Further thoughts on World Vision

There is much more that can be said about the recent turn of events with World Vision, who has now reversed course.  I took to Twitter last night at the goading of Sarah Posner to say a few things about it.  Sarah and I don’t agree on much (we learned we have 72% cacao chocolate in common!), but I enjoy disagreeing with her so much that I yielded.

And, let’s face it, I’m just a sucker for long-winded rants about anything.

And all the people said “amen” to that last one, no doubt.

You can see all the other tweets and conversation that went on after that.  I’m grateful for the kind words that many people gave the verbal ramble.

Finally, at the risk of overstaying my own welcome at my own blog, I want to excerpt a bit from a comment I wrote in the previous discussion.  I think it’s important for understanding some of the broader issues at stake in the conservative concerns about World Vision’s original decisions.  It by no means captures every nuance of the decision, but hopefully clarifies my thinking about this a little more.

“It’s not at all obvious to me that the decision to withdraw funding from World Vision entails that there is *more* concern for opposing homosexuality than for helping children. I bet we could find lots of reasons to think that’s just not the case among conservative Christians. For one, if we compared the aggregate donations that go to World Vision and other poverty-based organizations to those set up to deliberate oppose “gay marriage,” I suspect we’d see conservatives give FAR more toward poverty services.

Second, let’s remember that World Vision is as large as it is in part because the very people who now have qualms about continuing to give gave for years. That is, if nothing else, a prima facie sign of a serious commitment to ending poverty. To claim that conscientiously withdrawing support is a sign of no longer caring about children, etc. seems to single out one particular moment in their relationship with the organization and ignore that past history.

But thirdly, and probably most importantly, I think your claim about them caring more about gay marriage rather than children only goes through if they were to give up funding poverty relief COMPLETELY rather than transfer it to a different organization that does equivalent, even if not identical work. There may be reasons why people who started a funding relationship with WV should continue: but if they move to (say) Compassion, that is not a sign that they no longer care about the children they once supported.

In a hypothetical case, suppose that a person decided that Compassion was more effective than World and so transferred their funding. No one could possibly accuse that person of not caring about poverty relief. So the sheer fact that people are ending sponsorships with WV does not entail that they care *more* about stopping gay marriage than they do about poverty at all. I think, to be honest, the claim [that conservatives care more about doctrine than children] only goes through if World Vision is the only sort of organization that does what it does. But it isn’t.  world vision

The better understanding is, I think, the one I gave in the original post. People give to World Vision because they care about ending poverty *and* contributing to evangelistic work. The disagreement with WV is on the latter half of that formula, not the first half. And so switching organizations on grounds that they have reasons to believe that other organizations will meet both aims better than World Vision simply has no bearing on their commitment to the first half.

I would note that all of this means that I think if a person simply stopped giving money altogether rather than changing the recipient that would be a reason to think that [the interpretation that they care more about doctrine than people] is right. But given that these are people who have (in many cases) given freely and willingly for years, I’m highly dubious that people are going to give up their charitable contributions toward children in need altogether, rather than transfer them.

You can see the whole conversation here (including a rejoinder that I haven’t had a chance to respond to yet).  I’d also note that this comment was not meant to contradict my argument that conservatives can and in most cases should keep up support for the individual child they have forged a relationship with.  Rather, it is simply trying to show that the abstract claim that stopping support for a child entailed a prioritization of doctrine over children is faulty.

Again, that is by no means a comprehensive analysis.  I probably won’t put that together…ever.  But it’s a start toward clarity…I hope.

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  • Alison Swihart

    Love. Your best comment: ‘The manner in which we argue among ourselves is as much a part of the witness to the world as the conclusions that we come to.’

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Thanks, Alison! I appreciate it. : )

  • Adam

    You know it would be nice to see a discussion about how money morally relates people to things. In what ways is the relation an objective one or a subjective one? This comes up all the time on other areas whether it be eating meat produced by factory farms, consuming fair trade coffee, and now supporting a child through a charity. Many Christians (conservative and liberal ones) don’t bat an eye about engaging in transactions that might produce bad consequences for others, nor do many of us care all that much about the consequences for the poor when we fail to give charitably to relief agencies by virtue of spending our money on ourselves (e.g. going out to eat). When it comes to giving money to WV, however, our money is taken represent an entire systematic theology that includes everything from relieving eternal suffering to defining the ethics of marriage. But why? Are those relations objective ones, or do they depend on the intentions we have for the purpose of our gift? There is no clear answer here.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Adam,

      I agree this is a massive question. That’s what I tried to get to in terms of raising the question of moral complicity. We need to work that out in full.

