Last week a financial representative from Thrivent stopped by my house. The purpose of his visit was 2-fold: to drop off some materials advertising an upcoming seminar he wanted me to promote in my congregations, and also to respond to some concerns he’d heard that I had with Thrivent via one of my members.
I appreciated his visit and also the fact that he did not try to justify Thrivent’s decision to remain “neutral” on the issues of abortion and homosexuality (you can find Thrivent’s neutrality policy here: https://service.thrivent.com/forms/thriventchoice/neutrality.html. In fact, he even expressed his own disappointment in Thrivent’s neutrality policy, himself being an LCMS Lutheran.
However, the rep encouraged me to continue to promote Thrivent in the congregations I serve despite all of this, thus, the posters and bulletin inserts he left with me. His reasoning was this: even though Thrivent isn’t perfect, at least they aren’t as bad as everyone else. He expressed his frustration that the LCMS publically expressed their concerns with Thrivent (http://blogs.lcms.org/2014/lcms-initial-reaction-to-thrivents-financial-neutrality-policy) while continuing to do business with MetLife, who administers the Concordia Retirement Savings plan (http://www.concordiaplans.org/detailpage.aspx?ID=437), despite their “long history of commitment to the LGBT community” (https://www.metlife.com/lgbt/index.html). The rep’s logic was this: even though Thrivent won’t take a position either way on issues of sexual orientation, at least they aren’t active in supporting the LGBT community.
Should the LCMS utilize the services of MetLife, despite their support of the LGBT community? I don’t know. The Bible is clear that much of what the LGBT community advocates is sexual sin, and this is something Christians and churches ought not promote. I’m inclined to think that the only way we can avoid working with those who promote sin is to retreat from the world—and Christians are certainly not called to that. At least MetLife doesn’t claim to be a Christian organization.
And that’s the heart of the problem with Thrivent. If they can’t take a biblical stand on clearly biblical issues like abortion and sexual orientation, they should quit pretending to be a Christian organization. The “About Us” page of Thrivent’s website says, “Thrivent Financial is a financial services organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously,” (https://www.thrivent.com/aboutus/index.html), and their current tagline is “connecting faith and finances for good.”
If their goal is to connect faith and finances, shouldn’t Thrivent support pro-life organizations? Do they consider it “unwise” to support life? Can one remain truly remain neutral when it comes to taking a stand on the fifth and sixth commandments? Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me and whoever does not gather with me scatters,” (Luke 11:23). Love for the things of the world (1 John 2:15—16) and the desire for the approval of man (Galatians 1:10) seems to be driving this “neutrality” decision, not a commitment to faithful Christian stewardship.
To be fair, there are many within Thrivent who are disappointed with Thrivent’s new “neutrality” policy. But that’s not enough. Christians (and Christian organizations) cannot be neutral when it comes to confessing the truth of God’s Word. You’re either with Jesus or you’re against Him. And, for my part, If I’m going to do business with a wolf, I’d rather it not come to me in sheep’s clothing. So Thrivent, here’s a simple plea: repent, re-commit yourself to Christian values, or please take off the fleece.
Epilogue: As for the materials the rep left for me on the upcoming seminar, I’m thinking about adopting my own “neutrality policy” when it comes to promoting financial service organizations in my congregations.