No to the Nashville Statement

In the midst of Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) published the Nashville Statement (NS) to condemn homosexuals and transgendered Christians in particular, and all LGBTQIA in general. Consequentially, the appearance of the Nashville Statement has drawn a firestorm of negative criticism on social media (#NashvilleStatement) and in the press. Therefore, I recommend opposing the Nashville Statement due to its terrible timing, divisive nature, and lack of biblical theological support regardless if you are opposed, undecided, or affirming of the LGBTQIA Christian community.  

The Terrible Timing of the Nashville Statement

The timing is also poor, because these same American Evangelicals who wrote and signed the Nashville Statement have not produced similar statements in the past to condemn white supremacy, favoritism to the rich, discrimination against women, divorce, immorality, and other social ethical issues. The terrible timing is at the best case unwise, demonstrating that the Nashville Statement lacks wisdom, and in the worse case indicates that there is an unchristian bias and discrimination against the LGBTQIA community. Jesus warned the religious leaders against straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel (Matt 23:24).  

The timing is terrible because American Evangelicals have a bad reputation for attributing natural disasters to God's judgment upon homosexuals, and although there's no explicit link made in the document in the Nashville Statement, the top signers have made such statements in the past, including John Piper who attributed a 2009 tornado in Minneapolis to God's judgment on the ELCA for allowing homosexual ministers. Piper said,"The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin." [1] and "Jesus Christ controls the wind, including all tornados" [1] (and hurricanes!) 

Do we really need to quote scriptures like the collapsed tower of Siloam (Luke 13:4) to know better than to attribute natural disasters inexplicably to God's wrath upon people we fear? We should be wise enough to know this is the way of paganism. 

The Divisiveness of the Nashville Statement

The Nashville Statement is written in the same divisive format as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, with a list of articles that each include an affirmation and a denial. The Nashville Statement provides a clear message that if you do not love what we love and hate who we hate, then you are not a Christian at all. Anyone who tells confessing Christians that they are not really Christians, are preaching the "bad news" of a dystopian gospel. Remember that the Bible, the "accuser of the brethren" is Satan, and therefore condemning Christians is not a Christian vocation (Rev 12:9-11).

The Nashville Statement: Article 10

The divisive nature of the entire Nashville Statement is exemplified by Article 10, which says that to disagree with its condemnation of homosexuality and transgenderism is to deny the Christian faith. Article 10 isn't the only problem, but is an example of the problem with all 14 Articles. 

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. [2]

Denny Burk confirms Article 10's Divisiveness

If there's any doubt about the divisive message of Article 10 and the entire Nashville Statement, then read what Denny Burk, who is the president of the CBMW and first signer of the Nashville Statement, confirms the divisiveness in a recent CBMW post:

Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise. . . . The stakes are higher than the revisionists want you to believe, and The Nashville Statement aims to clarify that. The Nashville Statement leaves no room for such revisions nor does it leave ambiguity on the question. But we are not merely reasserting what the Bible says about the moral status of homosexuality. [3]

In Response: Salvation by Faith and anything is Heresy

Martin Luther said that the "article on which the church stands or falls" (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae) is the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The Nashville Statement betrays the entire Protestant Reformation by changing the formula from "faith alone" to by "faith and heterosexuality alone". 

Jürgen Moltmann explains that adding anything to Martin Luther's article is heresy, and this is precisely what the Nashville Statement is doing by excluding anyone from the Christian Faith who does not sign onto their heretical "and". Here's a quotation from that 2009 interview with Jürgen Moltmann:

Because the church is about the Gospel and not about sex. And we believe in the justification of human beings by faith alone, and not by faith and heterosexuality or whatever. You can’t add to it. This is for us, in the Protestant tradition in Germany, heresy. [4]

The Nashville Statement is not Biblical Theology

The Nashville Statement does not contain biblical arguments or scriptural support for any of its 14 articles. Psalm 100:3 is quoted as a header, and a brief reference is made to Matt 19:12 in Article 6, but these are not used as an exegetical argument. In the past, Christian Fundamentalists compiled long lists of "proof-texts" to support their claims but the Nashville Statement foregoes all arguments from scripture, and instead provides a list of signers (functioning as proof-texts) that guarantees the veracity of the Nashville Statement by the endorsement of this cult of personalities that have signed it.  As if the revelation of God was every established by "John Hancocks" of famous WASPS and celebrity pastors. 

