By Todd Brady
Vice President for University Ministries, Union University
My wife and I were in Nashville recently for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s annual conference on parenting. Hearing from folks like Russell Moore, Jen Wilken, Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) and others, we sought to learn what we could to grow in this great work of parenting.
While we were there, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood finalized The Nashville Statement, a series of affirmations and denials “declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female.” In a world of squishy ambiguities, vague double-speak and moral menageries, I was glad to read this clear, precise and definitive declaration espousing God’s design for biblical sexuality. You may read The Nashville Statement at www.cbmw.com.
Once the statement was published, reactions by those who disagreed came fast and furious. Twitter lit up as Nashville’s mayor Megan Barry said, “The … so called “Nashville Statement” is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city and the people of Nashville.” Salon.com denounced what they described as “Evangelical’s bigotry-filled Nashville Statement.” Roxanne Gay, contributing opinion writer to the New York Times, tweeted, “The Nashville Statement is a shameful document that is antithetical to true Christianity and the teachings of Jesus.” Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, senior vice president of Auburn Seminary in New York, N.Y. said the statement “weaponizes Christianity to attack the rights and lives of LGBTQ people … We are all God’s children, each deserving dignity and love.”
The Nashville Statement was a statement about God’s design for sexuality. For two millennia, Christians have made statements seeking to articulate the truths of the Bible. From ancient Nicea to long-ago Chalcedon and from modern Manhattan and to contemporary Nashville, Christians have made affirmations and denials about the Faith. Princeton professor Robert P. George’s sarcastic words were well tweeted and right on. He stated, “Shock! Evangelical Christians affirm Christian moral teachings! Decline to embrace dogmas of secular progressivism!” Rod Dreher of The American Conservative rightly said, “You would have to have a head of pudding to think you could dismiss very clear and deep Biblical anthropology and moral teaching about sex and sexuality, to say nothing of the consistent witness of the Church from its founding until pretty much the day before yesterday.”
A declaration about God’s design should not be confused with bigotry or hate speech and ought not to be taken personally. When the mailman delivers a bill or another piece of mail that I’d rather not receive, I do not castigate him or write him off as a mean person. I realize that he doesn’t write the mail. He simply delivers it.
Sin has never been a nice topic of discussion at the dinner table. However, it seems to me that much of the congestion related to The Nashville Statement is over what some see as right and others see as wrong—sin. In his comments about the statement, Dreher also said, “Anything we do that falls short of perfect harmony with the will of God is sin. Sin is not merely rule breaking but failing to live in accord with the structure of reality itself.
Some have criticized The Nashville Statement saying that it denies them their place in the world. Let us all remember that each of us has a place in this world — “particularly as male and female,” but that the world is not ours to live in. It’s God’s. He has established the structure. Not us. He calls the shots. Not us.
“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves …” (Psalm 100:3).