So, here’s the story:
A well-known charity organization recently announced they were putting children from third-world countries in factories to work. Obviously, this caused a stir–and many Christians decided to stop funding the charity-organization. The donors were upset that their support money was being associated with child labor, so they decided to send a message to the organization’s leaders. (We don’t support sweat shops!)
So, what’s the problem? Child labor is wrong. Period. (Right?) Why are people angry that Christian donors stopped funding this charity?
Well, critics argue: If too many people withdraw support from the charity, then kids will go hungry.
Interesting perspective, huh?
Ultimately, the charity decided to go back to their former policy, dropping the child-employment program. Most of their donors returned, and the charity-organization is continuing its good work as usual. (At least, the key players are happy, even though the charity’s reputation took a hit.)
But, still, some bloggers are criticizing the DONORS for withholding their donations while the charity fixed its mistake. “That’s like treating poor people as chess pieces in your silly moral dispute,” the critics say. Christians shouldn’t make side-issues out of things like child labor, when the real concern is: “Are poor families being fed?”
For example, in her article How Evangelicals won a Culture War and Lost a Generation, Rachel Held Evans argues that Christians spend too much time fighting political battles over right/wrong–and it gets in the way of helping poor people.
Ms. Evans knows EXACTLY what donors should have done in this situation–they should have continued sending money to World Vision (so the poor people could be fed), even if World Vision’s leadership made a really bad cultural decision.
From her article: “[Christians have] a disproportionate focus… [which] prioritizes the culture war…over and against the important work of caring for the poor.”
You may think something seems weird…mostly because child-labor isn’t just a silly “culture war.” It’s plain wrong. (Right?) Obviously the Christian donors were right to stop supporting a business that was putting kids in factories. Maybe you think Ms. Evans is a bit out-of-line for thinking one concern is more important than another…and maybe we should help the poor AND monitor the company’s business practices at the same time?
But let me clear things up: The World Vision story doesn’t really involve the promotion of child labor. World Vision made a company-wide decision to support homosexual staff members, and this upset many of their donors.
The original quote of Rachel Held Evans’ reads: “[Christians have] a disproportionate focus on homosexuality that…prioritizes the culture war against them over and against the important work of caring for the poor.”
Ah….well that makes more sense, doesn’t it?
How sneaky of me to rewrite the scenario and make it sound like the charity was actually condoning something wrong, when World Vision’s leadership only got tangled in a harmless, personal-preference issue like homosexuality.
Everybody knows child labor is BAD (you might call it “sinful”), but homosexuality isn’t a problem. At the very least, it’s none of our business. Christians need to leave the gay thing alone for awhile so they can spend more time concentrating on truly “important work” (as defined by Millennials, of course).
When a donor honestly objects to sending children to factories, the decision is obvious: stop supporting that charity! When a donor honestly objects to charity’s shady book-keeping or a series of top-level affairs or some other scandal, the it get’s more complicated: there will be ethical arguments, and people with good intentions may truly struggle to decide what to do with their money and their consciences.
But when a donor is uncomfortable with open-and-proud homosexuality in an organization, then he should just shut up and pay up, for the sake of the poor people!
I know it sounds like I’m implying Ms. Evans (and critics like her) are hypocritical. Yet I’m only dishing out what she served first. The article above says any donors who claimed they couldn’t support unbiblical lifestyles were lying or being hypocritical unless they became equally outraged over World Vision’s divorced staff members.
But, I propose for your consideration that, if World Vision released an “official policy change” stating: “People can get married and divorced as many times as they want, or they can live with their boyfriend/girlfriend, or they can watch pornography on their own time…it is none of our business, as long as they are committed to our mission of feeding the poor,” then Christians would raise their eyebrows to that, too.
And then they would object verbally.
And then they would take their support money to an organization with better moral values.
Let me wrap this up:
Not everything is black-and-white. (Isn’t that the liberal mantra?) Sometimes even two people with the exact same foundation of belief will honestly be torn about how to do the most good with their time and money. Who are you to say I’ve made the wrong choice with mine–after I’ve researched, wrestled, and written my check…or decided to withhold it?
The only reason Rachel Evans is comfortable siding against Christian donors in this case is because SHE PERSONALLY DOESN’T FEEL CONVICTED ABOUT SUPPORTING HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR.
If we were talking about child labor, Ms. Evans would disassociate with World Vision just as fast as the next person, regardless of the “good” things the charity may accomplish simultaneously (like feeding poor families).
If we want to get technical, the Bible has more to say about the sinfulness of gay-sex than it does about employing children. I could make a much stronger argument against supporting homosexuality than against the support of certain child-labor situations.
But my point is: deciding which charities to support is complicated. And, if we all agree that we should have a say in how organizations spend our money–we should hold them to certain standards–don’t stick up your nose when you find out what my standards are and then play the “FEED THE KIDS” card.
And just one more thing: Evangelicals haven’t “won” the culture war here. I’d argue no one has. Perhaps you’ve heard there are no winners when families fight? Totally applicable in this case.
No matter what World Vision decides about homosexual staff members, they will upset somebody: either those “obsessing” about how fine and normal homosexuality is, or those “obsessing” about how selfish and soul-damaging it is. Lose-lose.
If only everyone could stop obsessing about what’s right/wrong in the first place, and just feed the poor… (Right?)