayed by deceptive, persuasive arguments, or b) progressive “Christians” who really thing this would be a good idea. Again, not people to whom I would entrust souls that I care about.
  • What led to the quick reversal? Financial pain. Although framed in a theologically repentant tone, I can only assume that when they started to lose money and saw the impact their decision would have on their mission, they buckled and apologized to the people who could save them from bankruptcy.

All three of those thoughts lead me to believe one thing about World Vision. They are not to be trusted with the Word of God or with souls that I care about because of their complete lack of steadfastness. They did not stay true to a biblical worldview with their initial decision, and the immediate reversal leads me to believe that even their firmly-felt convictions will be sacrificed to their immediate needs. I don’t think they are trustworthy enough to disciple children, and not trustworthy enough to give money to, especially if I care that it goes primarily toward the relief of eternal suffering.

I pray that God will work truth and real repentance into the hearts of the president and board members of World Vision where it doesn’t already exist. But today, although the woman I spoke to was kind, gentle, apologetic, and probably had nothing to do with the initial decision, I let the my little 9-year-old go for good. May the Lord bless him and keep him. And may he forever treasure his creator, trusting him with all of his heart, soul, and mind.


Freedom Has Consequences

When you tell someone “no,” you limit their freedom, and exercise your own.

But when you lose the right to say “no” your freedom is utterly, and without exception, destroyed. It’s true that saying “no” has its consequences for you — the man whose proposal you’ve just refused will marry someone else and you’ve lost your chance as a result of your response. Your “no” to a job opportunity that you thought would leave you bankrupt means that when that start-up company is on the Fortune 500 list, you’ve lost out on a great opportunity. And it has consequences for others — the man cannot marry you. The company cannot hire you. Your response has limited their freedom.

Imagine a world, though, where your right to say “no” is taken away. If someone wants something of you, you cannot say no. You must marry that jerk. You must work for that company that will bury you in a sinkhole of debt in five years.

Removing the right to say “no” absolutely and unquestionably removes your freedom. 

Freedom necessarily includes the right to say both “yes” and “no.” The right to say “yes, I will be a part of this,” and “no, I will not be a part of that.” Freedom is not freedom without the ability to make choices.

Which is why this article bothered me so much. Full of false dichotomies and outright lies about what limited freedom means, as if true religious freedom is only achieved by saying “yes” to everything. Let me tell you — religious freedom is made up equally of the right to say “no” as it is of the right to say “yes” to certain religious activities.

Religious freedom means that I can practice whatever religion I want to the exclusion of other religions. I can practice Hinduism to the exclusion of Islam. I can practice atheism to the exclusion of deism. I can say “yes” to one religion and “no” to another. I can say “yes” to ham, or I can say “no” to ham, and although I may be limiting the freedom of guests in my house to a ham sandwich, it’s my freedom and my right to do so.

And today there’s a battle raging in Arizona about the freedom for business owners to say “no” to certain clientele based on their religion. The Huffington Post article linked above is doing the dirty work of trying to convince people that we can maintain our freedom while being stripped of our ability to say “no,” and it makes me sick. We cannot have freedom without the right to say “no”! We should not be force to eat ham, or forced to not eat ham.

Here is an article about what the legislation in Arizona is actually for. No it’s not bullying, no it’s not a Jim Crow law. It’s just protecting freedom — the freedom to say “no.

The damage will be incalculable if we lose the freedom to say “no.”

Sharia Law in Minnesota?

Today I saw something disturbing. Someone I know posted about how Somalian immigrants are taking over America, and are moving toward instituting Sharia law. Her reaction was, “This needs to stop”.

If I believed that Sharia law was actually being enforced in Minnesota, I’d agree wholeheartedly. But after watching the video, I was struck by the attitude, which lands somewhere on the scale of cultural insensitivity and racism, that, in this report, revealed an awful double standard. Here is the Fox News clip that was posted:

Based on the incidents listed in this video, according to the commentator from Fox News, these Somalian immigrants are clearly bringing Sharia law to the United States. Here are the snapshots of sharia law he mentions:

  1. Taxi drivers refusing customers who are carrying alcohol, traveling with dogs, or who are otherwise unclean based on Sharia law or customs.
  2. Target check-out employees who refuse to handle pork products.
  3. Somalian couple found with Khat, a mildly hallucinogenic drug (that seems to have the same effects as strong coffee).

