World Vision's U.S. President Rich Stearns, center, visits with Syrian refugees in Irbid, Jordan. Photo by Jon Warren, courtesy of World Vision

After World Vision, evangelicals debate boundaries over sexuality

World Vision's U.S. President Rich Stearns, center, visits with Syrian refugees in Irbid, Jordan. Photo by Jon Warren, courtesy of World Vision

World Vision's U.S. President Rich Stearns, center, visits with Syrian refugees in Irbid, Jordan. Photo by Jon Warren, courtesy of World Vision

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) World Vision found itself testing the evangelical boundaries in March when it announced it would recognize employees' same-sex marriages. Within 48 hours, it reversed itself.

At its core, the reversal raised a stark question: Can you be an evangelical and support same-sex marriage?

Reverberations from the policy flip-flop continue to unfold. Last week, Jacquelline Fuller, director of corporate giving at Google, resigned from the international relief organization's board. Faithful America, an online Christian community focused on social justice, had gathered 16,000 signatures calling for Fuller and John Park, another Google employee who sits on the World Vision board, to step down.

“Jacquelline Fuller did the right thing by resigning from the board of an organization whose values don’t align with Google’s commitment to inclusivity and equality,” Michael Sherrard, director of Faithful America, said in a statement. “Now it’s time for John Park to follow suit.”

Taking a softer position, a group of progressive Christians wrote in a letter released Wednesday (April 9) that they grieve World Vision’s reversal. “And, we call on Christian institutions to employ LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ who help further the mission of their institutions,” the letter states, acknowledging disagreements on both sides.

“There are committed Christians who believe, honestly, that a few passages in the Bible referencing sexual activity between people of the same gender have been historically misconstrued,” the signers say. "There are also committed Christians who believe, honestly, that homosexuality is sinful and flies in the face of what God desires."

More than 300 signers include theologian Walter Brueggemann, Dartmouth College historian Randall Balmer, Louisville Seminary theology professor Amy Plantinga Pauw, Yale University emeritus professor Nick Wolterstorff and pastor Brian McLaren.

“I would like the world to know that there are many Christians who support the hiring of gay Christians in Christian institutions," said Julia Stronks, a political science professor at Whitworth University who organized the letter. Whitworth is an evangelical university based in Spokane, Wash.

In many ways, the issue harkens back to other hot-button issues, many of them related to sex and gender. Christians have debated whether an evangelical could get divorced, support the right to an abortion or allow a woman to lead a church.

When announcing the reversal, World Vision President Rich Stearns hinted that the decision centered on whether sexuality was a core part of Christian beliefs.

“I think what we are affirming is there are certain beliefs that are so core to our Trinitarian stance, we cannot defer to frankly a small minority of churches that have taken a different position,” Stearns said.

But those who signed the letter said sexuality is not a core belief.

“I think the core issues for the Christian faith are that Jesus Christ, the son of God, died for our sins,” said Stronks, who said her family will renew its child sponsorship despite the controversy. “I understand that for many Christians, identifying sin is important and difficult. But these things are not central to what it means to follow Christ.”

In a blog post for The Gospel Coalition, LifeWay Christian Resources employee Trevin Wax asked: “Can an institution with an historic evangelical identity be divided on an issue as central as marriage and family and still be evangelical?”

Richard Land, outgoing president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was one of 150 religious leaders at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast on Friday (April 5). RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Richard Land, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was one of 150 religious leaders at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast on April 5, 2013. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Tolerating same-sex marriage and same-sex behavior is a rebellion from biblical Christianity, wrote Christian Post executive editor Richard Land, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“World Vision's board has discovered an essential truth: the same-sex marriage issue is a truth serum for Evangelical Christianity,” he wrote. “As World Vision has learned, Evangelicals cannot declare ‘neutrality’ on this issue, and it cannot be fudged or finessed.”

The change caused some evangelicals to consider how they religiously self-identify.

A World Vision spokesman told RNS that the organization is still estimating how many it has lost and gained in recent weeks, but it estimates that 10,000 sponsorships have been dropped. After a call with World Vision’s Stearns, blogger Nish Weiseth wrote about how watching evangelicals drop their support impacted her faith.

“You want to know why I won’t identify as an evangelical anymore? I’ll just reply with ‘10,000 kids.’ Every time,” she tweeted.

At Patheos, however, Vermont-based pastor Zach Hoag said he is not willing to give up being an evangelical. “What if there’s more than the conservative evangelical majority, ever drawing lines in the sand, perfecting the art of picking up their ball and going home?” he wrote.

Over time, sexuality could become an issue like women's ordination, something Christians agree to disagree on without questioning each other’s faith.

“The question is whether conservatives are going to be able to meaningfully articulate why this is a unique issue, and why more hangs on it than even the complementarian/egalitarian divide (over women's roles),” said Matthew Lee Anderson, author of “Earthen Vessels,” a book about the body.

As many congregations have already split within mainline Protestantism, Northern Seminary professor Scot McKnight said that in 25 years, he suspects evangelical churches will be split on the issue.

“What has happened is that the same-sex marriage/same-sex legitimacy has become the focal point or scapegoat of the culture wars,” McKnight said. “It is Bible, theology and politics all rolled into one big monster.”



