On World Vision, Taking Your Ball and Going Home, and Love

What a mess.

So World Vision changes their policy saying they will hire GLBTQ Christians who are married.

And then a bunch of people (mostly conservative, evangelical, Christians) get upset and threaten (or actually do) pull their support and funding.

And then World Vision says they’re sorry and reverses their policy change.

Okay… Where to begin?  So much has been written about this, that I’ll only try to contribute a little.

(However, do check out Rachel Held Evans posts (here and here), and a take on the Sad State of American Evangelicalism by Brandan Robertson, and some thoughts by Kristen Howerton on Taking a Stand on the Backs of Starving Children).

But two things have been percolating in my mind tonight.

1. The first is from when I was in grade 4.  The neighbourhood kids would get together and play “ghost-in-the-graveyard” (a version of hide-and-seek-tag).  In chasing and tagging each other, there were moments where we had to figure out whether or not tagging a loose shirt counted, or if your tag had to contact the body.

While playing, I discovered that I could get the decision I wanted by sitting down and declaring that I wasn’t playing anymore unless I got what I wanted.  Maybe this is the roots of non-violent protest, or, more likely, it’s the roots of being a selfish cry-baby.

Sure, my threats worked the first time.  And the next.  But eventually, I discovered that the more times I threatened to “take my ball and go home,” the less my friends wanted to play with me.  Oh, they still wanted to play ghost-in-the-graveyard with each other til the sun went down.  They just wanted to play without me.  And they did.

If conservative, evangelical Christians don’t learn how to keep playing with their friends without threatening to leave all the time, methinks they’re in big trouble.  Eventually, they’ll be playing ghost-in-the-graveyard all by themselves.

2.  Jesus was asked:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We all know this.  If you had to use one word to summarize the Christian faith, I hope most of us who identify as Christians would use the word love.

But here’s the catch.  Thinking we’re being loving, or saying we’re being loving, doesn’t necessarily mean we are loving.  Rather, I’d say the proof is in the pudding (and apparently so does Jesus (Matthew 21:28-32)).

I actually think that Christians are losing at their own game.  We’re being out-loved. And out-kinded.  And out-hospitalitied.  And all those other made up past-tense verbs.

All this yelling, this threatening, this petitioning, this leaving, this organizing, this fear mongering, this accusing… It’s not coming across as very loving (even if we think it is).

I’m looking forward to the final numbers World Vision numbers, but I can probably take a good guess that more people withdrew their funding over the original policy change than the reversal back to the original.  Why?  Nadia Bolz-Weber tells us why via her post on Facebook:

“World Vision is reportedly taking it all back.

I’m very disappointed, but still happy to support their work. The critique of pulling support for charity due to an employee hiring practice I disagree with has to cut both ways or it’s BS.”

When anyone is out-loved by their “enemies”,  they have already lost.

When the people who affirm gay marriages keep sending cheques to World Vision, even if they disagree with their hiring policies, I’d venture to say the people who don’t affirm gay marriage (and threw a hissy fit) have lost.  They’ve missed the point.  Because the point isn’t about winning a battle.  The point is about being loving.

We get it.  Some people believe A.  Some believe B.  Some believe C.  And some people didn’t even know there was a C.   Maybe, just maybe, our best witness to the world about what being a follower of Jesus is all about isn’t about getting everybody to believe A.  Or B.  Or C.  Maybe our best witness is to be about love.

The funny part about this is that we might disagree on a definition of love, or on the authority of scripture and hermeneutics and all that jazz.  Or maybe my post might not be considered very loving (Darn it!  Don’t we all think we’re loving?!?).

But in all of our conflicts, for Jesus’ sake (really), we have to figure out how to live and love together when we disagree.

Just over a year ago, this was my prayer:  As the morning casts off the darkness, Lord, help us to cast aside any feelings of ill will we have might harbour against those who have hurt us.  Soften our hearts to work toward their conversion and ours.  Amen.

And I’m still praying it.

– Kyle

PS – The Truth and Reconciliation of Canada is meeting in Edmonton this weekend.  For a lesson on love, we should all spend a little bit of time there…

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