The about face in World Vision’s hiring policy deserves comment both because their reasons for the switch will become terribly common and because the reasons themselves are so terrifically thin. Serving in a mainline denomination I’ve heard all the assurances and euphemisms before: “We still affirm traditional marriage. We aren’t taking sides. This is only a narrow change. We are trying to find common ground. This is about unity. It’s all about staying on mission.” But of course, there is nothing neutral about the policy at all. The new policy makes no sense if World Vision thinks homosexual behavior is a sin, which is, after all, how it views fornication and adultery. There are no allowances for their employees to solemnize other transgressions of the law of God.
To be sure, like many evangelical parachurch organizations, World Vision allows for diversity in millennial views, sacramental views, soteriological views, and any numbers of doctrinal issues which distinguish denomination from denomination. Stearns would have us believe that homosexuality is just another one of these issues, no different from determining whether the water in baptism can be measured by liters or milliliters. But the analogy does not work. Unlike the differences concerning the mode of baptism, there is no long historical record of the church debating whether men can marry men. In fact, there is no record of the church debating anything of the sort until the last forty or fifty years. And more to the point, there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that getting the mode of baptism wrong puts your eternal soul in jeopardy, when there are plenty of verses to suggest that living in unrepentant sexual sin will do just that (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Jude 5-7).
World Vision, an evangelical relief organization, announced today that they would now hire persons who are in same-sex marriages. The organization said, further, that this was no capitulation, just a recognition that some groups supporting World Vision have differing views on sex and marriage…
…We’re entering an era where we will see who the evangelicals really are, and by that I mean those who believe in the gospel itself, in all of its truth and all of its grace. And many will shrink back. There are no riots if the gospel you’re preaching doesn’t threaten the silversmiths of the Temple of Artemis. And there are no clucking tongues if the gospel you’re preaching isn’t offered to tax collectors and temple prostitutes.
Sex is our god. Children are our sacrifice.
So, yes, we grieve for the children across the world who will be adversely affected by World Vision’s decision and the evangelical response.
But we also grieve for children here at home who are growing up in a culture in which sexual idolatry distorts the meaning of marriage and the beauty of God’s original design.
Today is a day to grieve for the children.
People are reacting to this story with the natural revulsion one feels for such callous treatment of humans, whether it’s evoking memories of crematoriums at concentration camps or promises made to mothers who miscarry about the treatment of their children who died.
But why are we in any way surprised? Once supposedly enlightened societies have decided that unborn children can be dismembered in the womb for any reason — in some particularly barbaric lands, this is permitted no matter how many months old the baby is — why should their bodies be treated with any respect whatsoever once they are removed from where they were gestating?
Marriage is a gospel issue. That is the ultimate reason why clarity about its definition matters for our worship and witness. People who depart from, or fail to stand up for, the biblical view of marriage are taking a step away from the gospel itself. The whole Bible is the story of the marital love of God, as I demonstrate in this book. Our whole lives are that story, if we have eyes to see.
Marriage is more than human romance, wonderful as that is. Marriage is the display of Christ and his Bride in love together. A beautiful, tender, thriving, Ephesians 5-kind of marriage makes the gospel visible on earth, bringing hope to people who have given up believing there could be any love anywhere for them. That is why biblical marriage deserves our courageous loyalty today. And that is why, in our increasingly secular times, biblical marriage is under pressure. Its true meaning is understood and embodied and sustained only by the power of the gospel.
On the way home from a ministry training weekend, my brother Tedd suggested that we should make the things we had learned practical to our personal lives. He then began to ask questions about my marriage.
As he asked, it was as if God was ripping down curtains, and I saw and heard myself with accuracy for the first time in years. Praise God for the specificity of the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. As my eyes were open, I couldn’t believe what I had said and done. I was broken and grieved. It was hard for me to believe that that man that I was seeing was me. I couldn’t wait to get home.
When I entered my house that night, Luella could tell that something was up by my seriousness. I asked her if we could talk. After we sat down I said, “I know for years that you have been trying to talk to me about my anger and my failure to love you and the kids as I should, and I have been unwilling to listen. I can honestly say tonight that I am ready to listen. I want to hear.” I will never forget what happened next.