  1. Since the marriage realtionship is used to describe Christs relationship with his church there really is no other response but to supprt marriage as one man. plus one woman. It’s that’s important to Gods design and Gods will for sexuality, intimacy, romance and family.

  2. I’m with you Frank. God created marriage in the garden of Eden there as one man and one woman. That’s the same illustration that Jesus supported as well.

    As a married man, my marriage relationship (& what happens in it) are reserved for only one woman and God is OK with that. To encourage or promote gay marriage really seems to cross the line to say “well, you may be gay, but if you officially are ‘married’ then it will be OK in God’s eyes for you to do anything else that married people do.”

    That seems like a big dis-service to Biblical commands about sexual morality. To encourage someone to be “married” so they can change God’s commands about sexual morality — it seems like that’s when you’re encouraging your brother (& sister) to sin by becoming “married” in the eyes of the law — but not God.

    Matthew 19 chews on this, and it’s hard. I’m learning every day myself.

  3. One thing that is repeated by liberals in this matter is that 10,000 kids would lose funding. Nice quote, but is it true? Will kids lose funding? Most such charities pool donations so that everyone is funded at the same level, so I doubt kids will go starving.

    Then again, dropping the CEO’s salary to 300K a year would also free up some funds.

    FInally, a word from William F. Buckley, Jr.

    Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

  4. The 10,000 child sponsorship loss number came from Richard Stearns of World Vision USA.

  5. *Yawn* And please stop making an idol out of gender differences. The point of the marriage metaphor, in Ephesians or anywhere else in the Bible, is the permanency of an exclusive intimate relationship. Constancy is the defining trait of Christian marriage, not pants and skirts.

  6. Chew harder. Ask yourself why evangelicals don’t make a big deal of 19:12.

  7. Buckley? Seriously? Pfff.

    I know facts aren’t a conservative strong suit, but yeah 10,000 is true. More than one person from WV has said it was around that number. Unless, of course, you think WV is lying.

    And what kind of person rationalizes the decision of “Christians” who drop WV sponsorships like that? Who complains more about Stearns’ salary than about evangelical hard-heartedness?

  8. Sounds to me like the “point” was the male/female duality itself–or “pants and skirts,” if you will.

    “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and FOR THIS REASON [emphasis mine] a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?…” Matt. 19:4.

  9. Shawnie5, how about you actually read all of Matthew 19:1-12, mmk? Jesus didn’t cite Genesis 1 to talk about sex or gender differences. He cited it to point out–shocker!–the permanency of marriage. Since, you know, and he his disciples weren’t talking about pants, skirts, or Adam and Steve. They were talking about the divorce. So, please stop putting your words into Jesus’ mouth and please stop twisting his words to mean things he didn’t say. Thanks.

  10. At its core, the reversal raised a stark question: Can you be an evangelical and support same-sex marriage?

  11. Can you be an evangelical and support same-sex marriage? Nope, you cannot. Not rationally possible.

    Blogger Nish Weiseth, mentioned in the article, is at least honest and straightforward about the issue. She wrote, “You want to know why I won’t identify as an evangelical anymore? I’ll just reply with ‘10,000 kids.'”

    Well, that’s fine. At least Weiseth isn’t trying to fake it. She seems to understand that you can NOT identify as both an evangelical and a supporter of gay marriage. You have to withdraw from one or the other.

    If you support gay marriage, just call yourself a liberal or undecided or something. That’s honest; no problemo. But don’t say that you’re an evangelical. That would be dishonest.

  12. Of course He was talking about divorce. He defined marriage and explained what its purpose was in order to show why the dissolution of it was wrong.

  13. As to the 10,000 dropped sponsorships, it is unlikely that there would be a net loss in terms of children served, as many who have dropped their sponsorships have declared they would merely transfer their giving to another missional agency un-compromised in its biblical fidelity. It is true perhaps that some children will suffer, but others will surely gain. For my own part, when World Vision reversed itself I re-committed to the agency. It is interesting to observe that 6000 years of accepted understanding of scripture is to be turned on its head by a handful of progressive revisionists who make utterly absurd, unscholarly, and wholly illogical interpolations of the text.

  14. What kind of person rationalizes dropped sponsorships of children in need? and in terms of “net loss”? We’re talking about actual human beings, you know, and you have the gall to say “some will suffer and others will likely gain.” If you became a dead-beat donor because of WV’s initial decision, there are a lot of words for what kind of person you are, but Christian isn’t one of them. And to top off your self-righteousness, you decide to flash your ignorance as well. What you apparently don’t know about biblical interpretation could fit in the Grand Canyon with room to spare.

  15. Which had nothing to do with gender, of course. Unless you think the purpose of marriage is for procreation. In which case you and Frank need to talk, because that’s hardly the point of the marriage metaphor in Eph. 5. And in which case couples who can’t have children, for whatever reason, are in violation of god’s purpose. In fact, every time a married couple has sex and doesn’t conceive sins by violating the purpose of marriage. If that’s your implied line of reasoning good luck selling that as an argument against same-sex marriage.

