I ran across something called the “Nashville Statement” yesterday in my Facebook feed. It was posted by one of the many Christian blogs I follow so I checked it out. I was stunned to see that about 150 Christian leaders had developed a coherent statement on Biblical marriage, signing their names to it, and basically drawing a line in the sand on where God stands on marriage.
My first thought was, “WOW! They actually put their names to this!” My second thought was, “WOW, are they going to get pounded in social media and the press!” Then I signed it, too!
Predictably, there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction to the statement, which actually is a series of 14 articles affirming certain Biblical truths and denying cultural interpretations of Biblical truth. While the media is reporting that people are “triggered” by the statements and “Twitter is angry,” I think people should actually read what it says before they get their panties in a twist.
First off, of course orthodox Christians are going to opposed same-sex relationships! God has opposed them from the beginning and scripture has opposed them for 5,000 years. That really shouldn’t be news to anyone. But here are some of the things the Statement says that is not being reported that I think is important context.
“We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made by God.”
This is an important first step. Man did not create marriage, God did. According to scripture, there are only two covenant relationships: One between you and God and one between you and your spouse. That’s how seriously God takes marriage! If marriage is just a contract, you can break the contract for really any reason. But if marriage is a covenant, neither side can break it, which is God’s intent and why God hates divorce so much.
“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 other they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.”
To paraphrase, I’d say this, “No matter how you were born, you were born in the image of God and as such have dignity and worth equal to everyone else born in the image of God.” Everyone needs Jesus and has a right to Jesus! I think this statement, while a bit wordy, is vitally important. There are no throw-away people in God’s economy. We all have worth no matter what. Those who are angered at orthodox Christians don’t understand this part. We don’t hate you; we actually love you so much that we’re willing to take the barbs and arrows from you to tell you God’s truth, which is this: God loves you so much he sacrificed is Son, Jesus, so that you could be with Him for eternity. We want to be with you for eternity! We don’t want you to choose eternal separation from God so we share from our heart God’s truths in the hope that you will see God’s love and not twist it into something it’s not because God disagrees with you.
“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.”
Again, allow me to paraphrase: “You don’t have to act on every impulse you have.” Same sex attraction without action is an incredible cross to bear. Unless you’ve done it, I don’t think you can really understand it. But, it’s not the only cross people bear in their walk with Christ. Refraining from sex outside of marriage is brutal. Controlling one’s lust is brutal, especially given Jesus said that if a man even thinks of a woman lustfully he commits adultery! In fact, I’d say that controlling all our sexual impulses are brutal because they are so freaking strong. However, it can be done.
There was a young man in one of my Bible studies who would come occasionally. He had some admitted mental health issues, but one night he confessed to me privately that he also had a same-sex attraction issue. He was fighting it, but also admitted that he had fallen several times. We prayed together confessing his sin, accepting forgiveness, asking God to empower him through the Holy Spirit to resist temptation, and I told him how proud I was of him for fighting so hard.
His sin of falling to temptation is no different from my sins of falling to temptation. For some reason, we demonize sexual sin but not others. But imagine this, what if the Church came out and did a statement on pornography, saying it’s bad and God doesn’t want you to view it. Or coarse language (swearing), or gossip, or violent crimes such as murder and rape? Nobody would blink an eye because everyone still agrees with those moral standards. But sexual sin has become debatable not because God has ever changed His mind about where He stands on it, but because we have. But I digress. Let me continue with the Statement.
“We deny that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sin and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.”
This statement includes homosexual and heterosexual sin. And believe me, there is WAY more heterosexual sin out there than homosexual sin. God forgives when asked…period. There is redemption and reconciliation in Christ. There is healing and power to withstand the storm of temptation in the Holy Spirit. The most unloving thing I could do if I truly hated you was not to tell you this so you couldn’t have it!
Here is the link to the website if you’re interested in reading all the statements – https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement. I suggest you do. Here are just some of the signers, some of which kind of surprised me:
- Francis Chan
- John Piper
- Wayne Grudem
- J.I. Packer
- Randy Alcorn
- Thom Rainer
- Paul Nyquist
Look, I know statements like this fire people up. They seem divisive. But understand this, Jesus told us in Luke 12:53 that He didn’t come to unite but to divide, “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” What He was saying was there will be those who follow Him and those who do not, even within the same family! That was a strong statement in the first century!
God’s truths too often are not expressed by the Church in fear of offending someone and being labeled unloving and hateful. Unfortunately, the Church has forgotten that Jesus told us flat-out that we would be hated because they hated Him first (Matthew 10:22). Nobody likes to be told what they’re doing is wrong, but sometimes the fact is that what we’re doing IS wrong. And my friends, God loves us enough to tell us when that happens.
Personally, I am grateful for these Christian leaders standing up and declaring God’s truth in a loving way. It may be tough love, but so be it. Pray for those who struggle to understand this statement, especially those who would twist it so as to claim it is hateful when in fact telling God’s truth is THE most loving thing anyone who follows Jesus can do.