Strike That, Reverse It: Comments on World Vision’s Reversal

I hope that one day historians get to completely catalog every email, phone call, text, tweet, and Facebook message that World Vision received in response to their decision to start hiring people in same-sex marriages. For only then will we understand the full meaning of the word “blowback.”

As for the reversal, Justin Taylor collects some of the early comments on his blog, including:

Darrell Bock:

The board of World Vision is to be thanked for its prayerful reconsideration of its earlier decision. Reflecting and turning back is a very biblical concept. The move shows the heart intent of the organization as we live in a complex world full of ethical tension and their ultimate desire to represent Christ well.

And a series of tweets from Matthew Lee Anderson (no relation):

The @worldvision situation suggests we need to think a lot more about the problem of moral complicity.

I think @WorldvisionUSA and others deeply misjudged the depth of the evangelical commitment to ending poverty.

That sounds counterintuitive given the popular narrative. But hang with me. . . .

For many evangelicals, WV functions as something more than a poverty-relief/development agency. They have a symbolic status.

What IJM is to young evangelicals, @worldvisionusa is to traditional evangelicals. They bring together poverty-relief and evangelism.

And they did it in a way that conservative evangelicals could be proud of and point to as . . . well, as their own, in a sense.

Evangelicals cared really deeply about @worldvisionusa’s identity as a Christian organization—which meant both poverty-relief and doctrine.

The depth of that sense of identification and ownership, along with the depth of the commitment to those joint goods, prompted the backlash.

And here’s a comment from Assemblies of God general superintendent George Wood:

I therefore encourage Assemblies of God churches and individuals to continue supporting World Vision with prayers and finances, along with other Pentecostal and evangelical charities that have similar humanitarian missions. I especially encourage Pentecostals and evangelicals who hastily canceled their sponsorship of children in World Vision programs to immediately reinstate that support in order to ensure continuity of care for the poor children whom Christ loves.

Unfortunately, some voices in the media have portrayed the Assemblies of God’s concern about same-sex marriage as a lack of concern for the poor. This is not true. The Assemblies of God is deeply concerned for the poor. Partnering with national Assemblies of God churches, our missionaries worldwide are engaged in helping orphans, widows, and the victims of human trafficking. They dig wells for those without access to adequate water and provide mosquito nets to those in danger of malaria. They provide food and education for children in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Moreover, we partner with and are grateful for organizations that reach out to alleviate suffering and meet human need.

We are deeply concerned with human rights. But we are also deeply concerned with the human right to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the love, grace, and life-transforming power of God to everyone who believes. It is this gospel that motivates everything we do.

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