  16. Please stop denying that which God created. Its a losing battle.

  17. Wait a minute – who decides what defines being evangelical? Not you, for sure. It is possible to be evangelical and liberal – you just can’t be conservative and liberal. I’m part of a church of over 4 million evangelical Lutherans (who originally coined the term, not Falwell or Robertson) most of whom may actually identify themselves as at least moderate if not liberal.

  18. A “Net Loss”? Thats pretty gross, man. These are actual people we are talking about – not statistics. This is a perfect example of what evangelicalism does. It reduces actual persons to numbers.

  19. What kind of person? I’m reminded of Jesus’ rebuke of Peter – You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

  20. It may not seem right to you personally, but it’s rather difficult to argue that “gender has nothing to do with it” when the passage says quite explicitly that the creation of the male/female duality by God is the reason for the joining of the two in marriage.

  21. The noises of horror at the inhumanity of people dropping sponsorship over this is hard to swallow. Do we imagine that the ex-evangelicals and left-evangelicals would have been anywhere near as upset if people had moved their support to another agency after World Vision said that it didn’t matter whether employees were members of the KKK or were involved in the slave trade? The reason why they don’t ‘get it’ in this instance is because this involves sex.

    The only reason why they are upset at this is because they agree with liberal society on the sexual revolution. Sexual behaviour (apart from intangibles like ‘faithfulness’ to your current partner) is not a matter of discipleship for them. What is missing is the understanding that for any Christian faith tradition grounded in historical orthodoxy and Scripture sexual behaviour is a matter of discipleship – this isn’t just a conservative evangelical hang-up, Catholicism and Orthodoxy would see this the same way.

    How about we run the equation the other way?

    If you care about the children and the poor, don’t go putting pressure on charity organizations to run their affairs in a way that conflicts with core values held by 2000 years of Christians, even though you and your little circle of fellow travelers no longer think this should be a core value. If you do, and there is fall-out, don’t act so shocked. The rest of us didn’t change our beliefs just because you did.

    If we want to give through a secular organization we will. If we want to give through one that shares our values we will do that. If an organization ceases to share our values because it is listening to advocates of the sexual revolution (secular or Christian) then evangelicals will look for another organization to give through. There is nothing inhumane about that.

  22. I am growing a little weary of late coming revisionists declaring my ‘ignorance’ with respect to biblical interpretation in complete defiance of historical fact. Particularly when they are refuted not only by me, but a host of others in this forum who hew to the traditional orthodox view of scripture. And not incidentally, by the vast majority of biblical scholars from the past and present. They live in a through the looking glass world where everything is upside down and backwards, it would really be quite laughable it it weren’t so terribly tragic. As to my apparent dismissal of the children who will suffer from the non ‘net loss’ of aid, I acknowledge that such a remark is on its face rather cold blooded, but my point was that in general the suffering of the world’s children will not increase, which is not a bad thing; nor do I have to answer to anyone for my personal commitment to the world’s poor, God knows my heart and my works, and I will be satisfied with His judgement.

  23. On further reflection, the genuinely illuminating thing in this story is the behavior of Jacquelline Fuller. Here we have the director of Google’s giving branch join an organization whose values do not line up with Google’s. Some time later the organization she joins aligns its values with Google. That is reversed and she subsequently leaves.

    The most natural way to read this is that she joined either in order to effect the shift of WV’s values towards Google’s, or that she was given indication that WV would do so.

    The story here seems to be less about evangelicalism’s desire to give to an organization that reflects their values, and more about these kind of moves going on out of the public eye between the boards of charity groups and those groups and individuals with big donations who *also* want to only give to organizations who reflect their values.

    I suppose it is too much to hope that the various progressive Christians will see that as no different from what conservative evangelicals are doing and criticize it as much as they are evangelicals – it always easier to see such things in the ‘other side’ and see it as reasonable on your ‘own side’.

    But the real story here seems to be what is being implied by Google’s person joining an organization with different values, those values then being changed, and then leaving when that change is reversed. There’s an indication of a serious dilemma for WV as to whether they follow the big money connected to the values of the sexual revolution or the values of the evangelical heartland and probably lesser money.

  24. No, it really isn’t that difficult. Jesus wasn’t talking about gender roles because he wasn’t talking about reproduction. Sure, he quoted part of Genesis 1, but he didn’t appeal to it to define roles in marriage. He appealed to it to underscore the permanency of marriage. I’ll grant that he kind of takes those roles for granted, but that isn’t the same thing as making them his main point. And all I’m saying is that a Christian definition of marriage can and should take off from that same point, and not make an idol of gender/sexual differences, which can lead to the kind of problems you didn’t address from my last comment.

  25. Please stop assuming that the issue is as simple as “God said, I believe it, that settles it.” Maybe you’re stuck in 4th grade Sunday School class, but the rest of us are adults.

  26. I guess Jesus was lying in Matthew 25 then. Ok. Good luck with that.

  27. “And not incidentally, by the vast majority of biblical scholars from the past and present.”

    You really need to stop talking about biblical interpretation and biblical scholarship because you clearly do not know what you are talking about. Seriously, it is embarrassing. Besides that, it is all too easy to simply repeat tired assertions–“the traditional orthodox view of scripture”–instead of showing how and why revisionists are wrong.

