What is so surprising about the Nashville Statement?

The “Nashville Statement”, just released on August 29, 2017, is a brief and captivating read from a host of evangelical Christian  representatives. You should check it out for yourself, preferably before you read all the bad press about it. If you are like me, you’ll find this document interesting, because it seems to have upset all the right people; or should I say, all the left people.

Don’t expect fireworks, though, in the text. They aren’t there. It’s entirely unsurprising orthodoxy. It’s basically a traditional evangelical statement on same-sex practice, same-sex marriage, sexual immorality, and gender-identity. The fireworks emerge elsewhere, in the media firestorm that it’s sparked. Critics are labeling it “shameful,” “harmful,” and “hate speech.

Despite the bad press, I am honestly refreshed to see what it actually says, as opposed to the exaggerated and villainous interpolations offered by it’s enemies.

If we have the patience to sidestep the reactionary smokescreen, and just read it for what is says, and only what it says, then you may find as I did, that it’s worst offenses are illusory; frightful shadows that do not reflect any evil in these pages, but only the jagged backlit reflection from the angry mobs themselves. The real danger is not in the biblical prescriptions for gender, sexuality, and family. The real danger is the sin nature within all of us. The most tempting evils are the one’s we already want to believe, the one’s we wish were true, and good, and beautiful.

So, I appreciate the Nashville Statement. I signed it. It shows a careful reconciling tone, balancing precise and principled statements of biblical Christianity within its fourteen articles, as well as the emphasizing the main thing, the gospel. They do not impose any heirarchy ranking same-sex relations worse than other sexual sins. We are all fallen, gay and straight alike. We all need Jesus, whatever our struggles may be.

This document reads like a simple, clear, conservative statement on family values.  It’s brief, a mere three pages not counting the signatures. And it affirms and asserts what has been the dominant, traditional, and historic position of evangelical Christianity across church history. That part isn’t surprising.

Neither is the “liberal” backlash surprising. In today’s political climate we have a true example of “global warming.” Partisan politics has raised the temperature. There’s racial violence, backlash against police, public rioting, hate-groups clashing with authoritarians in the streets. Democrats and republicans are fighting across the aisles like they always have. But they’ve been fighting in-house too. And don’t forget the outhouse fighting; over gendered bathrooms. Tensions are high already. It’s not surprising at all to find that the recent shift in public opinion on LGBTQ issues has left many people with raw nerves.

What is surprising, however, is the degree of grace and tact employed throughout the statement. When nerves are raw, people are easily pained. A delicate touch is necessary, and even then, it still hurts. But felt pain does not always mean harm.  Surgery hurts too. The trouble is in telling the difference between a knife-wielding maniac and a scalpel-wielding surgeon. If our only clue to “good” and “bad” is our feelings, then we would never be able to tell when a principle is operating surgically on our worldview to help and heal, as opposed to sharp and cutting language stabbing us recklessly. It does not take much from biblical evangelicals to spark a pain response from the easily grieved. Yet we have the biblical and Christian duty to wield the truth with skill and accuracy, and bounded on all sides with the love of Christ. We dare not advance except on the dual track of truth and love. We must aim to be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves, speaking with gentleness and respect, and loving others as Christ has first love us.

Fortunately, this statement, I think, does a good job of phrasing these difficult points with care and balance. Perhaps with ministry-minded Christians, this statement can be administered in healing ways. A little grace and a lot of wisdom can go a long way in sustaining healing conversations.

I encourage you to read the statement for yourself. It’s presented below in it’s entirety, without any internal commentary, or any textual editing so you can see for yourself what all the controversy is about.]

***


Preamble

Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.

This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?

We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.

We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.

Article 1

WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.

WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.

Article 2

WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.

WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.

Article 3

WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.

WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.

Article 4

WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.

WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

Article 5

WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.

WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.

Article 6

WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.

WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.

Article 7

WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.

WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.

Article 8

WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.

WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.

Article 9

WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality— a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.

WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.

Article 10

WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.

WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

Article 11

WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.

WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his image-bearers as male and female.

Article 12

WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

Article 13

WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.

WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.

Article 14

WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.

WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.

