Yesterday, a group of high-profile, mostly fundamentalist Christians released The Nashville Statement (“NS”), a document making a litany of anti-LGBTQ and anti-gay-marriage assertions, including
- “WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption”; and
- “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.”
Because many of the signers are well known, it has received a lot of media attention. Some problems with the NS are described below.
(1) Where’s the Scripture?
The NS cites virtually no scripture. It makes assertions and denials, but provides no scriptural justification for them.
This failure raises immediate suspicion that the document is primarily a bottom-up statement (in the sense that it expresses opinions of a group of humans, rather than expressing God’s view via scripture).
(2) Here’s Some Scripture
The NS says, among other things, “WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship.”
Scripture relevant to polygamy says, though—
(A) God commanded the Israelites …
“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.” (Deuteronomy 25:5)
(B) God gave King David multiple wives and said he would have given him more:
[God said] “I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more.” (2 Samuel 12:8)
(C) David took multiple wives, and 1 Kings 15:5 explains …
“David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”
Who designed the marriage—the one commanded by God—between the surviving brother (already married or not) and his deceased brother’s widow? Who designed the marriage between King David and the wives given to him by God? Who designed the marriage between King David, who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord,” and his multiple wives?
Denying that God designed marriage, at least at one time, to include polygamous marriages raises questions about the scriptural basis and thoughtfulness of the rest of the NS.
(3) More Bottom-Up
Think the NS reflects God’s word and not the word of man?
The NS emphasizes “God’s design for self-conception as male or female.” It refers to the “God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.”
Neither of these two phrases nor “God’s design for self-conception” (nor anything like them) appear in any of my concordances. A Google search for these phrases’ appearance before the issuance of the NS resulted in no hits. These phrases appear to have been coined for the NS.
Of course, the conclusion of The Nashville Statement is not novel, but this emphasis on such “self-conception” has the appearance of reaching beyond scripture to justify the conclusion.
Asserting something as God-ordained is serious business. Where in scripture is such self-conception described? Where in scripture did God ordain this link? The NS does not tell us. It appears novel.
Much has been published about The Nashville Statement over the past few days, so I am intentionally limiting my comments to note the lack of scripture, its novel self-conception theology, and its cold nature.
Many of the men and women who signed the NS, particularly those associated with some of the Baptist seminaries, are extremely knowledgeable Biblical scholars and have insightful things to say on a wide variety of topics.
It is a puzzle why such scholars signed on to a document that fails many of the basic tenets of pastoral care even if one holds a non-affirming view. It is a cold read, much closer to a college-debate-team document than a caring, pastoral word.
*For a more detailed analysis that I wrote regarding The Nashville Statement’s assertions about transgender persons, click here.
Sources & Notes:
The Nashville Statement is here.
I wrote more about polygamy and its relationship to the Biblical definition of marriage in a three-post series starting here.