I officially know what an aneurysm feels like, because I think I just had one this morning.
Brace yourself, because you might have one too. At least we’ll all go through it together.
Yesterday as told via Christianity Today, the Christian relief organization World Vision announced that it was making a major policy change in their hiring practices here in America: they will now hire gay Christians who are married. As a Christian organization, World Vision has long had some pretty strict ethical requirements of their employees, as they still do. For example, single employees are required to abstain from sex until marriage. Married couples are required to be faithful to their marriage. In the announcement yesterday however, World Vision announced that they would now hire gay Christians if they were married and faithful to their marriage.
The reason for the change is that World Vision recognized that they are not a church, but a Christian NGO. Having seen the way Christianity in America has become divided over this issue, they decided to take a reasonable, peace-making approach. Since they are a broad Christian organization representing many Christian traditions, and a growing number of Christian traditions have embraced same sex marriage, they thought that that a reasonable approach to the issue was the best way to encompass the diversity in the body of Christ. In an interview with Christianity Today, President Richard Sterns said the change “should be viewed by others as ‘symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.'”
In the original piece, Sterns goes onto say that as an NGO, it’s not their place to take a theological stance on divisive issues– that’s the role of local churches:
“Denominations disagree on many, many things: on divorce and remarriage, modes of baptism, women in leadership roles in the church, beliefs on evolution, etc.,” he said. “So our practice has always been to defer to the authority and autonomy of local churches and denominational bodies on matters of doctrine that go beyond the Apostles’ Creed and our statement of faith. We unite around our [Trinitarian beliefs], and we have always deferred to the local church on these other matters.”
What World Vision is doing is a beautiful example of Jesus’ command to be peace makers. They are not a church, they are not theologians– they are relief workers. As such, they have decided to leave the theological debates up to the theologians and instead focus on bringing more Christians into the fold of helping the poor and oppressed of this world. From the OP:
“It’s been heartbreaking to watch this issue rip through the church,” he said. “It’s tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We’ve got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity.”
I applaud World Vision for taking the difficult path of peace-making. However, not everyone is. The conservative Christian internet (especially the Southern Baptist internet) is exploding with promises to pull their child sponsorships, sponsorships which provide clean water, food, medicine and education to impoverished children around the globe. Here are a few of the comments that made me want to smash my face into my computer screen:
Translation: “I have sponsored this child for many years now and built a relationship with them. Yes, I know that this is a specific child with a real name and real story who will miss my letters. I know that this child may end up dying from lack of access to clean water or medicine without my help. I understand that without the education my donation provides, this child is at high risk of a life of trafficking and exploitation. Yes, I know that my donation makes sure they get three square meals a day and that without it, they’re going to be hungry. But, I simply must abandon this child now that I realize Janice from accounting has a wife.” Rage Against the Minivan said it best:
“Is access to food, water, and education trumped by keeping gay people out of a job at a nonprofit? If we want to serve people, we should not make distinctions about who we serve, and we should not deny those we serve out of disunity or division. It’s astounding to me that Christians would take food from starving children because a gay person might have helped in getting it there.”
Here’s the irony in all this: the folks pulling their support and the Baptist machine that feeds them are actually the ones who should be bid “farewell” (Christian code-word for having left orthodox Christianity). Any time your theology causes you to leave hungry children with empty bellies or sick children without medicine, it has ceased to be orthodox theology. And you can quote me on that one.
At any rate, I hope by now you’re as pissed off as I am, but this this is where I flip the article around on you.
Conservative Christians appear to be abandoning these children in droves, and someone needs to stand in the gap and do the right thing. Enter you (and me), stage left.
When I wrote an article about poverty a few weeks ago, 73,400 of you shared it on social media. It’s time to see if we just enjoy posting about Christian hypocrisy, or if we’re actually serious about being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Sponsoring a child through World Vision costs an astounding $35 bucks a month– that’s basically what it costs to get a single drink at Starbucks (seriously, Sbux is EXPENSIVE). For your $35, World Vision provides things like clean water, healthcare, education, food, child protection, and economic development. When you sponsor a child, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know them, exchange letters and pictures, and actually be a part of their life albeit from a distance. Sponsoring a child as a beautiful and engaging experience. And it’s only $35 bucks a month.
So the question becomes: do we believe in this stuff enough to put our money where our mouth is? If you believe that World Vision is doing great work around the world and that their policy changes is a good Christ-like example, and if you believe that it’s disgusting that so many Christians are leaving their children high and dry over the issue, are you willing to step in with your $35 and say “I am outraged enough to take action”? Please, join me. As soon as I publish this piece, I’m going straight to the World Vision website, and that $35 a month is coming straight off the top of my royalty checks.
But, I’m just one person– I need you to join me. I need you to stand in the gap with me and so many other Christians who refuse to allow children to be exploited because some of us refuse to be reasonable on the issue of same sex marriage. Don’t leave me hanging on this one, let’s do this together and watch our sponsored children grow together. I want to hear how it changes you, and changes your sponsored child– and I’ll be inviting all of you along for the ride with the new child I sponsor so that we can all walk this road together.
If you sponsor a child today, please say so in the comments section so that we can encourage more people to follow suit. Please share this piece on social medial and encourage others to sponsor a child today so that we can get a movement going to make up for all the folks pulling support. We can make up this difference if we all work together. Let’s get those sponsorships rolling in! Just click the image below to sponsor your child:
* Update ** My family just sponsored a child through the World Vision website! Her name is Jacquis and she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We’re excited to support her, and to be part of her life. Please join us– sponsoring a child takes less than five minutes when you go to the website!
I have read your article carefully and I agree with you very much. This has provided a great help for my thesis writing, and I will seriously improve it. However, I don’t know much about a certain place. Can you help me?
The response to WV is troubling for me. My Bible says that Jesus wants us to love one another, not point fingers and say bad things about them. I’m lead to understand (by the Bible) that judgement of sin is God’s purview, not the purview of man. For all those who have withdrawn their much needed support from World Vision, what about turning the other cheek? What about forgiving not seven times, but 77 times? Does no one remember the Parable of Ten Thousand Talents (or the unmerciful servant if you prefer).
For the people withdrawing their support, which only harms the children, remember Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
I don’t think God will have a problem with gay people helping His children, but He might have a problem with Christians acting like unforgiving pharisees.
look my opinion is let gay people help. these are starving kids and we shouldn’t let religon be put above the well-being of kids.
Did you write a similar article when the city of Portland Maine refused to renew the Meals on Wheels contract with Catholic Charities because of the church’s stance on “domestic partnerships”? Or when Catholic Charities had to go out of the adoption business because they would not adopt “a reasonable position on gay marriage” contrary to their spiritual beliefs?
This is a really interesting take on the Pledge and on oaths in general. When performing jury duty, testifying in court, and taking oaths of office, the person is always given the option “do you solemnly swear or affirm…?” and I think I would be much more comfortable with the “or affirm” option.
Also, as a devout Christian, there are few things I would love more than to see “under God” removed from the Pledge. I have never said the Pledge with those two words and I never will. We are one nation, indivisible. Connecting religion and nationalism is dangerous and terrifying, and it shouldn’t be encouraged in any way.
I won’t be sponsoring a child via world vision, as I would prefer to sponsor a woman or child through a secular organisation that does not have any agenda except helping the poor and hungry. However I must say – i find it pathetic and typical that “Christians” would stop giving money to these kids because of the above – seriously? You people! I just hope they end up in a desperate situation some day and receive charity from a gay person so they can be faced with whether to die hungry or take money from those they despise. Bad people, the lot of them.
Thanks for this post. I just sponsored a beautiful little girl from Brazil. 🙂
This is what happens when your good deeds are done, specifically, to get to heaven. The drive of every good deed done by these Christians is a selfish one, unfortunately. As such, I doubt many of them give money to support a child out of love for the child but more just because that is what God would want. More poison of the saved by Grace doctrine of laziness, pushed by the false prophets and mountebanks peddling their empty legalisms and priestcraft.
As a gay man, though, such events are good for reinforcing me in my defense of my brethren and my dislike of foul doctrine. I feel doubt from time to time but evil like this is a good and quick reminder of who is really on the side of good.
“fowl doctrine” LOL I know you meant “foul” but “fowl” is appropriate too, in light of the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle.
Actually, the “saved by grace” crowd rejects the notion of doing good deeds to get into heaven. But good deeds are seen as a measure of spiritual “maturity”, so, either way, that doctrine is, well, “fowl”. Standing with you in NJ.
This story makes me somewhat mad since I was in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for many years growing up and these apologetics to defend this behavior boils my blood. When these people withdrew their funding, they pulled their presence out of a kids life. The relationship as well as the money was cut off. Using kids as pawns is sick. Apologetics for this evil is even more sick.
As for the misspelling, good catch ahaha~ Well, I fixed the spelling so thanks for pointing it out. Kind of a funny slip. I am glad to see other people not walking down the wide and easy road of grace. Also, you are correct; it isn’t to get to heaven they do good but to please God (which is also a self serving act, in the end). One wonders if these people would have any conscience at all if not for their faith.
Ben, I’m curious: When World Vision reversed its policy, did you pull your sponsorship of Jacquis?
Absolutely not, and I have both stated on the blog and in other public forums that I will be severely disappointed if anyone pulls their sponsorship.
I’m pleased to report that here in my compassionate and sane country, World Vision New Zealand does not have a discriminatory employment policy, nor does it ask job applicants to reveal their marital circumstances. It simply expects employees to subscribe to the Christian values it espouses. Think about that. Think about that long and hard. World Vision US has obviously been bullied into retreating back into a policy it knows full well is not Christian and in some US states at least, probably not legal. Please support Benjamin in his call to sponsor World Vision children. This wonderful Christian aid and development organisation has clearly fallen victim in the US to the dark forces of prejudice and intolerance just as have the innocent people against whom those forces have been unleashed.
How do you characterize a headline that is not true? World Vision does not have a monopoly on helping hungry children. I read many comments there. No one was saying they were stopping feeding children, they were just changing the charity through which they will do it. And there are better choices, e.g. http://shaungroves.com/2008/03/the-difference-between-world-vision-and-compassion-international/
While God did ordain marriage in Genesis…if anyone is that concerned that some states have allowed homosexuals to get legally married…taking it out on a relief organization who is following the law in whatever state is wrong. If this is a concern to your fundamentalist belief structure…you need to work on getting all marriages in these states out of the legal realm by forcing all states to do away with any type of legal marriage. Problem solved!
God didn’t “ordain marriage” in Genesis. God didn’t marry anyone. “The man” declared his union with the woman. She didn’t seem to have much to say about it. The man didn’t call his union with her a marriage.
Not to mention that there was never a time on Earth when there were only two humans. A population of humans became “us” modern humans together.
Abolishing legal recognition of marriages because a minority group wants their marriages legally recognized seems kind of sour grapes.
Good article, but can you please not joke about aneurysms? Sorry but they’re really everything but a joke, people have them in the prime of their lives and die within hours, or go through years of therapy and still stay a vegetable. I’ve lost so many relatives and dear ones to this horrible disease… so no, you don’t know what an aneurysm feels like, and I’m guessing you’re one of the lucky people who hasn’t gone through the pain of losing people to them.
Point taken, thanks for bringing that to my attention.
No problem. As a suicide survivor, I get equally offended when people make flippant references to suicide. My apologies.
I’m a suicide survivor, too, but I strive to understand that others who have not gone through the same thing cannot “get it”. It’s hard, but try to be forgiving about it.
All I have to read is the headline to know that you are using the kids as props for your argument. There is pain on both sides of this issue, and as one who decided immediately not to fund World Vision any longer, I must remind you that there are many many other organizations that perform the same ministry.
I’m sure the child you stopped feeding is comforted by the thought that another child somewhere is getting food not touched by gay people.
But not the same children. Switching organizations means switching children who have been invested into your sponsorship, and your life. It is a horrible thing to do- not a godly thing to do.
What is your pain in this, out of curiosity?
Geez, WV started hiring sinners? Offensive. They should just stop that and go back to only hiring non-sinners.
Awesome title! Bravo.
The Bible also says that divorce for reasons other than infidelity
and remarriage is a sin – adultery, which unlike homosexuality forms
one of the Ten Commandments. Yet, where is the outcry when World Vision
and other evangelical Christian organizations employ people in their
second and third marriages? Where is the command from any evangelical
church that remarried people stop their ongoing adultery and either
reconcile with their first spouse or embrace lifetime celibacy as St
Paul says (1 Cor 7:10-11). Heck, Evangelical churches even hold
marriages for divorcées. This is just stunning hypocrisy.
I’m not buying it. Conservative evangelical Christians aren’t doing
this out of a consistent Biblical ethic or to preserve the sanctity of
marriage. Of course they are picking on the gay community. And it’s not
the first time. Watching this type of cruel hypocrisy played out over
and over again led me to leave evangelicalism years ago and never look
back. There simply is no Christ in it.
I’m used to seeing gay people objectified by evangelical Christians.
Our humanity, including the basic need for human companionship, is
constantly stripped away and we are constantly reduced to nothing more
than walking immoral sexual acts. But harming poor third world kids by
stopping sponsorships objectifies them as well. Their humanity is also
stripped away and they become nothing more than pawns in ego-driven
culture wars. These sponsorships benefit individual kids with specific
names, locations and interests. One can’t just transfer their
contributions to other charities without pulling the rug from under
So, thanks to those evangelicals who put doctrine before people,
ideology before humanity and your own purity above the needs of others.
You’ve proven that for all the Bible quoting you do, you haven’t
internalized anything Jesus had to say.
I personally do my support giving and assistance locally. There is a great deal of need in our own neighborhoods.
I sponsored a child in the Congo, which is far worse than any neighborhood in the USA. I did so to fill any gap from these hateful people who were stopping their sponsorship. While I disagree with WVs reversal, I will keep sponsoring him because ultimate it’s about the welfare of the child, not the flawed policies of the conduit.
The Congo is a dire place. Your child will be most fortunate for your aid.
Well said – and I totally agree with your comments re divorce and remarriage. Little wonder Christianity has become little more than a sad, sick joke.
I served in Africa for 2 years working as a missionary. I am also Southern Baptist. I helped feed the poor, young and old, because Jesus commanded it. And I’m not saying that makes me a good person (only God is good) it just gives me a different perspective. Feeding the hungry poor is a great work–required. Yet, poor, hungry people still require a dignity of self and meaning for life that is found only in Jesus. Unless they know they are created and loved by God and can have a meaningful life following Jesus, you can feed them and they’ll still be suffering. I’ve seen it. Only a faith in the reality of Jesus can truly give suffering people a reason to change and endure suffering in this life.
That said, by compromising on what God’s Word clearly says regarding marriage, World Vision is not following Jesus–the one who embodied and supported everything in God’s Word.
I still help support those I met in Africa and I pray they’ll all know and follow Jesus. I haven’t supported a child through World Vision so I am not faced with the same dilemma as these others. Myself, I’ll still seek to support the poor, hungry and suffering but I will do so through organizations that support all of God’s Word, because I follow Jesus and he believed all of God’s Word. If I believe Jesus is who he said he is that means I do certain things, don’t do certain things, love others, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, etc. because he said that’s the only way to truly have real life. Feeding the hungry is good–required–but feeding the hungry and giving them true life and eternal hope is better. World Vision is still doing a great work, they’re just not following Jesus.
Dignity of self and meaningful life found only in Jesus? There are billions of non-Christians who would disagree, and there are more than a few christians who would as well. Just feed the hungry and leave their faith be.
So, you helped the poor because you’re a robot responding to commands, not because you’re a genuinely compassionate person.
“I believe that I am incorrigibly evil and deserve to be tortured forever unless I submit myself to the whims and commands of a capricious, violent, double talking godman I’ve never met” hardly makes for “dignity of self and meaning for life”; at least for anyone with a healthy sense of self respect.
Sounds like you follow the false apostle Paul and his self serving theology of Saved by Grace which stands in defiance of what Christ actually taught. How unfortunate that all your acts are poisoned by the same selfish drives taught by the Pharisee you follow. I will pray you find your way off the wide and easy path that is the Southern Baptist Faith.
World Vision knuckled under. They’ve reversed the policy for the sake of bigots like Franklin Graham, who says gays recruit children. I guess blood libels are the life blood of Christianity.
Looking at this from the perspective of someone who supports same-sex marriage, I can understand the reaction of those who want to withdraw support, although I am also uneasy at the thought that people will potentially harm a child in the name of non-essential beliefs. Let’s face it: we all choose organizations that match our beliefs. If you are in a same-sex marriage and want to support a child, will you choose an organization that will make you pretend that you’re not gay or that your spouse doesn’t exist because it contradicts their beliefs?
I for one would not give money to WV because a) their programs tend to be poorly evaluated and they don’t always conform to good practices but also b) I believe that there are equally effective options that do not require me to support practices that I disagree with. Which, in addition to the LGBT issue, includes the ‘buy-a-child’ approach that I really don’t like. I understand the marketing rationale and that putting a face on aid makes it less likely that donations will be canceled. But, somehow, I feel uncomfortable at the idea of white people flipping through a catalogue of non-white children choosing which one is worthy of their support.
However, once you’ve decided to sponsor a child, you should go through with it: there is some evidence that the children benefit primarily from the emotional connection rather than the community-implemented programs and taking your sponsorship away will definitely hurt the child. Which means that I feel very bad now for the people who supported WV in the past two days and now find out that they are supporting an organization with discriminatory policies.
Alas, the difference a day makes… One small step forward, one too darned big step back. This is a truly tragic development. Yesterday World Vision took one loving step forward, and today they took one tragic step backward. 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
Thanks for stopping by my friend.
