Note: This blog would have been posted much sooner than it was – unfortunately a series of unfortunate events have occurred around myself and some of my friends, including the sudden death of a dear friend. While it may be a week late for this to seem topical, I believe it very much is and the repercussions of the World Vision whiplash from two weeks ago will be an impact felt throughout the rest of Christian history. (and before you say it, I know, the accusations made here don’t apply to all Christians, so you needn’t comment letting me know that)
Just as I was about to begin writing about World Vision Ministries’, one of the few Christian ministries I quite like and appreciate in that they feed and clothe thousands of people around the world, decision to start employing married homosexuals, or rather – to reverse their decision which strictly disallowed the practice – a new article stating that the decision had already been reversed has come out - less than 24 hours after the original announcement. This decision, the subsequent commentary from many Christians after, and the near immediate reversal does, in my opinion – signify one of the many death throes of the Christian religion – and I’ll tell you why.
Forgive me for a moment while I put on my Christian hat for a little bit of old fashioned simple exegesis (Yes, I am still allowed to do that).
The Apostle James – the brother of Jesus and leader at the church in Jerusalem wrote an epistle to the Christians scattered throughout the various churches in Israel. It’s important to note that James was probably the one individual most intimately familiar with Jesus – he had grown up with him and was familiar with his eccentricities and knew what was important to the now
dead resurrected and gone Messiah. In that letter, the First Epistle of James, he closes with the following two lines:
1 James 26-27 (Emphasis Mine)
26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
There’s an awful lot of important stuff in just these two little verses about expected conduct for a Christian and what is and isn’t acceptable in the eyes of his God.
First, he deals with those that seem religious, meaning that they have an outward appearance of religiosity – but because of the way they wag their tongues (read: speak toward others, as in – with unkindness, lasciviousness, and guile) have deceived themselves into the belief that they are righteous. I’m sure that sounds familiar to many, I’m sure you can name 10 people befitting this description just off the cuff. I can.
After, James addresses the definition of pure religion – we can almost interpret the word Pure here to mean holy, clean, or acceptable (to God) – as visiting, the word episkeptomai is used here which can be translated as ‘to look after, check on, or care for’ – those that have no fathers or that are widowed – adding only keeping himself clean from the wiles of carnality and worldliness, making no mention whatsoever of his approach toward others either inside or outside the faith.
I think there’s something significant about the idea that James, brother of Jesus found it more necessary to admonish the members of The Church to keep themselves spotless – rather than encourage them to go out to their community or the world at large in an attempt to clean up the world. James is telling you to be concerned with your sin. He’s not telling you to debate about what is and isn’t sin, to point out the sin of others, or even to reject the sinful from amongst the congregation.
James was on to something here too. You see, James knew that keeping oneself spotless from the world was such an endeavor – such a feat – that doing so would require an enormity of focus on doing precisely that and that in that focus no believer would have time to find himself concerned with the sin of other people. James was telling Christians to look inside rather than outside.
World Vision, for a very brief moment in time was saying, “We don’t have time to worry about the ‘sins’ of our brethren, we have a commission to fulfill” – but the outcry from that very simple and very Biblical sentiment was brutal.
World Vision thought better of it’s donors and supporters then quickly learned how far they had truly strayed from the path that James talks about - but over 2000 pulled their support from children sponsored through the charity. Lesson learned.
Christianity isn’t willing to feed people, clothe people, and simply love people if they have to do it while serving next to someone who is openly in a committed marital relationship with a person of the same sex.If this isn’t the case, it’s damn sure the statement being made.
Apparently there are some sinners you simply can’t associate with.
*Christian hat off*
As an outside observer I can’t help but wonder what this whiplash set of announcements is going to mean for World Vision and Christianity at large. World Vision is one of the largest Christian ministries in the world, so it’s largely representative of what Christians want their faith and their actions to reflect – it’s a bit of a litmus test for what direction the faith is going and – well, it ain’t lookin good if you ask me.
Gen X and Gen Y are full of young folks that are desperate for a faith with both an internal spirituality that was fulfilling and an external manifestation of what they envision as God’s love. The actions of many denominational bodies over the last couple of decades have certainly been trying to nail that coffin shut – but I almost feel like this might be the one that douses those final hopes for those that would make Christianity something that every humanist would love to stand next to and work hand in hand with toward some greater goal. If Gens X and Y can simply Do Good, finding within that the satisfaction they are seeking in spirituality they’ll grow out of a need for Christianity and a “relationship with Christ” – because good deeds aren’t going to be tied to the faith or to World Vision any longer. Stiff-neck religion is.
To repeat a sentiment I’ve shared here and elsewhere in the past:
Christianity won’t die because of atheists and homosexuals infiltrating and corrupting it’s core tenets. It won’t die because science finds all of the answers to the questions in which god currently fills in the gaps, or because kids aren’t praying in schools. Christianity, when it is gone, will have died at the hands of it’s adherents who refuse to emulate the name they proclaim so loudly – choking out the very thing that makes it a religion worth existing: Charity.