Leadership Lessons: World Vision & Same Sex Marriage

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Yesterday, my twitter feed consisted of people reacting to the news that World Vision changed its policy and World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

The reaction, as you would expect, was swift, vicious and all over the map.

Some tweeted about how World Vision has gone off the deep end, how they were ruining their Christian witness and going against the Bible. Others applauded the move and bashed Christians who would stop supporting children with World Vision, because “it’s wrong to say you’re okay with a child going hungry instead of a gay person having a job. That’s hate.”

The whole time I just sat there shaking my head.

In watching this unfold in the last 24 hours, reading several blogs on both sides (that were sometimes helpful and sometimes hurtful), I wanted to share some thoughts for leaders:

  1. Same sex marriage is the issue. Same sex marriage is not going away, no matter what any conservatives hope. It is here to stay. We need to learn how we will live in a culture that is okay with it and encourages it. We need to speak the gospel truth to it, love those struggling with same sex attraction, walk with those who are in relationships, be their friends (as we would a heterosexual couple living together before marriage) and share the truth and beauty of Jesus with them. Almost every person I meet who finds out I’m a Christian or a pastor asks me what I think about same sex marriage. This is the issue. A follower of Jesus needs to learn how to talk about it in a loving, gospel centered way and point to the truth so that the person listening will want to continue talking about it.
  2. Taking a stand, is a stand. I’m surprised by the number of people who seem surprised by the outrage. World Vision said “they are making a narrow policy change.” And that it “is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more. . . . This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. . . . We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. . . . This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues.” I understand it. The reality is, any stand is a stand. Any decision, even a non-decision of silence, is a decision. By allowing this and not allowing employees to commit adultery, theft, fornication outside of marriage and other things labeled as sins in the Bible, you are saying one is okay and one is not.
  3. Christians need to stand up for other issues as well. I believe the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman. I’ve also done a lot of reading recently on this issue because in the fall we’re doing a series at Revolution called Why I’m Not a Christian on some of the main things people have against Christianity and one of the weeks will be on “Christians are homophobic.” When homosexuality is talked about in the New Testament, it is often listed with other sins such as sexual immortality, idolaters, adulterers, stealing, and swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Let’s be against those things as well. It makes no sense how Christians seem to not bat an eye at a heterosexual couple living together before marriage or having sex, or a man cheating his employer by watching March Madness at work instead of working (that’s stealing). Let’s be careful and not just be one issue. Let’s talk about them all.

Should a Christian support world vision? That’s up to you. Christians buy and support organizations all the time that hold to different values and beliefs than they do. They buy food from people in same sex relationships. I realize that Christians say it is different when it is a faith-based organization like World Vision and I understand that and can agree with that. At the end of the day, World Vision is not the only organization that does what it does, so if this is a make or break it issue for you, then support children through another organization. If you stop working with World Vision, tell them in a kind, loving way. Don’t send a mean spirited email with a long list of Bible verses. If you disagree with their decision but choose to continue working with World Vision, tell them that as well.

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Top Posts of February

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February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.

If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  3. Loving Does Not Equal Participating
  4. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  5. 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
  6. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  7. Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
  8. Before You Criticize Your Pastor
  9. How I Structure my Week
  10. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
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Loving Does Not Equal Participating

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By now, the news of SB 1062 has spread far and wide. Living in Tucson, I’ve been asked by people what I think of it. I don’t normally write about politics on this blog, so I’m going to do my best to stick to that with this post (look at the bottom for the political side of this).

The bill has lots of holes and I’m not sure it will actually reach the goal it sets forth (if it’s signed into law). Also, to hear politicians who voted for it on TV begging the governor to veto it seems like poor leadership, but that’s for another post.

One thing stuck out to me last night watching Anderson Cooper and it is something that comes up in every post on this topic, associated with this bill or not. It gets said something like this, “Christians are supposed to love their neighbor, this is unloving.” Now, what this is depends on the situation and in some examples, Christians are being unloving. We (as Christians) also show some inconsistencies since the verses on homosexuality usually include adultery, greed, stealing, and drunkards to name a few (1 Corinthians 6:9-12) and other times it simply includes homosexuality (Romans 1:26 – 27). Biblically, they are all sins and need to be repented of and we need to fight those sins and the sins under those sins that drive us.

That being said, a lie has creeped into our culture and it is this: Loving means participating. That’s a lie.

 Loving does not equal participating. 

There is this belief that if I love someone, I participate with what they do. It would be unloving not to. That is untrue. You can love someone and not be a part of what they do. You can love someone and not go to a place with them while they sin. Now, every follower of Jesus must decide how they love their neighbor, you are called to do it. You are called to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Does that mean attending a gay wedding or photographing one? I’m not sure.