    “but my point was that in general the suffering of the world’s children will not increase, which is not a bad thing”

    How compassionate. Still dodging the real point, which is in’t the “net” number, but the broken relationships caused by dropped sponsorships.

    “nor do I have to answer to anyone for my personal commitment to the world’s poor”

    Like fun you don’t. Especially when you virtually brag about it and see it as a badge of faithfulness to the gospel. If you won’t want to be called it out as a hypocritical Christian, then don’t display your hypocrisy in public.

    “God knows my heart and my works, and I will be satisfied with His judgement.”

    Yes, that’s true. So you can still repent of your idolatry and hypocrisy and self-righteousness and unloving actions toward the children you sponsored. If not, good luck. You’re gonna need it.

  28. “I suppose it is too much to hope that the various progressive Christians will see…”

    Sorry, not buying your conspiracy theory. Especially since it is contradicted by other evidence. If memory serves the initial policy change and explanation for it said the intention was to (1) avoid the potential of a lawsuit or being denied funds from the federal government due to their discriminatory hiring practices (2) while find a way to maintain unity among the many Christian denominations that work with WV, some which support same-sex marriage and legal rights and some don’t.

    We don’t need a “secular influence” theory to explain WV’s actions. So unless you can provide more evidence that Google forced WV’s hand, I’ll stick with what this story reveals about evangelical priorities as the real take away.

  29. Didn’t say ‘forced’ Eric. There’s more ways of exercising influence than conspiracies or forcing things. Unless you think that Google and other big ticket potential givers are happy to give through organizations who have practices that express values that they strongly disagree with, then we are talking more the kind of influence that money brings, rather than conspiracies or ‘forcing’ people to do things.

    You’ve already acknowledged that in your first point given by WV itself – denial of federal government funds. That’s not ‘force’ but it is influence. They made a decision now based on a possibility to do with money in the future. It’s not like big private donors in the U.S. are any less inclined to fund in line with their principles than the federal government is.

    Way to straw man a view you disagree with there, by the way.

    And since when do any of us take the official statement of an organization explaining itself at face value? Such statements are useful, but few of us say, “Well Google/the Republican party/World Vision/Planned Parenthood said this about why they took the step they did so that must be the truth and the whole truth of the matter.”

    What they said could be truth, and what I said could be the truth as well. It’s not like they are mutually exclusive accounts of what occurred.

    It’s not a question of whether we ‘need’ an influence theory to explain the WV’s actions. We don’t ‘need’ their own explanation either. It is a question of what best fits *all* the facts. And the actions of Google’s representative are not well explained by WV’s explanation as for the reason’s for WV’s actions. A different explanation is needed for Google’s actions because, surprisingly, WV didn’t try and explain anything other than their own behavior.

    If it was fine for Google’s person to join an organization’s board with values not in line with Google’s why would they then leave when the organization returned to those values on your account? Why remove public support for an organization that opted to do what was in the best interest of its children and the poor generally if Google’s interest was *solely* in the children and the poor?

  30. Every single signer of that execrable letter ought to hang their heads in shame. Are religious progressives ignorant or do they just think the rest of us are?


    It’s not about employing LGBTQX. It’s very specifically about what marriage is and if morals clauses mean anything. I’m quite sure there are many fine folks working for WV who are SSA. That’s not the issue. The question is whether WV should recognize the metaphysical fiction that a marriage can exist between two persons of the same sex. And then grant benefits rights to the employee’s partner.

  31. “Unless you think that Google and other big ticket potential givers are happy to give through organizations who have practices that express values that they strongly disagree with”

    It is of course possible for that to be the case, even in this instance. Maybe Google initially thought supporting WV’s main mission–helping kids–was more important than disagreeing with one of their hiring policies that wasn’t the focus of public scrutiny.I don’t know, but that’s part of my point: you don’t either.

    “You’ve already acknowledged that in your first point given by WV itself – denial of federal government funds.”

    Big difference between Google and the federal government, you might notice.

    “Way to straw man a view you disagree with there, by the way.”

    This, from someone who is fabricating a conspiracy theory.

    “And since when do any of us take the official statement of an organization explaining itself at face value?”

    There’s a difference between taking the statement as evidence (especially in the absence of other evidence) and taking it at “face value,” as you yourself state. And nowhere did I say anything like ‘hey just believe everything they say without asking questions about it.’ I just said it was key evidence, evidence that doesn’t support your explanation, which has no evidence at all.

    “What they said could be truth, and what I said could be the truth as well. It’s not like they are mutually exclusive accounts of what occurred.”

    No, but they aren’t equally plausible accounts either.

    “If it was fine for Google’s person to join an organization’s board with values not in line with Google’s why would they then leave when the organization returned to those values on your account?”

    Gee, I don’t know. Maybe because, as your first post mentioned but did not discuss, Google was told WV would be changing its policy, and now they didn’t. Maybe because of the Faithful America petition? Maybe just because once the issue blew up it became a PR issue in a way it wasn’t before?

