More Nashville comments

I begin in a previous post to make some comments on the Nashville Statement on human sexuality. This post will continue working through the statement, commenting on a few things along the way.

Article 1
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.

WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.

It should be obvious that the Statement begins with God’s design because rejecting that design is the root cause and the basic character of our society’s sexual rebellion. Our society rejects the validity of Christian moral precepts because they reject the historical narrative of scripture. That is, they don’t believe God created man on the sixth day with beauty and purpose. Rather they believe human nature is an accidental, changeable thing with no inherent purpose or worth. They believe any purpose or worth is supplied after the fact, and that we make up such things as we go.

A Christian’s insistence on biblical sexuality morality appears perverse when it is seen as an invented standard. If human sexuality was truly accidental and some people were trying to give their lives meaning by shaming other people for how they use sexuality, that would indeed be twisted and wrong.

If on the other hand, human nature is a designed thing, with meaning, function and purpose, then it stands to reason that there must be a proper and an improper use of it. From that paradigm (one which allows the possibility of an abuse of sexuality) it’s not too hard to see that our society is on the wrong track.

Imagine that a mother is scolding a young boy for playing in the yard with a certain object. He is soaking in mud puddles, riding his bike over it, throwing it in the air and letting fall back to earth. We can easily understand his mother’s displeasure if that object is one of the good dinner forks. The fork is carefully and beautifully designed for a purpose, and that purpose is harmed by the rough play. Such play is a misuse of the dinner fork.

But suppose that the object, instead of being a fork, is actually a stick that fell from a tree when the wind blew. Now his mother’s behavior is hard, maybe impossible, to understand. The stick is nothing, it has no purpose, it’s a piece of yard waste. If anything the boy should be commended for entertaining himself with it, so long as his behavior is not destructive of anything else.

A sexuality that evolved by Darwinian evolution is a stick blown out of a tree. But in truth, human sexuality is designed by God for wonderful purposes. Those purposes are seen most fully in a godly marriage.

Article 2
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.

WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.

This second article affirms the very narrow scope of sexual activity that is in keeping with God’s design. Just as fine silverware is used for no other purpose than eating, so also human sexual activity must be confined to it’s intended purpose, namely, marriage.

The denial is very important here because our society has absorbed claims that abstaining from sexual activity is unreasonable and wrongheaded. Many people are at the point where it’s no longer necessary to suggest “if it feels, good do it” because they see no other possibility. Many of these people are in America’s churches.

Article 3
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.

WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.

Article 4
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.

WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

These two article together make an important statement about human sexuality that goes beyond marriage. Our gender differences are part of God’s created design and effect the way we live our lives and relate to one another. Being male or female is a pretty big part of who each of us is.

The church has been very foolish to let society erode those differences in recent decades. Americans have been denying and ignoring the meaning masculinity and femininity for a long time now. Many of us have trouble grasping the differences. In fact, we tend to label anyone acknowledging differences as “sexist.”

It actually is a problem for a man to carry a purse, because purses are symbols of femininity in America. Each of us needs to be true to our sex. Failing to do so is disrespecting God’s design. These articles lay the necessary ground work for making that assertion by making clear that male-ness and female-ness is part of God’s good creation.

 

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