The recent controversy surrounding World Vision USA’s decision to open employment to same-sex couples and the organization’s subsequent reversal reveals the fault lines in evangelicalism today.
For the evangelicals distraught by World Vision’s initial decision, the controversy was never about the legitimacy or worthiness of people with differing views of marriage doing good work around the world. We should applaud good deeds of relief and compassion wherever we see them and wherever they come from. No, this particular controversy was about the meaning of evangelical.
For those of you who don’t know, Andrew Sullivan is gay. He is one of the few voices out there in the gay community that are truly tolerant. I have long respected Mr. Sullivan before this post, but this post is exhibit A as to why. He is a man of reason and consistency. He truly stands far apart from most in the gay community as can be seen here.
Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.
Younger Christians are weary of pitched cultural battles and are longing for the “real Jesus” – a Jesus who talks more about washing feet and feeding the poor than flashpoint issues like same-sex marriage and the sanctity of life.
If key evangelical influencers don’t listen, we are told, they are about to lose the entire millennial generation. Or, maybe that generation is already gone.
This story has been told with testimonials, chronicled in best-selling books and posted on popular blogs.
Here’s the short version: If only orthodox evangelical leaders would give up their antiquated beliefs, get more in step with the real Jesus, the church and the world would be better off.
Embedded in this narrative are two presuppositions:
• Young evangelicals are fleeing the church at a rapid pace.
• The real message of Jesus looks nothing like orthodox Christianity.
There’s only one thing wrong with these two ideas: They aren’t true.