      Matt

  • L. James Everett, III

    I like the rant, Matt. You don’t do this often, but once in a while, such a thing is called for, and you have unique preparation for it. Thank you for sharing this, it will be good to have in archives as this comes up in the future.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Thank you, sir. I appreciate that a lot.

  • Patrick Craig

    Matt-

    First, allow me to admit that over the course of the last few days, I have been a culprit of misrepresentation and uncharitable dialogue. For that, I am sorry.

    Secondly, I want you to know how much I appreciate your voice in this matter. This was one of the few balanced and nuanced pieces that I have read on the subject.

    But there are a few things that still don’t sit well with me. I’m not here to rant, but to genuinely ask for your thoughts on the matter.

    My perception in all of this is that there is a disconnect between traditional evangelicals and progressive evangelicals (note: I hate labels, but I hope these will do).

    I believe very much in the merger of mission and message. But if pressed and forced to choose between the two — do I hand a starving child a meal or a gospel tract? — it appears that the traditional evangelicals would choose the gospel tract, while I think younger/progressive evangelicals would choose the meal.

    Do you sense this as well?

    Again, this is just a perception but it sets up my next point.

    I’ve never seen or been handed a gospel tract that said anything about homosexuality/gay marriage. The thing I keep hearing from the traditional evangelical voices is that “the Gospel is at stake.”

    I understand and appreciate the importance of doctrine, but there seems to be an inability among traditional evangelicals to differentiate between between “the gospel” and “the church’s teachings.”

    How is Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, or my ability to love God and love my neighbor at stake because Jim in tech-support is married to a man? How does Jim in tech-support inhibit World Vision’s ability to share the gospel with the millions of children and the communities they impact?

    Also, while switching charitable organizations is certainly preferable to simply withdrawing support, it is still problematic. It is problematic because as a WV sponsor you gave your word to that child, not the organization.

    Furthermore, switching organizations reveals that your sponsorship was not about the child or his/her community but about you. It’s not about the face on your refrigerator but about you feeling good about the face on the refrigerator, regardless of whose face it is.

    I’ve heard your case, and it’s thoughtful and good. But this whole thing still feels like traditional evangelicals, if pressed, would choose theological purity over people.

    Given the fact that the second half of the OT is a sustained prophetic response to a people who chose law and ritual over love and justice, I am still having a hard time justifying the actions of the past few days.

    The tragic irony in all of this is that Tuesday — the day thousands (reportedly) withdrew their sponsorships — was the Feast of Annunciation: the day in which God announced that God would come among us as a child.

    In Christ,

    Patrick

    • Thursday1

      Sex/gender isn’t actually trivial. Christ is the Son, not the daughter or the generic child, the Father is the Father, not the mother or the parent. The image of God in creation is reflected in male and female together as a complementary pair, so that male-male and female/female pairings are idolatry. I could go on.

    • http://menliketreeswalking.blogspot.com/ Matthew Loftus

      Patrick,
      If I may jump in here: the dichotomizing of gospel tract vs. meal is an unfortunate legacy of the clashes between fundamentalism & liberalism; I think any discourse that divides Christian witness and mission into binary choices only makes the problem worse.

      I think Matt already addressed the “you gave your word to that child” objection in the previous post.

      I would argue (as would a great many other Christians who spend their lives working to help others) that “theological purity” drives us to love others. If we’ve got good theology, it will necessarily move us to care for others genuinely and persistently. If we’ve got bad theology, it will either leave our institutions/organizations anemic after a generation or two (see: The Mainline) or it will lead us into bad decisions.

      Furthermore, pressing for “theological purity” doesn’t mean that we exclude everyone outside the camp (I guess some evangelicals might feel this way, but I think that’s the sort of bad theology that will leave them anemic in a generation.) It does mean that we treat board members different from field employees different from home staff employees different from strategic allies/community partners different from donors.

      • Patrick Craig

        Thank you for this response. It is undoubtedly a complex issue. I’m a sacrament over sermon type of guy, so when I hear all of this talk about good theology vs. bad theology I’m reminded that we are not brains on a stick. That is, the goal of scripture is not to make us right or smart, but to take our hearts, marred by sin, and replace it with the heart of Christ.

