world vision and our collegiate approach

If you haven’t heard, World Vision announced yesterday they’ll be opening their employment to people in monogamous homosexual marriages.

I believe this is wrong, but I’m not bringing it up to fight that battle here. Instead, two thoughts for us:

1. We need to be informed on this, not just “interested.” Sadly, the facts in my first line above are all most Christians will know about the World Vision decision. But of all Christian ministers, collegiate ministers should be willing to dive more deeply into these issues – just as our students are expected to do daily in their highly educational environment. The Christianity Today article is a good starting place, but I’m sure there’s lots to be found via Google.

2. We need to think through World Vision’s argument, because it applies to us, too. World Vision’s major argument here is that they choose to defer to churches / denominations when it comes to theological issues like same-sex marriage. Since they are very broadly inter-denominational, and some of the denominations they connect to are supportive of same-sex unions, World Vision no longer felt it should mandate differently in their hiring practices.

Notably, the Christianity Today article indicates that one board member who agrees with World Vision’s direction had himself recently been involved in fighting the fight against same-sex marriages in his denomination.

Highlighting the church/parachurch distinction: Board member and pastor John Crosby, who served as interim leader when a number of churches split off from the Presbyterian Church (USA) after the denomination dropped a celibacy requirement for gay clergy in 2011. At a conference that laid the foundation of the new Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, the Minnesota megachurch pastor stated, “We have tried to create such a big tent trying to make everybody happy theologically. I fear the tent has collapsed without a center.”

However, as a World Vision board member, Crosby didn’t have a problem voting for the policy change. “It’s a matter of trying to decide what the core mission of the organization is,” he said.

And that’s the rub – and something we need to think through: What lines do we, in our particular college ministries, draw? Even those in church-based college ministry are often asked to cooperate in some way with other ministries (not to mention secular organizations, including the campus itself). You may feel the World Vision choice is a “bridge too far,” as I do. But there are other theological disagreements you wouldn’t see as a bar to cooperation on your campus. Have you thought through how you make those decisions? Does the stance of the local leader matter, even if the national organization differs? Does it matter what we’re cooperating on, the project we’re accomplishing together? Is what’s taught by an organization the key question, or do we also want to know what they’ve decided to “tolerate”? These questions aren’t as easy as we like to think.

That’s where I think this situation presents us with something (very) challenging to weigh. I hope we’re willing to take that opportunity.

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