In spite of World Vision’s reversal today, my husband and I decided to sponsor a child. We picked a 1-year-old boy in El Salvador that has the same birthday as our 1-year-old. I hope Christianity comes to the point some day where we can overcome hate and fear and rightness and focus on love and forgiveness and righteousness.
Amen, my wife and I sponsored a girl from India before World Vision reversed its decision. I am disappointed that they have reversed their earlier decision but I am glad we are sponsoring a child. Helping children living in poverty matters more than my disagreement with their decision.
They have now caved and reversed this decision. Let the right wing hypocrites rejoice! A brand new fresh coat of whitewash on your sepulcre!
It is sad, not completely unexpected, but still sad. There are many progressive Christians, and loads of non-christians who are disappointed in this decision. I think this 360 decision will ultimately hurt the organization.
I very much hope it will. I do not wish any Christian organization well, progressive or not.
Blah blah. The simple fact is that there are plenty of Christian organizations to which one can give money, and be confident that those organizations will represent Christian morals not only in alms, but in the witness of their own upright living.
I, as a Christian, will not give money to someone else to give to the poor on my behalf and in the name of Jesus Christ, while still openly, avowedly living in a manner that is contrary to life in Christ. It gives a false witness, a witness to a false impression of Jesus.
And I am not just being stingy. I tithe and work in service with my own hands among and for poor people on a regular basis because “the love of Christ impels us,” (2 Cor 5:20), and when I say I can give my tithe elsewhere, that means I do. I have no trouble with sinners. We’re all sinners. I have trouble with people defending sin as virtue. Our Lord foretold a day when men would call good evil and evil good.
Does it really matter who helps the poor or what they believe, if the poor are helped?
Yes, of course. If the purpose is double, which it is, then both purposes need to be served. The purpose of Christian charity is to show the love of Christ to the poor. To do that, the poor need not be Christians, and no expectations should be placed on them – only a free gift of love given. But to do that, we the servants must be Christians, and living lives in conformity with our baptism and the will of our Lord.
No. The poor simply need to be helped. That should be the only purpose. Anyone can do it, anyone who wants to, be them Christian, Muslim, Bahai, Sihk, athiest…Thinking that only Christians are qualified or capable to demonstrate divine love through the acts of compassion and generosity is ludricrous. God is not that small or petty.
I didn’t say that others can’t help the poor. But that’s not the purpose of Christian charity. The purpose of Christian charity is specifically to show the love of Christ for the poor. Buddhists or whoever can have their own motivation, and that’s fine.
None of my service work, or any organization that I’ve worked with, has expected anything in return – not conversion, not lip service, nothing. Free gift. We’re not talking about Rice Christianity here.
But Jesus did not come to found a social service administration, and Christians do not serve the poor just because because because. Our service to the poor is always rooted in our faith in Jesus.
If you honestly need an idol to motivate you to be a good person, then I hope you will continue to be a Christian.
Because I dread to think what kind of man you would be if you weren’t.
Yes. So do I.
Yes. I dread it too.
I am a Christian. When I help someone it is simply because they need it, not because of religious motivation. My faith doesn’t motivate me, my heart does. I do not even let people know my personal beliefs as it diminishes the real purpose of helping someone because they need it. I do it because I care for people, that I understand having been on the receiving end and know love received, so I delightfully do love given.
Well, yeah. I agree, I think. I’ve been taught to love by being loved. You would be surprised how many people’s hearts don’t motivate them to service. I am sorry, though, that your faith does not motivate you, though that’s probably not exactly what you meant. I grant that when I do something to help someone else, most of the time, I am not thinking of Jesus – only of their need; but Jesus wasn’t thinking of Jesus, either, but rather only of our need. So that’s not surprising. Still, it is he who has taught me to love this way, and he who strengthens me to love when loving starts costing something painful.
“I thank thee, Lord, that I am not like these others, these gay people who feed the children with my money. I thank thee that you have given me so much wealth that I need not be stingy with it, and shall give it freely even unto the least of these, so long as the gays don’t touch it.
“I thank thee that I am not as these, who bear false witness with their charity and generosity, their selflessness and compassion, all while touching other men and women in naughty, naughty ways. For I know that when thou saidst that whatever you did not do for the least of these you did not do for me, that thou didst not mean those who live in a manner contrary to the life of Jesus.
“Of which I am certainly not one, since I like girls.
“I thank thee, O Lord, that I can hereforth give without stinginess to an organisation that is merely filled with liars and thieves and gossips and cheats and gluttons and wankers and adulterers instead of homosexuals.
Nope. I’m not claiming any perfection. Not claiming to be better than anyone else. I don’t have any problem with men and women that experience or act on same-sex attractions. I don’t really, for that matter, have a problem with men or women who think they are married to persons of the same sex.
I do my best to reject sin, though, and do so even though I often fail and have numerous blindspots, I am sure, with respect to my own vices. But someone cannot publicly embrace sin and also represent Jesus Christ.
You can judge me as self-righteous. That’s fine.
You should attend a gay wedding. They are beautiful, as all weddings are.
Can’t. No such thing. And I will die before I go along with the charade.
Why do Christians always believe they sound so noble when they claim they would die for their beliefs?
No one gives a damn. What we care about is that others – in this case, children – are going to die for your beliefs.
No, I’ll still do my best to support them; just not through WorldVision.
And you should read what I wrote more closely. I never said anything about dying for my beliefs. I doubt anyone would want to kill me over them. But either way, I’ll not go.
Oh too bad. The one I attended had me week tears of joy. That couple deserved happiness and people celebrating with them
Nobody just *deserves* happiness. It’s like saying someone just *deserves* a sofa. We get happiness the same way we get almost anything else: a mixture of hard work and blessing. Some people positively make themselves incapable of happiness in even the best circumstances, and others, over time, make themselves or are made capable of happiness in crazy terrible circumstances. But to say that someone deserves it means that someone else has to give it to them, or that it should just fall out of the sky into their lap or something. That’s not how it actually works, though, except in Hollywood.
I stand by my statement. Everybody deserves happiness. Sadly too few get it. I do what I can to try to bring happiness to others. Doing so has a four benefit, it brings it to me too.
What does the statement “everybody deserves happiness” even mean? I mean, in concrete terms. Can you restate it in synonyms? All people have a right to feel good? All people have a right to have the things they want? We should always give everybody all the time all the things that, lacking, they will feel sad, even including a spouse or a free trip to Vegas?
I’m being serious. The statement “everybody deserves happiness,” taken as some sort of personal or public policy statement, has to mean something concrete. But what?
I deserve happiness. so do you. It is part of our inherit belief, that utter conviction that we deserve all that which gives us happiness, peace, joy,comfort, love. To say we don’t is to be dishonest.
If we you and I are certain of what we think we deserve. And we believe that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, then everyone deserves that which feel we deserve…. meaning everyone deserves happiness.
I think it is part of our makeup to *want* happiness, but I do not think we all deserve it. I do believe that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, which means that I am to will him and desire for him the same thing that I desire for myself: happiness.
That doesn’t mean I deserve it, though, or that he does. That doesn’t mean we always get what we want, let alone deserve it.
I think some people deserve a swift kick in the pants, or even death. That doesn’t mean it is my place or yours, or anyone else’s to give it to them. Other people, however much they want happiness, will never attain very much because they have made themselves into the sort of people who don’t know how to get it.
My belief is what gets me out of bed in the morning, gives me purpose, peace and sanity. I believe everyone deserved what I think I deserve…. happiness. Whether others agree or not is irrelevant. I think they deserve it too.
Its what makes me radically odd, and I’m cool with oddness
Well, you seem very kind, and you probably do deserve happiness. Whether are happy or not, and whether you deserve happiness or not, I hope you have it in great measure.
We are Made in God’s Image; are you really going to discount that? you are not the judge of who deserves what. Look who Jesus hung out with! A prostitute, a leper… You are a twit!
this is the most disgusting issue for me. what people “deserve.” so, simply because you were born and fed and clothed in the right country, you deserve more happiness than one who doesn’t? and the poor- i bet you think they are lazy and don’t “deserve” help either. God have mercy on you should you suffer from a terminal illness or devastating car accident. …whatever happened to grace?
Well, Renee, for someone who wants to know what happened to grace, your response to me is pretty harsh, don’t you think? We don’t know each other, so assuming the worst seems out of line.
I do not think the poor are any more or less likely to be lazy than the wealthy, the affluent, the middle, or the working classes.
Don’t you see that “deserving” (justice) and “grace” (free gift) are contrary to each other? If we lived in a world where we all got precisely what we deserved, there would be very little room left for grace.
It is precisely because I think grace is so precious, and because I look for opportunities to give and share and to be gentle, and correct myself when I see in myself failures to have done so, and ask for friends to gently correct me in like manner, that I will resist “just deserts” and ideas of entitlement and so on.
As it turns out, my youngest sister is profoundly handicapped, Renee, and my family and many of our friends do what we can to make her life as good as it can be, and care for her very much. I stop when I see women stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. I give a tenth of my gross income to the poor – especially to an organization that helps male prostitutes break out of the traps they’ve landed in. In the past I have tutored children and now I pen pal with convicts and am preparing to be a mentor to a convict reentering society. None of this is by way of bragging, but only to reveal to you something you might not have guessed about me. I proofread or copyedit anything people put in front of me, even though that’s kinda my job, as a free gift because I like to help people.
I hope you will not judge me harshly because I am careful in distinguishing “deserve” from how much better we all want to be treated than we actually probably deserve, most of us.
you are assuming that the original state of humankind is a negative, “justly deserved = hell state”
my daughter is profoundly handicapped, so i know how difficult that is. i serve the homeless in my local city every thursday night. i help prepare food, and then i join with a team of people who go around the city and pass it out. i work with those who have been sexually abused in the name of religion, as well as in no name at all. my mother was a prostitute and froze to death from homelessness a year and a haf before i knew. i am a coordinator for the entire east county of where i live for amnesty international. i wrote a vulnerable book about my experiences with rape, god, and the church…
you are right – i did not know those things about you. congrats on all your good deeds.
i see what you are saying- about grace and deserve, and since I believe that we are created in the image of god, i see no reason to think we are born in sin. i think that a lot of people who assume we are bad-natured at birth (with exception to the “innocent – who we, of course, define) still can’t use the ‘deserve’ argument.
i remember how i reacted when my bff – from high school/college – told me that poor people were getting their just reward. the idea so shocked me, that i asked her, “so you are saying that people of lower income, or financial struggle (here in america) are there because they deserve it? that is sickening to me. the grace comes in relation to those of us born in 1st world countries- we give them grace to be imperfect. we tell them- we are so sorry life is hard and you are hurting- have some (rest/food/clothes). hard work may have something to do with capitalism, but it doesn’t belong in a “we are created in the image of god” world.
I never doubted your motivations, Renee. I believe that we are made in the image of God as well. Clearly, something has gone wrong with us, though, and we can’t blame that on God – it’s me. It’s you. I wasn’t saying that humans are born deserving damnation. That doesn’t mean some random person necessarily deserves sunshine and butterflies, either. And even if he did, I don’t see how he will actually get them except by going out there and getting them, or by having someone else give them to him, or being born with them, or something. But “deserving them” counts for precious little.
“told me that poor people were getting their just reward.”
I think you were right to be shocked. It’s an appalling idea – the idea that underlies all the nonsense about reincarnation that you find in Hinduism and Buddhism, in which people are literally born into their station based on their past life.
On the contrary, I believe that God makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.
“hard work may have something to do with capitalism, but it doesn’t belong in a “we are created in the image of god” world.”
Well, there I disagree with you. I think hard work is just part of life in whatever society. It’s too much the norm in every society to think that it’s got no part in a good society. Of course, I do not see hard work as exactly a virtue, but more as a practical necessity. Those who shirk it and expect still to eat and make merry are lazy; but poor people are not any more or less lazy than the rich. People are people.
who are you (or any of us) to decide what the acceptable level of “working hard” is?
thank you for your conversation. i’m tired.
🙂 Me too. Time to knock off, for now.
But I wouldn’t presume to say someone is working hard, any more than I would presume to say they deserve this or that. And I wouldn’t want someone else to presume that I owe them this or that, except for the general obligations that we all owe everyone, like respectful treatment, fair play, a chance to speak, and so on.
No one. Really. I wouldn’t presume. But I also wouldn’t presume to go around deciding who deserves what and from whom, especially knowing nothing about them.
What is nonsense about reincarnation? Is it any sillier than that evangelical views on the afterlife scenario of heaven and hell…which was likely borrowed from Zorastarianism theology? A view that people are given placement in either, based on their station of life when they die.
Why doesn’t everybody deserve rainbows and butterflies? I realize not everyone gets it, but I also believe everyone should, and we should want everyone to have at least what we’ve been gifted with and often taken for granted, being relatively affluent compared to most of the world.
Poet, musician, philosopher John Lennon wrote one of my favorite songs that asks us to set aside all those things that divide us as humans, and to imagine what would it would be like to truly be one people free of the confines of religion, poverty, national and international politics. Could we live at peace, and all be happy? He seemed to think we could. I like to imagine it as well.
Well, that’s two questions in one, Allegro. I’ll take the easier one first.
I believe that the Creator of the universe chose, for his own reasons, to reveal himself to humans and to establish a religion on earth. John Lennon can’t rival that, in my mind. And if he wants to ditch that, then I’ll happily ditch him.
As for reincarnation and evangelical vision, well, I won’t defend evangelical beliefs because I’m not one. But I do believe in the resurrection of the body – something the Jews of late antiquity believed in, and something the realist Greek philosophers almost deduced.
The line of reasoning of the Greeks was that our souls are immortal (here the reincarnationists are most correct) because it’s not the sort of thing that biodegrades, basically. It’s not biological. But our soul is not at home without a body: it was made for a body as much as the body was made for a soul. It cannot learn and interact with the world without one, just like the body cannot, without a soul. That’s as far as Aristotle got, though, because he wasn’t into speculation, and had never seen an example of the two coming back together again in any way, shape, or form.
The Jews reasoning was not philosophical, but theological. Simply, if God is just, and something is taken from a person, then at some point God must restore to people not only what they deserve, but also what was stolen. The Jews who were martyred by their Hellenic rulers had suffered terribly, and they relied upon this reasoning to sustain them. There would be a last day in which their oppressors were punished for opposing God, and in which they received back what they were losing, limbs and even life, and all things would be made whole and new again: a new heavens and a new earth.
Christians have relied about both sets of reasoning, and we have the added example of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, at some point in history around AD 30-33. Not a zombie apocalypse, but rather a restoration and renovation of what was lost. A glorification.
I’d think you’d instinctively dislike talk about reincarnation, Allegro. When added to any sense of justice, it’s always ended up that the wicked or stupid come back as more degraded beings, and the good and wise come back as better ones. Naturally, then, it would seem to justify ill treatment of the poor. At least, that’s what has been established and maintained wherever the belief in reincarnation is the norm.
Aristotle, incidentally, choked at the idea of reincarnation. He admitted that we had experiences of deja vu and such that could mean we had “been here before,” but he couldn’t see why someone would be unable to remember their whole previous life, the soul being unchangeable without a body to change it. Neither can I.
Thanks for reading the little ontology lesson for the day 😛
I do not for one second believe God expected a particular religion to be made in his or her honor. I think religion is something humanity has devised in attempts to contemplete and understand the divine.
When I was thinking about where my next move would be religiously, I seriously contemplated Buddhism. There is much I like about the faith, and its teachings, because it, to me makes sense. Reincarnation as all afterlife assumptions bothered me. I get it, as it attempts to solve similar equations about human perceptions of good people and bad people, but it is no better a scenario to me then the heaven/hell one. They both are very problematic. I remained Christian, but on terms not dictated by dogma, denomination or creed, taking a more mystical path.
I am utterly on the fence on the soul is eternal assumption. We have no proof of it, and neither did the writers of the Bible. The Jews of Jesus’s day, weren’t even united on it as one main camp, the Sadducces rejected the concept of the afterlife. Today there are several jewish schools of thought that actually embrace a reincarnative state. I am dubious as to any afterlife scenario as there are serious problems with any theory, besides it being also unprovable.
To me, it is a distraction from my personal faith and how I feel I should live it, as well as how I should view others.
Well, philosophically, heaven and hell at least answer the question of justice. But they also answer a deeper question of self-determination.
The older view of heaven and hell is not *just* that God throws people into one or the other, but that also it is the path that people prepare for themselves.
Think of it this way: friendship is a great good, and without it, I cannot see how a person can really be happy. Do people deserve friends? Not really a useful question, is it? A better question is what sort of person ought I do be if I want to have friends. I should be gracious and kind, strong and sympathetic, generous and loyal, etc. But there are people who see those traits as wussy and foolish, and they reject them. Do such people deserve friends? I dunno. Will they have them? Probably not, not if they put their beliefs into action.
Heaven and hell are the same way, I think. There are people who do not like human society and friendship. It repulses them. They do not like sharing, even if they don’t like stealing, either.
What would such people make of heaven, any meaningful kind of heaven, once they got there? At the very least, it seems like they would be repulsed and miserable.
It is entirely possible that heaven and hell are the same “place,” I think, just as earth and earth are the same place – but some people experience life as wretched, and others as joy.
“I think religion is something humanity has devised in attempts to contemplete and understand the divine.”
Yes. I think that is true of most religions.
“I do not for one second believe God expected a particular religion to be made in his or her honor.”
Every relationship that is more than passing has rituals and habits that grow out of it. Even passing relationships, like with a checkout clerk, have generic rituals and habits and norms that govern it and help to make it more pleasant, as passing relationships go. I do not believe that God expected us to make up a particular religion in his honor. I think he gave us a religion so that we could have the best possible relationship with him, and each other, by means of it.
