Monday, March 24, 2014

I Am All In Favor Of Christian Unity. This Ain't It.

I have written many times on the importance of Christian unity and bemoaning the lack thereof. That should not be construed to mean an anything goes abandonment of the very heart of the Gospel. I was deeply troubled (although not surprised) by the announcement from Richard Stearns, the president  of the mammoth, ostensibly Christian charity World Vision that they would employ people in a legal "gay marriage". To compound the error his rationale for this move is (or at least should be) befuddling (emphasis mine):

World Vision's American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

Abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. But a policy change announced Monday [March 24] will now permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America's largest Christian charities.

In an exclusive interview, World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns explained to Christianity Today the rationale behind changing this "condition of employment," whether financial or legal pressures were involved, and whether other Christian organizations with faith-based hiring rules should follow World Vision's lead.

Stearns asserts that the "very narrow policy change" should be viewed by others as "symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity." He even hopes it will inspire unity elsewhere among Christians.

In short, World Vision hopes to dodge the division currently "tearing churches apart" over same-sex relationships by solidifying its long-held philosophy as a parachurch organization: to defer to churches and denominations on theological issues, so that it can focus on uniting Christians around serving the poor.

Given that more churches and states are now permitting same-sex marriages (including World Vision's home state of Washington), the issue will join divorce/remarriage, baptism, and female pastors among the theological issues that the massive relief and development organization sits out on the sidelines.

Embracing as normal what the Bible describes as sin, disordered and contrary to nature for the sake of "unity"? Let me state unequivocally as someone who yearns for genuine unity in the church: unity that is founded on a lie is not Christian unity.That policy might make sense for a secular employer but for an organization that seeks to be intentionally Christian it is a theological trainwreck.

Those who struggle with homosexual attraction and those actively involved in this sinful lifestyle deserve and demand our love. That love means speaking the truth to them, humbly as those who once were lost but now are found. Loving the sinner doesn't mean affirming their sin as OK, it means telling them of a different way. The Bible speaks very clerly on this issue in Paul's letter to the Corinthians:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11)

Those who are unrepentant sinners, whether homosexuals or drunkards or thieves, will not inherit the Kingdom of God. All of those of us who are regenerate, born again Christians were once sinners like that but the key here is the past tense. We are not that way any longer. We may struggle with sin but we no longer embrace it. I doubt World Vision would hire a convicted and unrepentant embezzler to run their accounting department or a guy who shows up drunk to work to drive workers around. yet they will normalize as acceptable what the Bible calls destructive.

To put on the same level marriage between a man and a woman, an arrangement instituted by God in the very beginning, with a politically popular but Scripturally unrecognizable arrangement like "gay marriage" is the height of loving the world over walking the often lonely path of the cross. It only makes matters worse to base this soul condemning capitulation ona false appeal to "unity".

The church in the days to come must come together to stand for the Gospel. We cannot base our appeals for unity on a denial of the very Gospel that must serve as the foundation of that unity. I am not sure what motivated World Vision to make this move, whether an honest if misguided effort to embrace homosexuals or a callous and cynical move from a money driven organization getting ahead of where the culture (and the checkbooks) are headed. Regardless this is the sort sad but expected move we will see from the pseudo-Christian world of religion that permeates our society. The walk of the church when standing for the truth as it becomes more unpopular will often be lonely and even dangerous but that is all the more reason to reject calls for false unity and call on the church to rally around the truth of the Gospel.

3 comments:

CTS said...

Sad to see this happen, but the light will always expose the deeds of the evil one -even if it causes believers to cringe.

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20

Aussie John said...

Arthur,

There is a great push, in recent times, for a "unity" which, if not based on uniformity, is based on a lack of open disagreement on anything.

Much of this "unity" is simply the experience of a nice "warm and fuzzy feeling",and an artificial congeniality.

Whilst Paul urges followers of Christ to be "eager to MAINTAIN the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace", many seem to forget that the "unity of the Spirit" is something that ALL who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (genuine followers of Christ) already have.

To "maintain" that unity is to do as Paul urges,"to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love..."

He gives sound reason as to why this unity in the Spirit is a given among genuine members of the Family of God,"There is ONE body and ONE Spirit—just as you were called to the ONE hope that belongs to your call— ONE Lord,ONE faith,ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all".



Arthur Sido said...

CTS, you are right and we shouldn't be surprised at all by stuff like this but it still is sad.

John, right on. Too many people see unity as either something to be avoided entirely or a lowest common denominator false unity that is based on what you aptly called the "warm and fuzzy" feeling.