        For me, this is less about your position and more about your posture, and I do not see the posture of Christ here — the Christ whose love is kind, patient, and “does not insist on its own way.”

        I realize that we are probably at a theological impasse and I have no illusions of changing anyone’s mind.

        But this hurts. Not because we lost a battle in the culture war (whatever that means), but because of what this skirmish means for real children desperate for food, water, and education.

        I think we, in the progressive evangelical community, are justified in our grief.

        • http://menliketreeswalking.blogspot.com/ Matthew Loftus

          Patrick,
          Thanks for responding. Honestly, I think in your first paragraph you are persisting in applying a dichotomy to less progressive evangelicals that doesn’t really apply. I think that there were people on both sides of this brouhaha that didn’t have the posture of Christ– both the people who mourned “the Gospel is at stake!” and the people who rushed to condemn trads for abandoning children. One of the things I’ve appreciated about Matt Anderson’s thoughts the last few days is that his posture has been very gracious (in addition to being perceptive!)

          I think there’s reason for progressives to mourn for the sake of further alienating people in same-sex marriages. However, we don’t know enough about what the 2,000 sponsors were or weren’t going to do with their $35/month, nor do we know how many progressive supporters jumped on in that first 24 hours to compensate (or how many of them will stick with WV now– I certainly hope that they do!) I think Matt’s primary thesis from his twitter rant still stands: evangelicals of all stripes want to love the poor, and they want to do so in a way that reflects the totality of their understanding of Scripture. If you really want to continue to reflect a posture of Christlikeness and humility, I hope you can see that’s not consistent with letting your hurt translate into persistent accusations of bad motives, bad intentions, or bad practice.

          • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

            Thanks, Matthew and Craig, for the great discussion.

            Craig, since you originally directed the question to me, I’d just note general agreement with the points that Matthew laid out. I’d also note that it’s true that the gospel’s relationship to marriage has not always been “on the surface,” as it were. Mostly it hasn’t needed to be: the suggestion that the Gospel might be commensurate with a same-sex marriage is…well, it’s relatively new in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s safe to say. So it seems understandable to me that conservatives are still working out the best way to articulate the link between the two.

            Best,

            Matt

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  • Eric Thurman

    “Rather, it is simply trying to show that the abstract claim that stopping support for a child entailed a prioritization of doctrine over children is faulty.”

    Perhaps we’ll pick this up if and when you offer a response to my rejoinder on the other post–though if you don’t, I’ll totally understand, not least because it is something of a moot point for now. But, no one was making an “abstract claim.” You yourself admit that evangelicals who share an affiliation with WV do so because of a commitment to fighting poverty *and* a commitment to doctrine. And many known leaders and rank-and-file evangelicals made it clear online that they would drop or would consider dropping WV precisely because of their policy change, which was repeatedly described as an endorsement of sin and a rejection of biblical authority.

    In other words, they weren’t simply calling for others to support different organizations; they were specifically calling them to stop giving to WV, which some apparently did (if the number of children who lost sponsors floating around online, 2000, is true). And that’s leaving aside the questionable commitment of anyone who is willing to abandon one charity, and a sponsored child, only to give to another charity, and another child, as if the relationships established were interchangeable. Your original post from yesterday acknowledges this dilemma and Rachel Held Evans took it on directly.

    Here’s another question, though: why not own the fact that many did choose to prioritize doctrine over giving here?

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Eric,

      I went away for the weekend, so I am sorry for the slow response. However, I wanted to address a couple points:

      1) I don’t own the “fact that many did choose to prioritize doctrine over giving here” because no one has demonstrated that it *is* a fact, and because I’ve given reasons why we should call it into question. As to the statements from leaders…I’d really be curious which leaders you had in mind who called for defunding WV and not transferring their money. Mohler didn’t call for it. Nor did Moore. Even the head of the AG, who ushered the only *direct* call for defunding that I know of, said that it should be done “gradually” and he explicitly encouraged the people of his denomination to transfer their giving to AG’s own orgs. So frankly, without further evidence that conservatives responded as Rachel Held Evans and others characterized them as doing, I will continue to stand by my analysis here.

