I intend to give some thought on the Nashville Statement. This post inserts some of my own comments into the Statement’s preamble.
“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves…”
Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being.
At this point what we’re seeing is that American culture is throwing off even the outward appearances of godliness. I would argue that for a long time our culture had been in significant rebellion against God, even as we considered ourselves a Christian nation. We weren’t God’s kind of Christian, we were a bastardized, secularized sort of “Christian.” Not quite the real deal. Sometimes very far from the real deal.
Now our culture shows a great zeal for ungodliness. New outrages against decency seem to grow on trees. That should have been the expected result of turning away from Christianity, the bible tells us it’s “normal” given the decision to turn against the truth. But Secularists and humanists have spent generations denying that rejecting God would produce this kind of fruit, even as they laid the foundations for total depravity.
By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.
Not only does society reject God’s beautiful plan, it doesn’t admit to any beautiful plan. Starting with the dominant creation myth of our time, Darwinian evolution, our society conceives of humanity as an accident, a random event, like a blob of paint on a Jackson Pollack painting. There is no design, so there can be no plan. If there is no plan, there is no departing from the plan.
If there is no plan, why would we agree on what humanity should look like? Doesn’t that set any society up for constant conflict as each of us tries to remodel humanity to match our own preferences? Something to consider.
This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?
I know not what course others may take, but as for me, I will speak the truth. Thank God for everyone who signed this statement. We know where they stand. Thank God also for those who haven’t signed it, but make a similar commitment.
It’s not a mistake to think that our society is headed for ruin. The course we’re now following is one that will visit destruction on individuals, families and ultimately the nation itself. The destruction is already visible in rampant drug abuse, suicides, and broken lives of every description. When people are shooting up with heroin, it’s no time to preach a watered-down Christ.
We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.
This is the witness that our society needs. Nothing less than the full truth presents a way out of our madness.
If there’s one thing I’d nitpick here, it’s the phrase “Christian scripture teaches.” That is true, certainly. But the phrase makes it sound like this stuff is just one point of view. As if this is one alternative that society might try. In a very real sense their is no other alternative. It is the only truth, and it is the only solution.
It’s admittedly an odd nit-to-pick. My only point is to emphasize that the usefulness of the Christian message is based on its universal truthfulness and objectivity. The truth about human sexuality would be true even if it were not written in the bible, as indeed was the case for generations before Moses.
We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.
A number of things that our culture claims to want are mentioned here. Whether they really do want them, I’m not always convinced. There is no doubt however that they can’t get what they claim to want if they keep following their current path. (Nor can they get everything they want by following any path. The wants themselves need to be reproved.) God’s word is always for our benefit.
This feels a bit like trying to head off criticism. If that’s what it is, it won’t work. Not at all. I doubt anyone’s mind is going to be swayed by the church saying “Hey, we like freedom too!” If someone wants the type of “freedom” involved in not knowing whether they are male or female, the church can’t say “me too!” to win them over. Obviously, the signers of the Statement don’t intend to get in agreement with that sort of false freedom.
On the other hand, we might read it as a handful of reproofs as the preamble draws to a close. Each one is true and worth remembering. Each one can serve as a reminder for those who already know it, although it won’t serve those who don’t know it, unless it’s explained with many more words.