Last Tuesday[i] some Evangelical Christians (reported as 148 initial signatories[ii]) released The Nashville Statement: a Coalition for Biblical Sexuality[iii] “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.” The statement has 14 articles in an “affirm and deny” formats, dealing with marriage, homosexuality, transgenderism,[iv] etc. It met with welcome plaudits and stiff rebuttals.
Welcome plaudits come from those who share the same biblical understandings of those who made the statement. I am in basic agreement with the statement, in its presentation of what has been the standard view among Christians on marriage and sexuality (and still is for many). We could complain that some things might have been said better, differently, more or less,[v] but there is a common biblical bond among those who hold the truth that the word of God sets sexual expression and activity within the covenant bonds of (heterosexual) marriage.
The “stiff rebuttals” seem to me to come from two (sort of united) fronts. One tact plays down its importance as a statement of old angry white guys (who probably voted for Trump). Looking through the list of initial signatories, it is hard to tell whether the signers are angry or if they voted for Donald Trump.[vi] But as I glance through the names (none of whom I know personally), I do see names that I recognize as not old, not white and not male. The other tact plays up its importance, warning against the dangers of the biblical viewpoint held by churches for a couple thousand years, while noting that it is too widespread for them to be comfortable with.
The bottom line is that we differ on whether homosexuality, transgenderism, etc. are sexual sins to be abandoned (Nashville Statement) or sexual activity that ought to be celebrated (Christians United Statement). This is a wide chasm that cannot be bridged.
- Christians United Statement -- A theological statement in opposition to the Nashville Statement
- Evangelical leaders issue Nashville Statement, a 'Christian manifesto' on human sexuality -- "It speaks with forthright clarity, biblical conviction, gospel compassion, cultural relevance, and practical helpfulness."
- Evangelicals counter 'agree to disagree' sexuality -- "The article that may gain the most attention is the document's declaration on the acceptability of evangelical disagreement regarding the issues of homosexuality and gender identity."
- I signed the Nashville Statement. It’s an expression of love for same-sex attracted people. -- "Christians understand the brokenness of the world. We signers know ourselves, like all humanity, to be broken by sin."
- Keeping Christianity weird: Why the Nashville Statement matters -- "It does not seem all that newsworthy to reassert what the church everywhere has confessed for the last 2,000 years."
- ‘Nashville Statement’ condemns LGBT Christians and those who support them -- "ERLC President Russell Moore, whose agency is listed as co-sponsor, called the statement “an urgently needed moment of gospel clarity”."
- Rosaria Butterfield: “Why I Signed the Nashville Statement” -- "Conversion to Christ did not initially change my sexual attraction for women. What conversion did change immediately was my heart and mind."
- Why even [some] conservative evangelicals are unhappy with the anti-LGBT Nashville Statement -- "The comments of those who would otherwise be behind the statement’s traditional views show the way the Trump presidency has scrambled internal evangelical debate in the United States — particularly on the question of who has legitimacy to speak about morality in the public square."
- Why the Rejection of the Nashville Statement on Sexuality Is a Rejection of the Bible -- "I’m all for dialogue with professing LGBT Christians, and I have often apologized for the church’s past failures in our treatment of those who identify as LGBT."
- Progressives Appalled As Christians Affirm Doctrine Held Unanimously For 2,000 Years -- "I can’t believe these people would just come out and blatantly state something Christians have unflinchingly agreed on for millennia." (Satire)
[i] Tuesday August 29, 2017
[ii] I’ve seen other numerical reports, such as “over 150.”
[iii] It is called the “Nashville Statement” because the draft of the statement was finalized in Nashville, Tennessee.
[v] Perhaps the more commonly discussed among those who generally agree on the statement will be 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.”
[vi] As I said, I generally agree with the statement – and I did not vote for Trump. I may be an old white guy, but I don’t think I’m angry about much of anything.