Archive for March, 2014

World Vision logoThis past week has had its share of big news, not the least of which came from World Vision. On Monday, Christianity Today broke the story that World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman. The new policy would allow same-sex couples (I refuse to call them “married” because the Bible defines marriage as “one man and one woman”) to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian charities. World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns asserted that the “very narrow policy change” should be viewed by others as “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.” He hoped it would inspire unity elsewhere among Christians.

But hold on! Late Wednesday afternoon and after having weathered intense criticism from evangelical leaders, World Vision reversed its ground-breaking decision. In announcing the reversal, Stearns stated, “The last couple of days have been painful. We feel pain and a broken heart for the confusion we caused for many friends who saw this policy change as a strong reversal of World Vision’s commitment to biblical authority, which it was not intended to be. Rather than creating more unity, we created more division, and that was not the intent. Our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake…. We’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.”

When I saw the first report of World Vision’s change of policy, I posted something like, “That was quick.” However, I have to ask, “Why did they think that they needed to take this step?” and “What were they thinking?” Clearly, I am grateful that World Vision board heeded the biblical correction they received from many.

I cannot remember the first time I heard this proverb, “A wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others.” So what can we learn from World Vision’s mistake?

First, we must take our cues from the Word of God – not from the pressures of a culture that at its core hates God. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). We cannot “pick and choose” which portions of the Bible that we will observe and which portions we will reject. If we are going to follow Christ, then we must follow Him completely.

Second, prior to making significant decisions that will affect others, we would do well to consult the counsel of strong, well-seasoned, faithful followers of Christ. Although World Vision made its decision through board deliberations, I have to question whether they sought the wise counsel of others. No doubt, they listened after the fact. However, World Vision’s actions will likely have a negative affect primarily on the less fortunate people they intend to help due to the potential loss of charitable giving. Though we may deceive ourselves by thinking that our decisions only affect us, rarely is that the case.