In 1987, a very important statement was formed to provide clarity on human sexuality titled, The Danvers Statement. The statement provided some helpful language on some difficult cultural matters back in 1987. Over these 30 years, many cultural complications have arisen on the issues of biblical sexuality necessitating another statement. The recent release of the Nashville Statement has provided quite a bit of cultural commentary and religious conversation. Should pastors and church members sign this statement or is it merely a document that will do more harm than good?
Over the past week, I have been extremely busy preaching out of state in a conference along with the typical ministerial responsibilities at our church on Sunday which prevented me from reading all of the articles in full until early Monday morning. After reading them and thinking through each affirmation and denial, I signed the statement. Not only did I sign it, but I think you should too.
Clarity in a Culture of Confusion
Anytime throughout history when Christians publish creeds, confessions, and statements of faith—it’s always done with a desire to provide clarity on important doctrinal issues. When the Nicene Creed was written, it was in response to the confusion provided by the false teachings of Arius. The same thing is true of the doctrines that we know as Calvinism. They were put into a systematic 5-point format in response to the false teachings of Jacobus Arminius and his followers.
Our culture today is swimming in a pool of depraved confusion regarding human sexuality. In the wake of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, the United States is sill very much divided on the issue of homosexuality—and the rest of the world is watching. Our nation is headed down a dangerous road where other radical groups will soon press the law even further to see if they can have their way with other forms of vile sexual sin. In this present sexual revolution—the world needs more clarity, more light, and more truth rather than gray areas and confusion on what is acceptable in the eyes of God.
Affirming Truth Is a Loving Thing to Do
Anytime a person or a group of people draw a line in the sand, progressive postmodern and postChristian sinners will protest. The Nashville Statement has produced its fair share of protest, but should it be viewed as demeaning and hateful document? The truth is not always an easy thing to receive, especially when the truth hurts. In this case, the truth does offend people who have chosen to redefine marriage and reconfigure themselves sexually.
The Nashville Statement was formed out of love for the culture rather than hate. The hateful thing to do for a culture that’s confused about human sexuality would be to allow people to continue down a broken road without warning anyone The world needs to know that all humans are image bearers, and that marriage is one way in which God illustrates the gospel through human relationships. One of the greatest ways to hate a culture is to allow people to muddy the waters on gender specificity and continue to rewrite the dictionary on human sexuality to the point that male and female are stripped of their masculine and feminine characteristics. This is not God’s plan for humanity—and our culture needs to know the truth.
Affirmations and Denials Are Biblically Sound
The language of the Nashville Statement is founded upon the clear biblical texts regarding human sexuality, marriage, reproduction, gender distinctions, and the facts surrounding imago Dei within the whole of humanity. What the protesters fail to consider is that the statement is far more than a group of Christians getting together to craft their opinion and put it on paper. The words and sentences that form the affirmations and denials are built upon the foundation of God’s Word. Far more important than a group of Christians sharing their opinion is a group of Christians sharing God’s Word. That is what the statement intends to communicate clearly to a confused culture.
There Is Always Room for Improvement
No matter how strong the creed or how biblically saturated the confession, there is always room for improvement when it comes to human vocabulary. We are limited when it comes to articulating truth with language. Choices have to be made regarding terms, sentence structures, and specific vocabulary that make up each affirmation and denial. The goal is clarity, but not every sentence will always accomplish this goal—including the Nashville Statement.
One way to improve the statement would be to include biblical citations in the text (or at least at the bottom) so that as people read the affirmation and denials the text of Scripture can be clearly tied to the vocabulary choices that are used in the statement. It would also be helpful to provide a good dictionary of terms so that everyone can operate from the same source during the cultural conversation as opposed to using conflicting dictionaries.
Furthermore, the statement could have been written sooner. When the nation was going through the debate on same sex marriage and churches were drafting statements to amend their constitution and governing documents—the Nashville Statement would have served a good purpose to stand in open opposition to the cultural trends on same sex marriage before the ruling and would have provided assistance to pastors and churches in the process.
Don’t refuse to sign the statement based on superficial reasons. The statement is good, helpful, loving, and needed in our day. Take time to read through the statement and add your name to the list. Consider downloading it and e-mailing it to your church in order that believers in local churches can be kept up to speed with this important conversation and so that the church can be further discipled on these important doctrinal distinctives.