The Nashville Statement: A Failure to Love (John Frye)

Screen Shot 2016-10-15 at 9.10.12 AMBy John Frye

I previously wrote (here) about the Nashville Statement’s glaring failure as practical theology. Others have pointed out the irrelevance of the NS, not because it does not affirm the historically received biblical view of marriage vis-a-vis the LGBTQ population and same-sex unions, but because the framers of the NS think it will accomplish something beneficial within the church at large.

I, for one, do not think it will accomplish anything redemptive, but more likely will provoke two anti-redemptive results: 1) create greater pain around an already painful, complex issue, and 2) will foster even greater graceless despair in many lives within and related to the LGBTQ population. The statement is embarrassing because it is so out of keeping with the character of Jesus the Christ. I actually do wonder what good its authors really think it will accomplish.

I don’t care how many fine scholars and pastors signed the NS. Big numbers and esteemed character are not the issues. The NS itself is a poor attempt to address a sweeping pastoral challenge within the church.

Read the NS and tell me how compelling it is in bringing grace and hope, as well as truth, to Christian parents who hear their son or daughter say, “I’m gay and I’m coming out.” All that these folks will see shouted at them through the statement is “AFFIRM” and “DENY.” They are liable to come to this understanding, “Your life or the life of your loved one(s) is very biblically substandard and we AFFRIM that about you and we DENY you have any hope unless you see things the EXACTLY the way we do.” I cannot detect Jesus anywhere in the NS.

The NS is a failure at portraying God-generated, Christ-displayed, and Bible-defined love. No, I do not define love as winking at or condoning sin. Yet, I think I am on solid ground believing “love covers a multitude of sins.” Unloving theology, no matter how true, is destructive theology. Do those who created the NS, the document, realize that many will see, sadly, how similar it seems to Westboro Baptist Church? Scripted and loud. No discussion allowed. The Statement is made and the conversation is over. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. The framers of NS go home congratulating themselves on some good days work.

I have often wondered out loud to friends if God did not create the quirkiness of teen-agers to really test to see if parents really do believe in unconditional love. I’ve asked that with tongue in cheek. The NS has sucked the levity out of this pondering: has God allowed the rise of the LGBTQ population, a people group for whom Christ died (I see no “L” before atonement), so that the church of Jesus Christ can be tested in its pontifications of “unconditional love”? I do not personally, and I write this knowing it is not welcomed by all, believe that same-sex unions are sanctioned by holy Scripture. Yet, as I noted in the last post, the relational context in which the church urges anyone or any group, “Go, and sin no more” is just as crucial as the clarity of its pronouncements.

The NS is truth with no skin on it. None.

The God behind such a statement seems to like the one described by Dallas Willard as “the Unblinking Cosmic Stare.” Scripture does not say, “For God so loved the world, he sent the Nashville Statement.”

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