(Photo: World Vision/Narges Ghafary)
Christian leaders such as evangelist Franklin Graham and Russell D. Moore, who is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, expressed outrage that Christian relief organization World Vision announced it would hire employees in same-sex marriages on Monday.
"I was shocked today to hear of World Vision's decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages," Graham, the son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said in his statement. "The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.
"My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God. World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin," Graham, who is the president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Moore also released a statement on Monday in which he pointed out that World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief organizations in the world, said its move was no capitulation, just a recognition that some groups supporting World Vision have differing views on sex and marriage.
"This is no surprise, on one level," Moore explained. "The constellation of parachurch evangelical ministries founded after World War II have been running headlong, with some notable exceptions, toward the very mainline liberalism to which they were founded as alternatives. Some think if we can just barter away Christian orthodoxy fast enough we can catch the wave of that Presbyterian Church (USA) church growth boom.
"But here's what's at stake. This isn't, as the World Vision statement (incredibly!) puts it, the equivalent of a big tent on baptism, church polity, and so forth," he writes. "At stake is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish."
World Vision announced that its "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," as reported by Christianity Today. The organization states that abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. Christians in legal same-sex marriages are permitted be employed, according to the policy change.
Moore's statement includes his belief that the world has entered an era "where we will see who the Evangelicals really are, and by that I mean those who believe in the Gospel itself, in all of its truth and all of its grace." He continues, "And many will shrink back."
He writes that there's "an entire corps of people out there who make their living off of evangelicals but who are wanting to 'evolve' on the sexuality issue without alienating their base."
"I don't mind people switching sides and standing up for things that they believe in," Moore states. "But just be honest about what you want to do. Don't say, 'Hath God said?' and then tell us you're doing it to advance the gospel and the unity of the church."
He concludes, "Donor bases come and go. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands forever. World Vision is a good thing to have, unless the world is all you can see."
Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, said the decision by World Vision brings on a time to grieve for children everywhere.
"No matter what you think about this decision, I hope you feel a sense of grief…for the children," Wax wrote on The Gospel Coalition's blog. "This is a story of deep and lasting significance, because there are children's lives at stake in how we respond.
"Children will suffer as Evangelicals lose trust in and withdraw support from World Vision in the future. It will take time for evangelicals to start new organizations that maintain historic Christian concepts of sin, faith and repentance."
After listing reasons children suffer in so many ways, not just in decisions such as the one that World Vision made, and how Evangelicals will respond with grief, he writes. "But we also grieve for children here at home who are growing up in a culture in which sexual idolatry distorts the meaning of marriage and the beauty of God's original design."