That is my personal faith, though I am happy to be able to share it with many others, and not to have to figure out all my own doctrines over the course of a lifetime. Much quicker to be able to learn things, learn why and how they make sense, and then get on with the business of daily life. It’s a terrible thing to have to go it alone in life – that’s the mistake of capitalists. They think we have to, and the more depraved of them want to. Whether there is a hell after life or not, they have certainly added a hefty splash of hell to life, to many lives, with this sort of pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps-and-climb-over-others-to-the-top thinking. I’d like to have to go at faith alone even less.
Your heaven/hell explaination just doesn’t make any sense to me, nor does the idea of God giving only one kind of religion to humanity. Neither to me, add up. I know it works for many, it doesn’t for me.
I have had to figure out my own doctrines, because I had three choices, chuck all religion for good (actually was not a bad option), swallow what others tell me unasked (been there, done that, unacceptable) or start all over. I chose start over.
If God is good and loving, and he made us and knows us better than we know ourselves, why would he need to make up multiple religions? For kicks?
I mean, I can see making up one religion that has room for all sorts of human contribution, and thus diversity. But five different religions with contrary beliefs? Did he get it wrong the first time?
As for the other religions, I agree. They are manmade, and that is not a bad thing. The Eiffel Tower is manmade, and so is St. Paul’s cathedral, and so is the Great Wall of China. They are manmade, and manmade religions are probably mostly made as good faith efforts to reach God because humanity was made for God, and we’re never really at peace without him, and so we aspire to reach him. This is all good.
And loving us, and having made us for each other and himself, and not wanting to play games, it only makes sense that God would throw us a bone, show us a way.
I commend you on not swallowing received nonsense, and on your willingness to dialogue about touchy topics, Allegro. I also like your name, though I listen to more adagios than allegros, myself. 🙂 We all need a little allegro, at least, in our life. We’re getting far afield from the original topic, but that’s not a bad thing 🙂
I think God didn’t make religion, period, and if she did, there are three kinds just in the Bible. So its more a likely not, in my viewpoint.
And thanks for the compliment on my name. I chose it, because music touches me, and granted me minor talent in it, plus gave me two dueling earworms. I am also a little like a hummingbird, cept addicted to coffee instead of nectar.
Well, right, and that’s why I wouldn’t dream of basing a religion on the Bible, and if God gave the Bible hoping that we would find him with it, he’d really need to give us something more than the Bible, since anything that can’t speak for itself is bound to be understood in so many different ways.
The blog title here is Formerly Fundie, and I’ve never read from it before, that I can think of. Fundamentalist religion is most Americans’ experience of Christianity-par-excellence, so it’s not surprising to me that so many people rejecting it, reject Christianity in any meaningful, distinctive way as well.
Allegro, do you mind if I ask, though it’s a personal question, were you raised fundamentalist?
Well, sorta. It was a crazy offshoot of fundamentalist. Look up the Armstrong movement. My blog covers some of it in detail. allegro63.wordpress.com. The blog name is It’s a Misfit. There is a category list on the right hand side bar. Look for “Outside the Box, A Faith Journey. There are two parts, and Drawing Trees.
I also do poetry, short stories and personal musing, and a lot of humor. Cheaper than any therapist.
Interesting. Nice blog. “Crazy offshoot of fundamentalist” sounds like “crazy offshoot of crazy,” to me. Lol.
I come from almost the most opposite background that one can imagine within the Christian sphere. My dad is an evangelical, though not a very dogmatic one, and my mom is a Catholic, and not super religious. I mean, growing up, we went to church on Sundays and said grace before meals and went to religion class weekly, and when I was older, I decided that I wanted to go to youth group. None of those things ever felt any more oppressive than brushing my teeth, humming to music, or trick-or-treating. Just things you did, some more enjoyable, some less.When I say my mom wasn’t that religious, I mean neither of my parents ever really talked about God or anything, and certainly didn’t say silly things like, “You’re making Jesus sad right now!”
I’ve gotten more religious, and more committed to my religion, as an adult, but it’s come in somewhat the same way as your outlook has come to you: through a lot of introspection and study and prayer, I imagine. One of the things that draws me to it is its commitment to these things, and in an eminently rational way. In fact, I’ve never found a thing as committed to logic and reason as my religion, which is funny, because others, who see it only from the outside and only from the high school textbooks and an occasional news headline, mostly believe, very unexaminedly, that it is all dogma and mumbo jumbo and hate, while conceding that it also does lots of good work and has universities and stuff too. Funny thing.
Sounds like you’ve had quite a journey, anyway.
As it turns out, ryan, my DAUGHTER is profoundly disabled/retarded/handicapped. She is a 16 year old with the brain of a 2-3 year old. loving her, and making her life as good as it can be is a HUMAN RIGHT, and doubly so when they are related to you. and all the other things you do are good and noble, and- considering you are a christian, SHOULD be what you do. so i don’t buy it. unless you face the homeless eye to eye (and even if you do) (y)our work is nothing compared to the calling we have as ‘little christs.’
Not sure I get your point, with all respect.
Given that the Bible calls divorce and remarriage adultery, which unlike homosexuality is one of the ten commandments, do you check to make sure that these Christian organizations don’t employ anyone in a second or third marriage? St. Paul said that the only options for people who divorce are reconciliation with their first spouse or lifetime celibacy (1 Cor 7:10-11) so, in order to not give a false witness, do you avoid anyone who hasn’t done just that? Or is it only gay people that do this to?
I don’t hate gay people, though because I’ve said boo about it all, you’ll never be convinced, probably. You know me so well without even having met me, or at least, you know people like you assume I am.
Persons who have made solemn vows to others, repudiated them, and then expect to make those vows again and be taken seriously, are, well, violating the law of God and the demands of honor and justice.
I would have not trouble hiring a divorced-and-remarried person to work for me, and have no trouble working alongside one. The same goes for persons make an identity for themselves out of homosexuality. None of us is perfect and I say seriously that I have done worse.
But I would not hire either one, both publicly proclaiming their attachment to their sin, to represent Jesus Christ publicly. No, I wouldn’t.
Well then you wouldn’t hire me, because I got divorced and remarried. Why, is none of your business, btw. You also wouldn’t hire 50% of American Evanglicals, including pastors, who’s divorce rate is in the upper percentile, in the country….But I bet Jesus would.
Why, Allegro, I’d hire you or anyone else for any sort of work you should be qualified for.
You’re right, that the why isn’t my business, and there are a lot of terrible things that people go through, that I wouldn’t wish on them to save my life. And it is important to have legal remedies for people in terrible situations, whenever possible.
Jesus didn’t take everyone on as an apostle who wanted to be an apostle (Mk 5:18-19). That’s not a statement of condemnation; it’s a consequence of Jesus being a real dude, and life shared with him having real demands and expectations, just like life shared with anyone else.
(If you haven’t noticed, allegations or implications that I am hateful or mean just don’t resonate with me. Maybe I’m a sociopath or something. When I was in college, I made a commitment to *be good* rather than *feel good*, if I ever had to choose between the two. These conversations and situations are sometimes such instances. But yeah, fine, if it comes to that, though you seem very nice, I believe that being divorced and remarried precludes you from representing Jesus Christ in a public capacity on behalf of the church. I don’t think you are bad or mean. It just won’t work.)
hmm. But according to the bible God had no problems using murderers, drunks, thieves, prostitutes, scam artists, and adulterers. So why does anyone presume they can’t now?
Where in the Bible did any such person serve as a representative (not a pawn or tool, but an agent) of God without first repenting of murder, drunkenness, thievery, prostitution, scamming, or adultery?
Abraham and his entire family tree, for starters. Then there is no record of Rahab or Tamar repenting of prostitution, or David, Samson, or Jacob of being scam artists, or Noah or Lot from getting soused, or David or Samson from committing mass murder to get brides. Or Moses for killing that guard, he just made a clean get away.
Old Testament stories are kinda tricky to read. They’re not exactly modern psychological novels, so it’s hard to know what is happening in their lives, or what happens after they show up, usually briefly, in the bible.
Moses is a clear counter example. After killing the Egyptian, he essentially went into exile and served what can only be described as a long, hard penance. In any event, he never seems to have made a lifestyle out of killing Egyptian guards.
The people that you mention are mostly used in instrumental capacities, rather than as agents, representing God, as say a prophet does. Do you know of any prophets who did such things and didn’t repent?
Uhhhh.. the people she mentioned were Prophets of God delivering God’s word and leading God’s people. But nice try trying to move the goalposts.
Rahab? And nobody’s moving any goalposts. Stop throwing out all the names of logical fallacies you picked up somewhere.
Prophets are important to the argument precisely because they have a representative role. That’s what we’re on about, right? Not people getting used by God, but people representing him in a public capacity.
I only threw out one logical fallacy because it was the correct one. Where did I throw out all of them?
Your comment makes no sense. Abraham, Lot, David, etc DID represent God in a public capacity to God’s people. At various times they even spoke on God’s behalf. Geez.
While publicly committed to sin? On the contrary, David repudiated his sin when Nathan, for instance, pointed it out to him.
He repudiated one sin, not all of them. David still had multiple wives and concubines after his encounter with Nathan. Or is that righteous living?
All this hair splitting seems to ignore the fact that Scripture is in fact full of people who lived in sin and committed sin through their lives without any evidence of repentance who were not only instruments of God but recognized as prophets of God by mainstream Jews and Christians alike, yet gay people and divorcées serving third world kids through a Christian charity aren’t really instruments of God but are supposed to be prophets of God?
It’s too crazy for me.
I don’t have the patience for all the false distinctions, goal post moving and hair splitting. Enjoy your righteous delusion.
Including killing all those guys for their foreskins so he could marry Michal?
Yup. Did a lot of bad things. No doubt.
Insert eye roll here.
No, that’s not an answer. Do you know of any prophets who did such things and did not repent?
The difference between Fundamentalism, in which you were steeped, and which is an innovation of the early 20th century, and traditional Christianity is, among other things, that traditional Christians didn’t read the Bible all literally all the time.
I don’t, and never have. I’m not dodging your answer, I’m agreeing with you that Fundamentalists shouldn’t read the Bible all literally all the time. If you want to shed your Fundamentalist roots, then rather than agreeing with their interpretation and rejecting it, you would do well to look for new ways to read the scripture.
Which is what I am doing, or have done. Though the ways I am reading it are not new, but very old. Much older than fundamentalism.
Until about three hundred years ago, few people had ever read the Bible period. Because few could read, much less afford books. Literacy in many parts of this country is first generation…meaning the kids are finishing school, but the parents are still functional illiterates.
Before the council that met to compile what we ended up called The Bible, NO one had a Bible, period. Literacy rates in Jesus’s day was about 20% of the population. So few could read the texts available of the day, and copies were fragile and not easily accessible to the general public.
I don’t read the Bible literally, I discovered the folly in that some time ago. I shed my fundamentalists roots, and had a bonfire, sipping a cocktail while I watched it burn. I’m a very liberal minded mystic now, and at peace.
Liberals read the bible the same way that Fundamentalists do, and reject the interpretation. In fact, another thing both groups have in common is that neither even conceives of a third option on the matter. It’s either: the Bible is right, or the Bible is wrong. It’s never, “I hadn’t understood it correctly.”
How about option #three. The Bible is a book, rich in depth, topics, and meaning, and a wonderful tool. It being right or wrong is a non issue.
If the Bible isn’t right, then to hell with it.
No seriously. There’s plenty of good literature out there. If the Bible isn’t the Word of God (however hard to understand and however untransparent or bizarre it might be at first), then who needs it? Really?
And incidentally, as literature, the Bible has high points, but really isn’t very excellent in many ways, if it’s just literature.
It’s being write or wrong is precisely the issue. I wouldn’t use Shakespeare to guide my life, though I love Shakespeare and Dickens and the lot very much. I wouldn’t wrangle with them for meaning. Just not worth it. They’re supposed to be fun. The Bible is supposed to be a manifestation of God’s self-disclosure. If it’s not, then who needs it?
You do realize that many Christians do not consider the Bible to be The Word of God? Right? Some of us look at it as an inspired work of men, who wrote what they thought would help their peers to understand the divine. We can look at what they wrote those thousands of years ago, and get what they were trying to do, even if we, because of the passage of centuries have different perceptions.
To us the Bible is one of many tools we have at our disposal. It is not the only tool, or the most important tool, but one of many. Through most of Christian history, few had access to it, yet the church still thrived. If every copy of scripture vanished off the planet forever…guess what? Our individual faiths would survive.
I find God more easily when I’m writing poetry, or observing the birds flit through the trees in my yard, or noticing a gorgeous sunset, or through the laughter of a child, or the tears of sadness. I see God in the hands and feet of compassion, generosity and in those who work for peace and harmony. I value the Bible, as a wonderful tool, but I don’t need it to see God. I see God all around me.
One more thing. I read voraciously. I do happen to loath Dickens, although I do appreciate some of the authors in his era, or close to it, like Dumas and George Sands. And I’ll slit my wrists if I ever have to read Pride and Prejudice again, while hanging myself I’m forced to do the same to the Twilight series.
I understand that a lot of people who think they are Christians have long since abandoned anything that resembles more than superficially the faith handed down from the Apostles.
Are you attempting a covert attack against the validity of my faith and accepted label as a Christian?
Nothing covert about anything. I can call myself a turnip, but that doesn’t make me one. Are you a Christian?
I already said I was. I just don’t fit into your preconceived mold of what makes one. I could easily ask the same of you, but I recognize that Christianity is hugely diverse, and so when someone says they are a member of my faith, I believe them,,even if they are partakers of a different methodology.
I just asked. So you believe in the Divine Revelation of the Trinity, say, and that Jesus of Nazareth was/is fully human and fully divine, and regardless of whether someone believes that or not, it’s still true?
Don’t you know that when someone attacks your faith, it is because they don’t have anything better to say? Check out his nonresponse to your question. He ask you this: if you call him a turnip, does that make him one. Then, he attacks you again by asking if you are a Christian. You can’t talk to those types of people, you know? I’m probably in for a zinger too, from this person.
I should be used to people having problems accepting the fact that not all Christians fit into pre-made molds. I guess I’m not quite there
I’m not aware of any major Christian tradition that does not view the Bible as inspired/Word of God.
I didn’t say major Christian traditions, but Christians individual. They will agree that the book is inspired, but won’t quite cross all the way to divinely inspired, at least no more divinely inspired than Faure when he wrote his gorgeous requiem. or Dickenson when she contemplated bees or death, or Rumi as he wrote about love. or Donatello when he sculpted a youthful David.
is that kind of like how no one ever reads philosophy texts or meditations on ethics and morality or history or documents of historical significance or nonfiction in general or fables or morality tales because it’s just literature with no possible meaning or application in the world we live in today
That’s a riot. How many people read Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” and radically reshape their lives in ways contrary to their original disposition and personal inclinations?
And that’s what this is about: preferring to alter Christian doctrine than altering our own lives. The whole moral implication of Christian doctrine, though, shooting through it like a bolt of lightning, is a clarion call to repent and abandon sin.
hmmmmm… i don’t think i can name anyone influenced by that particular work. however, if you’d like, i can direct you to many people that found themselves greatly changed after reading harry potter, or the lord of the rings, or c.s. lewis’ work, or nietzsche, or the koran, or the bhagavad gita. did you know that mae jemison was inspired to become an astronaut because of star trek?
i do not understand why you need the bible to be The Totally Inerrant and Definitely True Word of GOD in order for it to have any value. unless the bible actually is your god and you actually worship a book, i suppose, in which case i guess it would be very important
I didn’t wrote that I needed it to be inerrant to have any value. I wrote that if it is not the Word of God, then why bother. I stand by that.
why bother elevating anything that doesn’t inspire you? if the only reason you hold the bible in high regard is because people tell you to and not because it inspires you to do and be better, then i think you should consider finding a different holy book. but if it does inspire you, then i don’t see what the problem is at all
are you one of those fans that will buy anything with your favorite brand printed on it regardless of the content?
Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations reminds me a lot of Ecclesiastes
Yeah. Fair enough.
One of the books I wish I’d kept from my last attempt at a college degree was one on the philosphy of ethics. I learned a great deal that semester, especially as I was also taking Sociology and World Religion.
philosophy actually makes sense to keep references handy on but i was the weirdo that kept my math books, and also my psychology book because brains r kool
they are gone now however :/ things tend to get lost when one is zigzagging this way and that across the country
That doesn’t seem to make sense. How could it be rich and wonderful if its wrong?
I’m not saying its wrong or right. I take the Bible is neutral, stance.
Lot was a righteous man who offered up his own daughters to a mob to be gang raped in Sodom.
Yeah, I wrote my version of that story in the comment section of John Shore’s take on the story. Lot and those so called angels, and the girl’s fiance’s were just fine fellas….
Did you read the Old Testament at all?
Yup. Lots of it in Hebrew in grad school. See my other comment. It’s germain.
So did I at Azusa Pacific University, and the people Allegro mentioned below are recognized as God’s prophets, not just instruments.
Who the heck ever said Tamar, Rahab, or even Samson were prophets? Seriously?
Who the heck said that David, Abraham, Jacob, etc. didn’t represent God? Seriously?
Well, at some moments they do, and at others they don’t. Is Abraham representing God when he gives his wife over to Egyptians for abuse to save his own skin?
No, these people are much more complicated than all that. They are too real-life. They represent God in some ways and at some times, and at other times, no. Some of them have whole books devoted to them. The fact that they sinned is no approbation of sin as such.
That’s why I can’t stand for a “bible-based religion.” It always ends in little absurdities and minutiae and bizarre conclusions.
