Over the weekend, I was honored to sign a document called the Nashville Statement. It’s a basic declaration of Christian orthodoxy on sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. Its 14 articles can be boiled down to a simple statement: We believe the Bible is the word of God, and the word of God declares that sexual intimacy is reserved for the lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage. It acknowledges the reality of same-sex attraction as well as the reality of transgender self-conceptions, but denies that God sanctions same-sex sexual activity or a transgendered self-conception that is at odds with biological reality. In other words, it’s basic Christianity.Too often I think we hear the words of condemnation: we have sinned, but we don't hear the words of grace: but if you truly repent, God will forgive you. The Nashviille Statement contains both the condemnation and the grace. It is thus well balanced, and indeed, I signed it myself. Would that the church body to which our congregation belongs, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America could write such a powerful, yet Biblically accurate statement of faith. Alas, it has been taken over by radicals like so many other institutions in America. But according to French, many Evangelicals think that being a Christian means never hurting anyone's feelings:
The backlash was of course immediate, with multiple liberal Evangelicals deriding the statement as cruel or mean. In their theology, God’s word is subject to an overriding cultural and political test. One can reject even His clearest commands if those commands are “mean” or “intolerant.” And what’s “mean” or “intolerant” is — oddly enough — defined almost entirely by secular social revolutionaries...The statements by Jen Hatmaker, a respected Evangelical and author, are troubling to say the least. It is as if she has read and internalized only one half of the Bible, and discarded the other half. But Jen Hatmaker at least represents just one person's opinion. She has no power to make us do anything. The mayor of Nashville, Megan Barry's statement that the Nashville Statement does not represent the "inclusive values of the city & the people of Nashville" is more troubling because:
This statement is in many ways far more ominous than anything that comes from the liberal Evangelical world. The liberal Evangelical argument is one reason that the Nashville Statement was necessary. The authors and signatories expected pushback. Barry’s statement, however, is different. It’s not separation of church and state, it’s a declaration of state against church. We are reaching a troubling stage of American politics when the reality of American pluralism is yielding to a demand for cultural and religious uniformity. Megan Barry is expected to have a position on civil rights and civil liberties, but that’s a far cry from stating that Biblical orthodoxy is incompatible with the “inclusive values” of a city that’s located in the heart of the Bible Belt. The Southern Baptist Convention has a headquarter building right in downtown Nashville. You can’t drive five minutes in Nashville without seeing a church that’s teaching exactly the values and beliefs contained in the Nashville Statement. Is Barry’s position that they should change their ways, shut up, or leave?We are living in times not much different that those Paul describes in his letters to the Corinthians. In 65 years the world has been turned upside down. Father give us strength to keep proclaiming your word.