People who are offended by being refused by a taxi seem to have forgotten another recent story that had many of them up in arms: Hobby Lobby’s refusal to add contraceptives to their benefit plans. There has been a groundswell of support for Hobby Lobby based on the belief that the consciences of owners and workers should not be required to compromise in order to stay in business. And herein lies the double standard. Let me demonstrate by creating my own MadLib sentence.

  • The owners of Hobby Lobby should be able to refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs regarding birth control.
  • The owners of a bakery should be able to refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality.
  • The owners of a few taxi cabs should be refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs about alcohol or dogs.

See that? Same sentence, same issue, totally different reactions from the same, conservative, religious, Fox-News-Watching crowd. Now can you see that double-standard?

Next up, the issue of the conscientious cashier. To my knowledge, the cashier did not tell the customer that he or she was not allowed to buy bacon. The cashier merely refused to handle the product him/herself. To me that means that he or she was not forcing his or her religion on anyone else, but was doing what all Americans should appreciate – maintaining his or her religion without forcing others to conform.

The real question is whether or not this cashier should have taken the job without letting the manager know his or her restrictions. Maybe the cashier should have said something first, or the employer should have made the requirement to not refuse service of this kind to any customer part of the job description.

As far as khat goes, I really don’t understand what this has to do with Sharia law. Is khat really mentioned in Sharia law?And does it matter? There are plenty of Americans smoking marijuana every day. East African immigrants do not have a monopoly on mildly hallucinogenic drugs, and until they do, I don’t see khat as any more of a problem than anyone else taking too many vicodin or growing pot in their basements.

It is true that Somali immigrants don’t always assimilate, and that they’re often not the best winter drivers. But I think we need to remember that our ancestors were immigrants too. My family still makes German Mennonite food, even though I’m a fourth-generation American, and there are undoubtedly other cultural behaviors that have been passed down even this far! We cannot expect new immigrants to become fourth-generation Americans with remnants of a European culture. Ever. But we can expect them, over time, to become fourth-generation Americans with remnants of an African culture….just not for a few more generations.

Let’s give them time. They’re not changing our laws, they’re just living out their culture in the midst of ours – just like our ancestors did years ago.

Agree to Disagree

How do you deal with “agreeing to disagree” when the person you’re “agreeing” with still holds your position in utter contempt?

I try very hard not to be hurt or bitter when people reject my beliefs. And it’s better to walk away with a simple “agree to disagree” than to end in a damaging debate. Right?

I want to leave debates respectfully, saying: “I now know what you mean when you say you’re [insert label], as opposed to what my assumption was. I don’t agree with you that your position is correct, but I understand that you are intelligent, you’ve done your research. And I can respect you for that. I can respect your conclusion and worldview as well, because it is clear that there are convincing arguments in your favor. I just happen to be more convinced by other arguments.”

But why is it that when people say they “agree to disagree,” they so often mean “I think you’re an ignorant person with a stupid worldview that I’ve read critiques of. And by the way, I hate your position. But I don’t want to argue any more, so let’s just agree to disagree.”

And what then is the proper response? Do you say, “Wait, I want to agree to disagree, but only if you at least stop hating my worldview?” Probably not.

So do you just agree? I guess. Agreeing in a kind and understanding way is probably better than getting into a fist fight (or whatever the equivalent is over social media). Maybe that’s the way to go – if you can’t earn their respect you should at least deserve it. Right?

I think that’s right. But man, is it ever unsatisfying.

I Am a Feminist. Am I?

Actually, to be exact, I am a pro-life, complementarian feminist.

Webster defines feminism as:

“the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

And to that I say, “Amen, brother!”

So why do I not actually go around telling people that I’m a feminist?

Well, that’s both easy and complicated. It’s easy: feminists are loud, mean, pro-choice, man-eaters. But are they? That’s what I think most people would say. And I’m not at all prepared to deal with that label. Don’t fence me in!

But people assume things that are not nice or true of me when they hear the label “Christian” too, right? So here’s the complication:

Why do I accept the label “Christian,” but not the label “feminist?”

That’s a good question, I’ll admit. And honestly, I’m still working out the answer. Here are a few of my thoughts. If you have thoughts, feel free to weigh in.

  • Christianity is who I am – the very core of my being is Christian. I belong heart, soul, and mind to Christ. I have Christ’s righteousness, I am God’s child, and I take his name. If there was another good way to say this, I would, but they all sound hipster and cheesy, so “Christian” is the way to go.
  • Feminism is something I believe. It’s a biblical belief – God created the sexes with equal dignity and honor, and they deserve to have the same basic rights (God just gave us different jobs). But it’s not quite at the core of who I am. It’s something I choose to put on.

