Recently, several prominent Evangelical leaders released the Nashville Statement, a 14-point document affirming the historic Biblical teaching on gender, sexuality and marriage. Although intended to be a theological declaration among Christians, this document has produced a lot of responses, not just within the church but among a wider secular audience. The Washington Post and New York Times, among others, have responded to the statement (in a predictably negative manner). Some “LGBT-Affirming Christians” have even released a counter-statement declaring their theological disagreements with the Nashville Statement.
So where do I stand on when it comes to this statement? Coming from a conservative Evangelical perspective myself, I wholeheartedly endorse all the contents of the document. There is a lot of confusion about where Christians stand on the pressing issues of the day, and why they stand where they do. This statement is timely in addressing these issues from a Biblical perspective. A good example of this is Article 5, which speaks to the heart of the current debates over transgenderism. It states:
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.
It is important to affirm that a Christian worldview makes no distinction between sex and gender, and many commandments would make no sense unless those two things were united (e.g. the prohibition against cross-dressing in Deuteronomy 22:5).
At the same time, the Nashville Statement keeps the focus on the Gospel. This is made clear in the final article, which states:
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.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.
At the end of the day, the reason Christians care about sexual issues is because they are connected to human nature, to sin, and to salvation. One cannot separate these issues from what is most central to our faith.
In conclusion, I think R. Albert Mohler (one of the signatories to the Nashville Statement) hit the nail on the head in a recent episode of The Briefing when he said that there will be four types of responses to the statement:
- Wholehearted endorsement
- Embarrassment (i.e. “We agree with you but we just wish you wouldn’t say it so loudly”)
- Confused rejection (i.e. “We disagree with you but we cannot really articulate why we do”)
- Rejection based on having a fundamentally different worldview
Most media responses to the statement will fall into either 2 or 3. It is those who respond with either 1 or 4 who truly understand what is at stake.
Hopefully, this will not be the end of the discussion, but will be the beginning of renewed talks, and hopefully it will be a discussion that is centered on the theological and worldview questions underlying the surface-level issues.