    Again, the point is you don’t know that WV changed its policies because Fuller joined to “effect” that change. WV probably considered a number of reasons. So why not blame the progressive/liberal Christian groups on the board for making gay rights an issue?

    If you want me to criticize Fuller and Google for leaving WV when it doesn’t support their values, I won’t, because the desire to support people you agree with, in of itself, isn’t a problem. And it was never the key issue with evangelicals who left WV either. The issue was two-fold: (1) evangelicals who left appeared to put opposing gays ahead of helping kids and, more importantly (2), they left 10,000 kids without sponsors.

    In other words, it was the content of their values and the actions they took in the name of them that is the problem. Yeah, progressives speak of evangelicals “bullying” WV, but mostly because poor kids got used as pawns. So, no, I don’t see the kind of equivalence you want progressives to see and call out in the case of Google’s Fuller. Much less do I see evidence that WV’s initial policy change was “effected” by Google.

  32. Your response to an accusation of staw manning is to repeat the straw man assertion that I’m offering a conspiracy theory? Class act, Eric.

    “Big difference between Google and the federal government, you might notice.”

    Yes, because the money from the two sources spends differently, and Google *clearly* doesn’t share the same values as most of Silicon Valley, that were expressed in the recent debacle with Mozilla, and it clearly doesn’t put its money where its values are. There’d be no reason at all for WV to think that Google’s money might come with similar strings as those future funds from the federal government.


    My point was that the move onto and off the board by Google’s representative indicates that WV had a serious dilemma to whether they follow the big money connected to the values of the sexual revolution or the values of the evangelical heartland and probably lesser money.

    Whether WV made assurances, or Google sought to exert influence (“it would be easier to get support from Google execs for more funding for WV’s programs if Google wasn’t possibly going to have a PR problem in the future due to your hiring policies”), or Google and WV both knew that Google would withdraw if this became a potential PR problem for Google, none of that contradicts the basic point I am making. It’s not about the *mechanism* of influence (a conspiracy theory or something more benign) but the fact of the influence where money is concerned.

    Why did WV make the initial change? Because of money. Why did it change back? Because of money. Where there other factors? No doubt. But it’s not a ‘conspiracy theory’ to say that money was at the heart of it, along with whatever other factors you want to name.

    WV wants money to fund its programs, that’s its reason for existing–to free up money for the poor. There’s money to be had from its constituents. And there’s money to be had from big ticket givers. Both groups clearly want to give their money to organizations that share their values (or, won’t cause a PR problem for them if you want to go the cynical route). That’s the tension WV and other big charities grounded in a faith tradition are going to face from here. Classical Christian morality clashes with the values of the multi-billionaires and silicon valley and, increasingly, the U.S. federal government. The moves by Google’s representative onto and off the board indicate that.

    Move this to some moral issue that you seriously disagree with: white supremacy, support of apartheid, slavery, denial of an orthodox confession of Christ, requiring employees to vote Republican, the moral legitimacy of adultery in marriage, something that is actually a genuine core value for you and your fellow travelers. If WV crossed that line would you still think that most progressives would say caring for the children comes first? Or, no matter what the moral issue, you cannot withdraw funding once you’ve begun it if it is related to the poor?

    I find it hard to believe that there simply aren’t any core moral values for most progressive Christians beyond “continue to look after the poor that you started looking after no matter how unchristian you think the organization serving them has become”. They’d simply put the line somewhere (anywhere!) other than sexual behavior.

    If one side is using the kids as pawns, then both sides are. WV did by making the change and expecting people to not move because the kids should come first. It could have left things in place, or given forewarning that they were going to make the change some years down the track so that people could start to slowly move their support elsewhere if they wanted to in light of it. They introduced an immediate change without consultation or forewarning. That was using the kids as pawns if Evangelicals did that by stopping support. And if Evangelicals did that by stopping support when the changes were made, then Google did it by leaving the board when the changes were reversed.

    Yet there are criticisms from progressive Christians for only one group out of all that. The group that financially supported, felt betrayed, and now have looked for more suitable group to channel their giving through.

  33. So divorce is wrong because it separates what God joins together, and God joins together because He created male and female with a view to their union in marriage. And that has nothing to do with gender? OK, whatever. You guys have butchered this passage as badly as have those looking to justify their divorces and remarriages. All for the same basic reason: “I wanna.”

  34. “Maybe you’re stuck in 4th grade Sunday School class”

    An apt illustration, BTW, of how Jesus instructed us to receive His word: “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15.

    All of our “adult talk” probably sounds to God about like it once sounded to me when I heard my third-grade son telling his first-grade sister how much more he knew than she did. Something of which I, for one, have to remind myself daily.

  35. There is a far deeper issue than just same gendered relationships here.

    The real issue is the authority of the Scripture and how we should hear its message. Does it change us or do we change it. I actually heard from a process theologian that God Himself changes and that He may have been against homosexuality “back then” but is himself growing and has changed his position and is now speaking through the voice of the progressive church to call for radical change on this and other issues. So a host of theological questions are relevant: does God change, do human beings evolve socially and outgrow previous ways of being human, does God’s Word change, is the Bible God’s book or people’s book or a combination.

