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Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Nashville Statement

"Anti-Gay Manifesto" the headline reads. Let's see if there is any truth to the claim.

The reference is to the Nashville Statement on Human Sexuality, a document from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood signed by 150 prominent Evangelical leaders. The document was drawn up in the city of Nashville, so, like the Nicene Creed in Nicaea or the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy from in Chicago, as a matter of tradition, they named it the "Nashville Statement". It is a statement on biblical sexuality.

What kind of "anti-gay" stuff is in there? Well, they 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." (Article 1) Culturally accepted? No. "Anti-gay"? That's what they say. But all it is is a statement of biblical marriage. Article 2 calls for chastity for all but the married. No surprise there. Is that "anti-gay"? They say it is. Article 3 affirms the straightforward biblical claim that God created humans as male and female (Gen 1:27). Nothing "anti-gay" there. Article 4 (a bit odd to me) claims that it's good that God made male and female. Article 5 says that one primary difference between male and female is reproductive structures as integral to God's design. Clearly these last few are "anti-transgender" in the sense that they deny the claim that a person can be "a female born in a male body" or something like it, but, seriously, it doesn't take a Bible to know this. Try science. So science is "anti-transgender"? Article 6 acknowledges that it is possible to be born with "a physical disorder of sex development". This article affirms their dignity and worth. Definitely not "anti-intersex". Article 7 affirms that "self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption." As such, they deny that "adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes." See, it's things like this that get labeled "anti-gay" or "anti-transgender". Article 8 affirms that people who experience same-sex attraction can live rich and fruitful lives as long as "they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life." Again, this will get labeled "anti-gay", but it is wrong to do so. It is anti-homosexual-behavior. Article 9 condemns both homosexual and heterosexual immorality and denies that "an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior." Are we really going to claim that "an enduring pattern of desire" qualifies that behavior, whatever it is, as moral? Not "anti-gay"; anti-sexual immorality.

The one that has most people in a tizzy is 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.
The claim is clear. They are saying that approving of acting on homosexual desires or denying the God that made them male and female is sin and is a departure from Christian faithfulness. These are not morally indifferent. Writer Bonnie Fuller of Hollywood Life says it "makes our blood boil." (Hey, isn't that hate?) She says, "Well then so much for TOLERANCE which Jesus teaches in the Bible!" (And isn't that intolerance?) There you have it, folks. If you call a sin a sin, you're deviating from Christ. He never called sin sin. He embraced it. He didn't merely tolerate it (in the original use of the term) -- He approved it. Not the Jesus I read about, but, hey, what do I know?

There are more Articles. The Nashville Statement affirms that those who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria are in just as much need of Christ as every other sinner on the planet ... which is all of us. They deserve to be loved and valued. That does not mean that these particular sins are worse than others. Nor does it mean that their particular sin is automatically justified. Articles 12 - 14 affirm the availability and effectiveness of Christ's death and resurrection for sinners, including those guilty of sexual sin ... of all types.

Well, you know where this is going. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry is outraged that they used "Nashville" in the name. It "does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville." Translation: "We will have none of this 'Christian values' or 'biblical Christianity' in our town." The rest of the loudest voices assure us that it's "Anti-LGBTQ". Multiple outlets assure us it's "hate". Is it? Well, that depends on your original premise. Start with Man and you'll get one answer. If you start with God you'll get another. So if God says, "Do this and don't do that" and you are concerned about yourself and others, you will want to encourage yourself and others to do what God says. That's not "anti-gay". Further, if "gay" is defined as "same-sex attraction", this document affirms the value of that "gay" person. It is the behavior that is the question. This document affirms the value of the person who struggles with sexual identity. These are not, therefore, "anti-gay", "anti-transgender", "anti-LGBTQ", or hate.

Does the document oppose sexual immorality? Yes ... yes it does. Does it opposed same-sex sex and gender transitioning? Yes ... yes it does. Does it oppose approving of these? Without a doubt. But consider:

1) The statement is on biblical views for Christians. Not a Christian? Move along. This isn't aimed at you.

