Men and women are different. Sex is intended only for marriage. Sexual expressions other than those that are monogamous, heterosexual, and cissexual are in error. God’s love and forgiveness is for everyone.

These are the earth-shattering ideas affirmed by the Nashville Statement, evangelical Christianity’s attempt to speak up for itself in a time when its views are quickly being pushed from the public square. The reaction from many corners of our culture have been as predictable as they are outraged:

Look, I get it. Many people disagree strongly with these views. They directly contradict the non-traditional values held by a large swath of the population, perhaps even the majority. But there can be no doubt that the Nashville Statement represents the views and beliefs of a significant number of Americans (also, perhaps even a majority). That is why it was especially galling to see public officials denounce the statement, particularly the Mayor of Nashville, who said:

Actually, Ms. Barry, it does represent the values of many, if not most of the people of Nashville. It’s remarkable that a public official feels so free to slander the views of such a significant portion of her constituency, and declare with the imprimatur of government that such views are unacceptable in the public square. A more appropriate response from a government official would be:

As a government representing citizens of wide-ranging beliefs who are free to express them, and bound by the U.S. Constitution to neither endorse nor prohibit the free exercise of religious belief, the City of Nashville takes no position on the so-called “Nashville Statement”.

The public, secular argument about the Nashville Statement is remarkable enough, and worthy of debate in the comments below. Issues like faith’s role in the public square, what it means to be ‘tolerant’, how to approach transgenderism, ‘hate speech’, coerced cake-baking, and the like are all worthy topics of discussion and tie in to the Nashville Statement. But I find the debate within Christianity itself to be especially interesting. These issues of sexuality have been tearing apart many Christian denominations, which have struggled to reconcile their historic beliefs with today’s culture. While most evangelical denominations have held fast to traditional beliefs, the so-called “mainline” churches, the often larger and more established denominations (Episcopal, PCUSA Presbyterian, United Methodist, ELCA Lutheran) have fairly rapidly departed from them.

A response called the “Denver Statement“, released by an ELCA-sponsored alternative church designed to “make sense to urban, postmodern folks” encapsulates the view of this side of Christianity:

Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in an exciting, beautiful, liberating, and holy period of historic transition. Western culture has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being by expanding the limits and definitions previously imposed by fundamentalist Christians.

How exciting, how historic, this upending of millennia-old beliefs and traditions! Such sentiment is widespread in progressive Christian corners, which revel in their unmooring from scripture, and wear their heresy as a badge of honor. They engage in too-clever-by-half reinterpretations, selective reading, and feelings-based decision-making to arrive at doctrinal conclusions that oh so neatly track with the values of secular culture. The result, in the mainline denominations most affected by this, is chaos and schism. What about all that talk about not serving two masters, families being divided over belief, and how people will be persecuted for their Christian belief? Ehhh, we wouldn’t want to hurt people’s feelings, after all.

Other Christian responses have been supportive, eye-opening, and even humorous. Many are taking the release of the statement as an opportunity to discuss and explain the nuances of what is a very nuanced topic. A lot of commentary focuses on the need for Christians to stand up for their beliefs in this age, and asking for respect for these beliefs from those who proclaim their tolerance and inclusiveness. One of the most interesting responses is from someone who has herself struggled with the conflict of her faith and sexuality, and in doing so, offers a powerful testimony and example for those with similar struggles.

As a Christian myself, I read the Nashville Statement and have a really hard time finding anything I disagree with. Perhaps it could be more clear about the duty of Christians to love those struggling with sexual sin, but there is already ample content in the statement affirming this. One of the worst parts of this whole thing is the mischaracterization of the statement as “hateful”. Wrong. The statement is clear in its condemnation of sin, no doubt, but it is love for the sinner is also clearly stated.

But in an age when the culture breaks people into identity groups, instead of individuals, and teaches people to incorporate their sexuality as a core part of their identity, no wonder people have trouble with it. When our culture conflates words with violence, of course there would be attempts to silence people. And when a believing person’s polite disagreement is considered hate, no wonder such people are vilified, attacked, and ousted from society.

