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.

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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.”

To Fight the Good Fight

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Sometimes, where I live, it’s pretty scary to actually realize what most of my neighbors would think of me if they knew what I really believed. There are a few hot-button issues that I am genuinely nervous to bring up with people, and I recently, in London, actually, realized what it might look like to actually discuss these issues with someone that I watch on TV or listen to on the radio. It was really good for me, I think.

During our time in London, we were able to spend an evening with a family who has Minneapolis roots. They were mostly strangers to us but were very hospitable and kind to us, as they now live in London. We enjoyed our time with them immensely, even though half-way through the night, at a wonderful English pub we started to feel a little uncomfortable because one of our new friends began to repeatedly speak out against the conservatism in America, specifically regarding homosexuality.

Usually I try to understand that in Minneapolis and elsewhere the prevailing worldview is that the fight for gay marriage is a civil rights issue, and let a few comments slide on by to keep the peace. But this time, the comments kept on coming, and with each second came a stronger feeling that to stay silent was to silently assent to her unbiblical opinion regarding the issue, her hurtful view of me (had she yet known where I stood), and her insult to the God who created us. It became clear that in order to be faithful to what I know the Bible says, and what Christ would have me do, I needed to say something. So I did. 

The issue is a very personal issue to her, and I wanted to make sure that she knew it’s a personal issue for me to. My family has not been unaffected by homosexuality, and it seems that with each year I find out about more friends, current or past, who are coming out as gay. This is a very personal issue. And it is a very spiritual issue. But the fact that it was personal to me too didn’t matter.

The conversation, if you can call it that, was a strange creature, indeed. I’ve been surrounded by a Christian sub-culture for many years – my whole life, in fact, and it was refreshing for me to experience the fight that’s going on in the rest of the culture. There was no arguing. Logic and consistency had no place in this discussion, only blind determinism to “protect” a beloved friend from what appeared to this woman as a cruel and destructive opinion.

I felt the weighty truth of being the smell of death to someone I wanted to call a friend. My patience, kindness, and reason were put to the test, and their maintenance made no noticeable difference whatsoever.

I did not come out unscathed, and the conversation brought home to me what I’ve been hearing about the battle over inerrancy that’s been raging (at the snails pace of scholarly battles) among theologians for the last several years. This isn’t a new battle, but in recent years it’s been renewed among scholars, and, for me, this conversation was evidence of the scholarly battle come to fruition in the lives of us “normal” people. We stand or fall on our view of the inerrancy of scripture. Without the authority of the Bible, we are fools, and not just in the eyes of what we call “the world.”

It was reminder of several things:

  1. My biblical knowledge is worth much. To fight this battle without the sword of the spirit is impossible.
  2. My biblical knowledge is not everything. I need to be ready to fight for inerrancy and defend my hermeneutic.
  3. My logic is worth much. Her husband stepped in a few times to point out the rationality of my arguments. He heard them.
  4. My logic is not everything. She heard no logic, and operated by the emotional engine of the love=acceptance mantra.
  5. Kindness and patience do matter. My kindness and patience did not win them to my side, but when I think of what would have happened if they had been absent, I shudder. Fighting fire with fire would have only created an explosion. She can hate my belief, but she cannot truthfully say that I was rude or hateful, and that, to me, means a victory.

Would you pray with me for this woman, her husband, and their family? They were truly wonderful people, and we enjoyed our time with them. But there is blindness in their hearts that arguments cannot remove. Their vision of God is clouded by their view of scripture, and only he can remove the fog. What a relief that their salvation is not in my ability to argue truth, but in the hands of a sovereign, good, God.

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.