In the last post I explained my thoughts on one of my least favorite articles in the Statement. Hopefully, I indicated that Article 8 serves an important function, but that it could be misleading if not read carefully in the context of the Statement as a whole.
Part of that necessary context is the next article.
WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality— a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.
WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.
This is a very important affirmation, it explains (to an extent) how it is that people experience same-sex attraction and a variety of other lusts. When people feel such things, they are experiencing a distortion of their God-given sex drives.
This means that these feelings are (1) real, not imagined or pretended, that they are (2) not voluntary at every occurrence, (3) a bad consequence of sin, not something good or neutral.
That they are real feelings will be clear to those who experience them. Other people need to understand the reality too, if they are going to offer help to overcome such things. The reality of distorted sexual desire is clear in scripture.
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
That these feelings do not arise voluntarily at every occurrence is also important to understand. I mean that it is not true that each time a person feels such things they willed it to happen at that moment.
The natural, healthy sex drive is not stirred only by an act of the will. It also brought on by sights, sounds and so on. The natural sex drive is also partly physiological. It is to some extent a physical appetite, although we should be careful not to exaggerate this.
We should be careful not to exaggerate because the physical appetite by no means requires anyone to act on it. (Article 2) To suggest that it is necessary to give in to it is a destructive lie.
Distorted sexual desires can be triggered involuntarily just as the natural desire can be stirred involuntarily. But the distorted desire has an inherent temptation, it can not be entertained or acted upon without sinning. A husband and wife can at times enjoy their involuntarily experienced sexual desires for one another. This is never possible for the distorted desires, among which are adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and pedophilia.
I believe that the bible also affirms that such feelings are not always immediately voluntary. Romans 1 speaks of being given up or given over to distorted thoughts and feelings. The bible also speaks in a number of places of being enslaved by sin. One such verse is found in 2 Peter.
They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
2 Peter 2:19 (ESV)
The grace of God invites us all to throw off the chains of our sinful desires and instead serve righteousness by submitting to Jesus Christ. That God makes freedom available through faith in Christ doesn’t contradict, but rather confirms the reality that some are enslaved to their lusts.
That such perverted sexual desires are not good or neutral, but are bad and harmful is the consistent testimony of scripture and must be the consistent testimony of all Christians at all times. It is exactly this point that is addressed in the next article.
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.
Each of us has an obligation to live and speak consistently with the truth. Article 10 says that approving of sexual perversion is contrary to this obligation. This is as it must be.
Some might that is wish that it was stated a requirement to actively reject, instead of requiring that we refrain from approving. I’m not the least bit disturbed by this, because there is no middle ground between approval and rejection. Things are either acceptable or they unacceptable. This position is clarified in the denial portion of the article.
A requirement to actively reject would likely be misread as a requirement to do the impossible, namely, to actively confront in detail each transgression against God’s commandment. Rather than searching the world for instances of sin and rebuking each of them, we are to imitate the Lord Jesus. Jesus lived in such a way that he condemned all sin, without having to condemn each sin.
The Nashville Statement uses the term homosexual immorality where I might have said simply “homosexuality.” From the Statement itself we can understand that is uses this term to mean:
- adopting a homosexual identity (Article 7)
- engaging in same-sex sexual activity (Article 2)
It is clear from Article 8 that the Nashville Statement signers do not believe that experiencing same-sex attraction constitutes homosexual immorality. I agree with that, although I wish that they had been clearer that entertaining such feelings is immoral.
I would argue that the Statement taken as a whole requires that we conclude that entertaining such feelings is wrong. It is a weakness of the Statement that it does not spell that out. I hope that that was an oversight rather than an intentional compromise, because such a compromise is wrong in itself.
Again, I feel that it would not be true to the Nashville Statement to suggest that to seek, entertain or enjoy homosexual attraction anything other than immoral.
WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his image-bearers as male and female.
I appreciate Article 11’s addressing how we speak about transgender persons. Part of the movement to normalize sexual evil in our day includes demanding that people agree with it by using improper pronouns.
When a person adopts a transgender identity, they are living a lie. Christians must not affirm that lie by saying things that are untrue. We may not call Bruce Jenner “her” or “she” simply because he presents himself as a female. His presentation of himself as female is a lie.
Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
Adopting a transgender identity is self-harm. I would rather suffer the anger and enmity of a transgender person than to help them destroy themselves.