World Vision decision anti-Gospel, Moore says
NASHVILLE (BP) -- The decision of World Vision U.S. to extend hiring to legally married gay couples is no surprise, but empowers darkness and attacks the Gospel, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore blogged Monday (March 24).
The Christian hunger relief group's U.S. board of directors has voted to allow the employment of those engaged in legal homosexual marriages, World Hunger U.S. President Richard Stearns announced in Monday's Christianity Today. World Vision had notified its staff of the change in a statement, citing a desire for cross-denominational unity.
But the hiring change is a mistake, Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote at his blog russellmoore.com. The change should not be embraced as a show of unity, he wrote.
"This isn't, as the World Vision statement (incredibly!) puts it, the equivalent of a big tent on baptism, church polity, and so forth," Moore noted. "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 2,000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish."
"We empower darkness when we refuse to warn of judgment," Moore wrote. "We empower the darkness when we refuse to offer forgiveness through the blood of the cross."
World Vision is not endorsing same-sex marriage, but has chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on the issue, Stearns said in his statement to World Vision staff. The group will continue to require sexual abstinence among unmarried employees and sexual fidelity within marriage, he said.
"World Vision's mission is not the same as that of our local churches; nor are we a body of theologians whose responsibility is to render biblical advice and interpretations of theological matters," Stearns informed his staff.
"We are, as our mission statement so clearly expresses, 'an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.'" Stearns stated. "And it is this mission that unites us -- Baptist, Pentecostal, Seventh-day Adventist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Orthodox, nondenominational, etc. -- more than 50 different expressions of the Christian faith represented within [World Vision U.S.] alone."
Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press in an email interview that the decision reveals World Vision's true character.
"World Vision's leaders have revealed what they really believe and where they really stand -- and the truth about them is disheartening," Iorg wrote. "When any Christian organization denies the authority of Scripture -- no matter their convoluted explanation -- they have compromised their integrity and initiated their demise.
"World Vision's claims they are not making a theological decision or taking a position on these issues is incomprehensible," Iorg stated. "Every decision by Christian leaders is grounded in theological conviction and every position -- including claiming not to take one -- amounts to taking a position."
Moore wrote, "We're entering an era where we will see who the evangelicals really are, and by that I mean those who believe in the gospel itself, in all of its truth and all of its grace.
"There's an entire corps of people out there who make their living off of evangelicals but who are wanting to 'evolve' on the sexuality issue without alienating their base," Moore blogged. "I don't mind people switching sides and standing up for things that they believe in. But just be honest about what you want to do. Don't say 'Hath God said?' [as when Satan tempted Eve in Genesis 3:1] and then tell us you're doing it to advance the gospel and the unity of the church."
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler blogged at albertmohler.com that World Vision's decision is misleading.
"The worst aspect of the World Vision U.S. policy shift is the fact that it will mislead the world about the reality of sin and the urgent need of salvation," Mohler wrote. "Willingly recognizing same-sex marriage and validating openly homosexual employees in their homosexuality is a grave and tragic act that confirms sinners in their sin -- and that is an act that violates the gospel of Christ."
World Vision identifies itself as a "Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice," working in nearly 100 countries.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/ editor. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).