5 Must Read Posts on the World Vision Controversy

World Vision

UPDATE 3/26/14 4:36  pm CST – This afternoon, World Vision U.S. announced that it has reversed its decision and will not hire Christians in same-sex marriages.  In a statement released to Christianity Today, president Richard Stearns addresses the reasons behind the reversal, citing backlash from some supporters and Christian leaders.  The articles below are extremely relevant, perhaps even more now, and there will be many more to come following this decision.  Also, for all of us who made donations or decided to sponsor a child in the last 24 hours, and who may be feeling betrayed, I pray that we listen to our own words and remember that it is about the children.  

This week, World Vision US (the “sponsor a child for about a dollar a day” Christian charity) made an announcement that they will now hire employees who are in legal same-sex marriages. In an article for Christianity Today, World Vision: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages, president Richard Sterns explains how their organization is not aiming to take a stance but rather to allow for differences in belief:

“It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there.  This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.”

This is still a pretty bold move for a Christian organization, and there are a number of individuals declaring that they will pull their sponsorship (aka…food out of a child’s mouth) over this policy change.  However, there are also a number of individuals making first-time donations (myself included) and setting up sponsorship challenges (like Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan) to help make up for any funds lost and children left behind.

While I definitely have my own thoughts on the matter, I feel I can make best use of my little corner of the internet by pointing readers to some very well written and thought-provoking pieces.

1.  Christianity TodayWorld Vision: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages  Sometimes (all the time?) it’s best to start with the source.  Stories and words can be twisted and skewed so easily, especially when there are two very passionate “sides” to the debate.  (UPDATE 3/26:  Follow up post – Christianity Today Reverses Decision to Hire Christians in Same-Sex Marriages)

2.  The Gospel CoalitionWorld Vision and Why We Grieve for the Children – In all honesty, I personally have a hard time reading this blog post by Trevin Wax.  I tend to agree with Dianna E. Anderson’s response post, I Am Not Responsible for your Hate: World Vision, Evangelicals, and Emotional Blackmail, which articulates the way in which The Gospel Coalition‘s post manipulates the story and puts the blame on the wrong people.  Many other bloggers seem to agree with her assessment.  Some have even called for Tyler to take down his post, but for the time being, it remains.  I share it here as I think it is necessary to understand the sides of this debate and also to see what is being said/written in the name of Christianity.

3.  Rachel Held Evans – On the World Vision Reaction: Some Bad News, Some Good News, and Some Ideas – Rachel is usually my go-to blogger, and with this post, again it is no surprise. Definitely worth the read (and a share?).  Her post not only gives some great background on the reaction of some Evangelicals, but it also ends with some “What Can we Do Now?” take-aways.  Also, there is hope in her words. (UPDATE 3/26 – World Vision Update)

4.  Benjamin Moberg   – When Evangelicals Turn Against Children to Spite Me – If you believe that Evangelicals who are pulling their sponsorship are acting out of love, please, read this.  On second thought, no matter what you think, please read Ben’s words.  Our words and our actions (and our theologies) have real impact on people’s lives.  Read.  Listen.  Think about what we’re doing here.  (UPDATE 3/27 – When World Vision Drops Me)

5. Nish Weiseth – These Are Real Kids, You Know – Finally, Nish has great perspective here as she has done some work with World Vision. Her post gets at the real heart of this story, the children. The children. This organization is about feeding, clothing, educating and caring for the children. Lest we forget.  (UPDATE 3/26 – World Vision: An Update)

 UPDATE 3/27 – One last important piece from David R. Henson at Patheos – I Don’t Blame World Vision.  I Blame Homophobia and Hate.  (Neither do I, and so do I, David.)

I’m sure there will be more to come.  This is just a start to the response from this one organization’s one “simple” policy change (and then reversal).  Are you frustrated?  Hurt?  Confused?  What have you read or seen this week that brings hope to this story?

