The Nashville Statement has now been released, and many things about it are praiseworthy and commendable. The mayor of Nashville has denounced it, so there’s that. And the drafters and signatories have deliberately committed themselves to any number of hate crimes, which in these bent days is no light praise, and they have successfully and carefully targeted any number of shifts and evasions that are routinely used when it comes to individual sexual choices and practices. So I do want to offer some honest praise. But they have also carefully avoided some other stuff, and the omissions are not insignificant.
I do not intend to get into all of that right now, but I did need to say something about it. The buzz about the statement is real, and writing about sex and culture is part of what I do. But I will keep this brief, in that I will be working with some friends on a fuller response. Hopefully we can get that done before North America is consumed in a giant fireball from heaven for allowing more wives than Allah permits. You know.
Even acknowledging the truth of particular statements made about sexual ethics, the statement is chasing the wrong horse out of the wrong barn. The preamble sets the whole thing off on the wrong cultural foot. The statement begins with this line:
“Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition.”
The word transition here indicates a belief that the transition is already a fait accompli, and that our task is to live faithfully in a society that has transitioned, or live faithfully in a society that is going to transition whether we like it or not. The word assumes that the bad guys are going to win everything they lust after, and that our job is to live like righteous Lot in Sodom, vexed in our souls daily.
Not on the table is any idea of stopping this historic transition, or turning it back. But we are dealing with sexual totalitarians, and maneuvers of modest containment won’t work. Maneuvers of modest containment are how we got ourselves to this place of historic transition.
And “find ourselves”? We don’t find ourselves anywhere we didn’t willingly come. Notably missing from the statement is any acknowledgement of the great evangelical sin of not putting up stiffer resistance when the first signs of this “historic transition” began to manifest themselves. To say we find ourselves here is like Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah coming up to Jeremiah and saying, “So, we find ourselves in Eygpt” (Jer. 43:2ff).
But allow me to close by returning to the top. There is much to praise in this statement. But there is also much to do.