    I don’t expect any agreement on these issues and I suspect that liberals and conservatives alike will try to utilize power control measures to transform and impose frameworks on organizations like Word Vision to make a place that is comfortable for their particular framework of interpretation and preference.

    In the end, liberals and conservatives don’t like having to think they could be wrong on any issue.

  36. I suspect Jesus didn’t talk about the issues of gender because in his day the issue was divorce. In Jesus’ day males and males and females and females were not getting married, hence it was a non-issue. Arguments from silence are weak because they assume that every single propositional statement must be comprehensive to every single aspect of a problem or situation to be valid. You are incorrect in how you interpret a argument, a common logical fallacy.

  37. There are many Christian traditions that are progressive or process theology driven that have as a fundamental basis the seeking of justice and equality of power dynamics (increasing the power/influence/autonomy of those on the margins) through social change such as that which World Vision does. Hence for them the requirement to help children would trump a requirement to uphold traditional values, especially if said values marginalized any human being from pursuing their life to the fullest of their own personal understanding.

  38. “Class act, Eric.”

    You repeat the same baseless assertions, what do you expect? I take this comment as a sign you have nothing new to say about that point.

    “WV had a serious dilemma to whether they follow the big money connected to the values of the sexual revolution or the values of the evangelical heartland and probably lesser money.”

    Lesser money? You can say that with a straight face after WV reversed its decision?

    And no one denied that WV faced, or thought they’d face, a serious dilemma over money. That was my point from the beginning: WV saw the writing on the wall with all the religious freedom lawsuits and court cases and tried to be proactive to avoid one and maybe losing federal funding. By the way, do you know how much money WV gets from federal funding? I do: around 20% of its yearly budget. Was Google offering that amount?

    “It’s not about the *mechanism* of influence (a conspiracy theory or something more benign) but the fact of the influence where money is concerned.”

    Not sure why you are moving the goal posts on your original claim, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve already explained why the mere fact that Google might want WV to be more gay friendly isn’t a sign of some kind of equivalency between “both sides,” and I’ll come back to that.

    “Or, no matter what the moral issue, you cannot withdraw funding once you’ve begun it if it is related to the poor?”

    By this point, you’ve changed the topic from “see Google and the progressives are doing the same thing as Al Mohler and the Assemblies of God, so why won’t progressives call them out too” to what progressives really stand for. That’s fine, except maybe for the looney hypotheticals you brought up. But let’s imagine the shoe was on the other foot, I guess.

    Let’s say WV went really crazy and decided to take a ton of money from the KKK and stopped hiring people of color and make all employees sign a confession of faith in the superiority of the Aryan race. What should progressives do? They should denounced the decision, of course. And they should warn WV that support would soon be dropped. But they should take their time in that regard. Don’t drop immediately and try to find ways to support the same kids another way (not the same number of kids through another org).

    But here’s where your little thought experiment goes wrong: these moral issues aren’t interchangeable any more than the kids involved are. For me to follow along this logic is to tacitly assume that supporting gay rights is the moral equivalent of supporting the KKK, something no honest person would admit. But let’s move to some real points.

    I don’t even know where to begin with your last three paragraphs where you are at least being honest and direct about what really bothers you. “Both sides.” This has to be one of the most ridiculous, though common, arguments from the side that is tired of being criticized for its actions and values. Seriously, go look up “false equivalency.”

    One, no honest person can believe WV was using kids as pawns. This might be the dumbest thing you’ve written. WV wasn’t leveraging the kids for any purpose, period. Their lack of foresight about the depths of evangelical hard-heartedness hardly amounts to a deliberate decision to “blackmail” evangelicals into accepting a policy they don’t like. I agree they were naive and that they probably could have done more to discuss the issue, though it isn’t as if no evangelicals sit on the board that voted for the policy.

    All this is beside the point, though, because you are basically saying WV was lying about trying to avoid this kind of division and also blaming WV for the conservative reaction, as if the reaction was predictable, rational, and acceptable itself. C’mon, “they were asking for it”–really?

    Likewise, it is a false equivalency to compare evangelicals with Google. I’ve already explained that wanting to support a group that shared your values is not itself a bad thing or the problem here. The problem is the content of those values and the actions taken in light of them. Mind telling me how many sponsorships Fuller dropped when she left?

  39. I see you ignored my comment that Jesus took gender roles for granted when citing Gen. 2. As well as the crucial point that he wasn’t talking about gender roles even if he referenced them. No, you jump straight to accusations. Sure, anyone and everyone who finds a reason to doubt that the Bible says anything about homosexuality is obviously driven by self-serving interests. Yep, that is both a charitable and reasonable understanding of interpretive differences. Unless you have anything better to say, I’ll take this comment as a tacit admission of defeat.

  40. Eric, I figured you would call me out on my declaration of works and repented of that almost as soon as I posted it, further the reason I don’t bother to cite scripture and verse to you is because Shawnie5 does such a marvelous job at it. Additionally I’m reminded of Jesus’ command not to “cast pearls before swine.” Pride, which is a sin, I admit, but I’ve had far better assayers than you compliment me upon my command of scripture See you later, Alice.