Yet you use the bible to state that divorced people and gays are not worthy to represent jesus in public settings….anyone else note the irony?
It must be a lonely world to only work with people who aren’t attached to their sin. I’m willing to bet that there are plenty of public sins that you’re attached to as well. I don’t remember seeing anywhere in the NT that says that only sin-free people are allowed to represent him (in fact, it’s just the contrary.)
I don’t see much Jesus here. He told us not to work on other peoples’ splinters but on our own planks. He embraced and served people who lived contrary to him – Roman Centurions and their slaves, Samaritans, Pharisees, pagans, even those He knew would betray him. Yes, I haven’t met you but you seem to be communicating how you feel about others here pretty loudly. It’s not a very attractive Christian witness.
Committing a sin and being committed to it are too different things, friend.
I do not address myself to others’ sins and do not spend my time pointing them out, either. In fact, quite the opposite, generally speaking.
“It’s not a very attractive Christian witness.”
Well, yes, maybe. But it’s the best I can do. Abandoning the teaching of Christ in favor of “nice” doesn’t seem a viable alternative. Please pray for me.
But you have been addressing “other people’s sins”, and deciding who is worthy of representing Jesus based on your view of those “sins”
Let me reverse the scenario, Allegro. I’m gonna say “nazi,” so I risk losing, but bear with me.
Would you have Eichmann or Goering, work at WorldVision or some other capacity where they were to show the love of God, while they still maintained their commitment to killing Jews?
I am not saying that genocide and remarriage or homosexual acts are the same thing, not at all, so don’t go down that way or I won’t follow. What I am probing is to see if there is any sin that you think would make someone unable to represent the love of God, while committed to that sin.
What a ridiculous analogy. Its like comparing apples to nuclear missles.
“sin” or what ever you want to call it, does not hinder our capacity to be catalysts of divine love, or earthly representations of loving one another as ourselves. If that were true, if God couldn’t use people who are flawed..or, shall we say normal, then she is rather puny and powerless.
It wasn’t meant to be an analogy, like I said. I only asked if there were some sin, any sin, that – if a person insisted on it as a right and good thing – would preclude that person from representing Jesus publicly on behalf of the church.
Is there, in your mind?
lets see..rapists, pedophiles, charlatians, fear-mongers controlling narcassists. All of which currently represent the church as pastors. I don’t think they should be in positions of leadership because they willingly cause harm to people. Now can they represent Jesus and publically? Of course, because they, like all of us are human, and loved by God, more than any of us can fathom and have proven to show that love. Are the apt representatives of a church? No.
Well, and they shouldn’t be representing him.
The fact that some people fail over there in no way implies that over here, I should say, “Oh, well, what the heck. I don’t have to do the right thing here, either.”
NO. Anyone can represent God. Anyone can be a living breathing example of God’s love and mercy. Anyone can be compassionate and gracious, even the ones I mentioned with some serious behavioural issues. One doesn’t even have to be a Christian, to be a beautiful example of what God is…love.
However some people, because they are harmful, physically or emotionally to others…causing real pain and trauma in their wakes have no business in one and one interaction with people who assume they are trustworthy.
Lets try the comparison game with better opposites.
Someone who is divorced is trust worthy, someone who is a spousal abuser, is not. Someone who is gay is trustworthy, someone who embezzled church funds is not. Someone who is actively fighting a pain killer or alcahol addiction is quite possibly trust worthy, someone who controls their congregation using methods of fear and intimidation is not.
Being divorced, gay, or fighting addiction doesn’t make on untrustworthy, or unworthy for active church service. It makes them human, just like anyone else.
I agree with most of your comparisons. A question that needs to be addressed, though, is “Trustworthy to what?” Trustworthy to represent the life of Christ.
So the embezzler is straight out, and for several other reasons. But so is someone publicly committed to a way of life contrary to life in Christ. They cannot be trusted to represent life in Christ because they have publicly disavowed it in favor of their own construct.
trustworthy around people….duh! If God wants to use them then that is her choice….and whatayaknow..she often does choose those we deem untrustworthy or unworthy.
Yes, that’s true. But we who do not know the mind of God perfectly must use our own wits and use the best candidates for a job that we can find.
I cannot see the logic in taking, as public representative of a people committed to life in Christ, someone who has publicly repudiated life in Christ in favor of their own personal amalgam of “nice” and homosexuality. And I cannot see how such people should be expected to present to the world that life in Christ.
I don’t presume to know the mind of God. I barely know my own. How on earth can I know the mind of a deity? One day I hope you join the rest of us in truly loving your neighbor as yourself, and realizing that being gay is as sinful as singing in harmony
“I do not address myself to others’ sins and do not spend my time pointing them out, either. In fact, quite the opposite, generally speaking.”
That’s all you have been doing here.
Sadly, I don’t see the teaching of Christ here. You seem to have missed quite a bit of it. Christians are supposed to be nice (love their neighbour) and more than nice. They are supposed to practice walking with others instead of excluding them because they disapprove of them.
In fact, loving your neighbour is the entire law:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
I used to be a conservative Christian but the heartless, purity- and ego-driven nature of it all made me leave. They seem to put doctrine because people, ideology before humanity and their own purity before the needs of others. All while remaining in intense denial of it all because the word “love” itself is twisted into something that is self centered and conditional. The reaction to the WV decision on this comment thread only confirms my feelings. I realized there isn’t any Christ there.
I’ll definitely pray for you. I also feel sorry for you.
The focus on sin should be our own. It is on our issues, our failings, our need to do better that should be what we fixate on, NOT what we think others are doing wrong. What we do wrong should be like the Eiffel Tower in scope, compared to the tiny bit of dust that tends to be attracted to our tv screens.
Funny, Jesus said that we should give food, shelter and the clothes off our backs to our enemies (Matthew 19:38-40) and St Paul agreed (Romans 12:18-21), so it seems a bit counter to His ministry to not do so because an unclean person may be processing the aid. So exactly what impression of Jesus are you really conveying? It seems to be a Jesus who didn’t give the Sermon on the Mount.
Nope. It’s not about a person being unclean. Persons can’t be unclean. It’s not even about sin. We’re all sinners.
It’s about a person being publicly committed to a way of life that is contrary to life in Christ.
If we permit such people to represent Jesus, then the message we send out is that what they do is compatible with life in Christ, and then we are guilty of leading people astray, and it would be better that we had millstones tied about our necks and we be cast into the sea, at least according to good and gentle Jesus (Mt 18:6; Mk 9:42; Lk 17:2).
But that Jesus said that we’re supposed to aid our enemies, who presumably would also be publicly committed to way a life that is contrary to life in Christ. So your response makes no sense at all.
Who said divorced and remarried persons, or homosexuals, are my enemies or the enemies of Jesus?
Jesus also said to the woman caught in adultery that while he did not condemn her to death, she must “Go and sin no more,” (Jn 8:11).
We can help people who do not believe in or follow Christ, or who hate him. But it doesn’t make sense to have such people *represent* him.
So your response makes no sense at all. 😛
Yeah, and where was her lover, or as I suspect, her attacker?
So gay people aren’t your enemies but you intend to treat them (and innocent parties) WORSE than your enemies. Withdrawing aid from vulnerable third world kids so that people aren’t confused by their aid being delivered by gay or divorced people is supposed to turn people on to Christianity? You seriously honestly think that ? Really? Wow! That’s pretty twisted.
Jesus was good and gentle, he taught complete and total nonviolence, as well as practiced it– even to his death.
However, your main point would be valid if, and only if, it were practiced consistently: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/world-vision-announces-new-radically-consistent-employment-standards/
I’m curious to see how you would revise your article now that the World Vision has reversed its decision today!
Pulling your support is one thing. WV has put current sponsors who oppose Homosexual marriage in a tough position. BUT what about people who are not yet supporting children through World Vision? Is the only option after reading this article to now support a child through WV? NO! There are a number of good Christian charities out there that do not embrace the homosexual lifestyle. Compassion International is one of them. Google it. If you are ok with the homosexual agenda, then don’t discount WV. But if you’re uncomfortable with WV’s decision or downright hate it, just choose another organization to sponsor a child through. I share the author’s passion for ministering to starving children. But choosing to support WV concerning this unbiblical decision is not the only avenue for providing for impoverished children.
“The homosexual lifestyle?” I guess that you’re talking about the Gay community, a worldwide, ever more interconnected community (probably majority Asian) of about three hundred million or so. And all of the hundreds of millions of people from Atlanta to Zanzibar all life the same “lifestyle?”
The “homosexual agenda” is justice and equality under the law for all minorities.
What “unbiblical decision?” My Bible doesn’t condemn loving, mutually consensual relationships…thought there are very few mutually consensual relationships in the Bible. That was a time when men bought virgins to be wives…often for their sons who, like his barely a teen wife, had no say in the matter.
My parents had an unbiblical relationship.
They loved each other and didn’t marry to have children, and my father didn’t accept a dowry to marry my mother. And they’ve lived their lives as equals, each one respecting the other in spite of the occasional fight when money gets tight.
Very unbiblical. Maybe that’s why I turned out to be such a heretic!
Sounds like you have some awesome parents.
I did. They’re probably the only reason I’m still sane, in spite of my various personality flaws. I would have snapped, if it weren’t for their love.
What is “homosexual lifestyle” or the “homosexual agenda” I keep seeing those two phrases, and I am still unclear as to exactly what they are supposed to mean.
The lifestyle is those living it. The Agenda deals with the modern political arena. Those fighting for it.
Lifestyle is living what? Going to work, buying groceries, owning a pet, paying bills, eating breakfast on the run, watching the big game with people you love, going to the movies on a date with the person you feel blessed to have in your life? Is that the lifestyle you mean?
Agenda? Wanting and working towards being treated as human, as equal, valuable, being allowed to do and be things that most of us take for granted?
Haha! I had a feeling your question had an ulterior motive. You can pick a fight with someone else on those things. I don’t really care to participate in a forum fight.
No I asked for clarification, showing examples of what I think are lifestyles and social agendas
You dont know much, dont you? all we know (and is pretty clear) that the homosexual agenda is doing everything you normally do, but wearing pink shirts. As a heterosexual supermacho I only buy groceries on heterosexually approved colors, such as black or blue.
As a hetero female who doesnt give a shit what others wear, (I just took off my Hubby’s shoes that I “borrowed” from him) you can wear whatever floats your boat…crept tube tops… no one should wear tube tops.
A bit of fashion history. Pink used to be the preferred color for baby boys, bring considered the stronger color. Before that kid’S wear was gender neutral with all babies and toddlers wearing little dresses.
Oh I get it now! Like back in the 1950s-60s, when those living the black lifestyle supported the black agenda, aka civil rights. And we all know what the bible says about blacks now don’t we? And of course there’s the Jewish lifestyle and the Jewish agenda. There’s rich pickin’s in the bible right there, folks. Not to mention women’s lifestyle and women’s agenda. The bible makes it very clear where we Christians stand on those. So gather up the stones boys and let’s go bust some ass for the Lord.
My bottom line: Is World Vision continuing to do the work of feeding, clothing, educating and providing clean water to children as they have in the past? Yes. Okay, then.
I wonder if the World Vision USA employs or will be open to employing Hindus, Muslims, and atheists? After all it’s not a church but just an NGO to help the poor and needy! Right?
Also, will the WV USA allow gay parents to adopt children in the so-called “third world” nations, fully knowing that if they didn’t, these children might not survive?
I posted twice this question on the twitter handle of World Vision USA and even sent a direct message, but I’m yet to hear from them. I wonder if the author could help me find answers. Thanks.
“Also, will the WV USA allow gay parents to adopt children in the
so-called “third world” nations, fully knowing that if they didn’t,
these children might not survive?”
I sure hope so. You’d have to be a disgusting human being to prefer a child die than to be raised by same gendered parents.
You hope so or is this the WV USA’s official position? If you so advocate them and their policy, wouldn’t you want to make sure before venturing out to say anything?
You only hope so or do you an official confirmation on this important issue from WVUSA?
I don’t think WV is involved in adoptions. As for who sponsors children, or sends other means of support, I haven’t seen anything on their website that has criteria as to who is allowed or who isn’t allowed to help children. This is the website. http://www.worldvision.org/
I actually meant sponsoring.
So anyone could virtually adopt children to sponsor them? I couldn’t find it on their website and so posted twice on their twitter handle….yet to receive a response!
I think anyone can sponsor.
Please check with the WV rather than assuming.
They continue to insist on no sex before or outside of marriage for their employees! Don’t they?
Which is a vicious, yet accurate, condemnation of American Evangelicalism…
My husband and I are now sponsoring Ruthy from Zambia. We had been wondering when the right time to sponsor another child was (we had to end a sponsorship a few years ago due to financial difficulties—it was heartbreaking)—this seemed to be it!
This is heartbreaking… those children deserve the help.
I think, for the first time, I’m going to seriously consider donating… haven’t yet because I’ve rarely had a regular income, but…
I would also like to pre-empt the religious fundamentalists:
Hate is not love. Do not blaspheme God by claiming that it is.
Melissia, the website gives the option to make a one-time donation of as little as ten dollars. I have done that in the past when working a low-wage job, or when I was between jobs. If you feel the urge to donate but finances are tight, that might be an option.
(I’m Canadian, so our site gives slightly different gift options than the American ones, but I did check that the American site offers donations at ten dollars too)
Thank you for that. I’ll do that. I may not be able to afford the 35 bucks a month (no regular income; no, I don’t buy starbucks, either, way out of my income range), but the occasional ten dollars, I can…
Some of these comments are so discouraging. I for one, will NOT stop my sponsorship or overall support of WV. They are now doing what millions of other organizations are already doing: not discriminating based on sexual preference. I agree with this organizational change, and feel ashamed of Christians who are choosing to allow poverty-stricken children to suffer based on an organizational decision.
Your anger is beautiful, holy, and justified. If we are snatching bread from children’s mouths to fatten our ideology, God is not in us.
I’d wanted to wait to begin sponsorship until a particular anniversary arrived, but you’ve posed a very particular call to action; you definitely communicate the need and urgency of the situation, and I wanted you to know that message got across. Today I started sponsoring a nine-year-old girl in the West Bank; I can’t wait to get to know her.
Ben, I have been critical of your tone in the past, but in this instance I am actually surprised and impressed by your restraint, knowing the little I do of your history. I can disagree with people on different points of doctrine, but if someone can justify literally taking the food out a child’s mouth by canceling their sponsorship over such an issue they are a filthy evil Christ-haters. I do not even recognize them as followers of Christ. Some previous poster indicated this is a BASIC teaching of biblical sexual practices. It is anything but – however you know what is BASIC, and right out of the mouth of the savior for whom they are showing such contempt? I was hungry and you gave me something to eat….my bible has no footnote indicating this doesn’t apply if there is a gay person somewhere in the supply chain. These people might reflect on how the goats fared in that passage and for what they were actually condemned…I will be signing up to sponsor a child tonight.
“Any time your theology causes you to leave hungry children with empty bellies or sick children without medicine, it has ceased to be orthodox theology. And you can quote me on that one.” And I will, because I agree with you 100%.
It’s the same with the whole anti-gay legislation that various states have tried to pass, making it legal to discriminate and, in Idaho, to DENY MEDICAL TREATMENT to gays on the basis of religious objections. Folks, if people are dying so that you can stay pure, you are absolutely filthy. That’s what the whole parable of the Good Samaritan was about: it was the priest and the Levite who were going to let the guy bleed to death by the side of the road… and let the children starve…
I started sponsoring a little boy in Sierra Leone today.
We do not support children through world vision, but we have sent various gifts when they have highlighted a need to through their Christmas Catalogue. Since their decision to support Gay Marriage we will not send money through them again. There are many other Christian Ministries that I believe do not make sexual deviancy a criterion for employment.
You’re being deliberately disingenuous. WV does not make “sexual deviancy a criterion for employment.” They merely won’t discriminate against someone who happens to have a legally recognized marriage. You know full well they aren’t ONLY hiring Gays.
When engaging in a disagreement about something Tim, you would do well to stick to actual facts and not foolish exaggerations.
When WV intentionally makes a public statement about who they employ and why they will employ them, that I consider a criterion for employment. No that they have stopped hiring people in a “homosexual marriage” that have stated as a criterion who they will or not employ buy their martial status. I hope I did not communicate that WV is only employing homosexual married couples, if so, I apologise for communicating that, as that is not true.
Our family will be sponsoring a child and praying that so many new sponsors will come forward that the blessings of God will flow over the rim of World Vision’s cup that carries life-giving food to hungry children. May the rocks cry out…
I’m not in the camp that would drop support for a child because of this policy change, but I think it’s mighty peculiar that World Vision feels free to maintain its “abstinence until marriage” stance- something that is basically ignored by the vast majority of self-identified Christians- but is buckling on gay marriage, where probably a slight majority still favors the traditional view.What I worry about here is that Christian sexual ethics has pretty much collapsed across the board- even within Christian communities- but until very recently churches (even fairly liberal churches) have at least grudgingly affirmed the basics. I don’t know what it means exactly that WV feels it’s unable to follow the 51ish% of Christians who still disapprove of gay marriage, but can follow the 10-15% of Christians who still maintain abstinence until marriage, but it definitely is strange.
Why would I trust an organization that panders to emerging false teachings, provided that they become popular enough (I notice that they didn’t take a pioneering stance and rather, uh, prudently waited until it was pretty clear that public opinion would favor this change)? How can you prove that Christians will not redirect their donations to organizations engaged in similar work that don’t involve people-pleasing organizations like World Vision? Do you have ANY lines you would be willing to draw at ALL? Or is every line proof (in your eyes at least) of a lack of love? John the Apostle knew more about love than you and I put together, but he refused to be in the same building as one of the then-leaders of the emerging Gnostic heresy. I will follow his example, not yours.