The conclusion is that the Nashville Statement is an abandonment of biblical theology, because biblical theology does not support the Nashville Statement. The Nashville Statement is a collusion of a cult of personalities, that condemn the LGBTQIA Christianity community, and were unable to make a statement based on the biblical texts, and decided to make the statements based on their own self-witness and self-identification, in a way that entirely contradicts Psalm 100:3 at the head of the Nashville Statement.  

Clobber Verses

There are six key bible verses that have been the battle ground in the debate over homosexuality and transgenderism. James Boswell once said that these verses are "carelessly generalized" (and possibly weaponized) from their original context, in order to condemn the LGBTQIA Christian community. This behavior is what caused me to rethink the ethics of homosexuality and transgenderism years ago, when I was deeply troubled and alarmed by conservative Christians who would use these "clobber verses" to publicly condemn Christians who were in the LGBTQIA Christian community. I believe the Nashville Statement will empower people to say even more hurtful and hateful things to the LGBTQIA community (not just the Christians). 

A testimony that has stuck with me over the years was when Jennifer Knapp revealed that she was in a same-sex relationship, and said that these "clobber verses" were used in an unChristian and hurtful way to her. Here's what she said:

Everyone around me made it absolutely clear that this is not an option for me, to invest in this other person, and for me to choose to do so would be a denial of my faith. . . . The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the 'clobber verses' to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they're eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about. [5]

Back to the Bible

If you are affirming, undecided or opposed to the LGBTQIA, I ask that you do not make this conclusion based on the Nashville Statement that is supported only by a cult of personalities. Let's say no to the Nashville Statement's rhetoric, and return to the Bible, and rethink those verses, and discuss with witness of the Holy Scriptures, and say No to the Nashville Statement. 

A Few Comments on the 14 Articles

I defer to the LGBTQIA Christian community to respond to the Nashville Statements. I disagree with the Nashville Statement, but I desire others, from the LGBTQIA to provide a Christian response, because I do not understand what it is like to walk a mile in their shoes. Even Karl Barth changed his mind about homosexuality later in life, after listening to testimonies from doctors and people in that community. 

A few brief and final comments on the 14 articles.

1. Remember that Jesus self-identified as a eunuch. Jesus did not procreate, marry, or have sexual relations with anyone. So the necessity of procreation and sexual reproduction is abrogated in the resurrection of Jesus. 

"For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” ~ Matthew 19:12 (NRSV)

2. The basis of the covenant, by which we are saved by faith alone, is grounded in Abraham (Rom 4:11), who was in a polyamorous and polygamous marriage contract with two wives and two concubines. The bible never condemns the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac or Israel, for violating the myth that marriage has always been one man and one woman. 

3. It is a myth that marriage has always been defined as between one man and one woman from the days of Genesis. It's not long ago that divorce and interracial marriage was legalized, and the affinity rules for marriage has changed drastically since the Reformation as well—remember that Abraham married his sister (Gen 20:12).

4. The person that Jesus recognized as having the greatest faith in all of Israel, was the Centurion (Matt 8:5-12; Luke 7:1-11) who was engaged in open pederasty (which is a homosexual relationship with a boy slave). 

5. Lastly, the bible doesn't provide a distinct definition for male and female. In fact, it is quite the opposite because Genesis 1:27 says that Adam was created as "male and female". Likewise, God is also biblically described as both male and female, according to John Frame [6], and especially the Holy Spirit, which may best be described as a feminine spirit, according to Jürgen Moltmann

6. The idea of the "bride of Christ" derived from Eph 5:22f has caused New Testament theologians to doubt the Pauline authorship, because it emphasizes a "being with christ" instead of a "being in Christ" found elsewhere in Pauline theology (c.f. Union with Christ). Also, its difficult to understand how WASP married males may be the bride of Christ, without conceiving of polygamous or polyamorous relationship elements. 

