World Vision U.S. changed course on Wednesday, saying it would return to its policy of not hiring Christians in gay marriages.
The Washington-state-based charity caused an uproar among its supporters when it announced on Monday that based on the changes many churches were making, it would allow the hiring of avowed Christians who had been legally married to someone of the same sex.
According to an interview with Christianity Today, World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns explained the organization was not endorsing gay marriage. Instead, gay marriage would join a series of issues — like divorce, remarriage, baptism, female priests — that many Christian churches disagree on.
"Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues," he told Christianity Today. "It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage."
"The change drew widespread condemnation, with many donors posting on the agency's Facebook page that they would no longer fund the sponsor-a-child programs that are central to World Vision's fundraising and education.
"Darrell Bock, a New Testament scholar at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote on his blog that the new hiring policy was an 'act was a betrayal of the nature of the Christian community' and 'a denial of how Jesus defined marriage as between a man and a woman when he was asked about divorce.'"
Today, World Vision sent a message to its supporters asking "forgiveness."
"The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman," World Vision said in a letter. They added that the change in policy was "not consistent with ... our commitment to the sanctity of marriage."
World Vision has a yearly operating budget of about $1 billion.