Photo: Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council and signatory to the Nashville Statement (credit: Gage Skidmore)
Recently, a group of Christian leaders put forward what they call the Nashville Statement, a document which seeks to counteract the “secular spirit of our age” regarding LGBT acceptance and reinforce “God’s good design for his creatures.” It appears that, in an era where transgender issues are joining gay rights as a topic of public and political debate, the signatories felt it necessary to clarify that “Yes, the church hates exactly who you think it hates.” However, starting from the very preamble, the statement is a mish-mash of weasel words and faulty logic.
Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female.
If God is the architect of sex, I’m sure he could have come up with a way to make sexual activity or pleasure only possible between a man and a woman. That would be indicative of some “grand design.” Otherwise, we’d have to question why God would make the prostate a pleasure center when it certainly doesn’t need to be.
The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.
Unsurprisingly, this statement will not elucidate how the LGBT community “ruins” human life. Maybe it’s the hurricanes? The statement will, however, be full of “It makes baby Jesus cry!”-style nonsense. It’s probably for the best, as otherwise someone will have to tell the happy gay couples I know that they’re actually evil masterminds!
We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom.
Freedom, in this case meaning self-denial, destructive repression, and rigid conformity to exactly two roles. This will be a theme.
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.
Christians consistently forget that infertility and menopause are things.
We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made
But it can be both! You can have marriage as a civil contract and marriage as a sparkly magical God-contract, and the sparkly one can be whatever the hell you want.
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
Once again, freedom is following a very specific set of rules. I wonder what the overlap is between abstinence-only Christians and libertarians?
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.
Once again, if marriage is sparkly God-magic, he could have designed it such that sexual urges didn’t kick in until you put a ring on it.
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.
Men and women are equal, but we still won’t let broads preach.
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
In all my churchgoing years, I’ve never heard anyone claim the second point. Is that a thing now? I’m so out of the loop.
Articles 5 & 6
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.
WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.
Here’s where we start getting into skeevy pee-pee/hoo-ha talk. If you’re going to posit some integral relationship between one’s physical genitals and one’s gender identity, you need to put up or shut up, not just twist some Jesus quote to fit your ideas.
What is so sacred about the way someone was born? When presented with a man blind from birth, did Jesus tell him, “I won’t fix your eyes, but that shouldn’t keep you from following me anyway”? How far should we run with this logic? If your were born with brown hair, is it a sin to dye it blond? Have any of the signatories ever had braces, or had a cleft palate fixed? I’m sure all the men have been circumcised, at the very least.
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.
This is just cartoonishly self-contradictory. “You can be whoever you are, as long as it’s heterosexual and cisgendered.”
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.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.
And again, “It’s cool if you’re gay, as long as you don’t do any of that gay stuff.”
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 Bible only speaks of gender in binary terms, but this is not by itself indicate that these are the only two options. In Galatians 3:28, Paul notes that, in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek…there is neither male nor female…” By comparing Jew and Greek, is Paul saying that there are no Chinese? No Native Americans?
The creation account of Genesis says God created mankind “male and female.” It also posits a firmament and a self-illuminating moon, both of which we now know to be outdated models of reality. If the gender issue is in reality non-binary, all this means is that the Bible is not a science textbook!
The last few articles are basically an altar call, which is ironic since statements like this push more and more people away from the church every year. I do slightly appreciate that these leaders are not ignoring what little the Bible does say about homosexuality (as liberal, LGBT-friendly churches must). However, given that Jesus himself has nothing at all to say about gays or trans people and a ton to say about money, hypocrisy, and so on, I wish they would be half as outspoken on these issues.