Sources:

#1.  John Piper http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-tornado-the-lutherans-and-homosexuality

#2. https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement

#3. https://cbmw.org/the-nashville-statement/why-the-nashville-statement-now-and-what-about-article-10/

#4. http://postbarthian.com/2014/07/17/jurgen-moltmann-homosexuality-vs-fundamentalists/

#5. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2010/04/christian-singer-jennifer-knapp-comes-out-in-interviews-with-christianity-today-advocatecom/1#.Wajt1NOGNfo

#6. John Frame, The Christian Life

 

Related: , ,
ADVERTISEMENT >
 
< ADVERTISEMENT
 
Comments (7) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Well that was some of the best information I’ve ever heard and I’ve been listening and studying for a long time, I wish I could speak like you sir but that was excellent that was and it was accurate. It was simply the most beautiful thing I’ve heard in 56 years of my life. Until all of God’s children is welcome in all church with all truth.that’s our fallen condition to live in hate and divisiveness. If we have a fallen nature at all. I’m a lesbian it took me over half of my life to admit that and stand up to my family but it’s getting better but it’s ruined everybody’s life.not me being gay, the lying about it the trying to fit into everybody’s Elses reality, we have to do this for our children.we have to do what’s right because I know I love my kid and I would never put my child through this hell that I’ve gone through for all my life. And it has been hell. I’m sure Jesus is not a vindictive sick god making me this way only to twist and make me turn my whole life upside down and back again.I figured it out I know and you’re right sir the Satan is in the words of mouths and they are the accuser. I’ve almost died 3 times and you know God said words matter be careful. I told my mother I was gay when I was 19 and 1979 I didn’t even have words or understand what I was telling her except I was going through. she spit in my face and screamed at me , it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced , it wasn’t her fault she didn’t know she didn’t know nothing although she never made peace with it. I spent a lifetime trying to figure out what went wrong. I know the truth now and that’s the Walk of the cross the kingdom is inside of you.amen brother see you in heaven

  2. Hello Wyatt! I honestly love your stuff that you write on here, its really well written. I was wondering if you could elaborate to me what your thoughts are on homosexuality and the bible?

    • Thanks Garrett! I’ll try to write a post with a commentary on the six relevant verses soon. The lynch pin is Romans 1 for me. The other verses do not seem to speak to today’s ethical questions specifically.

      • So I’m assuming you’re a bit more in favor of homosexuality than the standard fundamentalist? Thats cool, and I’m exactly the same way! A goodbook on the subject is this book called “Paul Among The People” I highly recommend. Nad sorry if anything I’m say is incoherent, I just got done with a party.

  3. This is excellent. Maybe I’m saying that because I agree and wrote my own essay of disagreement with Nashville. I want especially to call out the paragraph titled “Clobber Verses.” This is especially strong and enlightening. The point about Jesus’ singleness could have been developed as follows. The Christ is not only the full presence of God in the world; the Christ is also the full presence of humanity in the world. Jesus Christ was the first to live a fully human life that realized the potential, goodness, and beauty invested in humanity in their image-of-God essence. And, as you point out, Jesus was not immersed in sexuality. Your argument about faith alone can be approached from this Christological angle. Ideal humanity need not entail a sexual element at all. Now to my favorite approach that I’ve seen nowhere else. The whole sweep of biblical religion seems to me to be a move away from fertility cults which made sexuality a central value to be worshipped. I think the lack of focus on the family, teachings about gender roles, fawning over family and tribe, and legislation about sexual practice in especially the NT ought to send a strong message to our sex-obsessed culture and more sexually obsessed churches. The real good news about human sexuality from the gospel is that we are freed from worshiping it. Sexuality is not absolutized for followers of Jesus Christ. That is good news. I see the Nashville Statement and the crowd that produced it missing this point.

    • Thanks Douglas! You have the ability to see the future, because my next post in the queue is on Clobber Verses. I hope you like it too. This is a very helpful comment on how the gospel is redirected into sexuality. Thanks for sharing! -Wyatt


Leave a comment