The Christian world in America was rocked on Tuesday after the Christianity Today interview when Richard Stearns, CEO and President of World Vision, announced that they would begin to hire practicing homosexuals who were legally married.
It set off a firestorm of controversy among evangelicals, concerned that the infallibility and authority of Scripture was at stake. I shared those concerns as the Bible has got to be our foundation in belief, practice, and message. Otherwise it is only a matter of human opinion, subject to the whims of societal pressure and popular culture. For us to pick and choose which sins that are listed in the Bible need repentance and forgiveness, and which can be ignored, sets ourselves up as judges over God’s clear statements. For us, it was never a gay rights issue. It was a Biblical authority issue.
Needless to say, I and my Bridge colleagues were very pleased with yesterday’s reversal. Richard Stearns and Chairman of the Board Jim Bere’s letter of apology exhibited great humility and sincerity, “We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.”
I especially appreciated the fact that they understood our most pressing concern, the compromising of Biblical authority. Christianity Today quoted Stearns, “We listened to [our] friends, we listened to their counsel. They tried to point out in loving ways that the conduct policy change was simply not consistent … with the authority of Scripture and how we apply Scripture to our lives.”
How then should evangelicals respond?
Sadly, some have been caustic, sarcastic, and unforgiving. But most of those I have talked to have been eager to let go of what was done and enthusiastically embrace.
My friend Karl Clausen, host of WYLL’s 180 with Karl Clauson likened it to Biblical church discipline. “It’s not church discipline, but there is a parallel.” I agree. The Christian community reacted negatively to Tuesday’s announcement and World Vision leaders quickly repented. Now it’s time for us to respond the way Paul instructed the church in Corinth, “Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement” (2 Corinthians 2:6–7 NLT).
It’s easy to be cynical and talk about how the reversal was all political and financial, caving into pressure. Is that how we want God to respond to us when we come to him for forgiveness?
I choose to think think the best. I choose to embrace this ministry that has given us decades of reason to trust them. I’m going to adopt a World Vision child and start training for the Chicago Marathon next week.