Monday, March 31, 2014

What Putting Yourself Second Looks Like

If you have been following the Christian blogosphere lately, you probably know that the American branch of the prominent evangelical charity World Vision (whose site I have a permanent link to on my list of detours on the Project's sidebar--and full disclosure, I have been supporting World Vision financially for years and plan on continuing to do so) announced it would start allowing for the hiring of gays and lesbians in married relationships.  It made sense, considering that World Vision USA is headquartered in my home state of Washington, where same-sex marriage has been legal since the 2012 election, and World Vision employs Christians from a wide swath of denominations and traditions.

Then, just 48 hours later, they abruptly announced that they had reversed that decision.

What had happened in that short span of two days?

Conservative Christians across the denominational spectrum had a massive conniption, taking to social and traditional media platforms alike to condemn the decision.  Literally thousands of child sponsors contacted World Vision to tell them they would no longer be supporting those children.  And World Vision then reversed course quicker than you could say "WTF?"

I--and many other young Christians--felt profoundly disillusioned by how our colleagues and brethren had rushed to put the kibosh on this policy change.  It wasn't just that folks were opposed to World Vision hiring married gay employees, it was that it became blatantly clear that opposition to same-sex marriage ranked as a higher priority to these folks than, you know, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked--the sort of stuff Jesus actually tells us to do.

So when I read in the New York Times that World Vision admitted some of the sponsors called to ask, "Can I have my child back?" I wanted to scream.  Because if you are in a position to use a child's welfare as a bargaining chip to get what you want, you have no business acting like you are a persecuted minority.  You are using your class privilege to get your own way.

Considering that Jesus Himself as a dirt poor, homeless Israelite carpenter had little to no class privilege to speak of...that doesn't strike me as very Christ-like.

But you know what is?  An openly gay friend of mine whom I competed against many a time on the collegiate debate circuit wrote on my Facebook wall after I posted about this story, saying, verbatim, "That is DISGUSTING.  I'd rather the groups continued to discriminate against us than abandon children like that."

Chris's response absolutely floored me.  Even though both her and I believe discriminating against her is fundamentally wrong, she'd rather have to cope with that than see impoverished kids used in order to discriminate against her.  I was amazed and moved.

On top of that, Chris identifies as agnostic.  But by expressing a willingness to put the welfare of others before her own, she came across far more Christian and Christ-like to me than my brethren who did try to yank their child sponsorships...and then had the chutzpah to ask for them back only two days later.

Because she put herself second.

That is what being Christian looks like, friends.  Even if you don't identify as Christian.

So, here's the deal, fellow Christians: you do not get to complain about being a persecuted minority.  If anything, the fact that World Vision was so rapid and complete in its reversal says volumes about just how greatly your views are still catered to.  Who got persecuted in all of this are the children whom World Vision immeasurably helps out of poverty, because they had no say in your proactive decision to use them as human collateral.  Who got persecuted in all of this are the gay and lesbian Christians who want to be treated fairly in the Christian workplace.

You were not persecuted.  You were, and are, privileged.

And if nothing else, please, please recognize that privilege for what it is.  And next time, I beg of you, please don't use it at the expense of those who have less of it than you.

Your Savior--and mine--would probably approve.

Yours in Christ,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Eric and a special thanks also to Chris!