      2) “But I never questioned their commitment to ending poverty in and of itself (though some of the commenters here make me wonder). I simply said they placed a *higher priority* on opposing gays and lesbians than on helping fight poverty. So, to me, the one moment I’ve singled out is, again, quite telling.”

      But I don’t have to have a “higher priority” to opposing gay marriage than to ending poverty in order to fund an organization that is committed to what I think are the right views of both. It’s an absolutely simple calculus, and I still have yet to see an argument why funding an org that satisfies *both* conditions rather than only *one* entails that I care more about the one than the other. I don’t think we’d conclude that in any other circumstances. The only way in which it seems plausible is if people have settled their interpretation in advance and are working to make the facts fit it.

      4) “Yes, there are other aid organizations, but are they as large and effective as WV? Isn’t choosing an “inferior” organization also a choice to decrease the quantity and/or quality of aid provided? And even if that decrease ends up being an materially inconsequential, is it not still symbolically meaningful?”

      Do you think Compassion is inferior to WorldVision? Do you want to argue that they are so inferior that people *shouldn’t* give to them, all things being equal? If you want to make the argument you’re making, I think that’s what you’d have to demonstrate. I for one am not at all prepared to claim that Compassion is inferior to WV…but feel free to take that on, if you think it’s right.

      5) “I’m at least as concerned with the *willingness* of so many opponents of gays and lesbians to jeopardize those kids by ending their contributions. If no other Christian organizations like WV existed, what do you think those upset with WV would do? Would they continue to give? Or would they stop giving anyway?”

      I suspect it would depend upon the nature of the rationale WV gave. Missing in all of this is that the major critiques of conservatives had to do with the logic that Richard Stearnes gave (or lack thereof), rather than the decision per se. If WV wants to go be a humanitarian organization, I suspect many evangelicals would be unhappy and disappointed….but it would make more sense than the path WV proposed.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Eric

        Matt, thanks for the response. Not sure there’s more for either of us to say at this point without repeating ourselves. We could parse the statements of a Mohler or A of G, though we might disagree on that level too. Or maybe not. In any case, I hope you won’t take it as a slight if I don’t pursue this further at the moment. Til next time…

        • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

          I suspect that’s probably true, and I don’t think it’s a slight at all. Thanks for the good conversation.

          Best,

          Matt

  • Kyle N

    Just a quick question, in reading some recent critiques of WVI from secular development bloggers, it’s been “accused” (from their perspective) of involving evangelization as part of its work. Officially, at least, I can’t find any record of that being part of the model, but Matt, you’re saying that “They bring together poverty-relief and evangelism.” Is that actually the case? It hearkens back to Jonathan Chan’s comment that not all development providers are the same. Compassion’s model is decidedly more evangelistic than the others.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Kyle,

      I think in terms of how it raises money, that’s absolutely the case. At the top of the list of their FAQ’s is whether or not sponsors can talk with their kids about Jesus (which they respond enthusiastically to).

      Matt

  • Michael Snow

    I read one other post that made the point as well as you did in clarifying the charges against conservatives about hurting poor children. [The confusion on this point is as bad as the confusion on "love" http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/love-basics-heresies-divorce-homosexuality-church/ ]

    Miguel wrote:

    First of all, I’m willing to wager that most [I would wager "all"] of the people who pulled
    their support are not trying to cause children to suffer. Most of them
    have been loyal supporters of the poor, and to throw them under the bus
    as if they didn’t give a damn is disingenuous. Many would have
    continued to leverage their resources to help those in need through
    other organizations. These are giving people who care, not hypocrites
    bent on inflicting pain. These “Evangelicals” are objectively known to
    be disproportionately generous with their donations to charitable
    causes. They have put their money where their mouths are, and do not
    deserve to be thrown under the bus merely because they believe an
    organization bearing the name of Christ has crossed the line.

    Second of all, the hiring of homosexuals is not merely a civil rights
    issue. It is an ecclesial issue, a harmitological issue, and a
    soteriological issue as well. Here’s why: As an explicitly Christian
    organization, World Vision (like many other Christian organizations)
    hires specifically people who are Christians, exclusively. This leaves
    them in the situation of determining who is or is not a Christian. This
    is an unfortunate task for an organization to be stuck with (it is
    better left to Pastors and those who draw the lines of fellowship within
    the context of congregations and church traditions), …

    But anyways, once you have this system, where World Vision has to
    filter it’s potential employees for unbelievers, anybody who has gone
    through similar employment process knows the drill. You have to sign to
    a certain statement of faith that assures you’re not a Jehovah’s
    Wittness, Arian, or Buddhist. Then you have to agree to abide the
    teachings of Christianity, and live above reproach in terms of morality,
    especially sexual morality.