Was Cerinthus running a humanitarian relief agency? No? Then I guess maybe hold off on comparing yourself to an apostle. And you probably shouldn’t trust any organization that panders, but I’m betting that’s too late. As to your question about Christians redirecting their donations, how can you prove they won’t stop once they learn other organizations employe sinners too?
Eric, I spoke of following an apostle’s example not of comparing myself to one. There is no perfect example from antiquity that foreshadows in every way the present controversy. All we can do is extrapolate from such examples as we do have. John was definitely an apostle of love and I dare say he would make sure that love continued to be delivered to others in a way that did not involve the patronage or the support of a false teacher. Of course Christian organizations must apply this across the board not just to homosexuality; no one is exempt from any of the ten commandments or from avoiding the practice of any of the seven deadly sins, etc., and, most importantly, the two love commandments. And I do not speak of demanding 100% errorless perfection, but reasonable belief in, adherence to, and practice in accordance with these standards, coupled with repentence and recommitment when falling below the standard. However, to the consternation of our frankly libertine age, although the foregoing is by no means exhausted by Christian traditional sexual morality, it does in fact include it. And I do have a special contempt for those who rather conveniently change their positions in the direction of whichever way the wind appears to blowing. In this way, it seems like almost all big organizations are the same. If I were to do that myself, I hope I would repent, and it would take time for me to healed from self-contempt.
Fair enough, I suppose, for the first part, But here’s the more important part: “And I do have a special contempt for those who rather conveniently change their positions in the direction of whichever way the wind appears to blowing.”
I doubt WV finds this convenient. It seems to me, a more honest appraisal of their decision admits the bind they are in as both a religious organization and a non-profit that gets a substantial part of its funding (around 20% I believe) from the federal government. Not wanting to lose that funding is not exactly a ringing endorsement of same-sex marriage. And they surely knew what kind of risk they were taking with funding from Christians when they made this decision. If you don’t already know it, google “Sunrise Children’s Services” and read how much funding they lost from Kentucky Baptist churches when they tried to make a compromise like the one made by WV.
Perhaps you could say they are shifting with the wind, but surely that is just to keep from being overwhelmed by the storm. Would you honestly rather they lose that federal money? Perhaps you would, and perhaps you would want churches and Christians of conscience to step in and make up the difference. Perhaps they are playing it safe. Part of me wishes they would fully support and endorse same-sex marriage and not defer the theological question, but I see that that are simply trying to maintain their priorities in a complicated social and legal climate. Do they really deserve “contempt” for that?
There’s more, though. The idea that WV, or anyone who comes to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin, is simply following the winds of popular opinion, is as inaccurate as it is unfair. Most (if not all) of the time that conclusion is reached by a process of careful reflection, study, prayer, and deliberation. Many (if not all) Christians who support gays and lesbians as gays and lesbians have sincere theological reasons for doing so. I get that you’ll disagree with their conclusions as much as John disagreed with Cerinthus’s teaching. But it’s untrue that Christian allies of gays and lesbians are questioning tradition out of convenience and mindless conformity with the larger culture.
Wow! Did someone use Matthew 25 as justification for not feeding the hungry, not giving water to the thirsty, and not clothing the naked. Add my name to the list of people who have decided to sponsor a child with World Vision.
“Any time your theology causes you to leave hungry children with empty bellies or sick children without medicine, it has ceased to be orthodox theology.”
I would also add that any time your theology has been influenced by popular opinion, political correctness, your own personal feelings, or the “reasonable”ness suggested by the title of this article rather than the eternal, unchanging Word of God, it has ceased to be orthodox theology. And that is why my wife and I will continue to follow Jesus in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick. We’ll just be partnering with a different organization to do so. We’ve been supporters of World Vision for several years, but World Vision’s decision to capitulate on this issue has forced us to withdraw support. This is not a matter of whether or not we care about starving children. Nor is it a matter of whether or not we believe homosexuals should be allowed to help the poor in the name of Christ. It’s just not as cut and dry as that. I read Mr. Stearns’ quotes carefully. He hasn’t simply changed company policy to make it more fair; he and the board have taken an official position on the definition of marriage, which then reshaped company policy. So it boils down to this: If World Vision, as an organization, is wobbly in how it defines sin then it will also be wobbly in leading the people it serves (and the people it employs) to understand their need for a Savior and wobbly in helping them trust and follow that Savior. It’s a slippery slope they’re on now. And I simply can’t lead my family to funnel resources to a Christian organization that I can’t trust to share the message of Christ. You know, the orthodox one.
Ah, yes, you’re right– having gay employees has always been one of the key markers of the historic orthodox faith as laid out in the creeds in the church.
Again, it’s not their policy change that bothers me. It’s the beliefs/values that influenced their policy change that bother me. Their recognition of same-sex unions as legitimate marriages blessed/sanctioned by God is an indicator of their unwillingness to call sin what it is. And a sugary definition of sin will lead them to pass on a cheap version of grace and a watered-down Gospel to those they serve, and that’ll leave them with a much bigger problem than an empty belly.
But I think you’re misunderstanding their policy change. They did not endorse same sex marriage as legitimate marriages blessed by God. Rather, they recognized that Christianity is divided on this issue, and decided that they would recognize the diversity in the body by willing to hire gay Christians in their US offices only.
That’s the policy change. They didn’t endorse homosexuality, they didn’t endorse gay marriage, they simply said we are willing to allow gay Christians to work in our US office.
I would agree that Stearns doesn’t see the change as an endorsement of same-sex marriage, which is why he said it wasn’t an endorsement of same-sex marriage. (Here’s my source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-why-hiring-gay-christians-same-sex-marriage.html?paging=off)
However, sexual abstinence outside of marriage is still a rule for World Vision employees. So according to their policy, sexual contact outside of marriage is never okay while sexual contact within the context of a legal same-sex union is okay as long as the same-sex couple identifies as Christian. The endorsement is there, but they’re not owning it as such.
So you’d be ok with WV if their policy was “willing to hire open gays and lesbians as long as they are abstinent”?
Hey buddy, my marriage to my wife IS blessed by God, every living day that I breathe air into my lungs. You are NOT a Christ follower, your a bible idolater…..you worship a book written by man. Go soak you head you stuffed shirt.
Terri, I have expressed my thoughts in a respectful, thoughtful way without a hint of hatred or hostility towards anyone who disagrees with me. Why can’t you do the same? What are you proving by attacking me and cursing me when you don’t know anything about me? Aren’t homosexuals fighting AGAINST that kind of hate? This will be my last comment. I comment to start intelligent dialogue and to iron out my thoughts–not to fight. If you or anyone else is interested in a fair, thoughtful, loving, and Gospel-centered take on the subject of homosexuality, let me strongly encourage you to check out the videos at this link: http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/justintaylor/matt-chandler-seminary-on-homosexuality
Gay marriages are real marriages…even where they’re not recognized by the state. Questioning the “legitimacy” of marriages and children has a racist history in America. I would the Supreme Court’s “Loving v Virginia” decision was in 1967.
Gay people are hardly slaves, but there is one thing too many Gay couples in America have with America’s enslaved ancestors… marriages and children who are not recognized as “legitimate” under the law.
Gay couples have, do and will marry, with or without government recognition. Government recognition is about economic justice and an encouragement to settle down. Why would you oppose that?
Homosexuality is not a race. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice–a sexual orientation. Big difference. And Lady Gaga’s “born this way” argument is invalid because there’s no scientific proof to back it up. Even using the word “racist” to describe those who disagree with same-sex union is an insult to everything African-Americans in the south went through to gain equal treatment for something they had no control over: their skin color–not what kind of sexual partner they preferred. I spent 7.5 years at school in Birmingham. I’ve seen the Civil Rights museum more than once. I understand that homosexuals are being bullied all over America–even to the point of suicide–and that’s beyond wrong. No one should be treated like that. But to my knowledge, no one is sending dogs after them or blowing their children up or turning hoses on them while they protest. No one is snatching thrm out of their homes and shipping them halfway across the world to be stripped naked and sold at market. No one is forcing them to work without pay and beating them if they refuse. I’m sorry, but there’s just no comparison. Playing the race card in favor of same-sex unions is just a joke. Further, God invented marriage (Genesis 2)–not me, not you, not any person who ever lived, not the government. So God is the only authority on what marriage should look like–not me, not you, not any person who ever lived, not the government. I’ll refer you to the Gospel Coalition link i mentioned in an earlier comment. Matt Chandler’s Church+Theology seminar on homosexuality pretty much sums up my own beliefs. Please find it or Google it and watch if you really want to know why I believe what I believe.
A sexual orientation is not a “lifestyle choice.” It’s a core area of everyone’s identity, even for the asexually inclined. Sexual orientations are not sexual preferences of sexual identities.
You need a woman, and redheads just attract your eye more than other women. You use to identify as straight, but now you’re more comfortable identifying as bisexual. You don’t identify as Gay, homosexual or bisexual, but you have sex with men… Sexual preferences and sexual identities are more fluid than sexual orientations.
When it comes to civil rights and protected classes, it doesn’t matter if you “choose” to be this or that instead of being “born that way.” As for Gay people being “born that way” and scientific evidence…well, the current scientific evidence is about the same as the causation evidence for being born left handed. There is no single “intelligence” gene either.
People say they were born that way, and they’re currently the experts on their lives, at least until more conclusive evidence comes along…though scientists have more pressing things to research than worry about satisfying the demands of people who are trying by most any means they can think of to deny for other adults what they allow for themselves.
There are people who are Gay and Black. The Black and Gay communities overlap. The Gay community overlaps every American community of any size, for that matter.
Black Americans today are not enslaved, and integrated police forces aren’t unleashing attack dogs on Black demonstrations for integration. Yet, both both Black and Gay Americans still have to deal with considerable minority stress (as well as my many Native American neighbors where I live). Gay and Black people get a double portion of dangerous minority stress, alas, and transgendered people get even more.
God did not “invent marriage” in Genesis 2. It was “the man.”
Both ‘race’ and ‘homosexuality’ are much abused, modern era social constructs with a lot of long discredited scientific and back-projected religious baggage. Which is why Gay people are Gay and not homosexuals. That’s also pretty much why Black people are Black and not Negroes. Why would you allow people of obvious ill will, who are fighting for privilege and entitlement at your expense, define you and your community?
Many of the Civil Rights movement leaders also support the Gay rights movement. and some were Gay themselves, such as Bayard Rustin (one of the founding members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a chief organizer of the March on Washington) and James Baldwin (as a famous author and public intellectual.)
Off the top of my head…Civil Rights Movement leaders who support/supported the Gay rights Movement: NAACP, Congressman John Lewis, Julian Bond, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Coretta Scott King, Mildred Loving, probably A. Philip Randolph.
1996 Atlanta Gay Pride Festival Speech by Coretta Scott King. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHm8djZqTzk
I apologize for the expletive in this piece by
by Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou.
Rep. John Lewis on President Obama’s Support for Same Sex Marriage Equality
Civil rights legend Joseph Lowery backs gay marriage: ‘If you believe in equal rights, you have to grant them to all people’. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/civil-rights-legend-joseph-lowery-backs
You’re getting into semantics. Sexual orientation = sexual preference = sexual identity. They’re all the same thing–a choice–with slightly different connotations. To “orient” yourself means to choose a direction and move in that direction. To “prefer” something means to like it and generally lean towards it over against other things. To “identify” yourself as something means to choose a label for yourself instead of letting anyone else label you. It’s all choice, and these terms are all fluid because we’ve made up our own rules instead of letting God tell us what the rules are.
But I will say this about identity. I went to a restaurant last night. There must’ve been 57 things on the menu. I needed food because I was hungry, so I ordered wings. But there were 12 flavors of wings, so I had to narrow my order down even more. I ordered half “Medium” wings and half “Caribbean Jerk” wings because I don’t like them too hot and because I love the spices in jerk seasoning. I made a CHOICE based on what I generally prefer and what I felt like eating at the current moment. But I don’t root my identity–who I am at my very core–in my love for chicken wings. It would be futile to let a food define me. I also love my wife. I love everything about her. I made a choice to love her exclusively for the rest of my life when I gave her a ring and made a promise to her before God. But I don’t root my identity–who I am at my very core–in my love for my wife. It would be futile to let another person define me. Here’s another one that might tilt your head a little bit: I love my church. I love my church more than many other churches I’ve had experience with in the past. I choose to be there every Sunday and Wednesday. But I don’t root my identity–who I am at my very core–in my church. It would be futile to let religion or any institution define me. Here’s my point: Who I am is not defined by what I do. What I do develops from who I am. You can’t find out who you are from a food, a religion, or a romantic relationship–whether it’s a homo- or heterosexual one. Only God can tell you who you are because He made you. And He made a way for you to know him–in spite of all the negative choices (i.e., sin) you’ve made in the past. He came here as Jesus to take the punishment that we deserved for our sins. The promise is that if we believe Jesus is who is says He is and turn from our way (i.e., making up our own rules, calling ourselves the experts of our own lives) and turn to His way (i.e., let Jesus call the shots and tell us how to live our lives), we’ll find out what it means to really live–and we’ll live forever with Him in a real place called heaven. That’s how we find identity and life and joy and everything else we look for in food and sex and relationships and entertainment, etc. If you or anyone else reading this would like to find joy and life in Jesus, I’d be happy to help. Just let me know.
To respond to your other points: God did invent marriage. He created the woman specifically for man: “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper WHO IS RIGHT FOR HIM” (Genesis 2:18). A few verses later, God takes a piece of the man and forms a woman out of it. The meaning in that is that both man and woman are incomplete without the other. A woman can’t complete a woman, and a man can’t complete a man. Otherwise, God would’ve made another man AND a woman for Adam and let him choose for himself (or define his own “sexual identity”), right? God was making an unchanging statement on what a relationship/marriage should look like. When I say that God invented marriage, I mean he invented man and woman for each other and then presided over their “wedding” as Adam said his “vows”: “Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh…” (Genesis 2:23). Then to drive the point home, 2:24 says, “So a MAN will leave his father and mother and be united with his WIFE, and the two will become one body.” 2:25 goes on to suggest the intimacy experienced by the first couple as they lived in commitment to one another before God.
As for the civil rights side of the issue: The waters are muddied by political corruption. The NAACP, of which Coretta Scott King was a part, has evolved into nothing more than a political propaganda machine in the last few decades. It’s eaten up with corruption, meaning that its leaders will say/believe anything special interest lobby groups will pay them to say/believe. So I don’t put a whole lot of stock into anything anyone from the current NAACP says in front of a microphone. However, I have a high amount of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is an exchange (taken from an advice column King wrote for a 1958 issue of Ebony) between Dr. King and a young man who asked Dr. King a question about his homosexual urges:
Young Man: My problem is different from the ones most people have. I am a boy, but I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do? Is there any place where I can go for help?
Dr. King: Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require careful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired. Your reasons for adopting this habit have now been consciously suppressed or unconsciously repressed. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with this problem by getting back to some of the experiences and circumstances that led to the habit. In order to do this I would suggest that you see a good psychiatrist who can assist you in bringing to the forefront of conscience all of those experiences and circumstances that led to the habit. You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.
Ironically, if King were alive today, he would be labeled a hate-monger and a bigot by the left for his stance on homosexuality. But since he’s gone, leaders in the LGBT community have felt free to hijack his dream, hitch their wagon to the things he said, and pretend he was talking about them, too. But that just wasn’t the case.
Semantics? Sexual orientation is now a legal phrase separate from sexual preference and sexual identity. Sociologists now often use labels such as MSM because self sexual identity, such as heterosexual, Gay etc don’t always correlate with behavior.
You’re just someone who is jumping backward through flaming hoops of desperate rationalizations to deny for other adults what you allow for yourself.
That quote from Dr. King was from 1958. 1958! Time did not stand still, and Dr. King didn’t seem to be the sort of person who stood still either. If Dr. King were alive today….Given his working relationships and friendships with Bayard Rustin (with which he had founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and who was the chief organizer of the March on Washington) and James Baldwin, and his wife’s strong support of the Gay community…just whom is “hijacking” whom here?
Your accusation that Coretta Scott King was part of a corrupt system because she and the NAACP didn’t support bigotry and discrimination towards Gay people is pathetic.
Gay is a worldwide community of a couple hundred million people, a declaration of a certain sort of integrity in the face of oppression, a world wide egalitarian movement. You don’t have to identify as Gay even if you’re strongly on the same-sex side of the sexual continuum, but there are benefits for doing so.
Adam and Eve never existed. There was never a time when there where only two humans on Earth. The story of Adam and Eve is just that, an ancient story, and a great one. It’s also been a much abused one, and the abuse is continued with using it to justify what you’ve written.
What God would have done if…is a silly argument. Why would God care if some people are Gay? Jesus said that what God cares about is loving your neighbor, not abusing him with ripped out of context clobber verses to justify your sense of entitlement and privilege at his expense.
I suppose you wre ready for the ranting reply you received to this comment of yours. I can say it simply: I did not choose to be straight. I just am. It’s the same with any other sexuality, which exists within a continuum.
That’s simple enough, right?
Sounds right to me. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t chose my sexual orientation. But conservative Christians always know better than me about me…right?
