Why I Reject ‘The Nashville Statement’
First things first, what is the Nashville Statement?
The Nashville Statement is a 14 articles, each declaring WE AFFIRM and WE DENY about different topics surrounding LGBT issues and the church.
- It was released by the Coalition for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood which is a group started by some well-regarded Evangelical leaders.
— The statement has been formally signed in agreement by prominent contemporary Evangelical leaders such as John Piper, James Dobson, Russell Moore, J.I. Packer, and Wayne Grudem.
It can be read at their website, here: https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement
Why Do I reject this statement?
Short Answer: This is a homophobic statement. It is not loving. It is not Christian.
Long Answer: Keep reading.
I have never said this on the internet or in a public forum, but in recent years I have changed my stance on the Bible and Christianity as they relate to LGBT people. I consider myself LGBT affirming, by this I mean that I support LGBT people in every way. I think LGBT folks belong in the church, I believe they should be able to get married in the church, I think they should be treated by the church exactly as I am treated in the church and in the broader society outside of Christian culture.
As a straight, cisgender* male, I am afforded a lot of opportunity within the church and Christian culture. I can attain any leadership position, teach anyone, and get married inside the church. I believe LGBT people deserve the same opportunity.
*(cisgender is a term that connotes someone’s gender identity corresponding with their birth sex)
If you have questions about why I believe this or want to talk about it, I am happy to, but I refuse to argue about it. I do not want to completely shift the focus from this Nashville Statement.
Obviously, I am against this statement because I love gay people. Many of my Christian friends have surely quit reading at this point because they have already written me off as a liberal and think I am probably not a real Christian… oh well. Keep reading.
Not too long ago I was not ‘affirming’. I would like to apologize formally to anyone reading this who identifies as LGBTQ+ for this. Though, I also want to express towards my friends that aren’t LGBT affirming, I understand where you’re coming from. Many Christians feel that God has clearly spoken through the Bible that it is sinful to be an LGBT person. I know from experience that many Christians do not hold this view because they are hateful and bigoted. Many kind and loving Christians (and people of other faiths too) believe they are only following the word of God in being non-affirming. I understand that if you believe God (or a higher power) is commanding you to hold a particular view, you may feel you cannot disagree. Many people hold this view in spite of their compassion and care for LGBT people because they so firmly believe this position is what is commanded of them. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about why I do not believe this about God, instead I’d just like to express that Christians are not all hateful and homophobic, rather, many Christians believe this is a part of their religious teaching and feel compelled to follow that aside from and despite personal convictions.
This point leads me to my first point of disagreement with the Nashville Statement:
- This statement is homophobic.
All points of this statement are written in a simplistic nature, presented as white and black. They do not honor LGBT people as to assume they’re more complex than this. They are not nuanced, they are not sugar-coated, they are not kind.
You can believe the Bible and disagree with LGBT Christians in a loving way. You can agree to disagree about this point. To put out a terse sentence saying WE DENY you, WE DENY your identity, WE DENY who you know yourself to be…. this is not loving in any way.
I feel a great deal of hurt for any of my LGBT friends who might read all these statements. How blatantly hurtful and unloving to talk about people this way.
I trust Christians to show love toward LGBT folks even if they disagree with them. This is not loving. This is a manifesto of homophobia.
2. This statement is not based in the Bible
I trust my Baptist friends to have Bible subtexts for every point they make, but they failed me this time!
In its simplicity, this statement does not directly reference the Bible. It references it in passing, but mostly just qualifies itself as being ‘Biblical’.
Sure, some of these statements could be argued with passages from the Bible, but all of them? Absolutely not.
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.”
Where does the Bible tell me how to be a man and what it means to be a male? Can I follow exactly what the Bible says about being male while living in a way that is contrary to American Masculinity??? Yes. Jesus was not masculine in a modern American context because he was a middle eastern man in the first century.
3. Jesus would never make this statement
Jesus’ life and words were recorded in the four gospel accounts and nowhere in them do we see Jesus condemning LGBT people.
There were very many people in Jesus’ day that could be described as LGBT.
LGBT people are not a modern invention.
LGBT people have always existed.
Jesus never condemned them.
American Evangelicals have condemned them very clearly and openly and I do not think this is the way of Christ.
4. This statement is hypocrisy.
Several of the signers of this statement have publicly expressed support for Donald Trump, even before he was elected as the American president. Notably, Dr. James Dobson.