Yes, but they’re still both labels. Calling yourself a Christian or not has nothing to do with your identity and salvation. Christians have done a lot of evil things in the name of Christ but you’re still willing to wear the label.

  • I think that the difference here is that yes, even Christians have done some awful things. But despite some people’s horrible feelings about Christians, most people recognize that there is diversity within the church. Calling yourself a Christian begs for further description.
  • There are a lot of nuances in feminism as well. The difference is that people don’t seem to be aware of them. The vocal feminists are often pro-choice, sexually inclusive, and, if they are in the church and all, egalitarian. And that’s what people expect of them. This isn’t necessarily safe to assume, but because that’s what most people think, I don’t feel comfortable donning that label.

Okay. So why do people have a narrower view of feminists than of Christians? Where does this come from?

I wonder if it comes from the church. I live in a bit of a Christian bubble, and I wonder if the outside world sees feminists the way Christians seem to. The church’s view of feminism seems to be fairly monolithic, which I would argue is untrue and unfair. Christians have denominational lines, and they’re helpful for distinguishing theological differences. But we (Christians) don’t seem to distinguish between different kinds of feminists, and I think that we might be missing out because of it.

The only place I would feel comfortable admitting to feminism is a place where I can define my terms (like here on this blog). In the church, my announcement would be looked at with skepticism and I wonder if anyone would even ask me what I meant before assuming that I was biblically out of line.

But I do think that women are just as valuable as men, and I do think that we have wonderful, God-given talents and abilities! And I think that the church, by viewing the feminist movement through such a narrow view has kept women from embracing the strengths of their womanhood. For example – I really don’t like women’s Bible studies. I’d rather study hard theology with a group of men than sit in a small group eating brownies and discussing how my husband reacts when I need a good cry. But I’ve always felt like a little bit of a failure as a woman because of this. I’m also more rational than emotional, and honestly don’t always get along with girls that well. I also hate small talk and talking about feelings takes some serious effort. So when people talk about how much women like to talk about feelings I feel out of place and not like a real woman.

This is wrong! Why aren’t we celebrating the differences among women? Why aren’t we proclaiming the excellencies of the Creator who made the fine and delicate women as well as the women who have blazing wit and a fiery disposition? Meek doesn’t mean low-volume or timid. It means patient, kind, and slow to judge. These women can change the world, and I don’t think God wishes, or that the Bible demands, that they sit quietly at home with their knitting instead of using their feisty qualities to serve him.

Women’s rights do matter, and it is not a bad thing to fight for them. And we need women who will fight for them.

Do you really think that pro-choice, man-hating, feminists will listen to a man telling them to submit to their husbands? We need godly women who are smart, strong, wise, bold, meek, and humble to engage this facet of the feminist spectrum.

So. I’m a feminist — but one who gladly submits to my husband (the God-made manager of our marriage and family institution), who claims my God-given authority over the care of our home, who celebrates womanhood in all its forms, and seeks for both sexes to be valued and honored as equal creations made in the image of God.

But don’t tell anybody, because I’m still not ready to admit it.

Silence Isn’t All It’s Quacked Up to Be

No matter if you’ve heard of Duck Dynasty or not, if you love it or hate it, if you’re a Christian or not — if you’re an American you no doubt have heard of the firestorm brought on by Phil Robertson’s comments to GQ magazine.

There are varied responses – love, hate, and almost everything in-between. Most reactions don’t surprise me (and quite honestly almost everything I’ve seen or read so far has annoyed me), but I have to say that the response that rankles me the most is the public “silence” that certain Christians are exuding. I’ve seen several posts either giving a hipster-esque “I don’t care about Duck Dynasty” that brings to mind a picture of Anne Shirley’s nose-in-the-air disregard, and some criticizing other Christians for getting upset about a cable TV show.

One article in particular was posted by one of my favorite websites – Desiring God. The author, who is an elder at my church and whom I have some amount of respect for, basically tells people off for being upset and wasting energy on such a silly issue and encourages people rouse that energy to fight in the polls and votes. He’s advocating a strategic use of our collective voice.

On one hand I agree with him. Yes, it’s just a cable TV show, and yes, we should definitely be caring about and using energy to engage with culture on a different level. There’s a big “but” in there, though, I think. I usually get my news from Facebook, even though I would consider myself to have a relatively healthy interest in current events and politics. I don’t think I’m alone, and, in fact, I think the truth is that I’m fairly typical. My entire generation uses social media to notify us of important events. There is no doubt in my mind that elections are swayed by social media and celebrity tweets.