Judging from this article, I don’t think watching the videos would be a good use of my time. Heard it all before, I think, and I’m not impressed. http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/6798/megachurch_pastor__we_re__american_al_qaeda__for_opposing_homosexuality
The article you reference is little more than a caricature from a source with an obvious bias. The only reason to dismiss another person’s take on an issue with a simple “Heard it all before, I think…” is the fear of being led to believe something different than what you’ve believed in the past. That fear indicates that one has a shaky foundation in his/her system of beliefs–that one is really not sure what one believes or why. It’s funny, too, how people like me are labeled as “closed-minded” even though we’re willing to watch things and read things and listen to things from people on the other side of an issue and engage in civil conversation about it. Here’s the link again if you decide to check it out: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/06/23/matt-chandler-seminary-on-homosexuality/
“I would also add that any time your theology has been influenced by popular opinion, political correctness, your own personal feelings, or the “reasonable”ness suggested by the title of this article rather than the eternal, unchanging Word of God, it has ceased to be orthodox theology.”
You hear this idea a lot, even ad nauseam. That if you come to believe that homosexuality and homosexual sex is not sinful, that same-sex marriage should be legalized, that gay and lesbian Christian can and should be ordained if called and qualified, then you *must* be watering down The Truth and merely accommodating to secular reasoning and/or shifting winds of popular opinion. “Real” Christians, it is assumed, never compromise the “eternal, unchanging Word of God.”
There are probably many ways to respond thoughtfully, sympathetically, but also critically. Perhaps the most common way is to point out that finite and fallible humans, whether readings or authors of the Bible, simply don’t have access to eternal, unchanging Truth–as such. We only have access to it through, well, finite and fallible minds and the considerable limits of human language. That doesn’t mean we don’t have access to the Truth, or that our knowledge of God is fatally insufficient. It just means that we participate in the Truth without being able to comprehend it in its totality, or know it as God knows it, so to speak. Radical subjectivism or skepticism is not the necessary outcome of denying our ability to know objective Truth as such. Put differently, the BIble does not just mean any old thing we want it to mean.
But these philosophical arguments about the limits of our knowledge, let’s call them postmodernism, have been made for a while, and they aren’t always compelling to those who worry about siippery slopes and moral absolutes and the inerrancy of the Bible. So here’s another way to respond, though it too will likely fall on ears not made to hear. Implied in the quote above is the idea, or assumption, that the biblical authors, unlike some modern interpreters, were able to rise above the popular opinions and dominant ideologies of their cultural contexts. That they overcame personal feelings and the inherent limitations of language and the mind, or at least had those limits overriden by God, to understand and then communicate the unalloyed Truth about God’s will.
What I want to know, though, is why so many of the biblical statements about gender and sexuality mirror so much of the political correctness of the surrounding culture of the past. Why does Paul, for example, sound so much like a Roman Stoic philosopher when he talks about sex “against nature”? Why are his ideas about “natural” hairstyles and hair lengths shared by Greek and Latin speaking authors from a century before and after he wrote? Why is the advice given to husbands and wives, fathers and children, masters and slaves in Pauline letters so similar to Aristotle’s?
I could multiply examples probably, but you get the point. How can I think being “influenced by popular opinion” is something Christians should never do when the Bible itself was clearly influenced by popular opinions from the past?
Is this Robert California from The Office? 🙂 Here’s a similar question: How can I think the biblical writers were influenced by popular opinion and the values of the cultures they lived in when they so often went against the grain of culture? The Old Testament prophets spoke out against the Israelites’ worship of Baal and other idols, common and popular as it was. Moses and Joshua led the Israelites to press on and take the promised land even though they wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt more than once. Noah built a boat before anybody had ever seen rain. Jesus confounded the Pharisees, a dominant religious sect, at every turn. Paul wrote letters to churches exhorting them to holiness in a culture where homosexuality and many, many other forms of sexual sin were far more pervasive than they are in our culture today. Sure, there are traces of culture in Scripture, but the Gospel message and the truths contained in the Bible are entirely countercultural. Because they were inspired and breathed out by the God who calls us to do life His way, which leads to life, rather than do life our way, which leads to death. And as far as understanding those eternal truths with our finite, fallble minds…that’s why Jesus left His followers with the Holy Spirit–to lead us into all truth (John 16:13).
Well, I’d prefer if you actually tried to answer my question, but…. It would not be unduly difficult to show where the biblical writers were indebted to the broader culture in each of these cases, even in those examples where they or biblical characters are depicted as being countercultural.
I’m not sure you are quite grasping what I meant when I said that biblical writers often follow the current of the surrounding culture and society. It is “deeper” than what you are describing; it is at the level of language itself, not mere “traces.”
But let’s stick to the question of sex and gender. I gave a short list of examples where the biblical writers recycled ideas from Greek and Roman culture as God-ordained ethical views of Christians. You mentioned Paul and his opposition to same-sex sex–but I clearly pointed out that many non-Christian Greek and Roman moralists also objected to same-sex sex. Some objected to the act completely; others targeted the male who took the “passive” or “feminine” role. All objected to women being with other women.
Yes, people engaged in all manner of sexual acts and relationships in Greek and Roman societies, though it is misleading to think sexual immorality was more “pervasive” back then than it is today. Non-Christian philosophers and moralists worried as much about sexual immorality and gender transgression as much as any Christian of that time, including Paul. And my point was that Paul himself echoes culture at this level. He borrows and repeats the values and assumptions of Greek and Roman ethics when it comes to sex and gender, perhaps without fulling realizing it.
So, again, what do we do with the fact that Paul followed the grain of non-Christian culture in this case?
I’m sure the children you are abandoning will appreciate your ‘faithfulness’
Benjamin Corey you are my very favorite person on the entire internet today.
Do other Christian aid organizations exist that provide services like World Vision?
Yes they do. Personally, my wife and I support a child through Compassion. If individuals are interested, they can certainly do some research to find alternatives.
Yes, but I think it is widely agreed that few organizations in the world are as large or as effective as WV.
I am very distressed by how you express yourself on your blog, this one included. It seems to me that you are automatically conflating ending sponsorship at World Vision with ending ministering to the poor/needy children, etc. That is not the case, and to assume such is highly illogical and irrational. Personally, I know many people who, prior to this decision, partnered with World Vision. I was one of them. I’m a not-so-wealthy college student who has given out of the little I have faithfully since 2009 because I believe it is part of our calling as Christians. Speaking from my personal experience, every single one of those people, including myself, have either already switched, or are looking at other Christian organizations through which they can sponsor children. So your blog and its headline seem to me to be engaging in breathtaking demonization of people who you seem to be assuming don’t give a damn about the kids because they disagree with YOU and what YOU deem a “reasonable” position on gay “marriage.” This is hardly a worthy position for one who claims to desire rational discussion, and I’m assuming that since you consider yourself a “Former Fundie,” you would distance yourself from the very sort of behavior which is typically associated with the very Fundamentalism you claim to hate and disavow. It is this type of rhetoric that needlessly rips apart the Body of Christ.
But the Gospel is about far more than just filling people’s stomachs. It is about holiness, and the power of God which leads us to repentance and FREEDOM from sin. The Bible is absolutely clear on fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. ALL are sinful. World Vision still prohibits the first two for their staff. Why not the third? Your statement that “they are not the church” is again simply breathtaking. I believe that we in America have, largely without realizing it, been duped by a corporatist model of church that is far more concerned with buildings and institutions, organizations and money. The fact that ANY Christian could say that another group of Christians is “not the Church” is not only unbiblical, but profoundly damaging to the very Gospel you say you support. If the Church is tasked with spreading the Gospel, and World Vision is not the Church, then why do you complain about this situation because of the “Gospel”? You have already said World Vision is not the Church, right? In this sense, I do not believe you are correctly identifying what exactly the Church is, namely the Body of Christ, the Living Spirit in the temple of each believer, and that which binds together each member of that body together in an indissoluble connection based on the blood of Christ, love, righteousness, and holiness. In other words, EVERY true Christian is a manifestation of the Church. There is no distinction between the church-building variety, and the church-ministry variety. ALL are the Church.
Finally, I will just say that I have a gay sister. I had a gay uncle. I grew up in the arts world and so was often surrounded by many homosexuals. To this day, I have had great relationships with all of them. I love my sister, and she loves me. In fact, she knew that, despite my faithfulness to the Word of God on this issue, she could come out to me, which is precisely what she did. I believe her homosexuality is just as in need of redemption as my lust for women (and the sin that has sometimes resulted from it). BOTH need the blood of Christ, and as Christians, we should NEVER be put in the position of doing good only by accepting or tolerating a certain level of sin. That is an unacceptable scenario, which is why I expect the vast majority, if not all of those who are ending their sponsorships in World Vision are, like myself and so many others, immediately switching, because unlike the completely false and fantastically destructive dichotomy you have built for yourself from which to pulverize others, we DO care about those children profoundly, and the needy deeply, and despite being demonized by the likes of you, will continue to serve both without ceasing, and we will do so in a way that serves the ends of BOTH Christian charity, and Christian holiness, as the two make no sense without one another.
“BOTH need the blood of Christ, and as Christians, we should NEVER be put in the position of doing good only by accepting or tolerating a certain level of sin.” Translation: we should never have to live or work in a fallen world with people who sin differently than we do. Yeah, good luck with that.
“Finally, I will just say that I have a gay sister. I had a gay uncle. I grew up in the arts world and so was often surrounded by many homosexuals. To this day, I have had great relationships with all of them.” Some of your best friends are gay. Congratulations. You must be very proud of yourself.
“…we DO care about those children profoundly, and the need deeply…”
It takes an awfully small heart that helps someone only if it can refuse to help someone else.
Your comments are completely untrue and unworthy caricatures. My first comment was not at all as you characterized it, at least it wasn’t intended that way. I am a mentor to a lot of young men in my community, and trust me, we walk through a lot of situations tainted by sin. This has nothing to do with not interacting with people in a fallen world sir. A lot of those young men I love to death, but if I was starting a ministry, I probably wouldn’t hire most of them at this point because I do not trust that their behavior would meet the expectations I would want to be upheld in my organization. Does that mean I stop loving them? NO. False dichotomy sir.
As for the second comment, no sir. It is just a fact. Your snide comments speak for themselves and require no further comment by me.
As for the final comment, again, no sir. And what a low view you have of other people. You say words like that without realizing that at the very same moment, you are engaging in a rhetorical version of the exact same thing. I reach out to lots of people. This whole issue has NOTHING to do with helping gay people. It has to do with a standard of conduct to be upheld in a Christian organization that is consonant with scripture. So long as you attack arguments no one is making, you will always “win.”
Me thinks you doth protest too much on points one and two, but that’s neither here nor there. As far the last point, I’m well aware of my rhetoric, thanks. Which means I’m also aware of what a false equivalency is. For the record, I’m not refusing to help anyone. I’m just saying things you don’t want to hear. So, I’ll say again: if you are more worried about gays and lesbians being hired than in making sure children continue to receive material support, then you might have a small heart. To be ever clearer: to cease giving to a group that helps children when they agree to hire gays and lesbians is to make your opposition to homosexuality a higher priority than your concern for hungry kids.
No sir, it does not, because I just started giving to Compassion International, precisely because I care about those kids. I am not threatened by your words, they are just simply not rational. If World Vision lowered their bar of conduct for fortification and adultery, my reaction would be the same, because there are plenty of organizations who are NOT doing that. This is not about World Vision hiring homosexuals or those who struggle with homosexuality or with any other “heterosexual” sin. It is about saying that any of the sin is OKAY. None of it is. Someone can struggle against sin without condoning it. Your failure to recognize this is the fatal flaw in your argument. It IS about World Vision violating very clear Biblical sexual ethics, which is unacceptable for a Christian organization. My sponsorship for another child began today. Why don’t you engage in discussion, not character assassination, as if you can see into another person’s heart. I have not done that once to you because I don’t know you. I’m working just with what you are actually saying. You are a very sarcastic person who is adept at making irrational points. I wish the best for you, but I’m disengaging from further discussion because of how you have conducted yourself in this and other threads. Good day sir.
And when you find out that sometimes some people who work for Compassion International cuss or lust or commit some other sin, are you going to drop them too? Just wondering what the view is like from that high horse.
Eric Thurman wins the internet.
I really feel sorry for your sister, as it is evident that you don’t know what love is or how to express it. Our sexuality is NOT a sin, any more than yours is, unless your laying down with some jolly guy. My sexuality was given to me by God, as was your sisters; what would be a sin for us is if we tried to be sexually active with a man, it’s agaisnt our nature. You and my brother would get along great; sad for you sister, and me, putting up with idoits like you saying how much you love.
told, no one is actually directly sponsoring “their child.” It benefits
WV and similar orgs to have it appear that way. It’s funds collectively
that sponsor the “project” in those villages. Without the “face” and
letters, few would be moved to support. However, if masses would drop
funding,then those projects would be unfunded, it’s true.
“Sterns goes onto say that as an NGO, it’s not their place to take a theological stance on divisive issues– that’s the role of local churches.” How is requiring singles to remain abstinent not a “theological stance on a divisive issue”??? So they get to say fornication = bad, homosexuality = OK and then have the guts to say that they are not taking “theological stances”? Just. Wow.
what a disgrace to Jesus and to Christianity. How sick it is when so called christians decide to agree with society instead of the Bible. I hope you sin finds you. Error does not become Truth because it is widely accepted; Truth does not become error, even when it stands alone! i withdraw my support from the organization
All I see is….
I’ve sponsored two different children with World Vision for about 6 years, and I really do love their organization. I disagree with their stance on homosexuality, BUT I will not be pulling my support from these children because I know that if I do, there is a chance that they will not be picked up by someone else, as there were many children on World Vision’s website that don’t currently have a sponsor even before this decision was made.
That being said, I do disagree with the choice they’ve made. And I think it’s interesting that they still require their employees to wait for marriage to have sex. How would you feel if you were a Christian that just happened to have had sex with your girlfriend and gotten her pregnant (and then repented of your sin), and you were told that you couldn’t work at World Vision just because of one mistake you’ve made in your life? To quote my friend on Facebook, “This does single out a specific group of sinners. It singles out those who have premarital sex and says that their sin is somehow worse than married homosexuals.”
I find myself very confused and split on this issue, as I usually do when discussions about homosexuality or abortion come up. I think we as Christians are called to work with people of ALL beliefs to help those who can’t help themselves, and I do believe that the Bible says that “true religion is helping the poor and the orphaned and the widows.” And I think that if we really want to reach a fallen world, we need to show love to those who disagree with us by letting them know what we believe AND accepting them into our church anyway. I think the church is called to accept ALL broken people in, and THEN show them the better way of Christ. Now there’s a difference between accepting someone into the church who is unrepentant in ANY sin and allowing them to become leaders in that church, because I would have just as much of a problem with a preacher who was cheating on his wife as I would with a preacher being married to another man; but we are called to invite everyone in JUST AS THEY ARE. We’re not called to “fix people”, but to usher those who are broken and hurting and yearning for the Gospel to Christ, so He can heal their broken hearts.
If World Vision was a non-religious organization that had made this decision, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with it. And I think we’re forgetting that World Vision is a Christian organization, not just a southern baptist or a southern methodist or an episcopal church organization. They followed the decisions of Christianity as a blanket term, which in this case includes people that are on very opposite sides of this particular debate.
Again, these are just some of my thoughts on World Vision and the homosexuality debate in general, and as you can probably tell they’re not nearly as ironed out as they should be for a good debate.
I hope someone gets something out of this, and I’d call each and everyone of you to just keep in mind that helping others and pointing them back to God is what we’re really called to do. We’re not called to judge others, because we’re just as broken and messed up and hurt as they are. God breaks us, God heals us, God judges us and God redeems us. Notice how we aren’t actively involved in any of that? So please, leave the judgement and the “heart” work up to God, and just keep shining that light of love into the darkness.
Don’t hear what I’m not saying. Christ never said that He was okay with sin. He called people to “Go, and sin no more.” But we aren’t Christ. We’re only called to live in the world around us and show them that in the midst of all this suffering and anguish and pain, there is Hope and Love and Faithfulness and Peace. We can’t possibly give them this, but God can do it through us.
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to think about this topic Ben. While I disagree with you on some points, I appreciate you taking the risk to step out on the internet (a very nasty place these days) and take a stand for what you believe. I hope to see you in Heaven one day when all of these debates will be behind us and we’ll truly be able to live in unity and love with all of those who answered the call of Christ on their hearts. Have a great week, and God bless!
Thanks for the way you expressed yourself, I appreciate it.
Thank you Cooper – your thoughts really resonate with me. This issue is an incredibly difficult one and one that demands much humilty and grace. None of us has it all figured out. So thanks again…really honour you bringing an honest, humble and thoughtful response. And thanks also to Benjamin for your article, too and getting us all to think and consider for ourselves – I know it has certainly caused me to do so. I think cancelling your sponsorship is a terrible knee-jerk reaction for people to make. We must put the lives of vulnerable and the ‘least of these’ first – loss of life is just not worth it and SO not God’s heart. Father, help us to release Your kingdom and give us the wisdom to prioritise the things on Your heart in a society where many, many differing agendas are pushed all the time.
My wife and I sponsored a child named Kevin from Rwanda yesterday afternoon as soon as I heard people were being stupid.
Awesome, thanks for supporting the kids!
Simply not fair to make such a statement.
I fully support World Vision and their decision to be more inclusive, but those who pull their sponsorships aren’t necessarily heartless villians. World Vision is not the only game in town when it comes to poverty relief. Hopefully those who decide they don’t want to be a part of World Vision will continue to give their $35/mo to other poverty relief efforts.
This kind of hyperbole is unhelpful and uncharitable. Call them silly, call them narrowminded, question their hermentuetic– but let’s not assume the worst about their character.