2) The statement comes from Evangelicals, a group whose definition includes the principle of the inerrancy of Scripture. That they affirm Scripture, then, is not startling. That anyone would expect otherwise is. The headline should read, "News Flash! Christians Declare What They Have Declared From The Start!" The news flash would be that anyone claiming to be a Christian would disagree.

3) The belief that sin is not approved of and the hope that anyone -- everyone -- would come to Christ are not "anti"; they are biblical. Just like Christ -- "Go and sin no more." (John 8:11) It is not loving, kind, caring, or even wise to approve of sin. It is loving to warn others from it and offer them Christ as a solution to it.

But we have arrived at a place that says, "We will not tolerate a biblical worldview or any that hold it. We will classify them as 'intolerant' and 'hateful' and 'anti-Christ'." We have arrived at a place in Christendom that says, "We will no longer allow God's Word to determine what is or is not true. We will determine it. God will just have to get on board." It requires the end of rationality.

One of the signers was Rosaria Butterfield, a woman and a former lesbian. She explains why she signed the document. Important point: "The issue is not primarily homosexuality; it’s Scripture."


Craig said...

An acquaintance of mine, posted on FB that the statement is "heresy" and that anyone who signs it is going to hell.

I'd love to ask (but won't because I don't do that kind of thing on FB), if he actually believes that "heresy" and "he'll" are really things.

I do wonder what they hoped to accomplish with this statement.

Stan said...

I am stunned by the thinking offered in your acquaintance's post. Christianity has always agreed that the Bible is clear and right in declaring homosexual behavior as sin. Beyond that, all of history, science, and Christianity have always agreed that there are two genders -- male and female -- and "all you have to do is look". But the thinking of that acquaintance is that Christianity and the Bible along with history, science, and logic have always been ... heretical. The staggering arrogance is amazing to me.

What do they hope to accomplish? Not much, I'm sure. Like the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy or every other declaration from every other gathering that produced every other historic creed, they want to "put a stake in the ground" and say, "Here I stand; I can do nothing else." They want to say, "This is what God's Word says and we have to be here or out of God's instructions." It will help those who might be dithering, encourage those who are within the envelope of historical, biblical Christianity, and alienate the rest who are outside of biblical, historical Christianity ... just like that last phrase would if they heard me say it.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Guess what? Rachel Held Evans, Jen Hatmaker, and Perry Noble are all in a tizzy about how that statement is divisive and unloving. Who'd a thunk it!

Stan said...

A long list, I'm sure. "Surprise!"

I'm not surprised that Christians claiming to follow the Bible have come out in favor of the historic, traditional, longstanding biblical view on the subject. I'm baffled by those claiming to be Christians who are surprised.

Stan said...

Hey, Craig, I came across this. Dr. Mohler answers "I do wonder what they hoped to accomplish with this statement."

Stan said...

I'm wondering where others (like me) can go to sign the statement as well ... you know, if we wanted to agree with the "heresy" and "go to hell".

Craig said...

I'm not saying I have a problem with them making the statement, it just seemed a bit out of the blue and from a group I've never heard about.

Usually this sort of thing gets more coverage during the process.

David said...

It's encouraging to me that there is a group out there that believes as I do and is willing to stand for it. The more I heard "Christians" talking about these subjects, the more I wondered just how few of us were left.

I wonder if the people of Nicaea complained about the Creed being named after their town and saying it goes against what they stand for.

Stan said...

No one in Nicaea complained because they weren't as ignorant (or, perhaps, didn't have the same "liberal media") as those today.

As for "how few of us were left", Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith?" and used words like "few" when referencing those who would be saved. Yes, few.

Stan said...

Craig, you've never heard of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood? You need to get out more. :) They've been around since 1987 commenting on topics like biblical complementarianism and such. The other major contributor was the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, an arm of the SBC. (I was also encouraged with the signature from Rosaria Butterfield.)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Stan, if you want to sign, go here:

Craig said...

Maybe I do, I just hadn't heard of them.

Stan said...

Yeah ... found it, Glenn. Of course, they're not accepting my signature. But, of course, who would? :)

Marshal Art said...

Just a guess, but I think what they hoped to accomplish was no more mysterious than affirming Biblical truth. This type of public proclamation is something that should have been done more boldly and routinely before all this nonsense really got started. Though it might be too little too late, I would love to see more of this from more people.