World Vision held hostage // A reflection on the Broad Church

Reflecting on the recent World Vision fiasco I feel much compassion for their leadership and the individuals they serve. If you haven’t already heard, VW initially made a move to eliminate discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in their hiring practices. The original press release (now removed, but still cached via Google) made a strong statement about the organization’s core values, and recognition of the diverse Christian church:

[…] since World Vision is a multi-denominational organization that welcomes employees from more than 50 denominations, and since a number of these denominations in recent years have sanctioned same-sex marriage for Christians, the board—in keeping with our practice of deferring to church authority in the lives of our staff, and desiring to treat all of our employees equally—chose to adjust our policy. Thus, the board has modified our Employee Standards of Conduct to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.

I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue. We have chosen not to exclude someone from employment at World Vision U.S. on this issue alone. (Source/World Vision – March 2014 Press Release – Employee letter on change to standards of conduct)

I really respected World Vision’s move and their recognition of the diversity of the Church. I have friends whom I am proud to say I am at theological ends with–but we refuse to let those disagreements blockade us from living out communal lives of faith.

We can become too afraid of those who disagree, as we seek to find the ultimate unshakeable truth. If we validate another’s theology is acceptable, we fear that it invalidate our own.

I once told a youth leader that I was okay being a ‘heretic’, and I still am. In saying that, I mean I was coming to terms with the fact that I knew I had theology all wrong, I knew that I would continually be searching for the ‘unshakeable truth’. There is comfort in that thought because we will continually misunderstand God. The Bible is a compilation of stories where people were trying desperately to get things right, and, on a bad day, not even trying at all.

My youth leader was perturbed by what I said, and responded with, “If I knew I had me theology wrong I would just get rid of it!”

Unfortunately, in the world I live in, we rarely know we have it wrong. It is our fear and our stubbornness that leads us to hurt others in our search to find, and protect our ‘unshakeable truth’. As I mature in my faith, I know I have come to certain conclusions about the extension of God’s love and grace, of his acceptance. I do not expect everyone else to see God in the way I do (or at least in theory, the practice can be tough). And, I support organizations of the Church who do not reflect the same theology as me but do good work.

I do, however, find it hard to condone the act of taking an organization hostage by removing support that directly helps those they serve. Once again, we have put theology above lives, as we tell boys and girls across the globe that they must suffer in the name of the ‘unshakeable truth’.

I do not condone this action–one taken by both sides as individuals react to both the initial decision and the retraction. World Vision is in an unfortunate lose-lose position, and through their overhead will suffer it is the communities they serve who will suffer the most as sponsorships are retracted and programs will see budget cuts.

I will leave you with this excerpt from the World Vision’s (current) hiring practices, one that speaks of a broad church and a Christian heart. I pray and hope we all may come to this place of acceptance in our daily lives, no matter our theological divisions.

We are, however, a very broad church and as long as applicants for these positions are practicing Christians and will bring a Christian heart and mind to the role it doesn’t matter what creed or church tradition they are part of. (Source)

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10 thoughts on “World Vision held hostage // A reflection on the Broad Church

    • Thanks for comment Darian. I appreciate that though we have different views about the Bible’s stance on non-hetero relationships, we can both agree that God’s mission to care for the marginalized is key. (Though, I would prefer to be called ‘sister’, not brother.)

      • It’s also important to note, and this is something that many in this outrage at World Vision seem to forget, is that there was no qualification on whom to help among the marginalized. Gay, straight, Christian, Jew, Gentile, Muslim, Athiest, transgender, cisgender, people with disabilities, we are called to help all who are marginalized.

      • Excellent point Talia. I think many Christians are fine with the idea of helping ‘sinners’ or the ‘lost’ who do not suit their idea of who a Christian should be, but as soon as confident and faithful believers who don’t fit that idea appear, well then it is time to attack! I know individuals at churches who were ‘sinning’ and welcomed into the community to lead, but if someone who was a ‘mature’ Christian ever sinned, then they would be removed from any positions of leadership. So strange.

  1. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t agree with same sex unions, but at the end of the day, being denied a job because of orientation is a violation of human rights and it just isn’t right. In the end, only God can judge, and as followers of Christ, we must love everyone.

    • Jason, you are so right. I do appreciate that World Vision Canada doesn’t even ask that question in its interview process. Which, is inappropriate anyways. I would feel terribly uncomfortable if people asked me about by orientation, even as a straight cis-gendered woman!

  2. It should be noted that in Ontario it is not permitted to ask such questions, or even age or marital status, during a hiring interview.
    The Code ” prohibits the use of any application form or written or oral inquiry that directly or indirectly classifies an applicant as being a member of a group that is protected from discrimination. Application forms should not have questions that ask directly or indirectly about race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, record of offences, age, marital status, family status or disability.” – See more at: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/iv-human-rights-issues-all-stages-employment/4-designing-application-forms#sthash.tGnyuJ9Y.dpuf

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