I think the “heartless” part comes in where they are abandoning a specific child they have built up a relationship with over a period of time. If they have that kind of long-run relationship with a child and no longer wish to support WV, to me, the right thing to do would be to continue supporting the child until the relationship ends, and then they can support a child through a different organization. We have supported a boy named Ignace in Rwanda for several years through WV, and I feel like we’ve made a certain level of commitment to God specifically for his welfare–there’s no way we would turn our backs on him. We will “stand in the gap” with additional support for WV–haven’t decided at what level yet–
So here is s question Ben. Would you be okay with supporting World Vision if they decided that they were not going to be faith based organization any more (which I know they are not doing)? Would it be wrong for people of faith to prefer a faith based Organization and pull support for another organization? Why or why not?
I also find it difficult to understand why the back lash is bad thing considering that WV specifically holds out they they view themselves as an arm of church…. aka an extension of church ministry. As such this is similar to a youth ministry trying to change the theological standings of the church they are in. They hold just as much blame for this as the fundamentalists who won’t calm the heck down and think this through clearly.
I also curious if you would you support a ministry that supports destructive beliefs? Would you give money to a fundamentalist church that has a missions organization?
People can prefer a different organization all day long, and I have no problem with folks saying “in the future, I’ll go with an organization that better alines with my personal viewpoints”. Have at it. Vote with your money.
What I’m pushing back against is dropping sponsored children. As someone who’s worked around the world, a missiologist, and a dad via adoption, I find it morally repulsive to just end a relationship with a child because there might be a gay person working back at their headquarters in the US. THAT is what I’m pushing back against. I’m trying to be a voice for the kids, and rallying for their support.
Would I support a fundamentalist organization? Yeah, under certain circumstances I would. I wouldn’t support a church plant, but if they were out there feeding kids and protecting people from trafficking? I have no problem supporting those efforts and encouraging that work, no matter who is doing it.
Again, the problem is that the vast majority of these people are picking up others through other organizations that do not compromise on BASIC Christian sexual ethics. Part of why people give to Christian organizations is because they know the workers are held to a certain code of personal behavior. Christians should NEVER be forced to choose between giving and doing so at the expense of validating sinful behavior. It is those who put giving Christians in that position that should be apologizing. And yet here you are, demonizing ALL of them. Unhelpful sir. Destructive, and extremely uncharitable.
Yeah- helping a kid in Congo sure does validate whatever sins an accountant in Colorado has. Christians are horrible hypocrites on this issue. I must have missed the memo that we’re supposed to single out gay people and nothing else.
Benjamin, this whole sorry debacle reminds me of a comment a gay friend of mine made back in the 80s when he saw an anti-homosexual law campaigner waving a placard which read “Righteousness exalts a nation”. My friend shook his head sadly and remarked “Yes, and self-righteousness debases it.”
“Part of why people give to Christian organizations is because they know the workers are held to a certain code of personal behavior.” And that, right there, says it all. Most people would think people give to a Christian organization because the goals of the organization are an extension of distinctive Christian practices, like loving your neighbor as yourself and helping the least of these.
That is obviously a part of it Mr. Thurman, which is is why I said “PART” of why. I think that’s quite reasonable: somebody can say all they want what they think I want to say, but if they do not adhere to a standard of morality, it is probably not wise to give to them. You are very, very good at perverting what people actually say.
My wife and I gave a $500 donation yesterday on top of the giving we give toward specific children sponsorships.
You sir, are awesome.
Clearly World Vision has placed themselves above God as judge. Regardless whether the issue is homosexuality or infidelity in a heterosexual marriage, they make it clear that they are the ones who decides what is right in God’s eyes, rather than follow biblical principles. Let the World Vision employees without sin cast the first stone. With this approach, I would question their ethics as a whole.
For the sake of being charitable, could you clarify your point? As I read it, you’ve said multiple contradictory things in a small amount of space.
Show me a verse that says “gay people can’t have jobs” and I’ll concede your point. The only thing WV has taken a stance on, is letting gay Christians work for their organization.
First, I never said anything about whether gay people should or should not be hired. Did you even read the article that you wrote? WV bans employing singles that have not abstained from sex outside of marriage and married people who are unfaithful in their marriage. (I thought those were called stances.) It doesn’t matter if it is these two provisions or hiring or not hiring those who are homosexual. WV has placed themselves as the judge, rather than God. Does God not love all of those who have committed any of these acts?
No it is not sir. Someone can struggle with homosexuality, and that is not the issue. This policy says that if a denomination or a state government call a same sex union a “marriage,” World Vision will ignore what scripture CLEARLY says on the matter, and treat it like any other marriage. I don’t know anyone who I know who wants gays to be denied jobs. I’m sure they are out there, but I don’t see them here. But if someone wants to act as if homosexuality is not a sin, and who actively lives out that sin, just like any other Christian who fornicates or commits adultery (particularly if they are unrepentant), they should not be welcomed as workers in a Christian organization.
I say we have the whole homosexuality discussion as soon as we’re done talking about guns. Since the bible is crystal clear on guns, we should do that first. Your contention that the latter is “CLEAR” in scripture is an outright falsehood. In fact the word wasn’t even in the NT until around 1946.
With all due and sincere respect, it is sir on homosexuality, and your bringing guns into this debate makes no sense whatsoever. You are again caricaturing me and what I believe. How do you know what I believe about guns? That is not the issue, so stick to the issue. What we would call “homosexuality” today (same-sex activity) was very familiar in ancient Greece and Rome far before Christianity was on the scene. I visited Pompeii once and visited a brothel. They had preserved frescoes near the ceiling that people could point at for the services they wanted (it was a very cosmopolitan city where not everyone spoke Latin, hence the pictures). Many of them were same sex. Paul knew exactly what he was talking about sir.
JUST GO! Do us all a favor.
The Greek word in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is “malakos,” which referred to several things which were variants of the same thing: male prostitute (with other males), the passive partner (i.e. the one being penetrated via the anus), etc. It is QUITE clear. Romans 1 refers to men committing acts with men which are meant to be committed with women. There is nothing new under the sun sir. Look up Greek pottery. There is same-sex activity all over the place, and the same words were used to describe it. Paul was not ignorant. Homosexuality has ALWAYS been a part of the fallen nature of man, just like lust, just like fornication, adultery, etc. Not a single one of us is exempt.
You really don’t want to go down this road. Malakos does not mean male prostitute, much less “homosexual.” Malakos means “soft,” mostly commonly in as a metaphor for effeminacy. Perhaps you are thinking of the other notorious term in 1 Cor. 6:9, arsenoikotes, a word some try to translate as ‘male prostitute,’ but honest people recognize as being both a very rare and difficult word to render. In case, the connotation seems to focus on the commercialization of sex more than the sex of the people involved. We can get into Paul’s understanding of sex para physin, “against nature,” if you want, but the real point is that the concept of homosexuality did not exist in antiquity, even though same-sex sex surely did.
That is exactly correct.
please please please blog about this interpretation so we who do not know Koine Greek, or any other kind of Greek, can have a better understanding of the passages translated into “homosexuality” in English!
Mr. Thurman: Because of how you have conducted yourself with me, I will not be engaging in “discussion” with you. Goodnight.
Translation: oops, I didn’t think anyone in here knew Koine Greek.
Not at all sir. Yet another futile attempt by making a non-argument. Mr. Thurman has consistently misrepresented what I have said. I see no reason to presume he will change now.
Non-argument? Seriously? Do you want to me quote Musonius Rufus and Philo to make you feel better?
That was directed at Mr. Corey, Mr. Thurman. Good day.
And I have plenty of information on both words as I have studied Greek myself a bit, and visited the area. But you have shown that you are more interested in bring up irrelevant topics (i.e. guns) and engaging in snide remarks than engaging in rational discussion. You have become quite a “Fundamentalist” in your disavowal of it. Good day.
Good day. Tell Glenn I said hi.
Biblical scholars have long debated the meaning of “malakos”, if you actually know Greek, you know that. You’re talking to a theologian who actually does know that.
I see you co-wrote a book with my old friend Glenn Beck and that he thinks you’ll save the country. Awesome. I’ve blogged about Glenn before, you should ask him to check out this blog.
Actually, Word Vision has decided to let God be the judge, much to the dismay of its detractors. Grace is a difficult concept for many believers. Did Jesus tell the woman at the well, “Go and make your life right, then we’ll talk?” Did he make the tax collectors and sinners get their lives right before he ate with them at Levi’s home? Never forget that we’re God’s messengers, not enforcers.
In the case of singles who have had sex outside of marriage or married couples who have not been faithful, they are acting as judge while God still loves, accepts, and forgives. My point is they are hypocritical “swinging both ways” (pun not intended, but hey if it fits). Accept all or accept none.
Is it just sexual sin that we need to exclude, or should we deny people who knowingly hoard money or gossip or anybody who goes in a fit of rage? The selfish, arguers, those who divide the body into factions? Everybody who acts with jealousy or envy? If we’re forced to exclude people who sin from God’s work, none of us will be left.
To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, “You keep using the word judge. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
That’s a great question. WV leaders seem only to be concerned about judging any sexual-oriented sins. Love the quote.
Yes. The ethics of people who have dedicated their lives to feeding the hungry as Jesus commanded are in question because they don’t agree with you that gays are so vile they shouldn’t even be allowed to feed others.
Thanks for contributing to the cause of atheism today.
The false dilemma this article insists on is astonishing. “If you don’t support gay marriage, you hate starving kids”. Really?
I doubt a huge number of people who have personal relationships (letters, photos, etc.) of children they sponsor through World Vision will pull their sponsorships. The bigger question is, where will the new money go?
Here are a few words that appear nowhere in the article:
sin, salvation, God, Jesus, gospel, repentance, forgiveness
God tells us that the sexually immoral, thieves, or practicing homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10). World Vision still believes that adultery and theft is a sin, but they’ve decided they’re not going to call homosexuality a sin any more.
God tells us that those who engage in unrepentant sin such as homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom, but will experience the lake of fire and the second death. World Vision isn’t even sure that homosexuality is, in fact, a sin.
God tells us that there is forgiveness for all these sins through Christ. (1 Cor. 6:11). World Vision no longer put homosexuality in the category of sins that need forgiveness.
And so my money will go to Samaritans Purse, or Asia Harvest, or Voice of the Martyrs, or any one of hundreds of organizations that follow God faithfully and seek to relive suffering.
Don’t worry, Benjamin… hungry children will still be fed.
But more importantly — infinitely more importantly — they will also be given the gospel.
“If you don’t support gay marriage, you hate starving kids”
The article doesn’t say that. Classic straw man– you gave a quote, and even put it in quotation marks as if it was actually said, and then tried to beat it up. That’s either ignorance or dishonestly. Not sure which one is better.
Benjamin, the very title of your article insists on the dichotomy. “When We’d Rather Let Kids Go Hungry Than Be Reasonable On Gay Marriage”. Nowhere in the article do you admit that there is any other option. “If you’re not being ‘reasonable’ with gay marriage”, you insist, “your theology is preventing food and medicine from getting to hungry kids”.
In fact your bold-letter “Translation” of the tweets you posted puts far more offensive words into the mouths of godly men like Franklin Graham, Denny Burk and Russell Moore. Is that why you deleted their tweets from your revised article? Did it become obvious that the founder of Samaritan’s Purse and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention obviously care a lot more about hungry children than your “Translation” (which is in quotation marks) attributes to them?
Look. I’m glad World Vision feeds hungry children. I really am. But if they’re embracing a watered-down gospel that can’t even be sure what sin IS, then what profit will full bellies be if the children lose their souls?
And that’s why I can still give money to organizations that will stand with the Bible on the wickedness of sins including idolatry, adultery, fornication, robbery, and homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:9-10), then offer the incredible news of forgiveness by grace through faith in Christ to all who will repent, and feed the hungry as well.
World Vision has decided to water down the gospel. Thanks be to God that many others have not.
Nope, a reader indicated there were formatting issues and that some pictures weren’t showing up, so I tried to correct it. But since you reminded me, I’ll throw Franklin’s back up there. Directly quoting someone isn’t putting words in their mouth.
Looking forward to the rest of the quotes returning.
There’s now more quotes than when we began, and I’ll keep adding them.
it’s quite confusing when trying to engage in discussion about a controversial article if it keeps changing. I didn’t ask for ‘more’ quotes but the ones that were on display originally. Nevermind.
I’m sure you pray every morning and the internet works perfectly for you.
Anyone can make a mistake but if I were going to publish this article I would have kept a record of which quotes I’m using in the first place in case a formatting issue arose, yes.
Franklin Graham: Shocked to see World Vision hiring employees in same-sex marriages.
Denny Burk: It really does come down to this. Is God’s word about human sexuality true, or is it false? Is it binding and authoritative over our consciences, or is it an optional debate that we can opt out of?
Russell Moore: 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.
Benjamin, your “translation”: (…but I simply must abandon this child now that I realize Janice from accounting has a wife”) puts simplistic, petulant words into the mouths of these men that (either ignorantly or dishonestly) misrepresent them.
Your condemnation (“Any time your theology causes you to leave hungry children with empty bellies or sick children without medicine, it has ceased to be orthodox theology.”) applies to none of these men. (which should gob-smackingly obvious especially with Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse)
Your assumption that a withdrawal of support from World Vision means that orthodox Christians will stop supporting the needy children is entirely unsubstantiated.
Have you ever heard about Jesus?
A Gentile woman once came to Jesus, begging for the life of her daughter. Jesus called her a dog and refused, asking why bread should be taken from children and given to dogs. The woman replied that even dogs are allowed to eat scraps from their master’s table.
Clearly you’re not even content to do this. It’s not enough for you until you kick the dogs out into the street and call back ‘It’s all in love!” before you slam the door.
This is why I hate Christianity, I hate it just as you purport to hate the ‘sin’ of homosexuality. I hate what it does to people, I hate that you parade yourself on a palanquin of morality while insisting that the people buckling under the weight deserve to be there.
This is why I fight you.
That is not what this is about. Christians are called to hold each other to a certain standard of moral behavior amongst themselves. This means that if someone says what God calls evil and sin is in fact good and not a problem, then we don’t find that acceptable. It’s the same among any other group of people who hold to a particular set of moral beliefs, including atheists, including Buddhists, etc. No one is kicking anyone to the street, come on. Christians believe in a certain moral code, and we have every right to uphold it amongst ourselves, and that is not “hateful.”
There are several words I would like to use to describe your argument, but Mr. Corey would probably prefer that I didn’t use them.
This isn’t about whether or not you approve of homosexuality. World Vision has not endorsed homosexuality or same sex marriage. They’ve merely said they’re going to allow committed, married gay people to work for them.
And by your own admission you are going to stop sponsoring a child because it disgusts you so much.
You have essentially said that LGBT people are so unworthy of you that you won’t even give to the most wretched among us if it means a gay person might touch what you are paying for. You wouldn’t think that’s hate, of course. It’s not hate because you’re doing it in ‘Christ’s love.’ Consequences be damned.
As for kicking people to the street, I could give a long and lengthy history of the American church’s history with the LGBT community. It’s not very flattering for your team.
I pity your sister. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a brother who would actually stop helping feed a child in order to avoid interacting with people like her.
Nicely done- articulate and not too angry 🙂 Yes, thanks for not using the vocabulary you were thinking of.
Like a boss.
I do not have an issue with homosexuals and know that it is not my place to judge. I am just as much a sinner as they are. I think the problem in this arises in not the fact that they are allowing homosexual married couples to work in this charity, but that they seem to be held to a different standard than other employees. In allowing married homosexuals to work in this organization they should not govern how their other employees live their personal lives (premarital sex, etc.) As a Christian, I believe that pulling sponsorship from a child in need is ridiculous, but I can see where the backlash is coming from. World Vision presents itself as a Christian organization and therefore opens itself to being held to a set of standards set by the Christian community.
But the Christian community is huge and diverse. Your POV depends on which church you attend. And, yes, if premarital sex is wrong, then why not have WV prohibit it? After all, it is a Christian organization, right?
Do you see the dilemma? How is WV to pick and choose when at any given point in time, a Christian denomination will get up in arms over what it is doing?
Just to back up Irish here, I’m an atheist and pansexual. You would not believe the amount of grief I’ve gotten over the years from Christians trying to show me their god’s “unconditional love”.
Funny thing is, that love they speak of comes with a large number of conditions.
You’re an atheist. You have no source of absolute morals. Every fat American and and every starving child are just the products of random chance in your universe. What once piece of evolved goo does to another piece of evolved goo has no more significance in your universe than how sodium reacts with water.
Christians feed the poor in Jesus name, and point them to redemption, reconciliation with God, and eternal joy in his presence. Atheists can only say, as Richard Dawkins says:
Correction: I’m an atheist who has seen people die at the hands of Christians. I don’t find Christian morals that impressive.
You can criticise my morals all you want. That doesn’t mean they aren’t absolute.
Indeed? Then give us the source of your absolute morality. You believe that Christians ought to behave in a certain way and not do certain things. Says who?
Sources, not source. My absolute morality comes from the natural empathy we evolved as a species that’s necessary for our survival. It comes out of admiration for people I have known, people I admire and want emulate. It comes from literature. It comes from what society expects of me.
My morality comes from my past. It comes from all the people I have seen hurt and the oath I took to protect others from people who would hurt them – religious and secular. It comes from all the times I have failed and striven to do better.
My morality is rooted in the man I want to be, the man I believe I am capable of being. It does not come from a book. It was not dictated to me by an outside source. That does not, however, mean I am willing to compromise my values or change my morals as it suits my desires.
You may not like the sources of my morality, but I couldn’t care less. To suggest that I have none, however, is more of a reflection on your moral code than mine.
I never said you don’t act morally, my atheist friend. I said you have no source of UNIVERSAL morality by which you can judge Christians. All you have is the relative, ever-changing opinions of societies. A quick glance at the 20th century, and the morality of Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Third Reich Germany, and the killing fields of Cambodia and Rwanda that the “natural empathy we evolved as a species” is clearly not universal.
