I have loved the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” since I saw it in theaters when it first came out. It is all about Tevye and his struggle to adjust to modernity. He began the movie trumpeting “Tradition!” and slowly sacrificed those traditions as the world crumbled around him. His oldest daughter wanted to marry the man she loved, even if it meant poverty, instead of entering the arranged marriage her father had made for her. He bent a little to give his permission to that marriage. Then his second daughter decided to marry a political revolutionary and did not seek his permission. Even in his fury, he decided to bend a little more and accept Hodel’s choice.
Then came the film’s crisis. Just before learning they will be forced out of Anatevka by Russian cruelty, he learns that his third daughter, Chava, has sneaked off, contrary to his explicit command, and married a local Russian boy. Confronted by his daughter, who appeals for mercy and acceptance, Tevye struggles once again. “On the one hand…On the other hand.” Back and forth. But then, he utters these words.
“On the other hand, how can I turn my back on my faith, my people? If I try and bend that far, I’ll break. On the other hand… No. There is no other hand.”
This man who was willing to make small compromises out of love found a place he was not willing to go. He would not sacrifice his faith even at the cost of his daughter. In pain, anger, and misery, he drives his milk cart away, leaving his daughter behind. That seems cruel, especially in our modern world of tolerance, where spiritual conviction is anathema. But Tevye would not abandon his faith to make peace.
Earlier this week, World Vision announced a tragic decision in Christianity Today magazine. They agreed to hire “Christians” who were involved in same-sex marriages. In a line that would have made Orwell’s Big Brother proud, the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns, said, “This is not us compromising.” No, this is not compromise. This is them seeking unity in the Body by allowing local churches to decide the issue for themselves. Quintessential doublespeak.
It is my opinion that World Vision, submitting to the opinions of this age instead of to the Word, bent so far in compromise that they did what Tevye would not do – they broke. They turned their back on truth and succumbed to the spirit of the age.
I have spent a lot of time on Baptist blogs (this one in particular) calling on us to lay down our weapons and accept one another – that few of the battles we engage in are worth the bloodshed. Compromise and cooperation are not dirty words – we do not discount our faith to walk in unity with our brothers and sisters. But there are battles worth fighting and stands worth taking. This is one.
And I do not say that because I hate homosexuals or wish to see them punished, discriminated against or ostracized. In fact, I think much of the church’s response (at least in some circles) to homosexuality over the years has been as sinful as homosexuality itself. We have not always demonstrated the love of Christ to these people, but often shunned them and been cruel.
But the Bible could hardly be more clear on the subject – Old Testament or New. I like to use what I call “The Martian Test.” If a martian came to earth and read the Bible, without any cultural conditioning or axe to grind, what would he (it?) come away with? They would certainly come away with the clear idea that the writers of the Bible did not think that homosexual behavior was acceptable.
So, the World Vision concept of promoting unity through the compromise of truth is faulty. They have bent so far that that their biblical commitment, their commitment to the gospel, their status as a truly Christian ministry has broken. Any time you ignore the teaching of the Word of God to fit in with and seek the approval of culture, you have taken a step too far. We do not further the goals of the church by denying God’s Word or by compromising biblical standards.
Such compromise can make us popular in the world but it cannot honor God. One can make a name for himself as a religion columnist on issues of faith, culture, and society – the world absolutely loves those who excoriate the church from within – but this will never advance the cause of Christ. “Christian” ministries will be lauded for rejecting the unpopular stands of the Bible, but is that the path to ministry in Christ’s name?
There is a different between compromise and capitulation. Compromise (in this positive sense) is laying down our weapons and seeking unity on issues of Christian debate. But when we advocate ignoring biblical standards, we have wandered from the realm of godly compromise to cultural capitulation.
What is our goal? Is it to proclaim Christ and call people to repentance, or is it to seek popularity and acceptance in culture? Are we seeking to please people or the God who created us? World Vision has chosen to please the world instead of standing with Christ. That is sad, but as one person tweeted, “If this move surprised you, you haven’t been paying attention.” World Vision may have abandoned biblical moorings long ago to drift rudderless on the tides of public opinion. Many Christian organizations have and will (just watch the Tsunami, folks) follow this same path.
I love, prize, value and promote unity in the Body of Christ. It is a conviction, a passion for me.
But there comes a point where we have to say, “On the other hand…NO! THERE IS NO OTHER HAND!”