The Nashville Statement, a statement of Christian belief on LGBT matters published by The Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), has caused many electrons to be arranged across internet pathways recently. The Major of Nashville condemned the statement, tweeting: “The @CBMWorg's so-called "Nashville Statement" is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.”
Other condemnation has followed, including statements from Jesuit Rev. James Martin, “a well-known Catholic priest, author and adviser to the Vatican on communications.” One video clip even seems to link the statement to the recent, white-supremacist-inspired violence in Charlotesville.
I respect many of the initial signatories on moral issues, including Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Secret thoughts of an Unlikely Convert; R. C. Sproul; Kevin DeYoung, author of What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality; J. I. Packer; and John Frame, author of The Doctrine of the Christian Life. I do not follow human authority blindly, but these are people whose opinions I respect. (The books mentioned and linked to all have bearing on the issues at hand.)
The criticisms leveled against this document include the idea that the LGBT community is being singled out as worse sinners than the rest of us and that the signers are somehow judging others in a way condemned by Jesus. They also include the idea that this statement is somehow new and not directly addressed by the Bible and, by implication, the CBMW can be condemned for stating, “it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness” (Article 10). These criticisms are not valid, and the idea that condemnation of homosexual acts or transgendering is opposed to the historic Christian faith and the Bible is so outrageous as to not warrant further comment here.
With that, I turn to two sections of the statement that I think SHOULD BE IN ALL CAPS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.
WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme pleasure.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.
These are strong affirmations. Contrary to some who have criticized The Nashville Statement as pure, hate-filled condemnation, God has not left us hopeless over the guilt we deserve, the sin nature we are born with, or the sins we choose to commit.
It should be noted that CBMW’s statement of faith reads, in part: “the universal sinfulness and guilt of all men and women since the Fall renders them subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.” The organization is hardly seeking to condemn only LGBT individuals as sinners in need of salvation or even as the worst of all sinners. We are all sinners who can be saved by the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ.
I affirm The Nashville Statement, and I have added my signature online.