World Vision And The Failure Of Christian Ethics

world vision smallerIf your social media feeds are full of Christian leaders then you already know about the fiasco inflicted upon all of us by World Vision’s board. After declaring that they would permit hiring of those with legal same sex marriages for their US offices, they reversed their position claiming that their constituents had helped them see that this position was an affront to biblical ethics.

Whatever one thinks World Vision should be doing in regards to the hiring of homosexual employees, this whole matter is a keen instance of the failure of Christians of all stripes to make decisions based on principled and theological commitments rather than political pressure and economics. Culture wars are dirty places to get dragged through the mud.

I don’t think we will know the motivations behind World Vision’s initial decision. Maybe it was a desire to appeal to the progressive Christians that would otherwise be drawn to their primary mission. Maybe there were particular employees that they were trying to accommodate with their policies. No matter the reasoning behind that initial decision, the latter decision was based on nothing more than political posturing. Conservative Christians across the country were calling for contributors to drop funding. This wasn’t about Scripture.

World Vision’s board can claim that their constituents helped them realize that their new policy was an affront to biblical ethics. But these leaders have, like the rest of the Christian leaders in our country, thought long and hard about issues related to homosexual marriage. The reversal of their previous decision is due to a lack of fortitude, not a biblical awakening.

I’m convinced that broad Evangelical support of the Republican party’s positions on economics and the poor is due to a similar pragmatism. Many of these persons care deeply about the poor. But they also care deeply about abortion and “traditional” marriage, and they are willing to accept political positions that exacerbate the plight of the poor and dehumanize immigrants because the Republican candidates agree with them on abortion and marriage.

It’s time for a clarion call for theological ethics and principled decision-making. We shouldn’t care what our chicken sandwich supplier or a reality show duck call salesman think about the ethics of marriage any more than we care what our other neighbors think about these issues. These aren’t theologians, pastors, or biblical scholars. They aren’t experts in social policy or law. They aren’t moral leaders.

By all means, let’s have a meaningful and intensive debate about theological claims regarding marriage. Let’s talk about biblical texts that call Christians to holiness and to compassion. But can we finally refuse to make decisions based on the opinion of the masses or economic consequences?

For what it’s worth, though I’m deeply concerned by how this entire matter has gone down, I think it would be a mistake for anyone to pull support from World Vision because they have fumbled this decision so badly. The question must remain whether their ministry is indeed declaring the coming Kingdom of God.

Related Posts:Remember That You Were Gentiles: Christians, Homosexuality, And Culture Wars
Christian Marriage: An Image of the Church


  1. says

    According to your judgment (Biblically based discernment)… Is their ministry declaring the coming Kingdom of God? Because both the issue of same sex marriage AND caring for the poor impact the declaration of the Kingdom of God… which is “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”

  2. says

    This is a truly tragic development. They made a decision based upon a worldly utilitarian metric – learning about the number of people who were contacting them to threaten to withdraw the continuation of their funding. This decision also based upon a worldly fear-based perspective. Like the ancient Hebrews wandering in the desert who longed to return to slavery in Egypt, they feared changing the unjust status quo. They doubted that God might have greater things in store for them in the promised land of civil rights and unconditional love and acceptance. Pity. Praying for less fear and for more faith.

    Roger Wolsey, author, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

  3. says

    Even Jesus went against biblical teachings to show God’s grace to His followers. Jesus accepted all people as humans created in God’s image and ministered especially to the poor and outcast.

  4. says

    Here is what really bugs me about all of this – WV has no issues allowing LGBTI workers in countries where there is no discrimination allowed for anyone being hired. It is only in the US where they are having issues. Why is this?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s