{A version of this post has been featured on BlogHer.}



  1. Carol Van Der Woude says:

    Dear Holli,
    I am in a different generation than the bloggers you have highlighted. And I am just learning about the controversy. Understand that many of us feel that we have had gay marriage pushed at us. States that have voted to maintain the definition of marriage as one man and one woman have had the their decision overturned by judges.
    I understand the need to be more loving toward toward people that have same sex attraction. I am aware of my need for more grace and kindness. My greatest concern is for children. (my grandchildren included) As soon as same sex marriage passed in Illinois, comprehensive sex education passed. Children will be taught in school that same sex intercourse is normal.
    Over the years I have seen the increasing sexualization of our culture and the increasing fragmentation of the family. God designed the family and I am heartbroken over the direction we are headed.
    I don’t think withdrawing support from children at World Vision was a good idea–but some of us feel like our back is against the wall with the current that is pushing more and more boundaries.
    We should be down on our knees praying that God gives us wisdom to live in a way that speaks truth with love.

    • Hi Carol,

      I’m not sure what you mean with regards to changes to IL “comprehensive sex education”…can you provide some background? Using more gender neutral terms or occasionally representing a family with two moms or two dads is appropriate under state law as it will include all children whose families are legally married. As for the comprehensive sex education bill passed last year, I can find no reference to specific changes related to same-sex marriage.


      I do encourage you to read some of these articles. I also highly recommend Justin Lee’s book and blog (http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/) And, please keep your heart open to a new idea…that this is not a boundary that is being pushed but a door that is being opened and an invitation to the table for so many who have been abused, turned away, shamed, or otherwise not welcomed for far, far too long.

      • Carol Van Der Woude says:

        Hi Holli,

        Here is the link to a description of comprehensive sex ed.: http://illinoisfamily.org/110files/uploads/2013/04/SEICUS-guidelines.pdf

        I will read the article you suggest and I encourage you to listen to David Platt speak to social justice and the current trends in the Christian church. http://www.sbts.edu/resources/chapel/chapel-message-7/

        • Thanks, Carol. I was referring to actual legislation regarding what will be taught. I am not comfortable with the message as presented by Focus on the Family. Also, my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus is that it is one of inclusion and liberation for all, especially those on the margins of society…whom we work with and fellowship with via avenues of social justice. Jesus was a poor outcast. How do Christians generally treat the poor outcasts (gays, immigrants, disabled, mentally ill and others) today? I feel we fail miserably to live up to the teachings of Jesus here.

          • Carol Van Der Woude says:

            Hi Holly,
            As you pursue social justice–and I am with you in inviting people to the table–I hope you will keep an open mind also. I have a brother who is mentally ill and lives in a group home. I know that people in general–and the medical field as well are uncomfortable around him. I visit with him and his house mates. The church has work to do in reaching out; each one of us has a responsibility from the place we are at.

            I am a nurse and I am well aware of the health risks of multiple sexual partners whether same sex or heterosexual. God’s direction for living is healthy. The over emphasis on personal sexual pleasure in our culture has opened the door to spiritual warfare that we ignore at our peril.

  2. B.Brittain-Marshall says:

    I’m visiting you via “Wine’d Down Wednesday” linkup. I appreciate you providing so many resources and articles on this topic. It will take me awhile to get through them no doubt. I am keenly interested in this decision/reversal as I am a former WVCanada gal in Human Resources where this issue was one we dealt with daily. Thought provoking discussion to say the least.

    • Does Canada have a similar policy? I imagine the US is not the only one wrestling with this.

      • B.Brittain-Marshall says:

        It has been several years since I worked there Holli, so I am not able to comment with any authority, except to say that at the time WV Canada policies were specific to Canada and did not necessarily follow those of WV US. It was however an issue that was grappled and discussed often.

  3. Lisha Epperson says:

    Just read your post on BlogHer and was unable to comment (maybe it’s an ipad thing) ..,thought I’d leave my words here.
    The back flip on the decision was disappointing. And I completely get you when you say you have to identify yourself as a Christian with so many explanations. Would that we could simply “BE” like Christ. Sigh.
    Will definitely check out the words you recommend here.

    • Hi Lisha…thank you so much for the visit today. (And happy to connect via Twitter as well!) I had a bit of fire when I wrote that piece…and am in a bit of a wandering of sorts about it all. I do feel for WV and see that they are really struggling with this and likely did what they had to do. (There have been some insightful follow up pieces that have come up since.) Just so frustrating overall…seems they were faithfully trying to find a way forward through difference. Hopefully we can learn from this and have grace…or at least more than I feel as if I have had. Again, thank you so much for sharing your story (on my other post) and for your time here. I so appreciate it!


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