    Organizations that pursue this method will often dismiss employees
    who are sexually promiscuous. Such behavior is incompatible with
    Christian faith, and indicates a lack of sincere belief (unless it can
    be determined it is a sin of weakness an the repentant offender is
    willing to work towards recovery).

    Throughout the New Testament, issues of sexuality are treated with
    specific harshness in terms of church fellowship. A Christian church is
    not permitted to treat someone living in open sexual immorality as a
    bona fide disciple of Christ. You cannot claim the name of Christ and
    reject His teaching and that of the Apostles and church he founded. If
    you want to argue a new interpretation of Christ’s teaching, recognize
    that your spin is in fact new, comes from an ulterior motive, and will
    not be adopted by Christ’s church. We believe that the unrepentant
    sinner has no part of Christ, and it is our duty, as those who hold to
    Christ, to be clear about this. The hiring of homosexuals in committed
    relationships/marriages, in an organization which claims exclusively
    Christian employees, is a contradiction of this.

    … If World
    Vision continues wants to deliberately alienate their support base for a
    cause they believe in, they shouldn’t complain about the cost they
    agreed to pay. Starving children is not a fair price for the
    progressive agenda, but Christians honoring 2000 years of consistent
    tradition and teaching know they don’t have to choose between them.
    Perhaps the solution is that World Vision ought not only hire
    Christians. Perhaps the solution is that it should stick to feeding the
    hungry and let the Churches bring the Gospel. Perhaps the reality is
    that an institution claiming the name of Christ should not be so
    surprised when it is held accountable by His church.

    Note, this entire argument is premised on the idea that IF World
    Vision hires exclusively Christian employees, then the hiring of
    married/committed gays implies that such practices are compatible with
    Christianity. The Church disagrees and calls this false teaching. We
    are not against married homosexuals having jobs, nice jobs, good paying
    jobs, or even doing charity work, and to paint us that way is neither
    honest nor fair. I’d personally rather that World Vision not require
    all their employees to be Christian, but I can understand how that might
    interfere with the spiritual aspect of their mission.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Is it me, or is the post you linked to very different from the post you quoted? I’d be very curious to see the original post!

  • kjs

    Apparently Rachel Held Evans finally realizes her faith is not compatible with the evangelical faith: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/03/31/how-evangelicals-won-a-culture-war-and-lost-a-generation/

    “Christians can disagree about what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about same-sex marriage. This is not an issue of orthodoxy.”

    Evangelicals begged to differ.

  • Naomi

    Hi Matt,

    Interested to hear your thoughts in response to the critique I finally solidified after several days of feeling uncomfortable with a lot of the arguments in support of those who pulled financial support from World Vision. In its shortest form, it goes like this:

    To say that it’s perfectly OK to support a different group of poor and hungry people through another organization if you don’t like what World Vision is doing is, I think, to treat poor-and-hungry-people as an interchangeable commodity. That seems problematic.

    In a slightly expanded form: The vast number of Scriptural exhortations to feed the poor and hungry should be taken seriously by anyone who reads the Bible seriously, and almost every Evangelical I’ve ever met DOES take those exhortations seriously; you’ve made that point compellingly above. Moreover, you and many other Evangelicals I know have also argued that there might be a good reason to continue personalized child sponsorships through WV, which entail direct and often long-term relationships with those children. However, it just seems like wholesale commodification (even borderline dehumanization) to argue that unless you have a direct personal relationship with someone, it doesn’t matter WHICH poor and hungry people you sponsor in the concrete as long as you maintain your commitment to helping poor-and-hungry-people in the abstract by helping SOME poor and hungry people. I think this argument might only hold up as long as we don’t dwell too long on the consequences to any one particular person receiving support through WV but not through Compassion or any other affiliated agency.

