World Vision just announced that they have reversed their policy, announced only two days ago, to accept gay Christians as employees.
World Vision is one of the premier religious do-gooder organizations out there. Devoutly Christian in its worldview, they have in the past won lawsuits in order to avoid hiring gay people as employees. So their original announcement was a welcome surprise to many.
The genius of the new policy was that it held everyone to the same standards of fidelity. Gay and straights were expected to be celibate if single, and faithful if married. It was strict, but it was fair. And many, including myself, found this to be a great way forward in that it brought a traditional ethic of family valued by many Christians to bear on both gay and straight employees.
But not all embraced this move towards equality.
After the policy change to accept gay Christians was announced, the orthodoxy police within the evangelical right switched into high gear and, in effect, forced the organization to retract or lose their funding.
This is so sad, and so bad for everyone.
Even now as evangelical leaders are crowing about their victory, there will be more young people, gay and straight, who will become convinced that there is no place for them in the Church.
In a recent poll of those who are self described 'Nones,' nearly one third said that they had left the church in part because of its stance on LGBT people. Who knows how many people will feel this fiasco with World Vision is the final straw.
The truth, of course is that this is a false choice. More and more Christian communities are filled with, and led by, LGBT people -- some of whom were, no doubt, eager to participate in the good mission of World Vision. But the point is, that the choice between being gay and being a Christian is no choice at all. I'm living testimony to that.
Those who forced the policy change based their views on their supposed commitment to scripture. But of course we know that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. However, he did say a lot about the poor, the marginalized, those without clothes, or food, or shelter -- the people Christ himself identified with and the people who World Vision serves. It is a shame that we cannot all serve Christ together.
In the end, however, World Vision's waffling is still a victory. It shows that there were many people within the organization that wanted the exclusionary policy against LGBT people changed.
Yes, they reversed. But the sin of homophobia is pernicious. We have to expect some backsliding. But justice and love and the full inclusion and dignity of LGBT people will prevail in the end.
I know that because the Bible tells me so.
Follow Paul Brandeis Raushenbush on Twitter: www.twitter.com/raushenbush