Initial Signatories

Institutional affiliation for identification purposes only

Denny Burk
President, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

John Piper
Founder & Teacher, Desiring God
Chancellor, Bethlehem Seminary and College

James Dobson
Founder, Focus on the Family

Russell Moore
President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

J. I. Packer
Professor of Theology, Regent College

Wayne Grudem
Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Tony Perkins
President, Family Research Council

D. A. Carson
Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

John MacArthur
Pastor, Grace Community Church
President, The Master’s Seminary and College

Sam Allberry
Speaker & Apologist, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

R. C. Sproul
Founder & Chairman, Ligonier Ministries

Rosaria Butterfield
Author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

Francis Chan
Author & Pastor, We Are Church

Marvin Olasky
Editor in Chief, World Magazine

Ligon Duncan
Chancellor & CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary

Steve Gaines
President, The Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church

Andrew T. Walker
Director of Policy Studies, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

H. B. Charles, Jr.
Pastor, Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church

Christopher Yuan
Speaker & Author, Moody Bible Institute

Dennis Rainey
Founder & Former President, FamilyLife

Frank Page
President & CEO, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee
Former SBC President

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
Author & Speaker, Revive Our Hearts

Daniel L. Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Kevin DeYoung
Senior Pastor, Christ Covenant Church

Alistair Begg
Reverend, Parkside Church

Heath Lambert
Executive Director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

Jerry A. Johnson
President & CEO, National Religious Broadcasters

Mark Dever
Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church

Randy Alcorn
Director, Eternal Perspectives Ministries

Karen Swallow Prior
Professor of English, Liberty University

Matt Chandler
Pastor, The Village Church

Fred Luter
Senior Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church
Former SBC President

James MacDonald
Founder and Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel
Former SBC President

James Merritt
Pastor, Cross Pointe Church

Jack Graham
Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church

J. D. Greear
Pastor, The Summit Church

Darryl Delhousaye
President, Phoenix Seminary

Thomas White
President, Cedarville University

Bryant Wright
Senior Pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
Former SBC President

Don Sweeting
President, Colorado Christian University

Jeff Purswell
Director of Theology, Sovereign Grace Churches

Johnny Hunt
Pastor, FBC Woodstock
Former SBC President

Jason K. Allen
President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Erick-Woods Erickson
Editor in Chief, The Resurgent

Mark L. Bailey
President & Senior Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary

K. Erik Thoennes
Professor and Chair of Theology, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

Vaughan Roberts
Rector of St. Ebbe’s Church (UK)

David French
Senior Writer, National Review

Paige Patterson
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

R. Kent Hughes
Visiting Professor of Practical Theology, Evangelism and Culture, Westminster Theological Seminary

Jeff Iorg
President, Gateway Seminary

Sam Storms
Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church

Richard Land
President, Southern Evangelical Seminary

Robert A. J. Gagnon
Scholar and Author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice

Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver
President, Union University

Ronnie Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church
Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

C. J. Mahaney
Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville

Jason G. Duesing
Provost, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary & College

Matt Carter
Pastor of Preaching and Vision, The Austin Stone Church

Chuck Kelley
President, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Burk Parsons
Copastor, St. Andrew’s Chapel

Eric Teetsel
President, Family Policy Alliance of Kansas

Alastair Roberts
Scholar & Author of Heirs Together: A Theology of the Sexes

Kevin Ezell
President, North American Mission Board

Ray Ortlund
Pastor, Immanuel Church

O. S. Hawkins
President, GuideStone SBC

Thom S. Rainer
President & CEO, LifeWay Christian Resources

Michael Reeves
President and Professor of Theology, Union School of Theology (UK)

Todd Wagner
Pastor, Watermark Community Church

John M. Frame
Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary

Randy Stinson
Senior VP for Academic Administration and Provost, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Thomas Schreiner
Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

H. Wayne House
Academic Dean and Distinguished Research Professor, Faith International University

J. P. Moreland
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

Bruce Ware
Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Michael Goeke
Associate Pastor, FBC San Francisco

Joel Belz
Founder, World Magazine, World News Group

Afshin Ziafat
Lead Pastor, Providence Church

Stephen Strang
Founder & CEO, Charisma Media

Christiana Holcomb
Legal Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom

Owen Strachan
Associate Professor of Christian Theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Anthony Kidd
Pastor of Preaching, Community of Faith Bible Church

James M. Hamilton, Jr.
Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Bryan Carter
Senior Pastor, Concord Church

Chris Larson
President & CEO, Ligonier Ministries

Bruce Riley Ashford
Provost and Professor of Theology & Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Candi Finch
Assistant Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Curtis Woods
Associate Executive Director, Kentucky Baptist Convention

Nathan Finn
Dean, School of Theology and Missions, Union University

James Robison
Founder & President, LIFE Outreach International
Founder & Publisher, The Stream

