Last week began with World Vision's stunning announcement that it would be open to hiring homosexuals in legal same-sex marriages.
But within two days, World Vision reversed course. In a letter to supporters, the Board acknowledged that it had made a mistake, reaffirmed the organization's commitment to the biblical norm of marriage between one man and one woman, and asked for forgiveness.
I say Praise God! And, we should not only forgive but also offer our support and encouragement. Let's not be the prodigal son's older brother. And let's learn from this episode.
As World Vision president Rich Stearns told reporters, "Christian organizations will continue to deal with this sensitive issue." That, my friends, is an understatement. Anyone currently trying to sit this one out, will soon realize how little neutral ground there actually is.
And that will reveal how many Christians and Christian organizations just don't "get" marriage. If our argument is selectively pointing out certain condemnations from Leviticus while ignoring others, we don't get it. Or, if we think God's morality gets in the way of God's Gospel, we also just don't get it. Without a strong understanding of what marriage itself is, and why it's important, we'll either be unwilling or unable to defend it. Before there were any political institutions or governments, God established the institution of marriage as a universal human institution.
Look at Matthew 19. The Pharisees ask Jesus if divorce is permissible according to Mosaic law. He pointed them to something more important than that law: what God intended from the beginning.
Jesus replied, "Haven't you read . . . that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? … Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
Folks, churches must make discipleship and instruction on marriage a priority. Enough of the therapeutic "four steps to a great marriage" and "five steps to a happy and godly sex life." We need a robust, theological vision of God's intent for marriage that people can actually live from.
And, we need humility. When gay activists say, "You guys have been inconsistent on other marriage issues, like divorce," We should say "You're right, we have been." But by His grace, we'll do better.
And once we get down what marriage is, we need to think through the specific "what ifs" about same-sex marriage. What should Christians do if invited to attend, or officiate, a same-sex wedding? What if a gay couple asks to enroll their child at our Christian school or even Sunday school? What if our employer asks us to participate in gay awareness events?
The time to struggle with these, and the many other questions, is now.
Sean McDowell and I are writing a book on all of this. There's been plenty written warning of same-sex marriage, and plenty written predicting it brings the end of the world. Our book, due out in July, offers guidance for the "what do we do now" questions that are coming, and in many ways, already here.
Here's a preview: First, we must know what the scriptures teach on marriage so we can know what must not be compromised. Second and third: Pray and pray again. Fourth, seek the counsel of other believers.
Fifth, in every situation, respond in grace and love. What God thinks of marriage is clear. How we ought respond in specific situations, will be at times a matter of conscience – like whether to eat food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians.
And remember, as difficult as it will be, we have an enormous opportunity before us to hold out and live out God's vision for marriage. Please come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We'll point you to some vital resources on understanding and defending marriage.