Recently the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) released the “Nashville Statement.” This document is intended to present God’s revealed purposes for human sexuality. The response to the Nashville Statement has been interesting, to say the least. Some have cheered and signed the document in support. Others have raged in opposition and critiqued the document. Still others have groaned and offered a collective sigh of disinterest.
Here are 7 brief thoughts about the Nashville Statement.
- The statement offers nothing new in terms of Christian faith and practice. There’s nothing inventive or revolutionary here. Praise God for that. The statement is simply a collection of age-old affirmations and denials designed to clarify the historic position of Christians on matters of human sexuality. As our cultural convictions about these issues continues to evolve, the historic position of Christ followers needs to be articulated.
- The statement offers needed clarifications and distinctions. Throughout church history there have been competing voices claiming their position was the “biblical position.” This is the reason Christians have been moved to write creeds and confessions, not to invent doctrine but to offer clarity in the midst of competing voices. The Nashville Statement is an attempt to clarify the historic biblical position on human sexuality.
- The online outrage has been vile and outrageous. A cursory Twitter search of the words “Nashville Statement” results in some vulgar and horrific posts. The Nashville Statement may present views that seem antiquated and even bigoted to some, but the document does not call for anyone to be harmed. The same cannot be said of much of the online response to those who authored and signed the Nashville Statement.
- Many have criticized the statement for what it did not say. Is it fair to criticize an author for what he or she never intended to write? That depends. No, the statement doesn’t address all types of sin. No, the statement doesn’t comprehensively address the “spirit of the age.” But it wasn’t written for that purpose. When Christians criticize the signers for what they left out, the criticism misses the intentionally narrow focus.
- The preamble of the statement defines the purpose. The authors clearly explain they are presenting the document to serve the church and present a public witness to God’s revealed purposes in human sexuality. They are not calling for legislation. They are not calling for boycotts. They are not offering a comprehensive tome on the issue. Rather, they are offering a succinct summary of historic Christian thought on human sexuality.
- The document rightly insists there is no neutral ground. Many have called Article X of the Nashville Statement a line in the sand, and so it is. The authors (I think rightly) insist that those who approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism have departed from Christian faithfulness and witness. Those who want to ride the fence on this issue are being called to realize they have already picked a side in the debate.
- This issue is not going away. The Nashville Statement is not Scripture. It is not the last word on human sexuality. It will not be applicable to all future generations and situations. Language will need to be changed. Positions will need to be clarified. Christians of tomorrow must continue to speak clearly about the issues confronting the church. But for today, the statement offers a clear summary of Christian belief about human sexuality.