Final Thoughts on World Vision

I am hoping this will be my final post on the subject of World Vision. But I wanted to mention world vision2.pngjust a few things I think we can learn from the recent broo-ha-ha.

1. Praise the Lord for repentance.
I am truly grateful that Rich Stearns and the World Vision Board quickly responded to the outcry over their decision legitimizing homosexual sin by returning to their original policy of employee conduct. Was this reversal a wholly pragmatic decision? I don't know. Do they now truly agree with the biblical standard regarding homosexual sin? I hope so. But let us remember that oftentimes repentance is a process. Assuming the worst, that World Vision's quick reversal was merely a pragmatic response to what would surely have been a massive loss of funds, should not keep us from being thankful that they made the right decision. Nor does a worst case scenario negate the possibility that God is doing a work in the organization to draw them back to a more robust understanding of the authority of God's Word. Let us be positive and hopeful that this right decision will bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

2. Why do some of us treat homosexuality like a "litmus test"?
In Richard Stearns' justification for the initial change in policy regarding homosexuality he said: "Denominations disagree on many, many things: on divorce and remarriage, modes of baptism, women in leadership roles in the church, beliefs on evolution, etc." Notice that he identifies homosexuality as just another issue over which Bible-believing Christians may disagree. He goes so far as to compare it to the mode of baptism. The problem with Stearns' reasoning is that baptism is commanded in Scripture while homosexuality is strictly and clearly forbidden.

Conservatives have been criticized for being obsessed with homosexuality. We are compared to Pharisees who are careful to tithe but neglect the weightier matters like mercy. In as much as that is true may God bring us to repentance. However, what we believe about homosexuality is a sort of litmus test concerning our entire orientation toward God's Word. Those claiming to be Christian who affirm homosexuality as a legitimate expression of sexuality reveal a great deal about what they believe concerning the authority and clarity of God's Word. Simply put: I have never met a Christian who denies the sinfulness of homosexuality who is nevertheless orthodox in the rest of their theology.

Despite the protests of liberal critics, homosexuality is resoundingly condemned in the Bible along with all other forms of sexual perversion. To say that it is not clear is simply dishonest. From God's plan revealed in the created order to specific prohibitions in God's law, there is never a proper expression of homosexual desire (Gen 2; Lev 18, 20; Matt 19, Rom 1; 1 Cor 6; Eph 5; 1 Tim 1). In Romans 1 Paul cites homosexuality specifically as a sign that humanity has reached to the lowest depths of degradation. Jude decries the sin of "unnatural desires" which characterized the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah - clearly a reference to homosexuality.

Therefore it is a clear contradiction to deny the inherent sinfulness of homosexuality while professing adherence to biblical authority and historic Christianity.

3. Will Richard Stearns correct what he said about homosexuality?
Again, it is a good thing that World Vision returned to their original standard of employee conduct. But in the original statement Mr. Stearns' said that World Vision remained "resolute" that all its employees be faithful follower of Jesus. This included those who, under the new policy, would be practicing homosexuals. Do Mr. Stearns and the Board now see that one cannot be a practicing homosexual and a faithful follower of Jesus?

4. The para-church is not the church.
Christians should be very careful about where they give their money. I am convinced that Christians ought to make the church to which they belong the first and primary recipient of their charitable giving. Hopefully that church is part of a denomination which honors God's Word, holds to the gospel, and seeks to make Jesus known throughout the world. Certainly, there are wonderful para-church ministries that are worthy of support. But also be aware that evangelicalism is an ever-widening big tent. As such, para-church ministries that subscribe to only the merest statements of faith or self-identify simply as "evangelical" may not be the wisest place for your investment since they may lack to the tools to adequately deal with error.

5. The church needs those who are willing to boldly call out error.
Those who are willing to call a thing what it is are not always appreciated within the church. This is particularly true within that ever-broadening tent called "evangelicalism." And yet there is a reason why Paul insists that elders be men who are not only able to instruct in sound doctrine but willing to silence those who refute it (Titus 1). So, the next time you are tempted to use the word "hater" to describe an elder doing his job, think twice.