C. Ben Mitchell
Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University

Darrell Bock
Senior Professor, Dallas Theological Seminary

David Mathis
Executive Editor, Desiring God

Ken Magnuson
Professor of Christian Ethics, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Daniel Heimbach
Senior Professor of Christian Ethics, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Hershael W. York
Professor of Christian Preaching, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Mary Mohler
Director, Seminary Wives Institute

Hunter Baker
Associate Professor, Union University

Dorothy Kelley Patterson
Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jim Shaddix
Professor of Expository Preaching, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

John N. Oswalt
Visiting Distinguished Professor of Old Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

Jack Deere
Author and Speaker, Grace Church

Juan R. Sanchez
Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church

Malcolm B. Yarnell III
Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jonathan Leeman
Editorial Director, 9Marks

Mary A. Kassian
Author, Director, Girls Gone Wise

Mark Daniel Liederbach
Professor & Vice President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Matthew J. Hall
Dean of Boyce College & Senior VP of Academic Innovation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Micah Fries
Senior Pastor, Brainerd Baptist Church

Nathan Lino
Senior Pastor, Northeast Houston Baptist Church

Paul Weber
President & CEO, Family Policy Alliance

Bob Lepine
Vice President of Content, FamilyLife

Casey B. Hough
Senior Pastor, FBC Camden

Russell Shubin
Director, Salem Media Group

Allan Coppedge
Retired Professor of Theology, Asbury Theological Seminary

Daniel DeWitt
Director of the Center for Biblical Apologetics & Public Christianity, Cedarville University

Charlotte Akin
Homemaker, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Don Buckley
Physician, Spanish Trail Family Physicians

David Schrock
Pastor for Preaching and Theology, Occoquan Bible Church

E. Calvin Beisner
Founder & National Spokesman, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

Donald A. Balasa
Adjunct Faculty, Trinity International University

Donna Thoennes
Adjunct Professor and homeschool mom, Biola University

James A. Borland
Professor of New Testament & Theology, Liberty University

Eric C. Redmond
Assistant Professor of Bible, Moody Bible Institute

Grant Castleberry
Pastor of Discipleship, Providence Church

Jose Abella
Lead Pastor, Providence Road Church

Phillip Bethancourt
Executive Vice President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Adam Greenway
Dean, Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, & Ministry, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Joy White
Homemaker & Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Cedarville University

Gregory Wills
Dean, School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Katie McCoy
Assistant Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies, Scarborough College

Rhyne R. Putman
Associate Professor of Theology and Culture, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Barry Joslin
Professor of Christian Theology, Boyce College

Rhonda Kelley
President’s Wife, Adjunct Faculty, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Peter Jones
Executive Director, TruthXchange

Bryan Baise
Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Apologetics, Boyce College

Kenneth Keathley
Senior Professor of Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jeff Struecker
Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

Rebecca Jones

Volunteer, truthXchange

Evan Lenow
Associate Professor of Ethics, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Daniel Patterson
Vice President for Operations and Chief of Staff, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

David Talley
Professor of Old Testament, Biola University

Travis Wussow
VP for Public Policy, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Sean Perron
Chief of Staff, The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

Michael L. Brown
President, FIRE School of Ministry

Keith Whitfield
Assistant Professor & Dean, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jeffrey Riley
Professor of Ethics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Dannah Gresh
Co-founder, Pure Freedom

Matt Damico
Associate Pastor of Worship, Kenwood Baptist Church

Colby Adams
Director of Communications, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Paul Felix
President, Los Angeles Bible Training School

Colin Smothers
Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

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10 thoughts on “What is so surprising about the Nashville Statement?

  1. It’s not representative or inclusive of Christianity as a whole, it doesn’t bring to the table Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, etc. leaders, it didn’t have a seat reserved for prominent LGBTQ christian leaders, I mean, it wouldn’t have been that different from the church putting out a statement about Biblical Slavery back when they used the Bible that way. It was drafted in an echo chamber, a bubble that has little care about the ramifications.
    But I’ve read accounts of parents who kicked out their LGBTQ teenagers in the name of Christ’s love, of parents who cut-off their kids in every way, of kids who sold themselves on the streets for a meal, and of Christian kids who routinely attempt suicide in order to keep them from sinning in this way and be tormented in Hell forever because once they do sin they’ll lose any chance at heaven.
    Have a heart, put yourself in the shoes of the various members of the LGBTQ communitiy, imagine yourself an object of God’s wrath, despised by his church – and read again these affirmations and denials – imagine that they apply to you in every way. Try to see it with their eyes and feel it with their heart. My thought is that Jesus would embrace these who are the least and that we should, too.