    And finally, a bit of Monday-morning quarterbacking: as of this moment, I think the best thing for Evangelicals to do would have been to register complaint with WV — publicly and in the most serious terms possible — without withdrawing financial support. As of this moment, I don’t see how the people who did withdraw support didn’t end up, albeit inadvertently and with the best possible intentions, using real live poor and hungry people as bargaining chips by utilizing the standard free-market capitalist response of “taking your business elsewhere” to make their point.

    If you’re willing to comment, I’d really like to hear what you think; I don’t think this is necessarily a trump-card argument and I’m not at all sure that my Monday-morning quarterbacking actually provides the best possible guidance. Pushback very much welcomed. Hope you and Charity are well. :)

    Naomi

    • Naomi

      (A quick follow-up note: The error I’m pointing out, if there is one, would be more conceptual than moral and I really don’t want to judge anyone who did his/her best to discern what to do in the midst of a very difficult and highly charged situation. If any of the above could be read as judgmental of people who thought and prayed their butts off to make the best decisions they possibly could, I apologize. I have a lot of trust in the good faith of all the Evangelical decision-makers in this context.)

      • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

        Naomi,

        I always love hearing from you. Thanks for the comment.

        I almost addressed the fungibility concern in my first post, but figured that probably most people weren’t going to bring it up. So I’m happy that you did here so I can write out my thoughts on it.

        First, I think you’d have to argue that the decision between “funding organization x or y” which feeds particular children is equivalent to the decision between “feeding child a or b.” If it’s the case that those are equivalent, then I think that it might be problematic to switch between them as though they were arbitrary and could be reduced to the concerns about the organization’s mission. But it’s hard for me to see a reason why those decisions would be equivalents, even if organizations x and y use sponsorship models. I could be missing something, though.

        But even if they are equivalent, I’m still not sure the point would hold without additional work. You say that it seems like “commodification (even borderline dehumanization) to argue that unless you have a direct personal relationship with someone, it doesn’t matter WHICH poor and hungry people you sponsor in the concrete as long as you maintain your commitment to helping poor-and-hungry-people in the abstract by helping SOME poor and hungry people.”

        I’m not sure what the force of “it doesn’t matter” is: it matters to the people being funded, to be sure, which person I fund. Does it matter morally to me as an agent, such that I am wrong if I fund person A rather than person B when I have no other reasons to choose one over the other? It may be the case that it is a sign of “commodification” that I fail to see any other reasons to choose between them. But such decisions *have* to be made. It might be the case that I have moral obligations to feed every starving person on the planet right now (this is a proposition that I am open to, though not necessarily committed to). But I cannot fulfill all of them, by virtue of my limitations, and so am moved to make decisions between them.

        So I don’t think I’m suggesting maintaining the commitment in the “abstract,” as you suggest. I’m maintaining the commitment by actually funding particular organizations and people.

        Suppose that we were to take your point and apply it to someone who had never given money before to WV or anyone else. It seems like choosing one organization rather than others, or one child rather than any other, would entail the very commodification you are worried about.

        That’s how it seems to me, at any rate. Feel free to push back.

        Best,

        Matt

        • Naomi

          Thanks so much for the careful response, Matt! — a few thoughts in response to the response:

          I think part of the force of “it doesn’t matter” has to do with the fact that it does matter so very much to the particular person being funded; the other part just comes from a concern that we as a culture may be failing to count the human cost of “taking our business elsewhere”. There obviously IS a cost to particular humans here — not one that should necessarily outweigh the reasons to stop giving to WV, but one that might easily go missing in the argument that it’s perfectly OK to just donate to a different group of poor people instead — so I guess I think that it’s not that the decision to donate to another group is necessarily morally suspect, but that the rhetoric runs the risk of losing perspective on the fact that there are real/particular people involved. Or at least I think that’s what I think. :)

          My other niggling concern, only semi-related, is that we may all, in this age of social media, have reacted to this situation as the world reacts, rather than as the Church should handle grievances and matters of serious dispute. Reactions came at viral speed and decisions and denunciations were made so quickly that it’s hard for me to believe that a sufficient amount of prayerful discernment and appropriate communication between aggrieved parties went into very many of them. The decisions to suddenly pull money from WV, on the one hand, or to suddenly pick up sponsorships to show support for WV, on the other hand, are also concerning to me because they were made so rapidly, so publicly, and so polemically; they show little or no sign of conforming to the Biblical paradigms for either resolving disagreements or agreeing to part ways.

          Maybe we can all do better next time, in other words. Myself included, God willing.