So what better way to engage our celebrity-loving culture than to respond publicly and loudly when their very own stars draw attention to issues that would otherwise be considered topics that “you just don’t talk about.” I do not think it’s right to say that what our culture at large is clamoring about is not worth our time – especially when it so directly interacts with an issue that we claim is so important to us.

For something that is such a divisive issue, when would be better to discuss homosexuality than when it is connected to a star of pop culture instead issues within the church or the political process? One would think that today might just be the best time to talk about it.

Homosexuality has become so politicized and divisive that the mere mention of it brings up a “oh not that again” response that we all used to give our parents when they told us what “we already knew.” But maybe, just maybe, interacting with culture on a different level – yes, maybe even the frivolous, celebrity-crazed level – we might do a better job of relating to people that need to hear Gospel truth. Today they’re coming to us, asking for a response (demanding is probably a better term). Now does not seem like a good time for silence.

Genetic Oppression: What a Difference a Chromosome Makes

The following is a letter drafted after watching a documentary on the role of women around the world. A woman’s genetic code is different from a man’s by one chromosome, and this one chromosome makes a world of difference in the life or death she is given. Just one chromosome…

“Dear Mom and Dad,

My existence is both a blessing and a curse to you right now. You wanted a baby, just not one with my particular chromosomal make up. For you, that one particular chromosome makes the difference between a wholesome, happy, family, and a life of hardship, financial difficulty, and maybe even social stigma.

So right now, you are considering ending my life before I have a chance to live a happy, productive life. Before you even give me a chance to enrich your life and be a blessing to you. That one chromosome sure makes a difference, doesn’t it?

It’s true, that those without my chromosome are stronger, are typically paid more, and are more “successful” than people like I am. But how many more of them are given the chance to succeed in their circumstances? For centuries people like me have been discriminated against, treated as lesser beings, burdens, and sometimes embarrassments. In some cultures they’re executed before even being given a chance. Even here in the U.S., those who share my special chromosome are aborted at an increased rate.

It surprises me though, that in a country like the United States, which appears to fight so hard for equality and tolerance, that such a disproportionate amount of care and concern is spent on rescuing people like me from those who would take power and lord it over those they have taken it from. That those who fight for justice and equality would then turn and stand on the throat of those they see as lesser, weaker, members of society.

But it is simply not true that having babies like me will make society better or stronger. It is not true that families with children like me are worse off. Sure. They look different from others families where no children have my chromosome, but they are happy, and often stronger than others. Ask anyone. Moms and dads would say that their lives have been better for their having a child with my chromosome. They’ve learned to appreciate my difference and enjoy my successes and failures with as much pride as the successes and failures of those without my chromosome. Their families feel whole, and the absence of my chromosome would mean a void in their lives.

My chromosome makes me look and act differently, and sometimes speak differently. But it doesn’t make me less human. It doesn’t make me less important than other members of society. I will have different gifts and talents than others. But isn’t diversity a good thing? Don’t differences bring out the best in people? Don’t different gifts help everyone function better? If there were no people like me, wouldn’t that make society a worse place?

But if you still don’t want me, did you know that there is a waiting list of people hoping to adopt people with my chromosome? That’s right. People see me as an asset to their families, and to society despite and because of my genetic difference. So please: talk to someone who cares about unwanted babies. And if they convince you to keep me, I promise that you will not be worse off for my participation in your family. But if you still don’t feel up for it, give me to them and I will be a blessing to them. They are, after all, waiting for someone just like me.

I want you to think about about this chromosomal culprit. My one, extra chromosome. It may be different. It may mean I will never climb the corporate scale. I might not live alone. But I can work, I can marry, and I can love and enrich the lives of those around me. Please, just give me a chance. Don’t let this one tiny chromosome ruin our lives.”

According to a 2011 Life News article and a 2007 New York Times piece, 90% of pregnancies where the baby was known to have Downs syndrome was terminated. One chromosome difference between a man, a woman, and a Downs baby. Where are the advocates for those with the extra chromosome?

Here are some resources about the adoption of babies with Down Syndrome – all from spending five minutes on Google. There are lots of resources available if you’re willing to look.

Hundreds respond to call to adopt a baby with Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome Adoption Explodes in Popularity

Don’t Abort, Parents Are Waiting to Adopt Down Syndrome Kids

Adopting a New Purpose

National Down Syndrome Adoption Network

Children with Down Syndrome in Demand

And here’s a great children’s book about the blessing of disabilities: Just As I Am: God’s Good Design In Disability