    1. Jamie, I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m glad this document does not instruct or condone the shunning of one’s children, or bullying, assault or any hateful, mean, and abusive behaviors. I’m also glad that this document shows real and thoughtful awareness of the history of this issue in biblical Christian thought, as opposed to the popular trends today. The church is a historic institution and not just a modern one. To speak collectively for the church does, of course, mean generalizing to some degree. The church rarely unites entirely in wording and belief. However, there’s no strong diversity of opinion on LGBTQ issues until fairly recently. Individuals who struggle in that area deserve love, and genuine reconciliation efforts–per the truths expressed in this document–and they need forgiveness from God just like all of us do.

      1. Doesn’t it strike you as callous to not include: “you really shouldn’t cut-off your sinning children, you shouldn’t cast them out, you shouldn’t abandon them.”? They might not instruct people to do those things, but they don’t instruct them not to, either.

      2. Jamie, why would you think family shunning is encouraged or even permitted? That behavior sounds terrible, and contradictory to the healing and transformative spirit of the Gospel. Truth without love is a distortion of the Gospel. I think you might be importing some unwarranted assumptions into your reading of the Nashville statement. I don’t want to be heavy handed though. I do admit that many Christians have not handled this issue well AT ALL. And many Christians have sinned egregiously when it comes to sexual sins and gender identity issues. This statement doesn’t sound to me like what you are describing. I can see, however, why it would offend people who don’t believe key biblical teachings about same sex relations and gender ambiguity.

      3. Do you remember Jesus famously preaching on gender differences and marital roles, with his disciples gathered around him and women all over the place hanging on his every word? What did Jesus say about homosexuality and how we as believers should respond? You’ll find little in the red letters that are specifically answer questions related to that topic. Jesus was dealing with issues in his culture and his day and age. He gave us a few guidelines about how we ought to live at peace with others – but Christians aren’t doing a great job of following those instructions.

  2. Jamie, before responding, I do want to affirm what I take to be good intentions on your part. There have been lots of abuses on the part of Bible believing church folks. And EVEN IF WE GRANT that same sex-relations and gender fluidity, we Christians still have plenty to apologize for and confess because we have not always manifested the love of Christ, and done our due diligence to offer reconciliation, healing, and community for those who are willing. We are not adequately representing the Gospel if we offer only condemnation for sin, but no grace for salvation, if we have only a preoccupation with sexual practice and no focus on the unique history and needs of the individual; if we have only fear and scorn instead of love for those who are willing to grow in sanctification within the the community of believers. Only a small part of reconciliation involves focusing on some particular sin-issue. Most of the work of reconciliation is in love, community, trust-building, gestures of healing and understanding.

  3. Jamie, with that context in place (my last comment) I’d like to address what you last said.

    It sounds like you’re making an argument from silence (i.e., “Jesus didn’t speak on X, therefore X is permitted”). But there’s more in Scripture against same-sex relations than there is against polygamy, incest, and several other sexual sins, and Jesus overall affirms the moral law as it’s sustained within the pre-Moses, Mosaic, and post-Mosaic era.The overall message of Scripture such as Genesis 19 (pre-Mosaic law), Leviticus 20 (Mosaic law), Romans 1-2 (post-mosaic law), and elsewhere indicate that same-sex relations with concomitant gender-fluidity are wrong. Scripture, at face value, aligns with the nearly universal moral and legal taboo against same-sex relations. The normal meaning of Scripture teaches that same-sex relations are clearly wrong. With this reference in place, we can then see what all is included when Jesus says:

    “17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'” (Matthew 5:17-20; ESV).

    I’m familiar with the many volumes of liberal theology trying to create a wedge in the text. There is some clarity from those sources, but more often than not, they commit a kind of cultural imperialism treating modern social trends as the arbiter of what the text of Scripture is allowed to mean. In that regard, I’d commend to you the work of Robert Gagnon on this issue (“the Bible and Homosexual Practice”) if you have not already read some of his work.

