If you haven’t already, you can and should read it here (it’s not long), but the summary is that its a statement drafted by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that affirms orthodox Christian teaching on the current controversies around homosexuality, transgenderism, and the like. It has gathered quite a few signatures from prominent Christians (and quite a bit of ire from others.)
I signed it. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of the CBMW—too often, conservatives conserve old errors, and they very often do so with respect to feminism. Nevertheless, as odd as it may seem, the willingness to recognize men as men and women as women has become a clear dividing line between orthodoxy and heresy in the postmodern West. Christians should be looking for ways to loudly and publicly confess Christ’s teachings, and the Nashville Statement provides a means of doing so. (And really, Christians, we are way past the time where silence will save you from the wrath of the world. Whether you sign it or not, if you are faithful to Christ’s teachings, then there is always a paper trail. They will find you.)
Naturally, it has drawn a lot of fire—from theological liberals of course, but also from pusillanimous conservatives looking for excuses to remain aloof. So I thought I would take a moment to address a handful of the common objections:
It doesn’t cover all the pertinent issues.
This is true. But neither did the Apostle’s Creed, which is why we have the Nicene Creed. And neither did the Nicene Creed, which is why we have the Athanasian Creed. And neither did the Athanasian Creed, which is why we have the Augsburg Confession. You get the point. We need to confront the errors of our time, and while I don’t think the Church can truly handle the issues of sexuality and gender without explicitly rejecting feminism, there’s no rule against addressing error in bite-sized pieces either. And really, if you can’t bring yourself to openly and unequivocally come down on Biblical side of the gay/trans issue, there’s no way you’ll be bold enough to address feminism (and the associated issues of divorce, serial monogamy, rampant fornication, etc), which is far more culturally entrenched.
It should have been written more nicely.
Frankly, I thought it went out of its way to avoid needless antagonism, but that’s not really the point. Any piece of writing could be endlessly tweaked to be a little more X and a little less Y, and any author knows that this is a task with no conclusion. If we wait for perfection, we will never speak at all, and so we release imperfect documents.
More importantly, there is no way to put the Bible’s teachings nicely enough to avoid offense. At the end of the day, LBGTETC activists are offended purely because we openly disagree with them on something that’s near and dear to their hearts. To avoid offense is to refrain from speaking the truth altogether (which is exactly what they want out of faithful Christians.) You’re never going to be more loving than Jesus is, and He was executed. Christ promised persecution to His Church precisely because the world hates us just as much on His account.
The always-salty Martin Luther had a keen insight when it came to matters of tone. From his open letter to Pope Leo X:
I have, to be sure, sharply attacked ungodly doctrines in general, and I have snapped at my opponents, not because of their bad morals, but because of their ungodliness. Rather than repent this in the least, I have determined to persist in that fervent zeal and to despise the judgment of men, following the example of Christ who in his zeal called his opponents “a brood of vipers,” “blind fools,” “hypocrites,” “children of the devil.” Paul branded Magus as the “son of the devil… full of all deceit and villainy” and he calls others “dogs,” “deceivers,” and “adulterers.” If you will allow people with sensitive feelings to judge, they would consider no person more stinging and unrestrained in his denunciations than Paul. Who is more stinging than the prophets? Nowadays, it is true, we are made so sensitive by the raving crowd of flatterers that we cry out that we are stung as soon as we meet with disapproval. When we cannot ward off the truth with any other pretext, we flee from it by ascribing it to a fierce temper, impatience, and immodesty. What is the good of salt if it does not bite? Of what use is the edge of a sword if it does not cut?
For those eager to flatter every group in the liberal hierarchy of grievance, there can be no statement tepid enough not to make them flinch
It singles out homosexuals and transgenders as special class of sinner.
People have this one strangely backwards; it is not orthodox Christians that single out these groups, but theological liberals. The Church is full of sinners just as a hospital is full of the sick and injured. Nevertheless, we don’t have a movement saying that God made them a gossip. We don’t have people claiming that their desire to have sex with people other than their wives and husbands is a gift from God that should be celebrated by the whole world. We don’t have people arguing that the existence of covetousness implies that God favors theft. But we do have progressive Christians saying that Christ’s teachings must be redacted specifically to accommodate these groups. THAT is singling out the LGBT crowd as a special class to whom God’s word only selectively applies.
As for those of us who are orthodox, we don’t have the luxury of choosing our false teachers—just the responsibility of resisting the errors that Satan plants in the church.
It excludes homosexuals and transgenders from the church.
This is one of those “I didn’t actually read the statement because I’m a good little drone” complaints. The matter is explicitly covered in several of the statements:
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.” (Article 8)
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 12)
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. (Article 14)
We deny that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach. (Article 14)
That’s pretty cut-and-dry on the matter.
But perhaps you would argue that one’s illicit sexual desires or gender confusion are so intrinsic to personal identity that expecting repentance negates the LGBT individual altogether—that a salvation from sin would amount to destruction just as liberating a triangle from its three sides would eliminate it.
Well, neither God nor His Church were the ones who decided that your favorite sin is a part of your identity; that was you. You might not be able to choose your temptations, but you do choose whether or not to embrace them as righteousness. Once again, this complaint is entirely backwards. It is the LGBT lobby that tries to exclude their constituents from the Church—robbing them of faith by teaching that God can only be trusted when he affirms their sin and robbing them of repentance by teaching that they have no need of it. They are the ones teaching that your sin is the very core of your identity—not the Nashville Statement, and not the Church.
But the good news is that you don’t have to have blind faith in spirit of the age when it tries to define you. For freedom, Christ has set you free. For about five years, I attended church alongside a repentant homosexual. And he wasn’t just gay, he was also a pedophile—as in he had done time for what he did to little boys. And it was a joy to worship with him, commune with him, and learn God’s word with him, because he understood the depths of God’s grace better than anyone I’ve ever known. He didn’t need forgiveness more than anyone else, but he knew it better. Grace is there. Grace is free. Christ has won it for you. In the Church, just as in heaven, there will be more joy over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.