Some of you may or may not be aware of the recently released "Nashville Statement". This was a statement released by the The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (and signed by many prominent Christian leaders). This document was released with the following intention "...in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials." This statement absolutely breaks my heart, as it contains love-less language that seeks to fracture the bridges built between the LGBTQ community and the Church.
A Short Disclaimer
Before I begin discussing this, I want to clarify that I truly do not condemn any individual for his or her theological beliefs. I have many people close to me who I consider key players in my life who are not affirming of same-sex lifestyles under God. But they love me and I love them. It is not my intent to sway your theological conclusions with my response, rather to point out the immense damage done by this "...clear, courageous, compassionate statement on human sexuality." and provide some practical next-steps that this statement fails to provide.
A Tactless Pursuit of Division
Without a ton of time to invest into these thoughts, I'll bullet them here:
- Statements such as the one made by these Christian individuals seek to create disunity among those in the Christian faith, as they offer zero solutions or prescription for their resolution in the Church. This document does not teach pastors or laypeople a method of loving the individuals that it attacks.
- The very first statement seeks to merge or generalize homosexuals, polygamous, or polyamorous individuals in one category. This couldn't be a worse generalization of the LGBTQ community. We Christians already struggle with using generalizations that often cost us the very Gospel we claim to serve. This statement perpetuates an idea that many of us in monogamous same-sex relationships innately desire or seek to pursue these other forms of "open relationships." This couldn't be further from the truth.
- This statement offers the ability to donate financial resources that will allow them to "develop[...] resources to equip pastors and churches to stand firm for the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality." I can only ask, in what Bible does Christ teach us to reject others lifestyles with the intention to figure out the details later?
- Statements such as this justify the Christ-less hatred that many conservative Christians already hold toward individuals of LGBTQ orientation. We Christians do not need another crutch to lean on as we point at our brothers and sisters in selfish judgement — I think that we are doing a great job at making our judgements known already.
Of More Interest: What You Can Do
It's not my hope that individuals would change their minds with regard to their theological stance on sexuality. Instead, it's my desire that, regardless of theology, individuals would see LGBTQ people as they are: humans. Statements such as this misguided one seek to divide an already fractured Church even further.
I'm not sure whether you support LGBTQ individuals in the Church or if you are an LGBTQ individual, but there is plenty we can do together to create a Church that loves better:
To the Affirming Individual:
Make it known that you support your LGBTQ brothers and sisters. For too long, affirming people have sat on the sidelines of their Christianity hoping that others will do the work to include a lost world. Now is your chance to step up and make your faith actionable. We need you.
To the Silent Non-Affirming Individual:
Give your full heart and attention to those who are LGBTQ in your life. Reach out to LGBTQ people that you know simply to express your care for them. Tell them that you feel for what they are going through, and commit to be there for them no matter what the outcome is.
To the Vocal Non-Affirming Individual:
Now is not the time in our culture for you to pass your judgements. Leave that work up to God and spend your time seeking to understand the differences between you and those you aim to condemn. Get to know and care about LGTBQ people so deeply that you no longer refer to them by their sexuality, but by their real names. I'm not asking you to change your theology, I'm asking to do what Christ does every single day.
To the LGBTQ Christian
Now is not the time for us to respond with venom. It is acceptable to be upset and hurt, it's not acceptable to push non-affirming Christians out of your life. It's not acceptable to return judgement on us Christians. It's not acceptable to further create division in an already divided Church. Get to know other Christians better. I promise you, many of them are truly Christ-filled people with nothing but love to give toward you.
To the Unchurched LGBTQ Person
I am profoundly sorry you are having to witness us Christians wrestle with your existence as human beings. Words cannot begin to describe the sadness and frustration I feel for you. Understand that the Christ I know loves you so much more deeply than us flawed messes of human beings can. Don't give up on us Christians, and I promise, I personally won't allow us to give up on you.