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Where to begin? I suppose the logical place would be my own interpretation and opinion. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5 The Nashville statement focuses solely on sexuality. Where is the special 14-part treatise on gluttony or hypocrisy, things that the US has in abundance? Why do we need a special statement on sexual sin? Why… Read more »

Judge Dredd, Pro Se

I was going to write a pithy post of my own but I read pfluffy’s and she got many of the points I was going to make out first. There is an infatuation, almost bordering on Freudian obsession with American evangelicals surrounding sexual sin, and even more obsessively surrounding homosexual sin. I might be mistaken but I believe the only UNFORGIVABLE sins are suicide and taking the name of the Holy Ghost in vain (whatever that truly, or literally means). Additionally, and while it is debated, we as christians often wonder what the point of christ’s visit was with some… Read more »

Meh. I think it’s fair enough. I don’t believe in God, so it doesn’t affect me. If you take away the fact that the label we’re using here is Christians. It’s just a bunch of people in a club, writing down some things they all think. I fundamentally disagree – that’s why in my ‘club’ being LGBTQ is absolutely fine. As long as it’s not public policy, have at it. In a club that doesn’t like gays? Then don’t be gay. In a club that doesn’t think you should eat pork? Cool, more bacon for me. If the Manchester United… Read more »

Has American Christianity failed to keep up with changes in society? Yes, but many of those changes are negative, especially when it comes to the transgender “gender neutral” stuff that is being pushed on kids in public schools. I have my own issues with the American brand of religion that tends towards fundamentalism, but many of those views are shared by other Americans. The Left’s tendency to dismiss more traditional beliefs in favor of radical change is what’s driving a conservative backlash that will be nasty-but largely because the left has encouraged it to do so.

A case can be made that introducing such concepts to children is wrong, but it seems that some children know early on that something is wrong. That stuff should be left in the family IMO. The Right could stand to clean up its radical fringe before pointing fingers at the Left’s, and vice versa of course. If the right gets “nasty” that is on them. Don’t scapegoat the left for not wanting to live like you do. The vast majority of this stuff doesn’t actually affect most people day to day. If a gay couple gets married, how has my… Read more »

Isn’t it equally “cherry picking” to tell Christians they must focus on other types of sins before addressing the sexual ones? Yes, but … No one talks about sex more than fundamentalist Christians. Sexual sin has been done to death and the rest of the nation is fully aware of how most Christians feel about sex. I don’t think I have heard about gluttony or greed as a sin in decades, since I left the Baptist Church. It was only touched on lightly even there. I am aware that there is a breed of Christian that has modified canon to… Read more »

CMNZ

Gee, they’re upset that people have reacted to being preached at and told “y’all doing it wrong”? Amazing.
And cress is right – calling it that clearly suggests it has something officially to do with the city.

CMNZ

BTW how does anyone reconcile being Christian and actively voting Trump? I’ll never understand that. Unfortunately it just reinforces my belief that a considerable number of people who consider themselves Christian are nothing of the sort. My dad is the truest Christian I know. I don’t believe in God but I sure do admire his faith and way he lives it.

The first paragraph is a perspective issue and I will concede it to some extent. I am only peripherally aware of the apparent plethora of deviant publications but fundamentalists seem to be abundantly clear. Furthermore, gluttony and greed aren’t issues Another “agree to disagree” opportunity here. Your last paragraph is worded in just the way I would expect a Christian to word it. Compare and contrast that to how other sexual sin is worded. That is pretty much my whole point. You never even said “abomination”, arguably the kindest thing said about homosexuality. women pastors See, I learned something today… Read more »

To be fair, I think CM in in New Zealand? Probably not many Trump voters, but you never know with all the voter fraud.

Or … you could just answer the question yourself since you meet the criteria.

It’s not incomprehensible. Christians, particularly evangelicals, don’t vote for the most moral and nice candidate. They vote for the candidate who has strong moral convictions and forcefully defends them. Reagan was a Hollywood actor who had been divorced. GW Bush had been an alcoholic and a cokehead. They got the support of evangelicals because they didn’t doubt their convictions, despite that both of their opponents were practically Boy Scouts. If the morality of the candidate were all that mattered, they would vote differently. It’s the moral convictions that matter: America is exceptional, abortion is wrong, radical Islam is a threat… Read more »

I stand corrected then. That darn assuming!

Jeez. Apparently I’m the only one on the RVS staff who voted for Trump.

