Brent and I chose to become foster parents through the state rather than a Christian organization because we believed there would be greater impact on families who did not have previous background with church – with Jesus. One of our basic beliefs as a couple is that we are to intentionally live in such a way as to have maximum impact – that is, we decide what to do or not do based on what we believe to be the most effective (impact the most people) and the longest lasting (for eternity). We decided that entering the world of foster parenting was a way to impact our world.
In choosing this, we also committed to abide by their policies on certain parenting procedures even though we did not agree with them all. We talked through it and concluded that serving these children was more important than parenting our way. We decided we could live with it.
After many questions to our social worker, we concluded that we would have much freedom in influencing the children in our home and would not have to apologize for our Christian lifestyle. Knowing we were contributing to a non-Christian organization didn’t deter us from serving in this capacity, believing that we would still be able to have maximum impact in the lives of those we served and loved.
However, if the children that we are trying to reach (in our home) with the saving and life-changing gospel message of Jesus were to participate in a gospel-centered organization in our community (i.e. a church or para church organization), and we discovered that the leaders of that organization participated and continued in known sin (yes, as defined by our personal interpretation of scripture), we would most likely withdraw them from that program. Why? Because associating Jesus’ name – the gospel message – with an organization creates an accountability factor with those who support that organization, based on Jesus’ teaching as they have come to know it. While there are many different views on what Jesus taught or would teach if He was here today, it would be a justified motive to withdraw our support of and participation in an organization in which we feel was demonstrating a belief counter to what we were attempting to instill.
We want the children in our home to experience Jesus in every way – the One who is full of grace and truth. Recognizing that it’s His mercy that leads to repentance, we desire to show them love by caring for their basic needs and to demonstrate grace by providing them with more than they deserve – snacks they like, entertaining they enjoy, new clothes and shoes (none of which they or their families have done anything to earn).
We also have set boundaries. We use these boundaries to teach authority.
My prayer for their “here and now” is that grace and boundaries will come together in such a way that they will trust us, believe us and eventually love us enough to obey us because they want to do so.
My prayer for their “one day” is that they will connect the dots, with the help of the Spirit drawing their hearts, and will realize they’ve seen and heard the gospel.
So as I reflect on this gospel message as I understand it, in good conscience I can not separate the grace of the gospel (a free gift of God that no one can earn) from the truth of the gospel (repentance from know sin, which I believe includes homosexual union as well as greed and gossip etc). I would be concerned if the leaders in our AWANA programs, Sunday school, student ministries were participating in consistent publicly known sin with no sorrow or willingness to turn from that sin. This would be duplicity … we would be teaching our children something but denying our belief by not addressing the hypocrisy that existed. While I’m very aware that most of the children involved with WV will be unaffected/unaware of their policy change, and therefore it seems a moot point to announce that the implementation of this new policy even occurred, I think that it would be lacking in integrity to agree to this change and not tell those who have their name and money attached to this organization.
I have no problem supporting non faith-based organizations. I will gladly serve those in our community without feeling the need to hand them a gospel tract with every cup of water I share. My family will serve our neighbors by shoveling snow, taking food in crisis situations, and listening to them over a cup of coffee even if we never get to explicitly share the gospel message with them.
But when I support faith-based, gospel-driven groups, I don’t think it’s unloving or lacking in compassion to expect them to adhere to the basic principles of what I believe is essential to the gospel message. I do not condemn those who in good conscience are able to participate in those organizations, and I hope that they will allow me to not participate in them, knowing it would violate mine. To paint with a broad brush that it is absolutely unloving to be conflicted about whether or not to support World Vision now that there has been this new development is as bad as painting with a broad brush that it is evil to continue to support them.
If a disciple of Jesus can continue to participate in and support WV without violating their conscience, then by all means do so. Love well.
But if there are those who are unable to do so, it may just be that they are also attempting to love Jesus well.