Thoughts on the Nashville Statement

rainbow-flag-1574831-1599x2405In the spirit of “better late than never,” here are some thoughts about the Nashville Statement:

To all who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, intersex, transgender, gender non-conforming, questioning and/or otherwise queer: God created you and loves you. You are sacred, you are worthy, you are an integral part of the true Church. I desperately wish I could protect your minds, hearts, and spirits from the demonic lies of people who say otherwise. But I can’t. So I pray for your healing and your confidence and your joy.

To all who signed the Nashville Statement: You should repent for speaking lies in the name of Christ and spiritually wounding beloved children of God. Also, you might want to talk to a therapist about your hang-ups with sex and gender identity. Also, have you been paying attention to the news? There are white supremacists rallying in U.S. cities and social safety nets being threatened by insane tax cut proposals and immigrant families being tormented by new immigration practices and policies and . . . and . . . and . . . You really think that the followers of Jesus can be most faithful in the United States right now by making a ridiculously pretentious and misguided statement about sexual and gender “ethics”?

To people who consider themselves evangelicals and are inclined to agree with the affirmations presented in the Nashville Statement: I would argue that this statement is, in fact, anti-evangelical.

  • It does not treat the Biblical text respectfully or seriously. The only scripture directly quoted is Psalm 100, which is not at all about sex or gender. The primary Biblical story referenced is the second Genesis creation account; the statement authors never articulate their particular interpretation of that text, nor do they explain how the text supports the claims they make about human creation and identity. And the New Testament texts referenced are actually much better suited to making the Biblical case for full acceptance and inclusion: “Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly; “eunuchs who have been so from birth;” and speaking “the truth in love” (John 10:10, Matthew 19:12, Ephesians 4:15). The statement, of course, doesn’t cite the scriptural texts, but I thought you might want to look them up and see the full context.
  • The statement does not encourage more broad and joyful participation in God’s church. According to this statement, those who wish to live into their identities as gay, transgender, or otherwise queer are not welcome in the church. Nor are those of us who support them. Nor are cis women and men who have sex outside of marriage, do not “properly” conform to gender roles, and/or do not have procreative sex as a significant part of their marriage. This type of church gate-keeping hinders the growth of the church and goes against the teachings of Jesus. (And don’t believe the “love the sinner, hate the sin” line. Anti-gay rhetoric cuts to the core of a person’s being; it is not merely a superficial criticism of a particular personal decision.)
  • The statement is not Christ-centered. According to the Gospels, Jesus does not teach against same-sex relationships or transgender individuals. When Jesus quotes Genesis—God “made them male and female and . . . the two shall become one flesh”–he is answering a question from the Pharisees about whether or not it is legal for a man to divorce his wife (Matthew 19:3-9). In Jesus’ day, such divorces could be initiated by a man for any (or no) reason and would leave the woman destitute. Jesus uses Genesis to argue against the unjust treatment of women, not to argue for an exclusively hetero-normative version of marriage. The dominant themes of Jesus’ ministry are healing, justice, love, mercy, and radical hospitality. Christ-centered teachings will share these priorities.
  • The type of anti-gay/trans rhetoric put forth in the statement does spiritual, emotional, and physical harm in the real world to many of God’s beloved children. While not everyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin commits hate crimes against LGBTQ people, all who commits hate crimes against LGBTQ people are fueled by these types of religious teachings. And nearly every LGBTQ young person who attempts (and too often completes) suicide has words like those from the Nashville Statement rattling around in their souls. (Statistics worth considering: Gay youth from rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than those from accepting families. A parent who accepts a child who comes out reduces the child’s risk of suicide by 840%.)

IMG_3466To everyone: The writers and signers of the Nashville Statement do not speak for Christianity, they are not in charge of the Church I serve, and they most certainly do not represent the will of God. Speaking out against these lies is important. Jesus challenged the Pharisees and overturned tables at the temple.

Creating the Church of God’s dreams is also important. We do not need the permission of James Dobson or Russell Moore or John Piper or any of the other (mostly male) statement signers to live into the beloved, inclusive, Jesus-centered community we know the Church should be.

So let us indeed proclaim with the psalmist:

Our God is good;
their steadfast love endures forever,
and their faithfulness to all generations.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Nashville Statement

  1. Joanna, may I share some of your words? I will of course give you credit. I have been simmering about “nashville” but in the meantime my city, congregation, family has been slammed by Harvey and I can’t rub two cents of an original thought together. Please write something brilliant about DACA so I can share it as well…gratefully yours in exhaustion and sogginess, Kathleen

    • Kathleen, of course. Share any words you like. I’m still simmering about DACA, but may get words on paper (or screen) soon. My prayers are with you and your congregation in the wake of Harvey. Peace and strength to you.

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