Thrivent faced a deluge of criticism when it was discovered that “Choice Dollars” (member-directed charitable dollars) could go to abortion advocacy groups. Then, like salt in a wound, came the discovery that through Thrivent’s employee matching program, dollars had indeed gone to abortion advocacy groups.
Thrivent’s solution was to “cut it out.” Literally, they cut out all support of advocacy groups related to the abortion issue and to sexuality issues. [click here to see Thrivent neutrality policy]
Those wishing to see the glass half-empty now focus on the fact that Thrivent’s policy cuts out “Choice Dollar” and matching support to pro-life groups like Christian Life Resources. The vitriol has been intense but by my reckoning a bit unfair.
Thrivent is not the church or a church. It is a business. In fact, the “church” is not always all that supportive of pro-life groups. My own Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) has never given a nickel to support Christian Life Resources or New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers. To add insult to injury, the WELS decided some years ago to no longer allow stories about Christian Life Resources or New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers to appear on its video periodical, The WELS Connection. The WELS wanted to focus only on work as a denomination.
Thrivent did the expected thing and, arguably, the necessary thing. Yes, I want every agency, every church and every Christian to support protecting human life and standing up for the will of God. It doesn’t happen and in most circumstances it cannot happen. I can’t get my mortgage company, bank, grocery store or gas station to support Christian Life Resources. It is not their business to support us. I am, however, pleased when businesses I patronize take steps to prevent the support of unchristian ventures. Thrivent has done that, and admittedly it has hurt Christian Life Resources from lost revenue. But when has doing the right thing ever happened without some sort of sacrifice?
There is no substitute for education in the Word of God. Rather than just forbid the option of supporting and ungodly cause it is better to have Gospel-motivated people making the right decision even when the wrong options exist. Such education in the Word of God is the work of all of us who make up the priesthood of believers. We often do a poor job at it and that is how these things get out of hand.
One last important note: Thrivent still permits support for New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers – the ministry we started in 1993 to help single mothers and their babies live with a life-affirming decision. More than 20 years ago Aid Association to Lutherans, the predecessor agency of Thrivent, helped us start New Beginnings with some seed money. They continue to help us today.