Thursday, March 27, 2014

Guest Post: Ashamed of Christian Intolerance

This is a guest post from my wife, who so eloquently commented on the World Vision debacle.
I never post opinions about hot-button issues, but I’m so upset and ashamed with the way that some of my fellow Christians have been representing my faith lately that it’s really bugging me. My heart is hurting. Prepare to witness a rare Laci rant.
Really?!? Thousands of Christians suddenly pulling funds that go to a STARVING CHILD because they don’t want gay Christians in a committed relationship working to help feed that child?!?? I’m embarrassed that World Vision was essentially bullied into reversing their (brave) policy. And that’s exactly what it was, bullying...threats of pulling funding unless they explicitly and publicly called out homosexuality as a sin, and said you can't work there if you disagree. Why did it have to go there? This is not about whether being gay is right or wrong. People missed the point completely. You can think it’s a sin and be a Christian, and you can think it’s not our place to judge and STILL be a Christian. That’s a whole separate issue that I’m not discussing here, it’s not relevant. They were not saying it was right or wrong, they were saying “let’s not be so divisive. There’s been a lot of hurt caused by this debate...we want to be an example in working together despite our differences and not discriminating.” Sexuality is not central to our faith, as much as many seem to think it is the be all end all. Very little of the Bible is devoted to that issue; far more is devoted to admonishing us to love others. Again and again. To forgive others. To love God. But that message gets lost in the stream of debates. So many are focusing on it, freaking out as if your view on it determines if you’re going to heaven or not, or that if gay marriage is allowed, it means heterosexual marriage is being torn apart or diminished. That’s just silly. My personal relationship with Jesus, as well as my relationship with my husband, is not threatened by anyone else’s relationship with whoever they love. And I believe that God cares far more about how I treat my fellow human beings than what I think about gay people. Why is this the main issue Christians today think they need to fight for?!? Why not focus on the things that really matter?
World Vision stated it so well in their first statement about it when they said “"Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues," he said. "It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage." Bravo! Many denominations and respected Christian leaders are divided on that issue, so they decided it was best to not formally take a side and instead try and unite Christians to work together despite their differences. There are many other issues that are not anywhere close to being the difference between salvation or not. (Imagine their job interviews if it continues like this...”Were you baptized by dunking or sprinkling? Does your church use a rock guitar in their worship service? Yes? Oh, sorry, guess you can’t work here, our policy says you’re not a real Christian, so you’re not fit to distribute food to the hungry.”) World Vision also has stated they will not take a formal stance on things like divorce/remarriage, evolution or female pastors, as it should be...there’s disagreement on those, and Christians on both sides of the issue that both have convincing arguments. They know that they are a company that represents Christianity as a whole, not one particular view of Christianity, and that ultimately, those issues should be discussed at a church level. It’s not like they are God handing down a declaration of what is counted as Christianity. We all like to think that only our denomination is the right one with all the answers, but it's simply not true.
But instead of inspiring unity World Vision was shown that fear of homosexuality outweighs a lot of Christian’s desires to help the poor and hungry. They just couldn’t support an organization that might work alongside those that Jesus himself would probably welcome. I feel like homosexuals are the lepers of today...people who Christians are afraid to touch, afraid to show compassion to for fear of getting “infected.” Sometimes I’m outraged at how so many Christians put “calling out sin” above “love your neighbor.” It’s just Not. As. Important. Telling someone they’re a sinner rarely endears them to Christianity. We all know that already. But I saw a lot of formerly skeptical atheists give a nod to World Vision’s initial decision and how they were impressed at their openness. I bet they’re doubly turned away now, hearing the new decision. How many of those who might have embraced Jesus are now forever hardened against the church because of how they are seeing Christians behave in this situation? We claim to be loving and then we go and abandon an already struggling child because our ideas were challenged. It saddened me greatly hearing World Vision recant something that just yesterday I viewed as a step in the right direction of loving and recognizing our fellow human beings the way we are supposed to as Christians.
I have to restate, this is not a debate about whether being gay is a sin or not. I’m not going there, let’s not debate that. It is the fact that Christians were so fast to immediately drop over 2,000 children that they sponsored just because World Vision said they would not take a hard stance. Church leaders even told their members to pull their funds. That is wrong on every level. We should be ashamed that the world is seeing Christians in that light. If you disagree with the policy that much, fine, at least finish out the year and don’t renew again, go support another charitable organization. But don’t abruptly stop supporting someone who relies on you, in a spoiled fit to prove that you hold the power.
I think I’m going to go sponsor a child now. If you agree with me that Christianity is more than political stances and religious rules, please consider doing the same.

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