The Nashville Statement has caused no small amount of angst among thoughtful conservative Christians (here’s a thoughtful podcast on the subject from the guys at Mere Orthodoxy). As the days go on, I am gaining clarity to the fundamental issues it has exposed – and that issue is NOT simply that many folks want to identify as Christians without accepting the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. The Church has known that for a few decades. I have long been aware that my views on sexual ethics from Scripture went against social norms, pretty much since I first recognized that the sex outside of marriage that characterized the lives of many friends in high school was a sin against God’s character and design of humanity.
I received the most heat in my last post on the fact that I included concerns about the number of key signers of the Nashville Statement (Wayne Grudem, James Dobson, John MacArthur, etc.) who also vocally encouraged believers to vote for Trump. Seriously, folks really pushed back on that! I also received dismissive feedback on Twitter on Katelyn Beatty’s Washington Post article in which I was quoted as well.
“Trump has exacerbated real issues of immorality and injustice concerning immigration, sexual assault and white supremacy — Scripture isn’t gray about these issues,” Alsup said. She believes that when evangelicals minimize such issues, or support leaders who do, they lose some moral authority on other issues that Scripture is clear on — which to her include traditional views on sexuality and marriage.
Yesterday, I read Rod Dreher’s article on the topic, which started as mostly supportive of the Nashville Statement. But he later added a telling update at the end after a lunch meeting with some conservative evangelical pastors.
Listening to these pastors and laypeople talking about the Trump effect on younger Christians was quite sobering to me. An older pastor said that it is impossible to separate the Nashville Statement from the massive support white Evangelicals gave to Trump. Impossible to separate, I mean, in the mind of the young.
“But Russell Moore signed it, and other Trump critics among Evangelicals,” I said.
“I know, and I’ve tried to tell people that,” said this pastor, a conservative Evangelical. “It doesn’t matter to them. All they see is a bunch of leaders of a movement who voted for a sexually corrupt man like Donald Trump are now trying to take a public stand on sexual morality for gays. It’s totally hypocritical to them. I don’t know how the Nashville Statement drafters and signers didn’t see this coming.”
Why can’t young Christians let the last election go?! Why can’t we just accept that the issue of Clinton’s support of abortion pushed folks who were otherwise opposed to Trump to vote for him?
Why Black Lives Matter? Why sit down during the National Anthem? Why protest for immigrants rights? Why outrage over Trump’s statements at Charlottesville? Why continued concern over CJ Mahaney and very old allegations of protecting sexual abusers? Why are these things still an issue?!
There are a confluence of issues swirling—black lives, police brutality, sexual abuse, misogyny, abortion, suicide among homosexual teens—and they are forming a hurricane as destructive to the American spiritual landscape as Harvey and Irma have been physically. And a group that
- is known for teaching an authoritarian based hyper-masculinity and hyper-femininity that says that women are inherently predisposed to give male leaders trouble and were for eternity created to be subordinate to men …
- then releases a statement that teaches among other things that celibate gay Christians are disobedient to the faith …
- and is signed by those who encouraged folks to vote for a flagrantly sexually deviant president who flaunts his perversions and misuse of women.
To quote Dreher’s pastor friend, “I don’t know how the Nashville Statement drafters … didn’t see this coming.”
But they didn’t. And maybe that is as much the issue as anything.
This post is getting too long, so I will get to the deeper thoughts of root issues in the next post. But I’ve finally figured out the confluence of issues. We are fighting now for an orthodox understanding not just of homosexuality, but of Imago Dei. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Because that is what this confluence of issues is really about. What did it mean in perfection? What did it mean after the Fall? What does it mean in redemption? What does it mean for humanity that has not yet believed in Christ? What does it mean for non-Americans to the American church? What does it mean to those who enforce the law for those suspected of breaking them? What does it mean for women? What does it mean for the unborn? Who bears human dignity? How should they be treated?
I have thought for a while that we need a Unified Field Theory on gender. But I realize now that we first need a thoughtful clarification on what it means to be human in the image of God. Read Rachael Starke’s excellent piece on this to whet your appetite for the discussion.
The image bearing dignity of the unborn is tied to the dignity of all races and sexes. The problems of white supremacy, misogyny, and immigration are inextricably linked.
The image bearing dignity of the immigrant is tied to the dignity of the unborn and same-sex attracted. The problems of white supremacy, misogyny, and abortion are inextricably linked.
The image bearing dignity of the same-sex attracted is tied to the dignity of the unborn and all races. The problems of white supremacy, abortion, and gender are inextricably linked.