I’m sure most of you have been amply informed concerning the World Vision USA news that has harried itself in and out of the Christian blogosphere over the past couple of days. In summary, on Tuesday World Vision released a statement that it would hire practicing homosexuals as long as they are in a legal marriage. This received considerable backlash from the evangelical community which in tern received considerable backlash from the more “progressive” Christians. Another big announcement was released by World Vision USA yesterday afternoon when they announced that they are going back on their original decision and are whole heatedly committed to the Biblical understanding of marriage understood as the union of one man and one woman. This serving as summary, I would like give a few thoughts concerning some of the reactions to the original announcement (pro-gay) that I came across yesterday.
Like I mentioned, the evangelical community was no fan of World Vision USA’s announcement and they made that perfectly clear. The reactions that I would like to highlight is those reactions of professing Christians who chose to lambast the evangelicals for their condemnation of World Vision USA’s decision. One response in particular that caught my happened to be a tweet by Michael Gungor.
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me…unless you hire gay people. #wait
— Michael Gungor (@michaelgungor) March 26, 2014
In terms of rhetoric this tweet is brilliant. Michael Gungor (“MG” henceforth) seems to pit two Biblical principles against each other and place them on a scale. On the one hand you have caring for the poor and on the other you have judging homosexuality. In MG’s mind, caring for the poor should far outweigh petty discrimination towards homosexuals. On the surface this seems like wisdom. But when you scratch beneath the surface of the argumentation MG uses you will find that it ignores the most vital Biblical principle of all: Faith.
MG is concerned with service to the poor. This is admirable. In the words of James “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Christians should be in the business of serving the poor, helping widows, and housing orphans. But in the words of the author of Hebrews “without faith it is impossible to please God.” This means that in our service to the poor we must be serving in faith otherwise it is not pleasing to God.
The reason that I bring up faith as the issue here is because faith, in its very nature, is able to hold the seeming tensions that the Bible sets forth. The way MG seems to see things is that, depending on the situation, one aspect of Biblical teaching must necessarily give way to another and we ultimately become the judges of the which ones we follow and which ones we don’t.
The man of faith is able to believe that God is the God who created everything out of nothing and calls forth into existence things that are not (Romans 4:17). The man of faith sees no tension between loving the poor and at the same time disagreeing and not supporting a ministry that blatantly disobeys scripture, regardless of how much good that ministry does for the poor. The reason the man of faith can do this is because the man of faith has faith that God, not himself or a ministry, cares more about the poor than we do and is ever mindful of them.
When we get picky and choosy with Biblical ethics and sacrifice one at the expense of another we are essentially pretending that we are, in fact, God. This should not be the case. Jesus teaches us to obey all that he has commanded us (John 14). When, in faith, we commit ourselves to obey God, we cannot agree with something that is against God, regardless of how much “good” that something might be accomplishing. We must have faith, confidence in that which cannot be seen, that being faithful to God will ultimately bring about more good (Romans 8) than to compromise of Biblical ethics because of the good we can see (not faith) happening now.
I realize that in making these points on these particular issues is somewhat of a moot point because World Vision USA retracted their original statement and are now (thankfully) repentant and obedient to the Biblical definition of marriage. The point that World Vision USA has changed their stance does not change the way many progressive Christians responded to the evangelical detractors. MG (and others) who seem to think that doing good works can somehow atone for disobedience to God present a very disjointed (although compelling to many) view of the way we are to humbly relate to God and his commands.
These are my thoughts on a rather particular aspect to this whole situation. I hope they weren’t too disjointed and I was able to present my thoughts well enough to make a point. Furthermore, I hope the point I was trying to make was helpful.
Food for thought.