  41. If Shawnie5 is your idea of a skilled exegete, you know even less you than you pretend to. I’ll take your unwillingness to defend “the tradition” as a tacit admission of inability or defeat. Your choice.

  42. Reiterating your assertion does not make it any less ludicrous, Eric.

    And people have all kinds of reasons for “doubting that the bible says anything about homosexuality,” not the least of which is pure and simple scriptural and historical ignorance. But almost all of the the arguments in favor if this proposition ARE the creation of those seeking to justify their own inclinations, and are uncorroborated by anything to be found in the historical record–and mainstream scholarship is well aware of this.

    I often wonder, what exactly WOULD the bible have to say about homosexuality to dispel this so-called “doubt” of yours–and how would you receive it if it did?

  43. This’ll be my last comment interacting with Eric as my enthusiasm for this interaction is completely gone.

    1. If you’ve read this far through the thread, and are inclined, feel free to reread my original comment that Eric commented on. You’ll see there that I offer two possible hypotheticals as to what was going on behind the scenes, and my closing sentence puts the focus on the dilemma WV faced:

    “There’s an indication of a serious dilemma for WV as to whether they follow the big money connected to the values of the sexual revolution or the values of the evangelical heartland and probably lesser money.”

    Eric has constantly focused on the more dramatic of the two options I raised there (‘conspiracy theory’), and accused me of changing goal posts when I’ve re-stressed this more general point. Reread the original comment and draw your own conclusion as to whether that’s a fair or accurate reading.

    2. Eric makes it clear that either he just doesn’t think sex is an matter for Christian discipleship, or that Christians shouldn’t be too hung up about giving to a Christian organization (he hasn’t said enough to indicate which of these, or another similar option is his view). Of all the options I offered, he goes for the KKK option – the most extreme – and concedes the point I raised that there are grounds to cease support for a charity organization. But then uses the fact that *he* chose the most extreme option to make out *I* was drawing an equivalency between them.

    He chose that option out of several offered. I wasn’t saying they were equivalent, but just whether progressives had any more moral principles that were deal breakers beyond ‘continue the support you began’. As he’s done several times, he’s misrepresented the point I made to make a cheap point at my expense IMO. Reread the two comments and draw your own conclusion.

    3. He claims that my last couple of paragraphs were what I really cared about. Actually, they were just a response to the end of his previous comment. Again he represents my position as being that all three parties did a morally equivalent thing. I merely said all did the same kind of thing (used children as pawns)–not necessarily the same class. Even that is not my own view – I think all three actions were reasonable, given the values of the people involved – but to point out the strangeness of people who double down on criticizing the evangelicals only out of all this.

    Were there evangelicals on the board who voted against the change? Apparently so. It was, to quote GetRelgion, a lopsided but not unanimous decision when it was made (back in 2011!). The board simply had to have been told that it wouldn’t play well in conservative circles – it strains belief that the actual evangelicals on the board wouldn’t have made the point during the debate. Anyone familiar with Christian views on such matters for, say the last 2000 years, could have guessed this reaction. It would be the same for the Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies, or the Christian populace for any century you care to mention. You’d have to be in a bubble to not know this. Christians think sex is a discipleship matter Only progressives think otherwise.

    Did WV lie? No, not necessarily. But they weren’t necessarily telling the whole truth either. It was a press release, a PR statement, not a deep act of self-reflection and confession.

    And no criticism at all for Google in this, while so angry at evangelicals? Reread Eric’s case for saying Google is as pure as the driven snow in this, while the evangelicals are hard hearted people who used children as pawns, and draw your own conclusion as to why he, and other progressives, see one as blameless, and the other as contemptible. .

    4. The original article by Sarah Bailey is primarily about how this shows the cracks that have opened up within evangelicalism. If Eric sees himself as a progressive evangelical, then this interaction is certainly evidence for Sarah’s thesis.

  44. Defeat is not an option, it’s simply that debating with you is an exercise in pointlessness. There must be a half a dozen people on this thread whose views are in more accord with mine then yours, yet you single me out for your harshest criticism, I seem to have the same effect on Larry; I neither want or need to know why. You have misconstrued Matthew 19, you would undoubtedly misconstrue Romans 1. I respect your passion for social justice, but if that is your primary cause in contending for the Christian faith I believe you are mistaken in that aim. I have freely confessed to personal flaws in this debate, and you have a point about my appeal to my own good works, but I have yet to meet a progressive, humanist, or atheist on this site that accepts the context of sin except as it relates to their perception of social justice.

  45. Mark, since you didn’t answer my question, and since you apparently can’t represent your own views accurately, much less mine, I’ll be singing off on this thread.

  46. So that’s a dismissal without argument, another tacit admission of defeat. Or just a passive-aggressive way to debate, I guess. Anyway, I hardly singled you out, ask Mark and Shawnie5, but I did question your decision to drop WV sponsorship, an action that goes beyond the arguments of Shawnie and Mark, who it seems defend that action, but haven’t done it themselves.

    And, no, I haven’t misconstrued Matthew 19 at all (and we haven’t even reached 19:12!), but if your criterion for dialogue is that someone agree with your definition of sin from the start, there’s little chance that you’ll ever had to talk to someone you disagree with. Why should I concede that?

