Within the last few days, quite a furor has erupted over World Vision’s original decision to change their hiring practices to allow for the hiring of “gay Christians” who are in same-sex marriages. That furor erupted from evangelical Christians who disagreed with this decision, people like Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, and Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. From this furor was the encouragement for people to withdraw their support from World Vision and, thereby, the children whom World Vision serves through the sponsorship by individuals.
In light of that, World Vision has reversed its decision. So, my take on that, is that those who created the furor accomplished the desired effect.
This blog post isn’t specifically about this situation, but, rather, about some of the comments made in articles and comments posted to different articles and blogs that I have read. In many of those comments, what I have read and gleaned is that it isn’t possible to be a Christian and a homosexual or lesbian individual as well. The argument is that this type of behavior is sinful and since a person is engaging in it, he or she cannot be a Christian, for a true Christian would not participate in such behavior.
What came to my mind as I read these comments was this: what exactly is the basis of the gospel? What makes a person a Christian in the first place?
What I gleaned from these comments is a perception that Paul’s words in Romans 10:9-10 are incomplete. Paul says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved, for with the heart is believing unto righteousness, and with the mouth is confessing unto salvation.” From these comments I gleaned that one only truly believes and has confessed Jesus as Lord if s/he agrees with certain theological stances. If you don’t believe close to what others have stated to be correct and proper, then you obviously aren’t a “real” or “true” Christian, because if you were, you would believe as they have stated you should believe. Interesting though that Paul didn’t include any additional “requirements” to what makes a person truly “saved.”
The other thing that comes to my mind is this: why is it only the issue of homosexuality that causes this type of furor or position of what a “true” Christian would or would not do? Why are other actions or lifestyles which are decried in Scripture as not godly not treated the same why by those behind this furor?
For example, there are many Christians, both leaders and lay-people, who struggle with and actually live a lifestyle that is very materialistic, and because of that, in reality characterized by greed. How many Christian/church leaders or “laypeople” live in homes which are worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars? How many of them struggle with materialism and greed? By the way, the same passage that states the “homosexual offender” will not inherit the kingdom of God also includes the “greedy” in that very same list who will not inherit the kingdom of God. But how many of those who created this furor over World Vision’s original decision create a furor over those Christian leaders or laypeople who live a lifestyle that can only be characterized by materialism which has greed as a necessary component?
Why no furor over that? Why are the leaders of those in that camp silent on this issue? Is it because it has been decided that this isn’t something that is really that important, maybe because it lines up with their current lifestyle? It makes one wonder.
I probably could go on and talk about liars and gossipers and idolaters (money is an idol, by the way) which are commonly present among both leaders and laypeople of the church, but I won’t.
The danger present in all of this is a group or individual making its/his/her belief system synonymous with what a Christian truly is. What this says is that unity in the church is truly only possible if everyone ascribes to its/his/her belief system.
Growing up in an independent, fundamental Baptist church, I was taught that no other church held the truth because if they did, they would be with us since we definitely did hold the truth. But since they weren’t with us, it was obvious they were heretics and going to hell. Our church, except through church rec league, did not and would not associate with any other church because it did not want to be guilty of associating with heretics. As I look back on that, I shake my head with sadness over this for, in reality, I now view that situation as actually sinful in and of itself.
This is definitely not an easy issue, but I guess the thrust of this blog post is that, first, there are other lifestyles which run contrary to biblical teaching which are acceptable to these groups and second, the vitriol and hate spewed by Christians toward others is saddening, but I guess when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, spewing vitriol and hate are not sinful, but rather acceptable and appropriate, actions.
And as a parting question, what does the inconsistency in what causes a furor say to the world about the character, heart, and nature of the church and the character, heart, and nature of our God? Not sure I’d like the truthful answer.