One time, when I was in middle school, I had one of those morbid assignments to write my own obituary (why, English teachers, why???). My middle school self wrote about me becoming a woman with a loving husband, two kids, a glamorous job as a magazine editor (ha) and when I died I donated all of my money to the Christopher Reeve foundation because at the time I was obsessed with Smallville and Superman (hahahaha).
Anyways, my teacher read over it and very nicely told me the Christopher Reeve Foundation did stem cell research, and I nodded, proud of my future humanitarian self. Then my teacher told me stem cell research uses aborted babies to do their research. Oh…
Lesson learned—research charities before I jump on board just because a celebrity endorsed it.
Well, friends, It’s the statement heard ‘round the internet, issued by World Vision, a child-sponsorship nonprofit:
The organization previously required its some 1,100 employees at the American branch to abide by a policy that required fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of marriage, and only recognized heterosexual marriages. However, now World Vision is allowing gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be hired as well as gay Christians who follow their policy of abstinence outside of marriage.
World Vision's senior director for media contacts, Cynthia Colin, shared a letter from Stearns to World Vision employees with The Huffington Post. Stearns explained, "I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue. We have chosen not to exclude someone from employment at World Vision U.S. on this issue alone." (Huffington Post)
The firestorm that happens after debates like this in the Christian world sometimes kills me. Personal attacks are made. People tweet faster than they can think. Feelings are hurt.
Some bloggers and figures I deeply respect have staked their claims on sides of the issue. Some are burning the books, calling for a boycott, demanding Christians cancel all sponsorships and support.
Others say people shouldn’t care because WV is loving all and the kids would be hurt if you pulled out.
It’s hard because I agree with part of this latter statement (I’ll talk about the former in a bit). The kids and families are the ones who are hurt. I hate seeing people so blasé about cancelling their sponsorships. Boycotting World Vision means kids are not getting help they need. Not saying that is the wrong position to take, but let’s not oversimplify things by putting them in the strictly “right” and “wrong” categories: pulling out means the community isn’t getting that money. Let’s not take our first knee jerk reaction (which may be right or wrong) and pray. I don’t know what God will tell you about it—that’s between Him and you. Please, friends. Do what you think is right, but for goodness sakes, please don’t forget you aren’t sticking it to WV, you are hurting the communities they help.
And it’s a huge but.
I would NEVER want anyone to consider giving to a charity without first looking at what they are giving money to. What are they teaching the kids in their program? How much of your money is going to overhead costs vs. to those in need? Is the charity saving or empowering? Are they in debt? Do they have a board in place? Where is the accountability? (Check out Charity Navigator for a great resource for this!)
You have the right to know. In fact, I’d say it is your responsibility to find out. If you are merely throwing money at a good cause to make yourself feel better without researching the organization and the work they do, well, that’s not helping people in need, it’s helping yourself.
But when you look at the charities you want to sponsor, you do have the right to pick one that aligns with your beliefs. One that spreads the message of Jesus if you so choose. You have the right to cancel a sponsorship or donation when an organization does a 180 or does something you think is harmful to the work you supported.
In the same breath, Christians, we have the responsibility to do it with love and understanding. In our speech, in our actions, in our typing on social media. Knowing the world’s eyes are on us. Knowing there are believers who struggle with sins of all kinds. Knowing Christ has loved us all at our very worst. And He has and can and will save those jwho repent and believe.
I sponsor with Compassion, and I personally want to know if they are sharing the Gospel with the children in their program. I want to know how much money is going to the community and how much is going to the president. I do want to know their stance on gay marriage, because that effects what they teach the kids. I can’t tell you what I would do if Compassion followed suit. I love the kids Chris and I sponsor, and I truly believe in the work Compassion is doing, but I also want to know the kids were being taught what I believe the Bible says.
So, basically, I have no answer. Just ALL THE FEELINGS. What are your (respectful and loving) thoughts?
Update: World Vision has reversed its decision following advice from sponsors and leaders and a reported loss of 2,000 sponsored children.