taking the words of Jesus seriously

World Vision USA’s announcement that it was revising its employees handbook by removing a sentence that limited marriage to the union of a man and a woman thrilled me, even though the organization was not taking a stand one way or the other on gay marriage.  I celebrated that World Vision USA had taken a stand for justice, recognizing that there are differences of opinion on this issue, with good Christian people on both sides of it.

My first thoughts were of the homosexual men and women who no longer would have to choose between monogamous committed relationships and answering God’s call to serve some of the world’s poorest children.  Were there World Vision USA employees who finally felt free to display pictures of their families on office walls or desks?  I shared in the incredulous joy that raced through the hearts and the churches of those children of God who happen not to be straight.

But this joy was short lived.  What World Vision USA did in the end, by reversing their decision, can be likened to Pilate’s feeble effort to do the right thing just before deciding to go ahead and crucify Jesus.  Pilate demonstrated that day that he knew justice would be served by setting Jesus free, but then the voices and threats of an angry mob made him think better of doing that.  In like manner, last week, the voices and threats of angry legalists who forgot what love required, caused World Vision USA to take back the justice they had declared for a brief, shining moment.

Related: One Response to the Troubles of World Vision – by Tony Campolo

I wonder, did the good people at World Vision spend as much time soul searching, praying and seeking the will of God to arrive at the reversal of their decision as they did prior to making their original stand for justice?  Each of them will have to answer that question for himself or herself.

The letter rescinding their original decision, written by World Vision USA president, Dr. Richard Stearns, for himself and the Board, contained an apology – not to my gay brothers and lesbian sisters – but rather to those who had demanded that these brothers and sisters be driven back into their closets or find another place to answer God’s call to Christian service.  I find that unbearably sad.

There is a price to be paid for justice.  If I had a billion dollars to give to World Vision USA annually – would that be enough to free the leaders of this wonderful organization to do what they originally decided was the just and right thing for Christians to do?  Surely Jesus, who knows better than we do how it feels to be denied justice, is weeping with all of us who have been so cruelly disappointed.

Photo Credit: World Vision USA

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