You speak of “people I have known”… “my past”… “times I have failed”… “the man I want to be”. All of those are definition of relative, not absolute morality. Why should any of that be the standards to which other people are held?
You see, you hate Christianity as if it represents something something that is universally morally wrong, not just something that violates your own personal code of ethics. C.S. Lewis wrestled with the same issue:
So which is it, my atheist friend? Are Christians evil in an absolute sense and that’s why you hate Christianity? Or do you hate Christianity because it does not happen to please your personal fancies?
If it’s the former, then you still have to show, outside of yourself, outside of your opinions, and and outside of the fickle norms of changing society, where you find that absolute standard.
I think the disconnect occurred because we took the word ‘absolute’ in different contexts. Where you used it to mean a standard of morality that everyone must adhere to, I took it to mean a personal standard that I don’t compromise on.
So yes, I do believe in relative morality. I believe that the act of lying is despicable at times, and noble at others. I believe killing a human being is wrong in most cases, but not in those of self-defense.
The thing is, you don’t really hold to an absolute morality either if you’re a biblical literalist. The only absolute the Bible commands is to obey your god in all things. Murder, rape, slavery, kidnapping, genocide, etc., all these things were permitted in a context that God condoned. In this context, is it any wonder that I don’t cleave to the idea of an absolute moral authority when those who do are so fickle depending on what their deity commands?
I don’t hold people to my standard of morality, but my standard of morality demands that I defend people in need.
And I hate Christianity because it tore apart my home. if it’s a ‘personal fancy’ that I stand against something that caused infinite death and destruction, so be it, your sneering be damned.
And finally, do not call me your friend. Ever. I am not.
Then I will bring the discussion to the end, and leave you the last word if you desire. You have acknowledged that your hatred of Christianity rises no higher and has no greater significance than your own opinions. As an atheist, you must acknowledge that what I do, as a piece of shrapnel left over from the Big Bang, and what you do, and what happens to hungry children has absolutely no transcendent meaning. It is neither good nor evil, because those are invented categories with no fixed definition. It is random, meaningless, and insignificant. None of it will matter in 500 years. The universe doesn’t care.
I am saddened by whatever happened in your past that instilled such a hatred of Christianity in you. Many wicked things are done by those who would nominally call themselves Christians, who know nothing of Christ. Wiser men than me have said “If you’re going to reject God, reject him for who is his, not who men say he is.” Pick up the book of John. See if the God who loved wicked people like me enough to die for me, and for all who will come to him, fits with who you’ve been told he is.
Your disgust and dislike of me is not reciprocated, in any way.
“Your disgust and dislike of me is not reciprocated, in any way.”
That’s how it’s done. Thank you sir.
I personally think that Christians should at least make serious attempts to follow that great command uttered by Jesus…although he wasn’t the first. …To love God, love neighbor.
George: you’re in my house and that’s my friend. Debate all you want but don’t be condescending because he’s an atheist.
I have no intention of antagonizing the Irish Atheist. He is free to express his hatred of Christianity. But he claims an absolute standard of morality — a morality to which all of us must conform, and a higher standard that he condemns Christians for not living up to.
I want to know what that standard is, and where it comes from. Blind evolutionary processes cannot provide it. Randomly chemical reactions in his brain or my brain cannot convey any universal moral obligations whatsoever.
My question, “says who?” is not the swagger of a bully. It’s a challenge to produce the universal standard to which the Irish Atheist believes Christians must conform to.
I hope you’re not saying that God put starving child on the this earth so that Christians could feed them in the name of Jesus. If the choice is between believing in an indifferent God and atheism, I would rather choose atheism. And I am saying this as a follower of Jesus.
A Calvinist might say that very thing….God preordains everything…right?
I’m not sure a Calvinist say that God put starving children on this earth so that Christians could feed them. They would more likely argue that it all the ills of world are a result of man’s total depravity. I am definitely not a Calvinist. There is more than enough wrong with Calvinism to reject it as a toxic doctrine. Calvin is the Thomas Hobbes of theology.
Wait. You think athiest have no morals? Based on what?
let me tell you a little story. In my town, there is a soup kitchen that declares itself interfaith based. Many local church groups, pubically support the soup kitchen, providing food and man power every single week. Many of them also wear apparel that designates which organization they represent while serving.
A local athiest group, also wanted to join in. They wanted to show everyone that it isn’t just the religious that care about the homeles and the hungry, but that poverty affects all in the community, and all in the community should desire to help. This group, wanted outward representation, just like the religious groups, by wearing t-shirts that named who they represent.
They were refused, because the woman who heads the soup kitchen was appalled and offended that athiest heathens would dare enter a Christian location and supposedly spread religious disharmony.
The athiest group simply made the refusal public, made care packages, including toiletries for local residents and handed them out to people in need, while standing across the street for said soup kitchen.
So tell me. Which one of these was the immoral one?
You’re a fundagelical. That means you can’t even try to be a decent human being without the threat of eternal torture.
An atheist says that. You seem to be under the misconception that, like your religion, one person speaks for many. I happen to agree with Dawkins remark that this is an uncaring universe, because that means we humans have to pick up the slack and take care of each other rather than relying on supernatural panceas that aren’t going to appear.
As for absolute morals and Christianity, you don’t have a leg to stand on, regardless of which Testament you hold to. If you hold up the Old Testatement, you’re adhering to a god who thought owning other human beings was a swell idea. If you hold up the New Testatement, you’re adhering to a god who claims unconditional love but only so long as you believe exclusively in him. Any other belief ends in separation for eternity, possibly torture as well.
I also refute the notion that an atheist has no absolute values. Why do Christians have a lock on doing the right thing for the right reason? Have Christians never seen atheists assisting after natural disasters, or serving at food banks, or spending their money for the good of others? Love and compassion are not solely owned by the religious. I’m a Christian and I see care and concern within the atheist community all the time.
Sheila, sadly you are in the minority of Christians when it comes to seeing atheists this way. For many Christians, we are the scary monsters who want to take away their privilege to force others to live according to their rules.
Jesus loved the woman and knew her heart before she said those words, he wanted her to speak her heart of faith in recognising that she was in the presence of a powerful God, for whom it is easy to heal those sufferring, he himself who created the whole of our existence and place in this universe, who wants her to speak out, I am a dog too and I am desperate need to be saved.
Christian response that those buckling under the weight need saving by God.
Just a gentle reminder from a Christian that not all Christians think or behave in the hateful ways that bring justifiable distaste and shame to our faith. For my part, I have loved what true Christianity has done “to” me. I am heartbroken at the many misguided episodes of hate that have been done throughout history in the name of my faith and my God.
I understand all of your hatred. I’m not going to take issue with most of what you said. I just wanted to say that after that woman came back with her snappy answer, Jesus granted her request. He was humbled.
George-unrepentant sin….does that mean I better remember and ask for forgiveness for every sin I committed on a given day before I go to bed? With your reasoning if I don’t I’ll end up in Hell. It’s my understanding that greed, gluttony (idolatry with food), lying, unforgiveness, gossip, fornication (those thoughts we don’t like anyone to know about), remarriage after divorce…the list goes on…. Gosh–I’m going to need an accountant. Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation for those in union with Christ Jesus. Now let’s get on with the business of loving people scandalously…Grace and peace to you brother.
Kevin, while it is a good practice for us to pray that God would search our hearts and reveal if there is any wicked way in us (Ps. 139:4), the blood of Jesus covers all the sins of every true believer (Eph. 1:7), even the ones we have forgotten or committed decades before we were saved. There remains no more condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1)
When I speak of unrepentant sin, or more accurately unrepentant sinners, I am speaking of those who refuse to acknowledge sin as sin. John says “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4) and later “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9)
John is not talking about sinless perfection here, since he acknowledges that Christians can and do sin. (1 John 2:1) Rather, he is speaking to those who claim to be Christians who, having been shown their sin and the law of God, nevertheless willfully and unrepentantly continue on in that sin.
So we are in the formula of salvation? It’s our words plus the Cross? I do what I don’t want to do–but I don’t do what I want (my paraphrase of Paul)– I realize it is no longer me sinning but the sin inside of me (sarx). As I understand it–salvation is a gift and when we become regenerate we become a new creation–we die to death (Romans 6-8). My point is there is a lot of divorce, porn, fat people, gossipers, idolaters (getting life from places that can’t give it), lustful self absorbed folks that yes….are followers of Jesus. My hope is that we all will focus on our “stuff”, and while doing so become able to ascribe unsurpassable worth to all. How about if we just love…? God will have it all figured out come judgement day…
Kevin, the difference between the two types of people I’ve laid out is whether or not we hate the sins we commit. When you or I lust, gossip, set up idols, boast in our pride… and then see what we’ve done, it breaks our hearts. Like Paul, we see that we are still wretched men, and long to be free of our remaining sin. We look forward to the day when we will be perfected and forever free of the sins we hate but still commit.
The most loving thing someone can do for a sinner rushing headlong towards hell is to show them their sin, point them to Jesus, the only hope for sinners, and plead with them to repent and be saved. Unfortunately World Vision no longer appears to know whether or not homosexuality is a sin or not. And so their proclamation of the gospel alongside their relief work is hampered.
That is where we part ways–the most loving thing to do for a sinner rushing headlong towards hell (your words) –is get to know them–build a relationship with them-take a genuine interest in their well being-pray for them-and IF you are asked your thoughts share them with great respect and grace, They may listen (because they are convinced you love them). The Holy spirit may indeed let them know what needs to be changed. After all He is the one that convicts–and changes hearts. Peace brother George–I wish the best for you. k
PS If you have time–let me know your thoughts on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySkB30rf5Ao
Brother, I will leave it here as well. I would only ask that you look at the New Testament and see how the the apostles and early church spread the gospel. John the Baptist boldly told the king that his sexual immorality was sinful, and was beheaded. Steven made a lot of people mad with his speech, and died for it. Paul was repeatedly beaten, whipped, and stoned as a result of his evangelism. Jesus told us that we would be hated by all, not because we were loud-mouthed jerks, but for his sake. The proclamation of the gospel would bring the wrath of the world. (Mark 13:9-13)
Is our 21st century method of evangelism in line with how the early Christians fulfilled the Great Commission?
Grace and peace to you.
Back at you George 🙂 Nice chat…
Ignorance is a poison and knowledge will strengthen, sad to see sinners judging other sinners, but I’ve seen worse in the “Christian” community. I Just can’t see “LOVE” in the world of the only God. If we are to be one people we must believe Jesus when he says love your neighbor, not judge him.
We currently have two children with Compassion. At the time I made that decision years ago they had a better model building up the community around the child, not just band-aid solutions. Now WV has that model, too, and arguably does a better job of it. Our church The Meeting House even has a couple of villages completely sponsored to build up a very strong community. This whole scenario is making me consider going to WV for our next child (whenever the budget allows it, which might be soon with some other life changes about to happen), but I do really appreciate the simplicity of having all our children with one organisation. I’m thinking we’ll make a one-time donation of support to WV instead.
One point not covered is the possibility that those pulling support are turning around and finding another organization that better fits their personal theology. Compassion.com was actually the first place I looked when I considered sponsoring a child, and there’s even Children International that isn’t faith based at all. (altho if someone pulls support from a faith based organization because they feel it has left God, choosing a purely secular one would be ironic at best) Anyway, so while I agree it’s pretty un-loving to dump the kid you’ve been sponsoring for ages over this…it is a free market in the US and there are other competing services. It’s _possible_ the same number of children would be served, just different kids.
Personally, my own interpretation of the Bible is that love should trump pretty much anything else. And it’s not my place to judge others, as even they need love. And while I’m not going to start sponsoring a child right now because of this (my tithe money is going elsewhere right now) I would admit I would gain a certain amount of pleasure from reading WV’s net number of sponsorships ends up a gain rather than a loss. 😉 (and I did share the article on facebook, thanks for reporting about the issue. Hopefully some of my gay Christian friends with more room in their budgets will jump on the bandwagon.)
Yes, it is important to note that a significant share of those people will pick up another child. How many exactly I’m not particularly confident about. As I think this shows that most are more interested in the statement than in the actual work being done. So if the angry conservative churches don’t encourage the statement in favour of Compassion or another, only encouraging the anti-WV statement, I could see the majority not replacing their WV sponsorship with something else. I really hope they prove me wrong, though, or even better, prove me wrong by not cancelling their current sponsorships over this.
I’m in the UK, not the US, but WorldVisionUK just got a donation anyway.
My wife and I are standing in the gap. Thanks for reporting this.
When people publicly post “I ended my sponsorship today” it’s not “unconfirmed”.
Yes it is.
If it is in the top ten charities in America (As CT reported) it will be losing sponsors and gaining sponsors everyday for a great number of reasons and factors.
Would you agree that the *threat* to end sponsorship is confirmed? Or do you just generally not take people at their word?
Eh? I am as keen as anyone to know what gap in funding will have been created, I am just seeing a collection of tweets here but it will be a great concern when World Vision statistics or plea for funding are made available, what impact this does make overall to those suffering. Wouldn’t it be more useful to wait for World Visions response to any decline in sponsorship so that they can appeal for your sponsorship in a more organised way in response to any ‘gap’.
Why wait? What Benjamin and other bloggers and Christian leaders are asking for would help keep WV running smoothing in the event of dramatic decreases from others. And if WV doesn’t experience a shortfall in the first place, so much the better because more people are giving.
And there is good reason to think that WV will be hit hard, if conservative Christians keep up the calls to withdraw support. One need only look at what happened to Sunrise Children’s Service, the largest private full-service child care agency in Kentucky, a few years ago. Sunrise is associated with and largely funded by the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Like WV, they also receive federal money to help do their work. Like WV, they also considered changing their hiring policies to avoid unwanted lawsuits.
Shortly after proposing those changes, the KBC leadership and others issued a call to arms and asked area churches to stop their donations. Sunrise eventually fired the director who proposed the changes and reaffirmed its previous policies. Now KBC churches are being told its “ok” to give to Sunrise. And boy do they need the money: they are currently around $7 million short of their operating needs. All because so many conservative churches and individuals agreed to suspend their support for the children’s ministry.
On one level agreed ‘so much the better because more people are giving’ if more effective aid results. But on another, couldn’t it be a clever fundraising marketing strategy to attract a whole new younger group of donors to secure future income for the organisation? Being in the UK I I am probably somewhat naive to the extent of conservative Christian impact as described by you here. Personally at the core of joining in this discussion of the article I do find it ungracious (‘vulgar’ if I exagerate my feeling on the point) that one person can complain about another person ceasing to donate to a charity. Seems almost as much out of the right ‘attitude’ or ‘spirit’ of what charity is about as the ugly comments from those conservative Christian circles in the first place. Two wrongs not making a right etc
That to me is so sad, but having lived my entire life in the south, that is the bastion of that particular branch of the church, I’m not surprised.
Children are starving. There’s your gap. Until they are ALL fed, there’s a gap. Thinking we can all just sit back and see if World Vision loses a mass amount of sponsorship before doing anything to help doesn’t make any sense.
the original reference was to a ‘gap’ being created by people pulling their sponsorships. Which was reported at ‘more than 2000 sponsorships’. So now the decision is being reversed by WV and I guess that will result in more sponsorships overall than there were originally, so nothing will be left of the created gap. Unless the brand new sponsors now pull their sponsorships in protest, and then that might even attract more people in protest against them and so on. And overall more consideration and attention will have been to WV and the bigger picture ‘gap’ of starving children will indeed have been lessened.
with all do respect if your not from here especially the south you would not understand I have seen people protesting children tornado victim funerals in the supposed name of Christianity and saying god hates gays so he killed children in a natural disaster I have known children who killed themselves because of extreme views of Christians and you don’t understand how big a fight it is here and how hard it is to be a Christian and have your own beliefs and honestly it is sad you would ever help discourage helping any one and then quote the bible being kind and accepting others is not telling them they are right or wrong it is simply turning the other cheek and showing love and compassion which is what we were aught first way back in sunday school they will still be fed with the money no matter why they are in the media and that is the point period. it truly amazes me that people have so much doubt they are trying to help millions of children and being honest when is that bad what did you do today cause I am a Christian and I didn’t even come close to that did you
Those extreme and hatred fuelled views and protests sound shocking and a deviation from the subject of this article which I do understand, but at a different angle to
yours. Clearly you do not understand my angle. Yet we are each able to express our views on the subject which does have implications on peoples view of Christianity, even as far as the UK where I am. People refer to these sorts of articles as a means of humiliating the credibility of Christianity, even over here and particularly in light of the recent legalisation of same sex marriagehere in the UK.
I have not helped to discourage anyone from helping anyone (except helping to back up their political point) but merely tried to help people to think about what they are
doing, which by the looks of it given the reversal of WV decision, could have saved one group of people the embarrassment of impulse giving on a political basis ‘to prove a point’.
I have not expressed any objection at all to a Christian charity choosing to hire anyone of any sexual orientation, and do not go about telling people they are right or wrong.
I poignantly would not tell someone choosing to withdraw their support of a charity that they were wrong, having worked for a charity for three years myself, no-one
has a right to another’s charitable giving or it would cease to be charity. So I wonder if you are referring to someone else’s posts. I do however wonder if WV US thinktank used tactical marketing and I did object to many articles including this one published online and some of WV US employees responses on articles thanking their new donors for gifts received to fill ‘the gap’ as this seemed unprofessional and misleading which it very much proved to be.
I have no doubt that World Vision are helping millions of children, nor did I express that I doubted that and being based in the UK have no reason do doubt the credibility of World Vision UK for example who incidentally have employment policy which includes people of any sexual orientation.