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The truth about the Nashville Statement, and the culture's insane freakout over it
Believing the Bible has itself become hate speech.
Maybe you heard over the course of recent days that an uproar has developed over something called the Nashville Statement. The cultural/secular left is having an absolute cow over it, and left-wing politicians are jumping all over themselves to denounce it.
Yet the statement itself is entirely unremarkable. It's a 10-article statement signed by over 100 prominent evangelical leaders that simply affirms biblical truths concerning human sexuality - covering marriage, chastity, fidelity, homosexuality and so-called transgenderism. It also makes clear that it's wrong for Christians to tell people who are engaging in sexual immorality that it's OK to do so. This represents a jarring but necessary rebuke to liberal Christians.
It's worth your while to read the whole statement, which is here, but the best way to sum it up is simply this: We still believe every word the Bible says about human sexuality, and what we teach on it isn't going to change regardless of where the culture goes.
So how will the culture react when Christians re-affirm that we still believe the Bible? Let's start with the Democrat mayor of Nashville, Megan Barry:
The @CBMWorg's so-called "Nashville Statement" is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville— Megan Barry (@MayorMeganBarry) August 29, 2017
The left-wing site Think Progress wants to pretend Christians never had a problem with homosexuality or gay marriage until recently, and found "experts" who would give credence to this absurdity:
Despite the slow national embrace of LGBTQ rights, dwindling support for conservative Christian admonitions of queer identities and relationships is often lifted up by right-wing leaders as evidence of orthodoxy. In addition to claims of “persecution” at the hands of “secular culture,” evangelicals and conservative Catholics often claim their “counter-cultural” position on sexuality and gender identity is deeply traditional.
But does that make the precepts of the Nashville Statement in line with ancient Christians?
“In a word, no,” Candida Moss, theology professor at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, told ThinkProgress in an email.
Karl Shuve, assistant professor of Christian History at the University of Virginia, was even more dismissive.
“[The Nashville Statement] is not a document that is seriously interested with the witnesses of the Christian past, nor is it interested in engaging seriously with the issues underlying marriage and gender identities of the present…[it’s] trying to give the air of deep and rich tradition to something that is very modern, very new, and in some ways very reactive.”
“This is not a document that is seriously interested with the witnesses of the Christian past, nor is it interested in engaging seriously with the issues underlying marriage and gender identities of the present,” Shuve, an expert in early and medieval Christianity, said. He added he had trouble “getting past” the first article of the statement, describing the entire document as “something that is trying to give the air of deep and rich tradition to something that is very modern, very new, and in some ways very reactive.”
Whoever wrote this for Think Progress is clearly not a Christian and doesn't understand how Christians view the authority of Scripture, which trumps by far anything you can dredge up about the culture or practices of the early church. If the Bible says certain sexual practices are sinful - and it does - then it doesn't matter in the slightest where Christians put their emphasis at a particular moment in time. It only matters what the Bible says, period, nothing else.
Perhaps the most mind-blowingly absurd reaction of all came from a woman named Jen Hatmaker, who was once thought to be a serious Christian author. She is now one of the media's go-to "Christians" when they're looking for someone to affirm gay marriage as acceptable to Jesus. Hatmaker is a perfect example of the phenomenon in which people settle first on a conclusion, then see everything that ever happens as affirmation of that conclusion. Check this astonishing tweet:
The fruit of the "Nashville Statement" is suffering, rejection, shame, and despair. The timing is callous beyond words.— JenHatmaker (@JenHatmaker) August 29, 2017
You follow this? Hatmaker is twisting Scripture like a pretzel to make it support her pre-determined position in favor of gay marriage. Jesus said in Matthew 7 to beware of false prophets, and that you could tell by people's fruit if their hearts were with him. Hatmaker completely ignores every word in Scripture that declares homosexuality sinful, but trumpets this one reference to "the fruit," claiming that if anyone is upset by a statement someone makes, that must mean it has yielded bad fruit and thus must be wrong.
So any statement that reaffirms God's Word on a matter of sin must, by definition, be wrong because it will yield bad fruit in the form of "suffering, rejection, shame and despair" among those determined to continue committing this sin. Extraordinary. People once took this woman seriously, and some people still do.
Two years ago we published a detailed explanation of why a Bible-believing Christian cannot, under any circumstances, accept gay marriage. It's not about hating anyone or rejecting anyone. It's about the reality of sin and the desire to see everyone delivered from sin and reconciled to God.