  47. “But almost all of the the arguments in favor if this proposition ARE the creation of those seeking to justify their own inclinations,”

    Because you’ve read: every exegetical argument about why the handful of texts cited as opposing homosexuality aren’t about homosexuality at all; every scientific argument about the origins and nature of sexual orientation; and every theological argument in support of recognizing same-sex marriage and other legal rights for gays and lesbians. Sure.

    “not the least of which is pure and simple scriptural and historical ignorance.”

    Try me. Or if you’d prefer, cite one example. Not some comment in a Facebook debate. A real argument. Shouldn’t be hard to find. Intelligent exegetical and theological arguments have been widely circulated for a good while now.

    “–and mainstream scholarship is well aware of this.”

    Or, name some relevant works.

    “I often wonder, what exactly WOULD the bible have to say about homosexuality to dispel this so-called “doubt” of yours–and how would you receive it if it did?”

    Why so-called doubt? Anyway, I suppose it would–at the least–have to be clearer that (1) not just same-sex acts, but an innate orientation, was ‘wrong,’ (2) why that orientation was ‘wrong,’ (3) that individuals with that orientation were, somehow, not capable of forming the permanent, exclusive sexual relationships that other individuals can, and thus not capable of exhibiting the same virtues, (4) that sexual orientation was, somehow, central to the gospel and the kingdom of god, and (5) that other values and virtues associated with the gospel and the kingdom of god did not provide reasons for questioning or marginalizing texts that oppose same-sex orientation.

    I suspect there might be other things that needed to be said or made clearer, too. But this is a start.

  48. A man can innately desire another women besides his one wife, but his adultery rebels against God! A young teenager can genetically have a desire to have sex with multiple girls or even with his true love, but, in doing so, he rebels against the authority of God! The sexual inclination of a man for a man can be most innately true, but the acting out of such either in marriage or out rebels against God! Each ignore God’s command for sexual purity! The issue at had is neither genetics nor marriage but sexual sin! Sex between a man and a man denies God’s authority!

    The fault at hand is obedience and holiness, a life separate by behavior from the ways of the world! The other is denial of self, without such no one can be His follower! Repentance has been overcome with Cheap Grace! Better time be spent in humble repentance than twisting God’s words to accommodate your desired lifestyle.

    As always, a plethora of false teaches abounds, but God truly cares what men and women do in the dark!

    That said, God also commands both love and mercy! If a Christian organization would terminate one’s employment because of sexual sin, why would they not then terminate everyone who ignores thei greed? Who would be left in God’s house? I suggest time spent in this issue is more faithfully spent handing over your riches to the poor, visiting those in prison, sick and without clothes! If you have do not, you likely are not His!

  49. As cogent as all the comments may be, ‘Can You Be an Evangelical and Endorse Gay Marriage’ will be answered in the affirmative by fiat. More and more younger Christians are losing patience with the angels on a pin arguments while their good Christian friends and acquaintances are excluded. They will broaden the understanding of evangelicalism to include Christian LGBT couples as it should have been long ago. The rest is just sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. That cacophony can accompany us dying, fretful old Christian geezers to the grave where we will wake up in heaven to a very surprising revelation.

  50. I am disappointed that nobody included in these comments the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28. …no longer male and female… The Greek makes it clear that he is making reference to Genesis 1:27. It is regrettable that many translators elect to substitute “nor’ for ‘and,’ just to make their translation a parallel one. The text has long been one cited to support the equality of the sexes in the Christian community. Some believe it has a broader application.

  51. One cannot be a Christian and condone the engaging in or affirmation of any act, including any sexual act, that demeans the inherent Dignity of the human person as a beloved son or daughter.

    “The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”

  52. Love is ordered to the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the persons existing in a relationship of Love. (The Blessed Trinity) Every beloved son or daughter, from the moment they are created and brought into being at conception, has the inherent Right to be treated with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public.

    All of us have disordered inclinations of various types and degree, some more difficult to overcome than others; God desires that we desire to overcome our disordered inclinations, so that we are not led into temptation, but become transformed through Salvational Love, God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy.

    Men and women are designed in such a way that it is not possible to engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning our inherent Dignity as beloved sons and daughters. No one should be condoning demeaning sexual acts of any nature including between a man and woman united in marriage as husband and wife.

    Same -sex sexual acts, as well as any sexual act that does not respect the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the human person, demean the Dignity of every human person, who is not, in essence, an object of sexual desire, but a son or daughter, worthy of being treated with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public. The sexual objectification of the human person has led to physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual suffering. It is time to heal those wounds, and learn how to develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships that are grounded in authentic Love.

    Why not tell those men and women who have developed a same-sex sexual attraction the truth? It is because we Love you, and respect your Dignity as a beloved son or daughter, that we cannot condone the engaging in or affirmation of any act, including any sexual act that demeans your inherent Dignity as a beloved son or daughter. The desire to engage in a demeaning act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act. We Love you, and because we Love you, we desire that you will always be treated with, and will always treat others with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public. We will not tolerate the engaging in or condoning of sexual behavior that does not reflect the upmost respect for the human person.

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