World Vision U.S. has the wobbles. The famous evangelical charity has reversed its decision to ride the elitist tide on gay marriage.
By coincidence, over the weekend I was completing work on what became a series of three articles for my blog. I wrote them in reaction to an article I read in which Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery reportedly “called on Christians to support candidates who can get elected, even if they are not perfect for the Christian community.” In Part 1 of the series, I contrast this with the words and example of Christ and his Apostles (characterized by the words of Christ, who instructs us to “Let what you say be simply ‘yes, yes’ or ‘no, no’; anything more than this comes from evil.”) I called Mr. Minnery’s suggestion “the yea-nay approach to Christian citizenship” because, on the paramount issue of God’s authority over justice and human morality, it has Christians saying one thing with their lips and another with their vote.
I conclude the first part of the series by pointing to the self-defeating character of this approach, using an illustration from my own experience:
Prior to an election, Christians in the Republican Party admonished Christians in the black community to stop supporting so-called “pro-choice” Democrats. But then the Republican Christians voted, in the same election cycle, for so-called “pro-choice” Republicans. At the time I was still prominently identified with the GOP. So acquaintances and relatives thereupon taunted me, saying: “Your Republican friends say that they’re voting God’s way, and tell us we should do the same. But their real goal is just more power for the rich Republicans.” Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery seems determined to prove that they were right.
In Part 2 of the series, I take note of Mr. Minnery’s view that, while voting for candidates who neglect or ignore the paramount issue of God’s authority in human affairs, Christian Americans can teach others “about the importance of basic moral principles that create the sense of ordered liberty which is so important today in our country.” Then I point to the questionable dilemma this creates:
This stance forces us to wonder: When Mr. Minnery refers to “moral principles,” what is he talking about? If the “order” in the “ordered liberty” he speaks of is not ordered by the Creator, God, as the Declaration of Independence says it is, then who or what is giving the orders? If it is ordered by God, why should Christians vote for candidates who do not give priority to respecting His authority?
I then make clear that, contrary to the sly imputations of those seeking to discredit faithful Christians from participating in America’s political affairs, respect for the paramount authority of God is not just a Christian moral precept. It is also the defining first principle of America’s national identity. This leads to another fundamental question:
Does Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery think that, as American citizens, Christians should act as if we reject both the Scripture that informs our identity as Christians and the Declaration that informs our identity as Americans? God, reason and patriotism altogether forbid us thus to testify against God, our faith and our country.
I conclude that, on the whole, Christians who follow Minnery’s path will have to become “double-minded,” purporting to apply God’s standard to their life of “faith” while following an ungodly party standard in their lives as citizens.
Minnery says they should do this in order to win political victory. We have to wonder, however, whether politics is the only walk of life where “Christian leaders” like Tom Minnery think Christians must abandon God’s standard in order to succeed.
Should people in business abandon God’s standard for the sake of profit? Should people competing in sports do so for the sake of winning? Should people who are doctors, teachers or bureaucrats do so in order to advance their professional careers? Should heretofore Christian ministries do so as they profess to do works of mercy in Christ’s name?
I had already finished this second article in the series when word came of World Vision’s apostasy from the understanding of marriage ordained by God and affirmed in the words of Christ. The adverse reaction to that apostasy, which included the prospect of severe financial damage to the ministry, has induced World Vision’s decision makers to reverse themselves. But I’m not the only one for whom the whole episode illustrates the truth of what St. James says in his epistle (James 1:5-8):
… [O]ne who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind … he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
I quote this Scripture in Part 3 of the series on Tom Minnery’s yea-nay approach to Christian political action. I do so in the course of making it clear that the aim of the approach is not to make conscientious followers of Christ more effective in politics but “to drive or keep such faithful Christians out of the political arena, much as the poison pill of homosexual indoctrination is meant to drive or keep them out of the nation’s armed forces.”
I contend that Christian Americans who are willing to win elections by abandoning God’s standard for justice are in fact abandoning Christ’s standard of victory. Whether they win or lose when the human ballots are counted they risk losing when “they stand … for God’s election, in the only race that matters.” Sadly, World Vision’s wobble is evidence of the blindness already well advanced because of this pursuit of vain ambition. As the Scripture warns: “That which is gained by vanity diminishes” (Proverbs 13:11). It is also evidence that Americans who abandon God’s standard in politics are being led to abandon it, as well, in other aspects of what ought to be their consistently faithful walk.
When a people defined in terms of God’s justice let go their reverence for His authority, the crisis that results is existential, not just political. Until Christian citizens once again let God be God in all their ways, we will find ourselves, as Americans and as Christians, increasingly departed from the way of Jesus Christ. So falls the house divided against itself. (If you want to ponder this more deeply, the series I published this week might be a timely starting point.)
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