Thousands are being displaced by Hurricane Harvey, but Evangelical leaders are fixated on the apparent unnatural disaster of same-sex marriage: More than 150 pastors, educators and religious leaders signed the "Nashville Statement," a document condemning same-sex marriage, “homosexual immorality," polyamory and "transgenderism.”
The manifesto was released Tuesday by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a group dedicated to reinforcing traditional gender roles. Its 14 articles "declare the goodness of God’s design in our sexuality and in creating us as male and female,” according to CBMW president Denny Burk.
Each article presents an affirmation and a denial. Article One reads:
“We affirm that God has designed marriage to be covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church,” reads the point, while adding that the group is against same-sex marriage.
“We deny that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.”
Article Seven denies that "adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption," while Article 8 maintains that "people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life," but acting on that attraction is not "part of the natural goodness of God's original creation."
One of the most disturbing passages is an article that seems to addresses intersex people: It affirms that "those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers." But then it goes on to quote Matthew 19:12, citing “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb.”
"With all others," the article continues, "they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known."
At least two signatories, Southern Baptist pastor Jack Graham and Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, are advisors to Donald Trump. (It's believed Perkins pushed the president to author his ban on trans people in the military.)
Opposition to the LGBT community is nothing new for the evangelical movement, but to put so much focus on it at a time of great political upheaval and racial strife—not to mention the suffering in Texas—left many stunned and appalled.
In a tweet, Nashville mayor Megan Barry insisted the “so-called ‘Nashville statement’ is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city and the people of Nashville.”
The council maintains the statement was simply named after the city where it was signed: The group was in Music City last week for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
A counter-statement, titled the Nashville Unites Resolution, has already been circulated.
Read the Nashville Statement in full below.
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.
WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.
WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.
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.
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.
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.
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 the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.
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 treasure.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.