Collateral damage in the culture war

On the 24th of March, Christianity Today ran a story on a change in the hiring practices of World Vision USA. World Vision is a para-church organisation that is made up of many different church denominations. Some of these churches now perform same-sex marriages, whereas others do not.

The single policy change made by WV USA was to “permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed.”

Unsurprisingly, American evangelicals were outraged. Many of the major talking heads waxed lyrical in interviews, on their blogs, and on Twitter about how WV USA has lost their theological moorings, and had moved outside of evangelical theology, or had allowed the “gay agenda” to destroy their ministry.

After two days of intense criticism, WV USA reversed their decision. Even so, some are still calling for the CEO’s resignation.

In their outrage, many evangelicals who were sponsoring children announced they’d no longer sponsor a child through World Vision.

Today, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary interviewed Rich Stearns, World Vision USA’s CEO, and asked him exactly how many child sponsorships had been dropped.

10,000. Ten. Thousand. Children.

Now, I’m not seeking to address the thorny issues around theology, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage here. I want to talk about the message that the American evangelical church sent to those TEN THOUSAND children.

The message you sent is “We do not love you”.

Some of you will argue “HOW DARE YOU, Warwick?? That’s NOT the message that was sent.”

I get it. You were sending a message to World Vision USA that accepting same-sex marriage (and by inference, the sin of homosexuality) was a completely unacceptable change, that it does not fly with traditional Christian doctrine, and if they were willing to accept that kind of sin and were not willing to revert their policy, then you could no longer support them.

That’s not the message that those ten thousand children got. For ten thousand children, who’ve received letters and photos from Christians sponsoring them, to the children on your fridges and mantelpieces, the sponsors of ten thousand children looked at their faces and said directly to them “Correct doctrine is more important than my relationship with you”.

Do you think a starving seven year-old in Africa or Haiti understands that?

No. The simple, powerful message you said to ten thousand children is:

“We no longer care about you. We do not love you.”

You chose to put your hate for sin ahead of the love you claimed to have for your sponsor child.

Look, I totally understand. After all, Jesus was the one who said “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you publicly and loudly declare your hate for sin.” Wait, I think it was “…that you hate the sin and love the sinner”.

Oh, I don’t know. It was something about hate, anyway.

Well done, evangelical America. Your hate has made you powerful.

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