I find it to be completely hypocritical for Evangelical leaders who openly supported a man who was caught on tape admitting to sexual assault.
Sexual abuse is not outlined in this statement, but sex outside of marriage is defined as something ‘WE DENY’ in article 2. How can I hear this statement being made by people who publicly stated their approval for someone who admitted sexual assault ? How can I hear this statement being made about sex outside of marriage when public support was made for sexual assault outside of marriage?
How can anyone tell me about the Biblical view of sexuality when expressing support for a sexual abuser and downplaying sexual abuse?
How can anyone express support for someone to be the president of my country and forgiveness for their sexual sin while openly stating that they “DENY” someone who is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer?
The signers of this document believe that LGBT people are in sin, but their signatures speak that they think LGBT people are in a greater and more unforgivable sin that sins that their elected president confessed to on tape.
Due to some of these signers public endorsement of Trump, their views on purity and sexuality have been completely invalidated to me.
By engaging in the political realm in this way, they have lost their platform. They cannot say simultaneously that a sexual abuser deserves to be the president, but a gay man does not belong in their church.
I see this statement as a public alignment with current far-right republican viewpoints and not in alignment with God and the Bible.
A Couple Closing Questions:
- Who is this for?
This statement surely is not aimed towards people inside the tent of Evangelicalism. This seems to be aimed outside of it. This feels exclusive rather than a move toward greater inclusivity.
- What is the purpose of this statement?
This feels like an attack towards a group of people.
Instead of the CBMW seeking the perspective of LGBT Christians and inviting people into the fold, they issued a statement attacking them.
Is there a purpose to this that seems loving and Christian? I cannot find that purpose in these words.
- Is this going to result in more people joining the Christian faith or more people leaving it?
The answer to this question is obvious. These signers are stating very clearly that they do not want these people in their churches. They’re saying publicly “WE DENY” and many people are going to read “WE DENY YOU”.
If I was gay and saw that my pastor had signed this in agreement, I would not stick around for another sunday in the church.
Christians need to understand that making these sort of political statements about what they believe is ‘Biblical’ is not loving.
We can agree to disagree.
We can have churches that believe different things about this issue.
Except, Article 10 states that I am in sin for suggesting we agree to disagree.
This statement paints itself in opposition to all who might not agree.
Many will say “it is more loving for people to know God’s truth than for them to live a lie.” but that is simply the wrong way of thinking. To make a bold, exclusionary statement towards a large group of people is never loving. This is not about true and false, this is about people.
I find it hard to believe that ANY of the men (okay there were a few women) who signed this have friends they love who are gay.
I find it hard to believe that ANY of the men who signed this have loved ones who are transgender.
I find it hard to believe that these men have sought out and desired to learn the stories of LGBT people.
I say this because no one would exclude their loved ones so flippantly and publicly.
In Conclusion: (this is the part where the pastor acts like he’s done but he’s still got 15 minutes of semon left)
This entire statement is a noisy racket. There is no substance in it because there is not love in it.
To quote Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
This is not a loving statement. .
This statement bears the mark of authoritarianism and piety.
This statement is a clanging symbol, this statement is nothing, this statement will gain nothing because it is devoid of love.
A Few Closing Remarks
Whether you’d like to believe it or not there are a lot of LGBT people attending all types of churches every week.
Many of these people are not open about this and endure hateful and unloving talk about them daily inside their church contexts.
Many church leaders preach to large congregations as if every person there is straight and cisgendered. This is misguided and naive.
Many gay teens are brought up in these church cultures that (sometimes unknowingly) shame them, bully them, and convince them they can never be loved, never love someone else, never be open about their sexuality.
Many gay children and teens are brought up inside a church culture that presents a very dim world for them inside the love of Christ.
This has overwhelmingly resulted in gay teen suicide.
Jesus would never condone this culture, formed around him, that results in the death of his dearly beloved children.
This statement is not merely a matter of theology.
This statement is about real people’s lives.
This statement speaks hate of people who are dearly loved.
I love my friends who are LGBTQ+.
I love my friends who are straight.
I love my friends who agree with me.
I love my friends who disagree with me.
Let us do a better job of building a bigger tent and inviting more people inside, rather than building a fence and pretending Jesus is on our side as we oppress people.
I am happy to discuss all of these things with anyone.
Send me a message if you want to talk about it.