I haven’t written in months. There’s a few reasons I guess…I’m pregnant and have been exhausted and feeling like crap since the start of the new year, so very little ambition to do anything but survive, work and keep my family happy, feeling loved and oh yeah, fed. But I’ve also been wrestling with the questions of “Why do I write?” and “Does it really even matter? Will it ever make a difference? Rachel Held Evans seems to have it ALL covered!” I have faced a bit of scrutiny and accusations of being “divisive” and showing the world an unloving church that fights amongst themselves. And so I’ve just kind of been hanging back, wondering, praying, feeling disillusioned and unsure.
Then this week happened…and today I had a conversation with my daughter that hit me in the heart and let me know that I need to do this, this writing thing. Even if only so my kids look back and see that their mom got loud about what is important. I want them to know that true love and compassion and equality in Christ matters, always and that I used my voice to say so.
Last week my Facebook feed started filling up with people talking about this “God’s Not Dead” movie. People were going and taking pictures of their groups at the theatres and talking about it. Ages ago I had seen the trailer for the movie and could barely sit through it. I knew what this movie was going to be about and what it would do and maybe more importantly, what it wouldn’t do. I haven’t seen the movie yet (kinda-sorta hoping Australia sees fit to not release it here on the big screen, if I’m honest), but I have read enough about it to confirm my suspicions; this was a movie that was “preaching to the choir”. Another Christian film that gets the mega-churches and the Evangelical right to support it, thereby making some great cash and giving them the numbers they need so they can say “Look, Christians can make heart-wrenching, quality films!” It’s a movie that pits “us against them” and simply confirms all the stereotypes that Christians have of themselves and those that don’t believe the same things they/we do. The film will show a whole new Evangelical generation how best to “prove” that we are right and everyone else is so wrong. “God’s Not Dead” may indeed prove to some the existence of a God, but it will do nothing to encourage a true understanding and love for who Jesus was and what His desire for us all has always been.
I sat back and looked at my Facebook feed and I rolled my eyes…I did….something else that just highlights to the world how out of touch many in the Christian faith, still are.
Than this week, World Vision released their statement about their new rules and regulations around gay employees. It stated that people can be openly gay while working for them and can now be in legal marriages without any threat to their standing or employment with World Vision. It was a pretty simple statement really and they even highlighted that, ‘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.’ Pretty straightforward and diplomatic I thought. To me, I can’t imagine a decision like this making any difference to any believer in Christ who was giving their money to World Vision, purely for the benefit of the quality of life of a child. How wrong I was.
Fellow blogger and friend Michael Kimpan over at the Wayward Follower, wrote about the scathing response from the Evangelical community and some of their most prevalent leaders. Many made quick statements about withdrawing their sponsorship from their child. One report I read said that 2,000 children had been dropped and that was less than 24 hours after the news broke.
Rachel Held Evans and Jamie the Very Worst Missionary got straight to the heart of it all in their posts on the matter and mirrored my anger and total confusion by the thought process behind it all. They along with other notable Christian bloggers wrote firmly, fiercely and fully about this. I encourage you to read their words and really let them sink in.
So tonight I don’t want to repeat what they have said. I just want to write it down and say out loud into the big, wide, web world, that was has gone on this past week is pure insanity and the full irony of it all should not be lost on any of us.
As a church we are sending our congregations to see a movie called “God’s Not Dead”, while days later, have leaders like Al Mohler and John Piper( who have condemned World Vision’s decision) even realized that by people withdrawing their sponsorship from some of the world’s most vulnerable children, that we are indeed making God DEAD, to them?? In the places where World Vision goes, people may not hear the gospel word for word every day, but those that are helped and sponsored by them, see Christ’s love and testimony through the donations of their sponsors.
Love is not just doctrine. Love is not just “getting it right” on every, single, solitary, issue that is raised in the Bible. Wasn’t that the focus of the Pharisees? They spent their whole lives trying to be right, every single day and blasting anyone who fell short. Then Christ came along and was SO wrong by the standards of the law and He never tried to hide that. He was wrong to save the adulterous woman. He was wrong to heal the man on the Sabbath. He was even wrong to “let” a wayward woman touch Him and anoint Him while at the house of a Pharisee. He was “wrong” and He knew it and He did it anyway because He was sent to BE love and damned “being right”.
