taking the words of Jesus seriously

It was just yesterday that the president of the Christian social justice organization World Vision announced that it would begin hiring LGBTQ Christians, both married and unmarried, to work at its organization. The reasoning behind the decision was explained to be one that was “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.” In a letter to his employees, President Richard Stearns was very clear on his reasoning behind this monumental decision: “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.” But within hours of this news being released to the general public, many of the most prominent leaders within Evangelical Christianity released public statements condemning this decision of World Vision and calling for other Evangelicals to boycott the organization, which is committed to providing food, clothing, education, and the Gospel to thousands of children across over 100 countries worldwide. Among the harshest of the criticisms launched at World Vision came from Dr. Russell Moore, the President of the Southern Baptist Ethics Coalition, who said:

“At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish…”

Trevin Wax continued the criticism of World Vision over at the Gospel Coalition Blog saying:

“Children will suffer as evangelicals lose trust in and withdraw support from World Vision in the future. It will take time for evangelicals to start new organizations that maintain historic Christian concepts of sin, faith, and repentance. In the meantime, children will suffer. Needlessly.”

It is easy to see that over the coming weeks thousands of Evangelicals will withdraw their support from World Vision. And Dr. Moore is absolutely right. As this begins to take place, thousands of children will suffer because of the lack of funding from their former sponsors who decided that this theological and political issue was more important than their life. It is a tremendously sad day when followers of Jesus Christ will chose to make a theological/political point by withholding funds from children who are in life and death situations. Can you imagine trying to explain to one of the children who lose their sponsor why exactly they no longer have support? Because the President of their organization chose to allow a demographic of people to work at the organization that their sponsor didn’t agree with?

Related: I’m Gay at a Conservative Christian College

It is indeed an incredibly sad day for Evangelicalism. It is sad because we have willingly put on blinders to hide our eyes from the truth of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have chosen to ignore the entire example of his life and the bulk of his teachings and instead pick up our weapons and engage in culture wars instead of working to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, which, by the way, sums up all of the Biblical laws. We have chosen to ignore Jesus’ harsh words to the Pharisees who valued doctrinal rightness over the sacrifice of justice that God has always called us to:

“Then the King will say to those on his left, ‘Go away from me. You will be punished. Go into the fire that burns forever that was prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you did not invite me into your house. I was without clothes, and you gave me nothing to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ “Then those people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or alone and away from home or without clothes or sick or in prison? When did we see these things and not help you?’ Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you refused to do for even the least of my people here, you refused to do for me.’ (Matthew 21:41-45 NCV)

The harshest warning that Jesus ever gave was not to those who believed or stood for the wrong things. No, rather, Jesus harshest warning was given to those who stood for all of the right beliefs but neglected the one sacrifice that God requires of humankind: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

We are living in a day where we as Evangelicals value our political positions and doctrinal systems over real, living people. Children whose lives are stake. Children who rely on our simple donation of $35 dollars a month to sustain them and give them a hope and future. And yet we, in our waywardness, are willing to withhold this simple act of charity from these children in order to make a political point. And we justify it by saying this is an issue of “the Gospel”. But in the words of Brian McLaren, “If the Gospel we preach is not first and foremost good news to the poor, then it isn’t the Gospel of Jesus.” We in American Evangelicalism seemed to have misplaced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A Gospel that calls us to radically love and extend grace, justice, and mercy to every human being regardless of their political, theological, or sexual orientation. We have instead chosen to sacrifice children’s lives on the altar of Evangelical politics. And that is shameful. More than that, it is the height of depravity. Because not only are we sacrificing these beloved children in third world countries on the altar, but we are once again sacrificing Christ himself. For when we withhold mercy to the poor, we withhold justice from God. When we chose to remove our support from a faithful Christian social justice organization that has given life and hope to millions of children globally because we disagree with who they employ, we are removing our support from the hands and feet of Jesus. What an absolute shame. We are entering in to some very dark days in Evangelical Christianity. Our only hope is to return to the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. The same Lord who is incarnate in the children that many will abandon their support of over World Visions decision on who they will employ.

Also by Brandan: We’ve Really Messed Up on this One…Evangelicals and the LGBTQ Community

This isn’t an issue of political position. This isn’t an issue of theological perspective. This is an issue of plain obedience to the words of Jesus. Dr. Moore was right. This is in fact a Gospel issue. But not because of World Visions decision, rather, because of the many followers of Christ who are willing to forsake his way to make a point. We are truly deceived. We are truly misguided. And we truly need to return to Jesus. He alone is our hope.

Photo Credit: World Vision US

About The Author


Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted author, pastor, activist, and public theologian working at the intersections of spirituality, sexuality, and social renewal. He currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Metanoia Church, a digital progressive faith community. A prolific writer, he is the author of seven books on spirituality, justice, and theology, including the INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist True Inclusion: Creating Communities of Radical Embrace. Robertson has bylines in publications such as TIME Magazine, San Diego Union Tribune, The Huffington Post, NBC, and The Washington Post. As a trusted voice on progressive faith and politics, Robertson is regularly interviewed in national and global media outlets including National Public Radio, The Independent UK, and The New York Times. In July 2021, Rolling Stone magazine included Robertson in its annual “Hot List” of top artists, creatives, and influencers who "are giving us reason to be excited about the future." Named by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the top faith-leaders leading the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, Robertson has worked with political leaders and activists around the world to end conversion therapy and promote the human rights of sexual and gender minorities. He works as a national organizer of people of faith on a wide array of social and political issues, and is a founding member of The Union of Affirming Christians and The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBTQ+ Lives.

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