But what's happened in the culture in the past two years is not only dividing the secular left against the church. It's also dividing the church against itself. We see a determined wing of the supposedly Christian church that has decided to ignore everything in the Bible about homosexuality, and declare in spite of it that gay marriage is merely another form of "love," and that disagreeing with this amounts to hate.
This represents an attempt to do two very radical things that would shake the foundations of the Christian church if allowed:
1. It redefines both love and hate. In this reading, in order to love someone you must affirm whatever they want to do, give them whatever they want and agree with whatever they think. If it's blatantly contrary to Scripture, then the person's feelings win out over God's Word. Failure to do all this means you hate that person. This is absurd, of course, and yet we see the culture embracing this thinking on a widespread basis. There was a time when it was understood that loving someone might mean telling them no, or making them understand that the desire of their flesh wasn't right. This is reinforced throughout the Bible. The modern culture rejects this principle entirely, arguing instead for a new concept of "love" that makes the flesh king, and treats the satisfaction of every desire of the flesh as a moral imperative.
2. It completely invalidates moral authority of the Bible on matters of morality and sin. We don't tend to like to talk about this very much in our modern culture, but the Bible very clearly identifies certain things as sin. Homosexual sex is one of them. So is sex outside of marriage (whether pre-marital or extramarital). These are just two examples and most of you know the list very well, but the point is this: While it's true that redeemed Christians are no longer under law but under grace, the seriousness of sin is every bit what it was in Old Testament times. The consequences are just as horrible, and eternal.
The grace of Jesus Christ is not a license to sin and go to Heaven anyway, but an opportunity to repent of sin and receive His covering. It's true that His grace covers us if we fall after being redeemed, but that's a very different matter from the treating of sin as a non-issue, or of refusing to accept the authority of Scripture in defining what sin is.
Christians don't regard homosexual sex as sin because it bothers us, or offends us, or seems icky. We regard it as sin because the Bible says it's sin, and the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God. This is not a new development. We have regarded it as such ever since Jesus walked the Earth, died, rose again and ascended into Heaven. God's Word never changes, regardless of the culture's willingness to accept it at any given moment.
Sexual morality has become the line of demarcation in a cultural war over the acceptance or rejection of God's Word. Secularists and liberal "Christians" want there to be no moral limits on sexual behavior apart from, perhaps, that which might have an identifiable human victim - such as a cheated-upon spouse. Otherwise, this group's sexual ethic is: "As long as everyone consents and no one gets hurt, do what you want."
God placed limits on sexual behavior because sex is a blessing from Him that is part of His design for humanity, and the blessing is intended to be received and experience in a manner He proscribes. There are spiritual consequences for ignoring this and making your own rules, or simply observing no rules at all.
Even more so, the secular/cultural left insists that gay sex must not be immoral because homosexuals are "born that way." Regardless of whether you are born with a desire to have homosexual sex or not, the fact remains that this makes a desire of the flesh pre-eminent over the Word of God. No one should be surprised that secularists embrace this thinking, but the fact that some who claim to be Christians are also doing so is stunning. When a desire of the flesh comes into conflict with the Word of God, that's an easy call for the believer. If you really believe, that is.
Bible-believing Christians still understand this, and must stand with it as truth. Those who engage in sexual immorality are welcome in the church, of course, as anyone would be. But remember: The whole point of Christianity is that everyone needs to repent and receive the grace of Christ. The secular left and liberal Christians want to say that there is no need to repent of sexual immorality, because there is no such thing - or at the very least, it is not defined by the Bible but by modern culture. In other words, by them.
But they want to do more than that. They want to establish a new societal standard that says belief in morality as defined by the Bible is, itself, hate. They've always rejected God and His Word, but now they want to take it farther and marginalize Bible-believing Christians as little different from the neo-Nazis and white supremacists we've all spent the past few weeks jumping all over each other to condemn. Belief in the sexual morality of the Bible will become the equivalent of segregated lunch counters, or of George Wallace barring the door of the University of Alabama. Societal pressure to reject these beliefs and those who embrace them will become hard to resist in coming years, and those not truly committed to Jesus will quickly fall away like the Jen Hatmakers of the world - embracing logical and moral absurdities in order to appear open-minded and gain cultural approval.
All you have to see to understand this is the cultural freak-out that's resulted from the Nashville Statement, which says nothing more than this: The Bible is as true as ever, and we still believe it, and we always will.
Much of humanity has always rejected this and hated it. Now this portion of humanity feeling its oats, and is out for blood.
Can you stand to the end in the truth?
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!