As we work through the articles of the articles of the Nashville Statement, we’ve arrived at the eighth.
WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.
This is the article that I have the biggest complaint about. If this article existed by itself without the rest of the statement, I wouldn’t like it at all. The reason is that, taken alone, it is altogether too positive about homosexuality.
What’s wrong with homosexual attraction? This article doesn’t say. Is anything wrong with it? Hmmm… Doesn’t say much about that either. In fact, the affirmation makes homosexual attraction appear to be a non-issue. The denial says that it isn’t part of the original design for mankind, but it doesn’t specify what it is a part of.
That doesn’t mean that the Nashville Statement itself is silent on these matters.
Article 4 speaks of the original design and the Fall, and we may reasonably infer that the Statement is affirming the Fall as the origin of homosexual attraction. On the other hand, shouldn’t that be one of the affirmations?
Article 7 indicates that thinking of oneself as a homosexual is inconsistent with God’s will. There is a short three-letter word for living a life that is inconsistent with the will of God, it is sin.
Article 9 indicates that a desire for homosexual relations is a sexual desire that has been distorted by sin. From this we can conclude that homosexual attraction is indicative of the sinfulness of the person who experiences it. Without making this crucial point, the positive tone of Article 8 would be misleading in the extreme.
Suppose we replace the feeling of homosexual attraction in Article 8 with some other feelings. Let’s try that and see how we respond to it. Since it’s a it’s a big part of the national conversation lately, let’s use racism.
Re-written Article 8
WE AFFIRM that people who experience feelings of racial superiority and racial hatred may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.
WE DENY that racial hatred is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.
How would that sit with you? Not very well, I imagine. There’s no condemnation of racism. No warning about racism. No call to repent of racism.
The fact that “walk in purity of life” is supplied at the end of the affirmation does very little to improved these shortcomings. Yes, we may understand it to mean that no should be dragged behind a pickup truck until dead. But maybe we shouldn’t sound so darn positive about racism?
Hopefully this illuminates how I feel about the real Article 8 for anyone who’s having trouble understanding my reservations. Homosexuality and racism are both wrong. Neither homosexual feelings nor racist feelings should be entertained. Years of being a practicing racist or homosexual are likely to create habits of thought and feeling that may be hard to overcome. Both racist feelings and homosexual feelings are hindrances to living a “rich and fruitful life.” Neither entirely rules out a the possibility of living a “rich and fruitful life.”
What’s that you say, racism itself is wrong, not just acting on it? That’s an excellent point, but it applies to many things. Coveting your neighbor’s wealth is wrong, whether you steal it or not. For a man to lust after an adulterous relationship is wrong, whether he follows through on that lust or not. For a man to lust after another man is wrong, regardless of whether he acts on it.
We need to be able to discern between temptation and sin. The Lord Jesus was tempted just as we are, but he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) A person can be tempted to covet, lust or hate without sinning. We must allow for the possibility of experiencing such temptation without engaging in sin. We must also clearly stand against entertaining such feelings.
If read on it’s own, Article 8 is so positive-sounding as to be misleading. If it is not understood in the context provided by articles 4, 7 and 9, I can not accept it. In my estimation, there is sufficient reason to accept it when taken as part of the Nashville Statement as a whole.