    So, if we conclude in ambiguity and a historical reversal when it comes to prominent and oft-repeated teachings in Scripture, then we are blurring even worse the biblical prohibitions that are less clear or less often prohibited, such as polygamy, incest, and some other sexual sins. To put it another way, once a biblical door is kicked down, there’s no guarantee that it can be shut again after we’ve let in just the “fashionable” behaviors we had in mind. The ugly, awful, and reprobate behaviors are equally permitted if we have only a loose and libertine view of Scripture in place, such as the “argument from silence” method you used. For example, a brother and sister can be loving adults, if an amorphous sense of “love” justifies sexual relations then incest is okay. If a 40-year-old man and a 16 year-old girl love each other, and the parent’s consent, then pedophilia is permitted insofar as “love is love” is the height of our sexual ethic. And so on. This is the slippery slope we’re sliding down once we’ve toppled the biblical boundaries that were set up to keep us from the crash at the bottom. Those guardrails are not obstacles to hurdle, they are safety measures for our own protection.

  4. I became critical after seeing some initial signatories have a couple statements to the effect of “if you don’t agree, understand this was done in love and compassion” without expressing willingness to engage in dialogue with those that disagree (although I have had good dialogue with them), and “the truth is always compassionate”. Then I read the statement. I agree it largely reflects orthodox views of Christian sexual ethics specifically as it relates to homosexuality/transgenderism. My initial concern – which I formed before reading all the critics – is rooted in my personal belief that if something is loving or good, you don’t need to say that it is – let the words, works or evidence speak for themselves, or at least attempt to make a case or have a discussion when the loving intent isn’t self evident to those who may be reading it. I think saying something like “the truth is always compassionate” is dangerous because it gives the audience license to use words without additional consideration for how to speak in love. My other main concern is the lack of who this is addressed to and the intended purpose. I’ll take in good faith John Piper’s words here as a good purpose/audience: “And it will prove to be, I believe, enormously helpful for thousands of pastors and leaders hoping to give wise, biblical, and gracious guidance to their people.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/precious-clarity-on-human-sexuality). I think it becomes more problematic when addressed to the church as a whole, or to all of society. There are much better biblical methods for that than schismatic manifestos. I see dissimilarities as well when compared to other creeds/doctrines – again primarily around audience/purpose if this was intended to have a broad audience. I have other concerns about the statement itself, but I’ve found those best expressed by Alastair Roberts – a signer of the Statement (https://alastairadversaria.com/2017/09/01/on-the-nashville-statement-and-my-signing-of-it/). In the end, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I should learn to be proactive about praying for and living out what I see as missed opportunities here – not spending too much time “reacting”.

    1. Craig, thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here.

      If I understand you correctly we agree in part, and we disagree in part. I’m not sure I understand why you would say, “if something is loving or good, you don’t need to say that it is.” It seems odd that we need not verbally promote things that are good or true (or beautiful). Should we not verbally promote truth and goodness, as well as live out those things. The verbal aspect helps clarify the testimony of our lives. If we live lovingly, we help testify (in a round-about way) to the Gospel truth, but that testimony can be vague and unclear. We may look the same as Mormons, or an ethical atheist. If we don’t verbalize truth, then we can live a powerful testimony dull and unclear. Am I understanding you correctly?

      As for the phrase “schismatic manifestos,” you may be right in a technical sense. Declaring the normal teaching of the Christian church for the last 2000 years does polarize schismatic groups. We should never be eager or quick to divide the fellowship of believers, especially ones who agree on central teachings about soteriology, christology, or theology proper. But, in my view, this statement is a long overdue clarification on a matter that’s very important in social policy, family life, membership issues, Christian counseling, discipleship training, and relational ministry. It’s somewhat akin to a Christian creed (although it’s not really an ecumenical statement in its scope). The church does need to calibrate its moral compass sometimes when it comes to interpretive issues where some factions are veering from the historic teaching of the church. This kind of statement can help stabilize some churches that were creeping into hyperfundamentalism, but now they see they were going too far in reactionism. And for other churches, it can pull them back from hyperliberalism, reminding them of biblical Christian basics that are as blurry and questioanble as some of the liberal “scholarship” may have led them to believe.

      Furthermore, I think many many Christians have been bending over backwards to love and accommodate people who disagree with historic teaching on this issue. And while there are also some loudmouth idiots (Fred Phelps) who claim Christ in their words and deny Him with their life, those blowhards do not get to decide whether we can or cannot speak on important issues of truth. We still have a vitally important role for principled doctrinal stances like the Nashville statement.

  5. Thank you for this faithful witness. I have prayed for each of you and for every faithful Christian, that we might find courage to continue to proclaim the truth in love. Andrew Wright

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