SEATTLE, WA, March 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While influential Christian groups are praising World Vision for reversing its recent policy change validating same-sex “marriages,” some pro-family leaders are insisting that while they will forgive the organization, it must “clean house” if it hopes to rebuild trust among its supporters.
“World Vision has asked for [forgiveness], so I believe that we need to extend it,” Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, said on AFA Radio Thursday.
But, he added, “There is a difference between forgiveness and trust. … Trust, once it is shattered, … it takes a long time to rebuild. … It cannot be rebuilt with a letter of apology.”
Life Training Institute President Scott Klusendorf likewise thanked World Vision for the reversal, but called for the resignation of “the President and every board member who voted for the initial policy change.” While “we should forgive … the issue is qualifications for leadership,” he said.
In a statement on the reversal, American Family Association President Tim Wildmon remained critical of the original decision, calling it “very disconcerting.” Wildmon said the decision was indicative of “the spiritual and cultural war on the great moral issues of our time [that] is being waged both within and without the church.”
The U.S. branch of the international charity organization, which requires chastity for unmarried employees and faithfulness in marriage for all others, had previously announced that its board of directors approved a policy change to treat same-sex “marriages” as equal to heterosexual marriages. That decision led to boycotts and massive backlash from prominent Christian organizations that donate money to World Vision.
World Vision's U.S. President, Richard Stearns, had said the new policy would still require belief in the organization's statement of faith and the practice of pre-marital chastity and marriage fidelity. He also said World Vision continued to “affirm and support” traditional marriage.
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With World Vision's decision to stand with Biblical principles on marriage reasserted, Assemblies of God General Superintendent George Wood said its critics should “forgive and comfort” as encouraged in the Bible. He called upon “Assemblies of God churches and individuals to continue supporting World Vision with prayers and finances.”
But Fischer insisted that the letter of apology is not enough. “Genuine repentance is not just words. It's going to lead to a change in behaviour. It's going to lead to decisions,” said Fischer. “I say that the minimum thing is a sweeping change in leadership. All of the leadership that supported this reversal of two days ago – it's gotta go.” He singled out Stearns in particular, saying he “led this organization straight into the ditch by departing from God's clear and unambiguous standard for marriage.”
World Vision's “test is just beginning,” Fischer added, noting that they are likely to face lawsuits over the homosexual issue now. “They've got to have leaders who are ready for the test and right now they don't.”
Same-sex “marriage” advocacy groups and individuals were, unsurprisingly, less supportive of the reversal. In a public statement, Human Rights Campaign Religion & Faith Program Director Dr. Sharon Groves said the group was “devastated by the decision.” She also said that “at a time when Pope Francis is asking, 'Who am I to Judge?' World Vision has decided they can judge with impunity and at great cost to those who need them the most.”
Bloggers Marg Herder and Rachel Evans were among many who said evangelicals were abandoning the poor in pulling money from World Vision. Evans went so far as to write that “when Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gay and lesbian people helping to provide that aid, something’s very, very wrong.”
“It might not be hate,” says Evans, “but it is a nefarious sort of stigmatizing, and it’s wrong.”
In his comments, Wood defended his organization from these and other accusations. According to Wood, “we are deeply concerned with human rights. But we are also deeply concerned with the human right to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the love, grace and life-transforming power of God to everyone who believes.”
This is not the first time World Vision has been embroiled in controversy. While the organization helps 1.2 million children annually because of U.S.-based donations, it has been criticized for including “family planning” in its development model. In India, for example, World Vision more than doubled the usage of modern contraceptives in a community it helped learn how to use contraceptives and condoms.