"I am the vine, and you are the branches..."

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They’re Children- Not Bargaining Chips

 After World Vision announced earlier this week that they would be allowing gay Christians to work in the organization, a spark was ignited. And many Christians got angry and subsequently demanded that the company go back to their old policies. On Monday night, I received an email asking me to write to them, to boycott them, and to abandon sponsorship of children through the organization in favor of other organizations that had stayed true to the gospel.

Truthfully, I was shocked. And then disappointed.

Because yes, the Bible leaves no doubt on God’s stance on homosexuality, and World Vision was acting contrary to Biblical doctrine and standards. And yes, what they were allowing as a Christian organization was in direct disobedience to God. God doesn’t leave any grey area on the matter of homosexuality.

So write a letter, express your dissatisfaction and disappointment. Great! You have now expressed your opinion in a healthy and constructive manner.

 But to drop sponsorship of a child? To deny them funding for their schooling, food, water, medical care, and the knowledge that someone cared enough to pay for that and to write them letters that they undoubtedly looked forward to receiving? That was a low blow and it is not okay.

 The children in the sponsorship program should not have been- and never should be- the bargaining chip in a policy debate. When you commit to sponsor a child, it’s not something that you throw money at every month so that you can pat yourself on the back and feel like you have checked your humanitarian box for the month. These are human beings, with needs, feelings and souls. How is World Vision to make up the difference because of the sponsorships dropped? Did sponsors consider what their sponsored child was to do? The children had nothing to do with the policy change, yet they were the ones paying the price.

Will the church only sponsor children when it is convenient to them and only if the organization follows every single one of their beliefs? That is not what Jesus has called us to do. The church cannot fling aside impoverished children for political gains, nor to push doctrine. In dropping sponsorship, Christians weren’t dropping a dollar amount paid to a company each month; they were dropping people in need. Whether or not World Vision had decided to keep their new policy (it didn’t), it wouldn’t have invalidated the work that they are doing to feed and clothe those who are “the least of these”. People don’t have to have their lives together to serve others, and you certainly don’t have to be a Christian to feed the hungry. The church does not have a monopoly on service to others, and it shouldn’t. We should be leading the way, but we’re falling behind.

Though World Vision has now reversed the policy, I believe that we as Christians should be ashamed of the message that we sent because of the actions taken in this matter. We appear as intolerant, hateful, and reactionary. This is not how we are to portray Christ’s love to the world, and hate is not what we stand for. We should not be using children in poverty as a tool to push policy or politics. We can stand up for our beliefs without dragging others into the mud, especially when it makes such a difference to people who have nothing to do with the issue, people with no way to stand up for themselves.

We are commanded to love, and love gets messy. Love doesn’t mean that we have to agree, or that we have to support each and every decision made. It means that we recognize the worth of the person holding the contrary beliefs, making contrary choices and their past or present mistakes. It means that we have to think about how our actions will affect others. We don’t get to police other people’s sins, because we ourselves sin each day …without fail. When our judgment of other people’s sins affects impoverished people, how is that a picture of Christ?  Christians are the only picture the world has of Jesus and the church, and we’re failing miserably in our representation. As the song says, ‘They should know that we are Christians by our love’, and what we stand for- not against. It’s time to step it up.

Filed under WorldVision opinion Christians love sponsoredchildren