In its 64 years, World Vision has been exactly that -- a kingdom view on a globe in need. Yesterday, the organization walked away from one of the greatest legacies in Christian ministry, trading a vision to reach the world for the world's vision of marriage. In an announcement that continues to shock and dismay its supporters, President Richard Stearns closed the chapter on six decades of an incredible witness, driving a deep and irreparable stake into the heart of Christian outreach.
The billion-dollar organization, which has served more than 100 million people, will, in its words, "no longer require its 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman." Stearns, who made the decision public on Monday, claims this radical theological departure was not the result of a lawsuit or outside lobbying. Rather, he argues, it is a "very narrow policy change" -- a description orthodox Christians would challenge. To soften the blow, World Vision explained that it will still demand from its staff abstinence before marriage and fidelity within. "This is not an endorsement of same-sex 'marriage,'" Stearns said in defense of the new policy. "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. We're not caving to some kind of pressure. We're not on some slippery slope... This is not compromising."
Stearns is deceived. This isn't neutrality -- it's open rebellion. If we're going to follow Christ, we need to follow Him in every aspect -- including the biblical design for the family. And while there are several areas of Scripture that are open to interpretation, this isn't one of them. "Children," writes The Gospel Coalition's Trevin Wax, "are the ones who suffer when organizations like World Vision, under the guise of neutrality, adopt policies that enshrine a false definition of marriage in the very statement that says no position will be taken. Children are the ones who suffer when President Obama (rightly) mourns the rampant fatherlessness in the African-American community, while simultaneously campaigning for marriage laws that would make fathers totally unnecessary. Children are the ones who suffer and die when "sexual freedom" means the right of a mother to take the life of her unborn child. Sex is our god. Children are our sacrifice."
In the faith community, leaders are still struggling to find the words for World Vision's very public divorce from biblical truth. Franklin Graham, who joined me on the radio show yesterday, was absolutely taken aback. "World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church -- which I find offensive -- as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church."
I'm grateful for the pastors who have remained true to Scripture, but let's be honest -- it's the pastors and pulpits that have paved the way for this heresy with their silence. And ultimately their silence leads not to the straight and narrow, but to the wide and broad gate of destruction. By choosing this path, World Vision has merged with the culture its supporters entrusted them to minister to.
Our family has supported the work of World Vision, with one of my daughters actually participating in one of the group's "30 Hour Famines" this past weekend. But we cannot and will not support an organization that exalts the approval of the world over the authority of the Word. In the end when Christians desire the praise of man over the glory of God: they earn neither. The church should continue to support Christian aid and humanitarianism, but only through organizations that remain true to the word of God.
At the Supreme Court, a Best Case Scenario
On the snowy steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, there was another flurry -- of media. With one of the most significant religious liberty cases ever to be heard as the backdrop, FRC held a press conference in defense of two family businesses fighting inside for their constitutional rights. Under the HHS mandate, both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood face the choice of either paying for pills or procedures that violate their moral beliefs -- or pay crippling fines of up to $100 per day, per employee. Even the smallest businesses subject to the mandate would pay a fine of at least $ 1.8 million per year.
Our own Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow for Legal Studies and a member of the Supreme Court bar, had the opportunity to attend today's historic hearings and was cautiously optimistic that the justices understand that a family's choice to make a living shouldn't mean surrendering their religious freedom. (Click on the video below to hear her analysis.)
"The justices showed strong concern for the devastating impact that the HHS mandate would have on religious families who stand up for their conscience," Cathy explained. They also acknowledged "that one terrible choice for family businesses is dropping health insurance for all of their employees. However, in these situations the businesses would still face significant fines and employees would lose the plans and doctors that they have come to know and trust." And Cathy wasn't alone in that assessment. Many in the media noticed the justices' skepticism of the Obama administration's claim that for-profit companies have no religious rights under federal law.
Last night, House conservatives left little doubt where they stood on the issue, thanks to a special order on the floor organized by Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R). Joined by 17 of her colleagues, the members piggybacked on House Speaker John Boehner's comments earlier in the day, urging the Supreme Court to strike down the mandate. "Religious freedom is not for some people under some circumstances; it is for one and all... This case concerns every American who cherishes that first line in the Bill of Rights where it states our government will never come between us and our faith."
Rep. Hartzler kicked off the night by saying, "My colleagues and I are here tonight to share the concerns we have as we stand up for the people that we represent and for what our Founders started this country on and why we want to stand for future generations, to protect those freedoms that those who have gone before us stood up and fought for us, for our generation." Just days ago, said Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), "the President spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast about the cornerstone right of the free expression of religion. That includes Americans who believe that children are a gift of God and they should be nurtured and cared for, not discarded as tissue.Washingtonis not the boss of every American. Our Constitution matters, freedom of religion matters, and, quite frankly, children matter."
Our deepest thanks to all the members who participated, including: Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebr.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kans.), Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Doug Collins (R-Colo.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), and Steve Scalise (R-La.).
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.