For me, I have friends who are not Christians who are gay. I have friends who are Christians and struggle with same sex attraction and trying to figure out what that means and how they stay pure with that pull. I’ve agonized with them as we’ve discussed my take on homosexuality and the gospel truths about homosexuality.

I appreciate Tim Keller’s answer on this question (see below)

If you want some information on my opinion of homosexuality being similar to civil rights, this is a great post.

Al Mohler nails the problem of coercion in our culture as it relates to this.

And finally, Denny Burk has nailed it with these posts found here, here and here.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Mark Driscoll on The 6 kinds of church services and how they impact preaching and worship planning.

Too often a church service is themed theologically, without consideration for the mood emotionally. But getting the mood right is very important. If you don’t, the sermon and the rest of the service won’t align for a journey, but collide like a car wreck.

Rosaria Butterfield on You are what you read.

Michael Hyatt on How millionaires manage their time.

I’ve been lucky enough to interview over 130 millionaires. They know the value of their time, and use it to the best of their ability. I’ve curated the top tips on their time management to help you have more time to work, and more time to play and be with your family. So how do you stay productive when faced with a seemingly endless to-do list? Here are four awesome tips for greater productivity, straight from the millionaires themselves.

The 5 most important questions a church needs to answer.

  • Question 1:  What is Our Mission?
  • Question 2:  Who is Our Customer?
  • Question 3:  What Does the Customer Value?
  • Question 4:  What are Our Results?
  • Question 5:  What is Our Plan?

4 Tips for Starting a Children’s Ministry in a Church Plant.

Church plants are becoming increasingly popular and in the midst of all there is to do, getting your children’s ministry off the ground can tend to slip under the radar. Here are a few practical tips for starting a children’s ministry in your church plant.

People Pleasing Pastors

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Top Posts of January

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It was a great first month of 2014 on my blog. Tons of traffic and interactions. If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
  2. The 3 Most Destructive Words a Man Hears Growing up Are: “Be a Man”
  3. Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
  4. What I Eat
  5. 10 Gospel Truths about Homosexuality
  6. Photoshop, Beauty & Women
  7. 6 Ways to Stay Motivated to be Healthy
  8. Leading Up
  9. The Weight of Pastoring
  10. Why do a Series on Men & Women?
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Jason Johnson on 5 things Christians should stop staying.

We mean well, don’t we? But sometimes our attempts to say something spiritual actually come out unbiblical, or at a minimum, not very helpful. Here’s the 5 I hear the most…

David Romano on God, gays and advice.

As a Christian walking away from the homosexual lifestyle, I have some do’s and don’ts I’d like you to keep in mind when addressing this issue.

Tim Challies on Mobility, Pornography and Privacy.

Did you buy your children an iPod or iPhone or other mobile device for Christmas? You just bought them the major porn-consumption device. So what are you going to do to protect them from it? One of the most popular articles I wrote in 2013 concerned The Porn-Free Family. I will be returning to the subject in the new year, but for now, I want to point out an important fact: Most of our attempts to block pornography and to use accountability software are effective only or primarily on desktop devices.

5 ways to relax on your Christmas break.

So you’re off for Christmas, but some of you for sure are going to have a hard time winding down. I know I do. Being a driven kind of person, the idea of doing nothing but resting is unsettling for me. But rather than secretly doing email while your family isn’t looking, pacing the house because you can’t sit still or being agitated most of the time, there is an alternative.

Brian Howard on How to remember 2013 and set goals for 2014.

Welcome to the day after Christmas! Each year between Christmas and New Years I walk through a simple exercise to help me think through the past year and plan for the coming year.  I originally learned this exercise from David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, and have customized it over the years. My wife and I both walk through it, and I use it with those I coach as well. Allocating an hour or two over the next week to walk through this exercise will help you to start the new year well.

Jon Acuff on The empty shelf challenge.

Empty a shelf in your house somewhere. Every book you read from now until December 31, 2014 goes on the shelf. (Waiting until January 1st to do something awesome is stupid and fake.) At the end of the year, I guarantee you will have read more than you did in 2013. Best of all, you’re scientifically more likely to accomplish something when you have people working on it with you.

Justin Taylor on How to read the whole bible in 2014.

Do you want to read the whole Bible? The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year.

Top Posts for the Month of November

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If you missed them, here are the top posts for the month of November:

  1. What do Stay-at-Home Mom’s Do All Day?
  2. Accountability
  3. What do you do With Kids in a Missional Community?
  4. Why Doesn’t Revolution Have a Women’s Ministry
  5. Martyrs Read Joel Osteen Tweets!
  6. How to do Crossfit on Your Own
  7. Make Church Memorable
  8. Planning a Preaching Calendar
  9. Interacting with the Opposite Sex as a Pastor
  10. How the Church Should Respond to Homosexuality (and other Sins)

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Nick Roen on An alternative script for same-sex attraction.

