A Response to a Blog Written in Criticism of the Nashville Statement

The following is a response to a blog post authored by Brittney Blevins. Her blog post can be found here :  https://lovelyliminal.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/response-and-reflection-time-the-nashville-statement/

Brittney,

Your statement is thoughtful and well written and I commend you for that. You get past the platitudes and slogans that so often drive these discussions (on both sides) and your effort there provides a platform for meaningful discourse.  Your thoughtful response raises a few questions for me. First of all, where did anyone associated with the document (or where does the document itself) ever say you were less worthy or less of a Christian? The fact is (and many of the signers would affirm this –  I have personally heard them do so) that none of us are worthy to be a Christian on our own merit. We are all hopelessly sinful and we have no hope outside of the atoning sacrifice of Christ to be set free from our sins. I contend that this is a “straw man” on your part. You need to have something to fight against so you have created an enemy who is supposedly attacking you when no such enemy exists (at least not in this document.)

I am also a bit confused as to what churches you have been attending that teach and preach on homosexuality more than these other issues. I rarely hear it mentioned in a church service. For me, the concept is to bring us all to Jesus and then through his Word and the leading of His Spirit, Jesus will lead us to walk in paths of righteousness. For some that will mean forsaking a selfish lifestyle, for others a lying tongue, for others a sexual immorality issue, etc. You write that we should write preambles and articles about these other issues. I would encourage you to do so. What is stopping you? You are obviously a fine writer, so rather than charge others to fulfill your vision, why not do it yourself? This picture of these narrow minded evangelicals who sit around yelling about homosexuality is yet another straw man. I am sure there are many examples of this within the church, but that is not an accurate representative of the message coming from the church at large. Article  8 specifically says that those who deal with same sex attraction may live a rich and fulfilling life in Christ as they follow him. I know that Article 8 does not fit the picture of the intolerant right-wing evangelical you are painting as well as does Article 10, but it is there and should not be overlooked.

I commend your attempt to exegete the Pauline passages, but to be fair your exegesis is based on faulty assumptions and misinformation. I am troubled by your reference to the definition of  homosexuality “back in Paul’s day.”  There is absolutely no exegetical justification – not from the Greek, not from extra-biblical philosophers or historians – none – for your conclusion that Paul was referring to only non-consensual sex acts. The language is clear. You may quibble about Paul’s authority to make such statements, but his statements are clear and forthright in the passages you quoted – along with many others. The Bible condemns homosexuality as sinful behavior. That doesn’t mean that God hates gay people any more than it means God hates any sinner. He loves them so much he sent Jesus to save them. But you cannot truly dispute Paul’s teaching against homosexuality without doing significant damage to the text itself.  I would also be a bit wary of the definitions that you have provided for some of the Greek words. I am no Greek expert so I will refrain from offering alternated definitions. I just think your definitions are “cherry-picked” to defend a point of view.

One thing that we can agree on is your assessment that you don’t have to “subscribe to the Conservative right to be a Christian.” I could not agree with your more. Nobody will be in heaven because of their political affiliation and no one will be kept out on that basis either. I have found myself at odds on occasion with many of my conservative right friends on some issues and candidates. I encourage you to do what you said here you are doing – research scripture. Just please be sure you are researching scripture and not just an interpretation of scripture formulated by someone who has a theological axe to grind.

I think the weakest part of your response is in the paragraph that begins “now back to the Nashville statement.” You actually say that you believe that the statement is geared toward to LGBT+ community “just because of the content (never mind the intention.)” You cannot disregard the intention. This is not a statement primarily for the LGBT+ community. It is a statement for bible believing Christians who want to be merciful and gracious to all, as Jesus was, but at the same time contend for the strict teachings of scripture (as Jesus did). When you write “never mind the intention,” you basically are admitting that to make your point you are willing to remove what was the intention of the writers and replace it with some intention that helps to better make your argument. You cannot ignore the intention – and that was not to launch an attack on LGBT+ community members. It was to mercifully and graciously speak truth to all.

I am bothered by the statistics that you mentioned concerning suicide rates of LGB youth in the church. I would absolutely contend that the church is not a contributing factor to that. I contend that were it not for the message of grace and forgiveness being preached by the church that number would be far higher.  These youths did not come to the church without issues. They came to the church broken and were unwilling or unable to receive the message of hope and restoration being offered by the church. Each of those deaths you reference is a tragedy and should be mourned as such. But to lay those deaths at the feet of the church is not a fair assignment of blame. I can only speak of the churches I have attended and served. I can say without hesitation (because I have seen it happen) that an LGBT person (youth or adult) would be welcomed and loved in those churches, as would anyone.

If as you say the Nashville  Statement is “alienating,” then I would say that it is so to the extent that the bible is alienating. There are conditions upon coming to Christ – repentance of sin and faith in the biblical Jesus. If you are not willing to abide by those conditions you cannot be reconciled to God. So those who will not repent and come to faith are alienated by the demands of scripture. Again, the Nashville Statement speaks only where scripture does and as such is indeed alienating to the same degree as the Word of God could be considered so.  You paint the Nashville Statement as saying  “Gays are not welcome here,” when in actuality the Nashville Statement says “All are welcome here and can be cleansed through the blood of Jesus.” The Nashville Statement affirms the biblical truth that Jesus loves us just as we are – but he loves us too much to leave us just as we are.

Again – we have an area of agreement on the whole persecution narrative topic. I absolutely affirm your statement that very few of us in the Bible Belt in 2017 have any idea what it means to be persecuted for our faith. I could not care less about the “happy Holidays,” “Target bathrooms,” Christmas Starbucks cups,” and I would add “Boycott Disney” rhetoric that pours forth from many conservative evangelicals. I have neither the time nor energy to fight such specious battles. I need to better spend my time contending for the Gospel. But I dispute that this statement is a response to some perceived persecution. The signers of this document are not in any way feeling persecuted. They simply believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is sufficient for all who come in repentance and faith and they want to get that message out – which is, I think, the responsibility of us all.

Thank you for your very well thought out and respectful response and for the opportunity to engage with you on the matter. I appreciate the spirit of your comments and I trust that my response reflects that same spirit.  I will conclude my remarks with a statement reflecting your concluding statement. I believe that the bible condemns homosexuality, as it condemns all sinful activity before a Holy God. I do not believe this because of what I was told – I believe this because it is stated clearly in scripture.  I did my own research. The Nashville Statement is helpful, productive, necessary, gracious, kind and strictly biblical.

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