Ashes 14: Held hostage...

Be careful what you ask for. Be cautious of what you promise... 

Mark 6:13-29 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him." 15 But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."

17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it." 23 And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." 24 She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer." 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

I wish I could just talk about this passage today — about the danger of speaking prematurely, of making promises before knowing what the consequences will be. Admittedly, given the events of today, I literally laughed out loud when I saw the above passage. It was just all too rich.

Two days ago, World Vision, an organization that uses sponsorships to make live better for children who would otherwise have nothing, announced a change in its employment policy that would allow gay Christians who are legally married to be employed by the organization. Given its position in the world of evangelical Christianity, this was huge. I was ecstatic. Some of my friends thought the change was too small, but having known friends connected with the foundation, I knew this change did not come without significant thought. However, I also suspected that it would come with consequences...

In response to the policy change, many evangelicals either threatened to withdraw or actually withdrew their financial support from World Vision, leaving countless children without the sponsorship they so desperately need to survive. In addition, as a further insult, evangelical bloggers blamed gay and lesbians for the mass defunding. In case you're having a hard time following, here's Rachel Held Evans' recap:

Let me repeat that sequence of events:

1) World Vision announces it will not take a position on debates around gay marriage, but will employ people in same-sex marriages in its U.S. offices.

2) In protest, some evangelicals threaten to halt their current funding for food, water, clothing, and shelter to children and communities sponsored by World Vision.

3) Evangelical spokespeople say they “weep for the children” who will suffer as a result of pulled sponsorships, and blame gay and lesbian people (and divorcees and single parents) for the actions of evangelicals. 

Sadly, only earlier today, less than two days after the initial announcement, in a move that I fear will have massive consequences, World Vision's board of directors reversed their decision and went back to their original policy. Rather than hold fast to a decision reached via prayer and discernment, World Vision gave into what can only be called sheer bullying by the evangelical Christian world.

Rather than do what was right, Herod had John the Baptist beheaded. Today, World Vision has put the well-being and spiritual and emotional welfare of countless LGBT Christians (or otherwise) under the guillotine of Christian conservatism instead of waiting for those they were welcoming to the table to even show up. Rather than be patient and wait, World Vision has given into the selfish, ignorant hostage-taking demands of fearful fundamentalists.

There is no guaranteeing how many former supporters of World Vision will return their support...

There is no guaranteeing how many new supports will withdraw their support...

There is no guaranteeing how many supporters who did not withdraw support will now do so having seeing how quickly World Vision has reversed their decision...

Most important, there is no telling how much emotional and spiritual harm has been done or will be suffered because of this... 

I am so incredibly disappointed and hurt right now. I am frustrated. I am infuriated. I am saddened. How have we gotten to a place where the Gospel, where the supposed "Word of God" can yet again be used as a weapon against a group of people that have been hurt over and over again? How can so many of "God's people" think it is okay to show such blatant hostility against "the least of these" simply because they've been told that Matthew 18 says it's okay to do so.

Lord have mercy Christ have mercy Lord have mercy