The Nashville Statement: It Gets Everything Wrong

In a ridiculous display of abysmal timing and sexual idolatry, the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (or something like that) published the Nashville Statement, a handy-dandy, user-friendly little list that says homosexuality is a sin and those of us who affirm the LGBTQ community are not Christians. The Nashville Statement takes a prominent place on their website, right next to the Danvers Statement — which essentially says that as a woman, I am a second-class citizen and that’s the way God wants it.

 

According to their God, I am essentially screwed.

 

This is not only the kind of crap that gets my blood boiling, it’s also dangerous and — yeah, I’m saying it — dead wrong.

 

Listen, we can agree to disagree. I’m not going to tell you you’re not a Christian if you don’t believe the same way I do about these issues. But agreeing to disagree means I think you’re wrong, and in this case, I’m going to say that out loud and proud, because I know and love and care about far too many people who happen to love people of the same sex, and I’m tired of people who are so obsessed with the sex my friends might be having that they have to have a bunch of meetings and create a whole statement about it.

 

Frankly, that’s just weird.

 

But it’s also really dangerous, though entirely human. Because we’re always looking for someone else to take the heat, right? If I can point at someone else and say, “Look, God! Look what they’re doing!” maybe God will cut me a break and look away from my own calloused heart. It’s so much easier to live my life pointing fingers rather than looking into the eyes of the people I’ve designated scapegoats, because, after all, if I look into their eyes, I might very well see my own damned self reflected back to me.

 

I don’t understand their obsession, to be honest. I am not sure what they are so afraid of. If a gay couple gets married, how is that a threat to humanity? Or even their faith? If a transgender person transitions, how does this weaken their own family systems? Is their faith so weak that it might be challenged by something as simple as a person’s identity or who they choose to love? It makes no sense.

 

Nor, by the way, does their Biblical interpretation. Now, I get that they would disagree with me on this, and certainly, that’s up for debate. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest the sexual acts that the Bible refers to bear no resemblance to the LGBTQ issues we are dealing with today. And no, Jesus never even brought up the issue.

 

The interpretation applied by CBMW in the Nashville Statement is at best topical; it does not do a deep dive into the text, it doesn’t search for context and meaning, and it’s based on faulty translations that were themselves also faulty interpretations based in patriarchy. Remember: your translation matters. The person who translated your Bible had a point of view, and that point of view determined what word they chose to represent the idea being discussed. Case in point: the way the word EZER has been translated incorrectly and misunderstood throughout the ages.

 

(And for the record, it’s patriarchy that’s at the foundation of anti-gay thought, because God forbid men act like women. Did you know that in ancient times, it was totally cool to be a guy and have sex with a dude, as long as you were on top? It was only the guy who ‘played the part of the woman’ who was considered shameful and subordinate.)

 

What’s worse about the Nashville statement, however, is its sheer hubris. Take, for example, this statement:

 

Article 5 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. (https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement)

 

To state that the whole of a person’s identity is situated soundly in their reproductive organs is patently wrong. This is like saying that my entire personality is based on my left pinky finger (which in my case, would be unfortunate, since it was broken once during a martial arts training session and has been crooked ever since). I should ignore all other aspects of my identity, like my brown hair, my whiteness (which is both a physical reality and a social construct), my citizenship in the U.S., my preference for far too many carbs and not enough fish, and my writing ability. I am, according to this statement, only what my genitals say I am.

 

That is SO WEIRD. Also so very wrong.

 

And confusing, since Article 6 seems to acknowledge that gender identity can be a little cloudy:

 

Article 6
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 others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and
should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a
fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.

 

If a person with ambiguous sex organs should “embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known,” my question is, known to whom? We should let other people decide? Doesn’t the Bible also say that God formed our innermost being — our spiritual and emotional being as well as our physical? Should we not cherish and respect that inner being just as much as the outer?

 

Much of the statement has to do with “God’s Holy Purpose”. I wonder how the writers of this statement claim to know the fullness of God’s reasons for creation? I despise this type of know-it-all. God is unknowable, in that we can never fully know the Holy Spirit. We can catch glorious glimpses of God; we can experience the awe and peace of the inbound dwelling of the Holy Spirit. But we can never claim to know God in all of God’s wholeness. If we do, than we are guilty of self-idolatry.

 

Article 10, which states “that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness,” essentially says that I am not a Christian if I affirm the LGBTQ community.

 

I’m not sure when the CBMW became the way, the truth, and the life, and the only way to get to God, because I was sure I heard somewhere that that was Jesus, but, you know. That could just be me.

 

The entire thing smacks of schoolyard hierarchy — the same who’s in, who’s out sort of thinking that makes the whole world seem like a middle school lunchroom. And the greatest irony is that it is this lack of love and inclusion that I believe pains Jesus the most. If Jesus were to come to earth right in the here and now, I’m pretty sure he’d be hanging out with the LGBTQ community, because they are the people who the so-called righteous have not just hated, but hated in an organized and systematic way. When your hate is the focus of summits and meetings, when your intolerance is bullet-pointed and plainly written out, that might be the sign that you’re missing the point of Jesus.

 

The statement speaks much of grace — but it seems to be a watered-down grace that is too small and shallow to actually encompass much of anything other than a concurring thought. A grace of which one can be forced out is no grace at all. The statement is not life-giving, nor is it uplifting. It is, instead, death-casting. It lays the foundation for suffering, death, and destruction of people, of relationships, of human value, despite its insistence otherwise. Just because it keeps saying “human value!” doesn’t mean it actually promotes it. It is the epitome of double-speak, and this can do great harm.

 

As such, it is out of alignment with my understanding of who God is — I believe the God of the Bible is a God who demonstrates grace abounding, life everlasting, and affirmation of all creation. A God who creates a gay person and then hates that person because of their gayness is a cruel God indeed. And Jesus was a lot of things, but he was never cruel.

 

I have no doubt that the members of CBMW are trying their best to be “good” Christians, but in the process they forgot how to love. I don’t doubt their love for Christ, and I won’t say they are not Christians. I will say they’ve got this thing wrong, they are idolizing their own rightness (as well as indulging a really, really weird obsession), and that they are practicing the worst kind of cruelty — the kind they say is draped “in love.”

 

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