“There is nothing wrong with living a gay lifestyle. In fact, if you repress who you are, you will never live a happy, fulfilled life. Be true to yourself!” This is the overwhelming message of society regarding homosexuality. Mark Yarhouse refers to this as “the gay script,” the blueprint for how homosexuals are to live. “Embrace who you are,” a swelling number shout, “and you will find happiness!” I disagree.

Fast Company on 10 surprising stats about social media that will make you change your social media strategy.

Tom Ascol on 35 lessons from being a pastor for 35 years.

Thirty-five years ago this month I began serving my first church as pastor. The Rock Prairie Baptist Church in College Station, Texas took a major risk on a senior Texas A&M student by issuing me a call to be their pastor. It was my happy privilege to serve them for nearly two years before being called to the Spring Valley Baptist Church in Dallas. I am currently in my twenty-eighth year of serving Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida. As I recently reflected on the last thirty-five years I wrote down some lessons learned and convictions I’ve come to or continued to hold.

Thom Rainer on Pastors and christmas gifts.

I asked a simple question on Twitter: What do you do for your pastor at Christmas time? For pastors, I asked what their congregations gave them at Christmas. Though my survey was not scientific, it was nevertheless revealing. I am truly concerned about how congregations treat pastors. I thought the issue of the Christmas gift would at least be an indicator of such concern.

Matt Walsh on Men, your porn habit is an adultery habit.

I know a guy who cheats on his wife. He cheats on her every day. He cheats on her multiple times a day. He’s a husband and a father and a serial adulterer.

Mark Driscoll on How many people should go on the honeymoon?

In the absence of any cultural definition of gender or marriage, let alone any restriction on sex, relationships in our society will only get cloudier. We will see polygamy legalized in my lifetime, perhaps even in the next twenty years.

Michael Lukaszewski on Why people don’t do what you preach.

Your content was carefully researched, outlined in detail, and prayed over it multiple times. You put in hours of study on an important topic and you communicate your guts out, only to have people walk out the door and forget everything by lunch or kickoff. You delivered a faithful, accurate, truthful and well-written message. And nobody did anything.

How the Church Should Respond to Homosexuality (and other Sins)

The church needs to lovingly welcome in attendance but not leadership anyone and everyone, because the same Bible that talks about sin is equally clear about love. The church I serve as pastor includes people who are practicing homosexuals, as well as others who are struggling with same-sex attraction to varying degrees. They sit in service next to single people cohabiting, people who watch porn, adulterers, and religious people who look down on all of them. The church was custom built by Jesus, and we are all works in progress. We do not expect people to get their sin in order before attending church any more than a hospital expects people to get healed before they show up.

Temptation and sin are quite different. The Bible is clear that Jesus was tempted and did not sin. Just because someone is tempted does not mean that person is in sin. Temptation is an opportunity for sin or for victory. We must not shame or condemn people who experience various kinds of temptation – including sexual temptations such as same-sex attraction or heterosexual fornication or even pornography – if they desire repentance. We must not endorse or encourage caving in to sinful desires either. Instead, we need to walk lovingly with people, telling them that part of the Spirit’s work in their lives is self-control, and that so long as they want to fight for holiness, we want to fight not agains them but for them. And as they gain victory, we ought to celebrate and encourage them all the more.

Christians who practice repentance should be the only ones allowed into church membership and leadership. This does not mean in any way that they are perfect, but that they agree with the Bible and that when they are in sin, they are willing to fight to overcome sin by God’s grace. We’re not asking for perfection but rather for a desire for progress in victory over sin.

The best defense is a good offense. The best thing the church can do for marriage is encourage and assist good marriages. This includes lots of teaching on sex and marriage, great premarital counseling, a supportive community for married couples, and efforts to nurture marriages that are enduring and endearing so that God’s people are getting divorced only on rare occasion because of extreme circumstances.

-Mark Driscoll, Call to Resurgence

Top Posts for the Month of October

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If you missed them, here are the top posts for the month of October:

  1. What our Family Does on Halloween
  2. What Now for our Family (And How You can Be a Part of our Lives Now)
  3. Beauty Comes out of Brokenness
  4. The Beginning of The End
  5. Sometimes, This is How Introverts Feel :)
  6. My Journey of Losing Weight
  7. When Eating Becomes a Sin
  8. 10 Gospel Truths about Homosexuality
  9. This is the End (Why Most Sermons Fail)
  10. A Simple Time-Management Principle