Over the weekend, more than 150 Christian leaders from across America signed the Nashville Statement.
This is a good document reaffirming 2,000 years of biblical teaching about God’s design for biological sex and marriage and denying transgenderism, homosexuality, and other forms of sexual immorality.
The Nashville Statement opens,
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 . . . 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.
It goes on to say,
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 10 of the statement reads,
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.
Those who have signed the statement so far include Dr. James Dobson; Russell Moore; Dr. Albert Mohler; John Piper; Tony Perkins of Family Research Council; Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife; and many others.
Backlash Against the Statement and Its Signers
The statement has met with backlash. NBC news called it a “sexuality manifesto,” and said,
Two of the groups represented on the list — the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council — are listed as anti-LGBTQ “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate activity across the U.S.
Keep in mind that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been heavily criticized for labeling Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research Council as “hate groups.”
You may recall in 2012 a gunman attacked Family Research Council’s headquarters after finding them on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups, and in 2014 the FBI stopped using the SPLC as a resource for tracking dangerous organizations.
Nashville’s mayor also criticized the Nashville Statement, saying the statement “does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.” It’s deeply troubling that an elected official would openly oppose a statement of belief from a broad coalition of Christians.
Reaffirming the Truth
Christian leaders down through the centuries have routinely gathered together to reaffirm the truth of scripture in the face of cultural changes. The Nashville Statement simply reiterates basic biblical teaching.
In that regard, there is nothing new here.
What is new is the need to articulate the Bible’s teaching on sex and marriage — and the backlash Christians are receiving for believing things that Christians have believed for two millennia.
It’s only in the past few years that anyone has seriously called into question the Bible’s teaching on biological sex, homosexuality, and marriage. Appropriately, last week John Stonestreet with the Colson Center for Christian Worldview wrote,
[T]he very first council in church history, the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15, did take up the issue of sexuality. Gentile Christians were told to “abstain from sexual immorality,” which for the Jewish apostles would mean the list of practices condemned in Leviticus 18, including homosexual behavior. . . . .
I’d suggest it’s quite telling that sex and marriage were never considered “up in the air” for the Church since the Jerusalem Council until now.