3.26.2014

(Un)Follow, (Un)Support, (Un)Sponsor : What does our response to World Vision say about our Faith?


I'm a feeler. I get that. 

I feel my way through life and faith, and every little thing in between. I don't have theories, I don't get ideas, I don't analyze or deduce or conjecture. I make a lot of decisions, even the big scary important kind, based on what I feel. “I feel like eating hummus.” “I feel like painting the kitchen.” “I feel like selling everything and moving to another country.” It's true that my theology is heavily influenced by how things make me feeeeel, and I have oft been reminded by friends who are legitimate for-real Bible scholars that this is a flawed way to approach an ancient text and its teaching. I can see why, but I just... don't care. I feel. That's what I do. I divine my path by intuition and accident, stumbling along with my arms stretched out in front of me, half reaching for the unseen Encourager who coaxes me along. This is how I follow Jesus; eyes up, limbs outstretched, wobbling forward on the balls of my feet...

Feeling my way around has worked out pretty well for me thus far. I mean, yeah, there are a few exceptions, problems do crop up from time to time. For example, when I feel like I'm right and you're wrong, I can get a little stabby. I have been known to make sweeping statements and proclaim bold judgements because I feel a certain way. It's like this: I feel like pooping in the downstairs bathroom is a sin - like a really bad, totally offensive, almost completely unforgivable sin, that makes even Jesus shrug his shoulders and shake his head like “nope, not dying for that”. So when my kids poop downstairs, I lose my mind. It's terrible. I am aware that arguments can be made for both sides of the 1st floor poop debate, but I AM RIGHT. and I will not stand by while my boys stink up the entire downstairs with their crap.

I speak my feelings with a sense of power and authority because, as far as I'm concerned, all of my feels are facts.

But, at a core level, I understand this can't actually be true and that I am... *ahem*... not always right. The beauty in knowing this (and really owning it) is that it allows me to live with a certain level of flexibility, even around issues that I feel very, very strongly about. Truly. If a guest in my home takes a dump downstairs, I'm cool with that. I'm not going to shove a box of matches under the door and spray air-freshener through the key hole. No way. That would not be kind or loving or gracious, and it would make my friend feel awful. As for me and my house, we will poop upstairs – but that's where it ends - I am comfortable letting my friends and acquaintances decide where to drop a hot one, and letting God sort out the rest.

Are you starting to wonder where this is going? Because I totally am...

Oh, yes. I remember.

World Vision.


And then the internet was all “WHAT?!” and everybody's brains exploded

It was a mess; there were feelings everywhere! Hurt feelings and happy feelings; some people were angry, others were elated, some were confused, a few were afraid. Arrogant Academics and Ignorant Morons on both sides of the equation weighed in heavily, while others leaned, less sure, one way or the other. These conversations are always hard, but good and necessary. Sadly, much of the rich, challenging dialog that can happen when we share strong feelings about our tightly held beliefs spiraled into the kind of club-house circle-jerk we've become accustomed to on the World Wide Web. That part didn't surprise me because I know how easy it is to come off like a real douche when we treat our feelings like they're facts. (Been there. Done that.)

What did surprise me was how the knee-jerk reaction for many Evangelical Christians in opposition to the policy change was to withdraw their support of World Vision by canceling their Child Sponsorships.

And I just...I mean.......I don't......*sigh*... I guess... Ok, fine. I HAVE FEELINGS ABOUT THIS.




Friends, we may not agree on the big fat gay debate at all – we may have super different feelings about whether or not World Vision made a good choice or a bad choice, a right or wrong choice – but at what point does this (or really any) disagreement absolve us of our God-given responsibility to care for the least of these? Is it ever ok to withdraw our promised, life-giving support from a community in need? We all remember 48 hours ago, when we believed our $35 a month was important, right?!... If you are among those who don't agree with World Vision, I get that – maybe I can even respect that - but your sponsored child did not stop needing the food, water, medicine, and education they needed yesterday. We picked these children, we pray for them, we know their birthdays, we keep pictures of them on our fridges, we talk about loving these kids and their families – How then can we so easily abandon them to make a point?

What does it say about our Faith when our response to a corporate policy change is to kick a needy child in the teeth?

What kind of hypocrisy is this, which ardently defends ridiculously bad missions practices with self-righteous platitudes about how “God can use anyone to do anything!”, but pulls support from a child in need because it might be administrated by the wrong person?

When did impoverished children become products to be boycotted and replaced with the click of a mouse?

If our “gifts” to others are actually about us, then this all makes sense; You sponsored a child to make you feel good, and you'll unsponsor the kid if the global aid org does something that makes you feel icky. Classic. “My service/gift/mission trip isn't about them, it's about teaching/changing/affirming me (or my kid).”

I'm just gonna throw this out there, but perhaps our Christian priorities are a little bit fucked up when we decide that a humanitarian-aid worker's private life is more important than the actual survival of humans they are aiding. I know, I know. There I go again, feeling my way through the Gospel. But it just feels wrong to let a child suffer while we stand on a soapbox. It doesn't feel like a very good expression of the Faith, Hope, and Love we claim to value as followers of Jesus.

Our response to World Vision will tell bold truths about our Faith.

Can we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God? Will we...? 


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Don't tell us how you feel about homosexuality (No, seriously. Don't.), instead let's talk about what people who are conflicted should do...

Do you feel like it's ok to drop a sponsored child in response to World Visions hiring amendment?

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****OH HEY! HERE'S A SUPER AWKWARD UPDATE****

Apparently, World Vision has reversed the scandalous amendment to their hiring practices and wishes to resume global aid like yesterday never happened under the new monicker; Waffle Vision. I'm not even kidding. *sigh*

So, if you need to switch "Evangelical" for "Progressive" in my blog post, go ahead. 
The premise is the same.