I know that you don’t mean it this way but it sounds like if he pretends to care about some evangelical shit they are good. That is pretty much what it looks like he has done. I am an issues voter and not a values voter so I can see myself voting for a complete asshole if he or she were on the right side of even a handful of issues that matter to me. Sadly, that just isn’t the case with Trump AND he’s an asshole. I may have to modify that a wee bit if he actually signs… Read more »

Judge Dredd, Pro Se

You got triggered af before when I remarked that my belief of many American splinters of faith are cults, and statements like the one from the Tennessee cultists are a perfect example of why. Now I don’t disparage them for being faithful or possessing conviction but it is the obsession with seemingly ONE aspect of sin that makes me believe they’re more cult than Christian. In the pantheon of sinning, in my mind, homosexuality registers neither more, nor less than other noteworthy sin. Theft, murder, gluttony, idolatry, etc are all sins. I don’t believe the Bible places a premium on… Read more »

I really really wanted to vote Libertarian but Gary Johnson was such an embarrassment. The whole thing really was Lee’s Giant Douch/Turd Sandwich election.

It was early, zoom and you are pretty snarky when you want to be. Women pastors are not a “sexuality” issue. What are you talking about? Women are people. We aren’t talking about a battlefield or building the pyramids here, just pastoring. Anyone with the proper education can do this job and you are equating it with sexual sin. I’m not really understanding what you’re saying here. Can you clarify so I don’t just make an assumption before I respond? This was not intended to be snark or insult. Why is it that homosexuality is spoken of as some vile… Read more »

Wait, I think Grendel voted Trump. I’m not all alone.

No, I said “moral convictions” not “posturing”. A candidate has to be convincing. And Trump is doing what he said he would on issues evangelicals care about, more or less.

FWIW, I’m most aligned with this viewpoint as he’s described it.

Trouble is that ilovecress is the “live and let live” sort, as am I. Many critics aren’t. I have to ask the question: in 2017 America, is it “hate speech” to declare that marriage can only be between one man and one woman? I think that it is rapidly becoming hate speech, if it isn’t already in some pockets of the country.

in 2017 America, is it “hate speech” to declare that marriage can only be between one man and one woman? No. It is bordering on hate speech to say that if two men or two women get married it will “damage” the nation. How so? It appears that gay marriage is damaging the nation because it makes other people crazy angry. Normally, conservatives like to tout personal responsibility but exceptions can be made. I am also “live and let live”. If a church doesn’t want to marry gays they don’t have to. Cake bakers are not clergy so they are… Read more »

Zurvan

Some scholars say Jesus remarked that the Old Testament was god’s word but humans had misinterpreted it.

Could I introduce you to some Jewish faithful? Pretty sure that’s what he was talking about.

Zurvan

Why is it that homosexuality is spoken of as some vile abomination but “regular” shacking up is handled so delicately?

I’ll take a swing. Because one of Christianity’s fundamental beliefs is marriage between a man and a woman. Since a man and a man cannot be married in the sight of God to these people, it’s “an abomination”. Whereas a heterosexual couple living together out of wedlock still have the option of marriage.

Zurvan

Jesus pardoned a fucking murderer.

Jesus also paid for that murder, so he was in a unique situation to “pardon” him.

Zurvan

Cake bakers are not clergy so they are under a different set of rules. Honestly, where there is another bakery (or grocery store) around I don’t really care much at all.

So you don’t support the lawsuit you allude to? Because there were many other bakers, even gay bakers in the town in question.

Zurvan

BTW how does anyone reconcile being Christian and actively voting Trump?

Might as well ask, ‘how does anyone reconcile being Christian (or Buddhist, or “not stupid”) and vote for any politician?’

Zurvan

I know that you don’t mean it this way but it sounds like if he pretends to care about some evangelical shit they are good. That is pretty much what it looks like he has done.

That applies to every politician who’s been elected in the last…forever. If they promise the right things, regardless of delivering them, American’s vote for them. It’s why Congress has an approval rating in the teens, but a 90+% re-election rate.

It seems unclear because I have mixed feelings about it. Cakes are not exactly civil rights.

Heh, that is pretty accurate. Go back home and promise some shit and forget about it after the election.

CMNZ

What I mean is that Trump appears to embody the exact opposite of what Christianity teaches people, particularly how you treat people. It’s a terrible advert for Christianity that so many supposed Christians voted for Trump. It’s remarkable that a public official feels so free to slander the views of such a significant portion of her constituency, and declare with the imprimatur of government that such views are unacceptable in the public square. Good on them. Too many young people suffer unacceptable harm and even commit suicide because of the pressure put on them – much of it based on… Read more »

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