If World Vision is wrong on this point, let them be wrong. Write an email stating your displeasure and heck, maybe outline exactly why you think based on the Bible, they are so, incredibly erroneous in their judgement and decision. But do not return one perceived wrong doing, with an even more certain, destructive one. We cannot ignore Christ’s command to help the least of these (and there was no disclaimer about how IF while helping those in need, you end up alongside someone whose sin you can’t handle, that you should stop and abandon the one you are helping). There are children who can and will die without World Vision’s aid and sponsorship and what a horrendous thing to know that they could die without ever experiencing the actions of God’s love through His followers, simply because some of us have decided that in order to qualify to do God’s work, certain interpreted sins, must be white-washed first.
This is craziness. This is so far from being right or righteous or holy or Godly or loving or anything resembling the difference we should be making in this world because of our love for Christ!
This is so obvious to me, that I even presented the issue, in brief, to my 7 year old daughter today and her response was simple “Mom, that’s so mean! I hope those people are poor someday so that they know what it feels like! Can we sponsor one of the kids who have been dropped??” And THIS is from a child who, while she knows our stance on being gay is one of total acceptance, she understands that there is division in the church on this issue and yet she still “gets” that no matter the difference of opinion, God’s love should still be shown to the most innocent and desperate; no matter what.
Last night, I finished writing and decided I was almost done and would edit tonight then post. I woke up to the news that it took less than 48 hours for World Vision to “retract” their decision and label it a “mistake”. It took less than 2 days for some of the most powerful voices in the Evangelical church to raise them loud enough and to bully (yes bully!) World Vision into turning around and changing their policy back to what it was. World Vision had taken a stand and was made to feel like they were the divisive ones, while fellow Christ followers stated boldly that they refused to give money to an organization that allowed gay people to serve alongside others and help “the least of these”.
I sat at my computer and stared at the numerous posts coming up with this developing news. I sat there and my heart was instantly heavy; I felt such intense emotion and weight. All I could think was “What the hell??!!” No, you know what? All I could think was “What the fuck is wrong with your people Lord??!!!” How is it that trying to include everyone in God’s work (not even in a church setting, so how on earth does the head of the Gospel Coalition or the Baptist Churches Convention, have ANY say as to what is or is not appropriate in a business???) is divisive, but coming out and calling on people, who have a Christ given mandate (let me repeat that, a Christ given mandate!) to love and help the lowest of the low, to stop sending money that is a literal life line, to those that need it most, simply because your sense of legalism and (self)righteousness can’t handle working alongside someone whose perceived sin, is somehow worse than yours’….or mine?!
I am not sure I have ever felt such righteous anger and sorrow…I keep waiting and hoping for it to dissipate…but then, maybe it shouldn’t.
We send our churches to watch a movie “proving” that God is not dead, while we make Him unreachable to our gay brothers and sisters, right after threatening to shut His love off to those who need it most. The irony is frightening and makes my stomach churn and I know that many are not seeing it. They are not seeing our hypocrisy in rallying support for a movie that was made by Christians, for Christians (patting themselves on the back about how clever we all are and what a “great witness” this movie will be), while so many have sat back and let the most powerful names today in the Evangelical movement, become thugs in order to dictate who can serve God….who can show His love to those in the most desperate need. Suddenly there is a prerequisite to show God’s mercy and provision to others.
Truly, “God’s Not Dead” unless you don’t “fit” with what today’s “Pharisees” want and expect of “true Christians”, then well, He might as well be dead, because the stumbling blocks put in your way to get to Him are often insurmountable.
Do we care that the words spoken this week by many, who claim to follow Christ, create an environment that is toxic and unstable for those in the gay community and the developing world? Do we ache because right now many of our gay brothers and sisters are feeling broken and like God is far away (dead even?) because of how venomous the pursuit against their liberty to serve their Saviour, has been??
My heart hurts and I am tired. I say enough! I say we need to stop letting those with perceived power in some of the biggest Evangelical churches/movements, have the final say on what is “right”, because clearly they have it so incredibly wrong. I say Christ made all the difference and He had no earthly power.
At any time World Vision can change their mind again and decide to stand-up again for unity, love and true Christian service. I say we keep talking about this and praying that at some point World Vision will be able to trust that no matter who withdraws their support from them, God is their true provider and He will cause others to rise up and fill in the gaps. That is my prayer and it’s the only one I can say right now that doesn’t have me thinking and feeling some really un-Christ like thoughts. I am tired….so tired….but those of us raising our voices about this, must know after this week, that we can’t stop now.