A growing number of Christian parachurch ministries are demanding that their paid employees and volunteers denounce homosexuality and gay marriage.
For example, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) recently attracted international attention with its request that all its employees who do not affirm its traditional prohibition on same-sex relationships voluntarily resign from the ministry (Source).
It seems to me that IVCF’s position is perfectly sensible given that its workers regularly offer Bible instruction and counselling to young people, and the nature of sexuality and range of ethical sexual conduct is certainly one of the key issues that those workers will be addressing on a regular basis. So it stands to reason that IVCF is well within its rights (indeed, one might think it is obliged) to ensure that its employees are upholding the ethical norms that shape the way it does ministry.
But in other cases, this prohibitive stance is much harder to understand. Consider, for example, the case of Franklin Graham’s ministry Samaritan’s Purse. Samaritan’s Purse recently started requiring its senior volunteers to agree to a document which requires them to reject same-sex marriage and a prochoice position on abortion. When Kay Cossar, a co-ordinator with the ministry since 1998, declined to sign the document, she was told she would no longer be allowed to volunteer to help send shoe boxes with toys to needy children (Source).
As I said, I understand and respect the logic behind IVCF’s decision. But I see no logic behind the decision of Samaritan’s Purse Canada. By all accounts, Ms. Cossar successfully fulfilled her mandate to help distribute toys to the world’s needy children. So what relevance do her views on gay marriage and abortion have to this mandate? The answer is as simple as it is obvious: none.
Believe it or not, it gets worse. This is how Jeff Adams, a spokesperson for Samaritan’s Purse Canada, explained the ministry’s position:
“The amendments include a specific mention that ‘human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage,’ that a marriage by Biblical definition is between ‘a genetic male and genetic female,’ and that ‘human life is sacred from conception to its natural end.'” (Source)
So according to Samaritan’s Purse, if you want to volunteer to pack Christmas boxes for needy children in the developing world, you need to believe that marriage is only between “a genetic male and genetic female.” I don’t know if Samaritan’s Purse is aware of genetic mosaics (i.e. people who have XX chromosomes in some cells and XY chromosomes in other cells). But according to this policy, if you believe that genetic mosaics should be allowed to marry, then you too are in direct contravention of the policy of Samaritan’s Purse, and thus you too are not fit to pack toy boxes for needy children in the developing world.
Let me be blunt: this is crazy, and the fact that a ministry like this requires this kind of specificity among employees and volunteers which is wholly irrelevant to their mission is one more example of the strange obsession evangelicals have with a very narrow range of ethical questions.