Nashville’s mayor joined a deluge of liberal backlash on Twitter against evangelical leaders’ official statement on marriage and sexuality published Tuesday.
A coalition of evangelical pastors, leaders, and Christian scholars released a manifesto called Nashville Statement Tuesday, written by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), to clarify the church’s positions on sexuality, gender, and marriage, according to The Washington Post. More than 150 Christian leaders endorsed the 14 article document at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Friday conference in Nashville.
The manifesto merely reiterates mainstream Christian doctrine, but liberal critics quickly denounced it, with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry foremost among them.
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 fruit of the “Nashville Statement” is suffering, rejection, shame, and despair. The timing is callous beyond words.
— JenHatmaker (@JenHatmaker) August 29, 2017
The Nashville Statement is a shameful document that is antithetical to true Christianity and the teachings of Jesus.
— roxane gay (@rgay) August 30, 2017
Jesus didn’t say the #NashvilleStatement. Instead, he said the greatest commandment is to love God & 2nd greatest is to love your neighbor. https://t.co/7KzKbQloqk
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 29, 2017
Christians and conservative leaders responded to the criticism and pointed out that the manifesto was entirely in line with Christian teachings, with some even going so far as to call out the hypocrisy between twitter users’ recent reactions to Joel Osteen and their reactions to the Nashville Statement.
Twitter: We hate Joel Osteen for not following the Bible.
Also Twitter: We hate the Nashville Statement for following the Bible.
— Hans Fiene (@HansFiene) August 30, 2017
Did I miss the part of the #NashvilleStatement where any serious Christian doctrine changed in the slightest?
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 30, 2017
It was our aim to say nothing new, but to bear witness to something very ancient. @benshapiro #NashvilleStatement https://t.co/mlXiMsv43n
— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) August 30, 2017
Critics decried the statement for its rejection of homosexual and transgender lifestyles. Those who endorsed the document said it was not specifically aimed at homosexuality. Rather, it clarifies Biblical teaching on sexuality and marriage in general — both what the teaching affirms and what it denies.
“The spirit of our age does not delight in God’s good design of male and female,” CBMW President Denny Burk said in a statement. “Consequently, confusion reigns over some of the most basic questions of our humanity. The aim of the Nashville Statement is to shine a light into the darkness – to declare the goodness of God’s design in our sexuality and in creating us as male and female.”
Pastor John Piper, co-founder of CBMW, issued a statement supporting and clarifying the message of the Nashville Statement to uphold Biblical principles that, he says, when denied have led to “increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.”
“The Nashville Statement is a Christian manifesto concerning issues of human sexuality. It speaks with forthright clarity, biblical conviction, gospel compassion, cultural relevance, and practical helpfulness. There is no effort to equivocate for the sake of wider, but muddled, acceptance,” Piper wrote.
“It affirms with joy that no form of sexual sin is beyond forgiveness and healing. It touches the most fundamental and urgent questions of the hour, without presuming to be a blueprint for political action. And it will prove to be, I believe, enormously helpful for thousands of pastors and leaders hoping to give wise, biblical, and gracious guidance to their people,” Piper added.
The majority of the outcry leveled at the manifesto and those who endorsed it centers around Article 10, which states:
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.
Burk noted that critics chafed at the inflexible stance on homosexuality mentioned in this one article among the 13 others that address various other topics related to human sexuality. He did not deny but rather affirmed that interpretation of Article 10, and stated that it was meant to make clear and unequivocal the official Christian stance on a topic for which many ministers have offered varying teachings.
“Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise,” Burk wrote.
“Or as the apostle Paul puts it, ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality… Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you’ (1 Thess. 4:3-8). The stakes are higher than the revisionists want you to believe, and The Nashville Statement aims to clarify that,” Burk added.
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