Nashville Statement Takes Evangelicals the Wrong Direction

It seems the Pharisees gathered in Nashville last week and carved out a stand on morality, marriage, and sexuality that they say is “essential” to the faith. It’s called The Nashville Statement and is the work of 150 conservative religious leaders convened by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. As soon as I saw the headlines and those involved, my heart sank.

Why in this day of growing national animosity would so many religious figures publish yet another proclamation against the sins they most detest? There’s nothing new here. Their positions are already well known, but society continues to move away from them. Not surprisingly the list of signatories were mostly white and mostly male representing those groups that tend to focus on morality more than Christ. I can’t imagine anyone could sign this document who understands the heartbeat of our Father for the brokenness of the world. Certainly some had to ignore that inner sense that this was a bad idea. Perhaps they felt pressured to sign or others would accuse them of compromise.

While I agree with much of what it says about morality and seek to live my life accordingly, that is only true because of the grace God has given me. As a whole, this exercise represents the wrong message, time, and means to share God’s light with the world. It may give the home team something to cheer about, but at what cost to the Gospel? Moralists always go large on sex and remain strangely silent about religious arrogance, gossip, the excesses of capitalism, and ignoring the log in your own eye while you try to rip the sawdust out of someone else’s.

This statement re-draws the same lines of exclusion that has plunged evangelicalism into irrelevance over the past half century and does nothing to invite people into God’s reality. This is a statement the Pharisees might have generated when Jesus was spending too much of his time with those they regarded as sinners. It has more in common with their agenda for the culture, than it did for Jesus, who was bent on winning people into Father’s love as the conduit into a transformed life, rather than laying out the rules and compelling people to follow.

Now we have a new statement to wave around as a litmus test of Biblical morality that Christians will have to pledge allegiance to or be judged as soft on sin. Well, as a passionate follower of Jesus Christ and one that embraces the moral safety of Scripture, I reject this Statement on the following grounds:

  • It packages God’s desire for humanity as Law to obey instead of a Loving Father to embrace. As such it repudiates the Incarnation of Christ to win by love and affection what law and obedience could never win. Left to itself, this Statement distorts how God rescues people from their own brokenness and restores them through love and transformation.
  • As a political statement it confuses the differing role of government and the faith community in matters of marriage and sexuality.
  • It smacks of religious arrogance by calling its conclusions “essential” for faith, and attacking those who see it differently as “foolish” and “bent on ruin.” It overstates the conclusion of Scriptures to support their own prejudices and fears and there is no humility that admits even those who believe these things have a difficult time living true to them. Shouldn’t we clean our own house before telling others how to clean theirs?
  • It assumes that Christianity has a handle on masculinity and femininity when religious environments are notorious for stereotyping those distinctions to selectively distribute power rather than embracing the revelation of God.
  • It offers no compassion, kindness, or hope for people who do not conform to their view of morality. Instead it will embolden those whose animosity and fear seeks to hurt those who disagree with them and it will  add further condemnation and despair to those who do not yet know God’s love for them.

If moral statements such as this one is the best hope Christianity brings to the world, we have missed the most endearing realities of the Gospel. If Jesus had offered a Statement of Morality to the woman who had been caught in adultery, would it have given her any hope that she could approach the Father Jesus wanted her to know?

Religious leaders and secular advocates want to force us into one of two camps: I must force biblical morality on those who do not see it to the despair of those who cannot live it. Or, I can be compassionate by abandoning my convictions about morality. I refuse to accept this false dichotomy. It is possible to hold my moral convictions while at the same time loving and caring deeply for those who don’t. This is better communicated in conversations with people you know and care about, rather than making public proclamations.

We need a different conversation with our culture, one steeped in kindness and respect across our deepest differences. We don’t have to compromise our morality to love others who may not have the same anchor we do. We don’t have to pound them over the head with our moral views when they don’t yet know the God we know. What we can champion together is the freedom of each person’s conscience that allows them to see these things differently without either side employing the power of the state to force their preferences on others. There has never been a time when followers of Christ need to learn how to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” The Nashville Statement does neither.

Perhaps they could learn something from my wife. Our backyard is filled with an English garden that blooms profusely year-round. People come to marvel at what my wife, Sara, has created here and only I know the hours she invests every week to keep it so beautiful. A while ago we got a new puppy and one day when I went into the garden to talk to her, I saw the puppy digging a large hole in one corner of the garden on the opposite side where Sara was working. Seeing the plants strewn about, I assumed the new pup was in big trouble.

“Sara, do you know what’s going on over here behind your back,” I called to her.

“With Zoey?” she replied never turning around. “I do,” and I could hear the smile in her voice.

Uncertain she knew the gravity of the situation I asked her if she know how big it was. ”You could bury a small cadaver in there,” I chuckled as I approached her.

“It doesn’t matter. I just want her to enjoy being in the garden with me every time I’m here and if I’m always yelling at her she won’t. So, she can do whatever she wants this year. Next year we’re going to learn how to be in the garden without destroying it.”

Until people are endeared to God because of how wonderful he is they won’t care about the things he says, especially if they think he hates and rejects them. We would do better investing our time and resources in helping them discover a God worth loving for himself.

I have a quote on my computer I got years ago from an AIDs outreach video. “Sometimes we withhold grace until we are sure people understand their sin. But it is in the giving of grace that we remind people that they need to go to Jesus to find their own. People understand their sin without our help; it’s grace they need help understanding.”

Maybe if we truly understood grace, we would spend less effort crafting moral statements and more loving others like God loves us. That’s how Jesus said he would change the world. Let’s try that!

101 thoughts on “Nashville Statement Takes Evangelicals the Wrong Direction”

  1. I read the statement, I looked at the signers. And then I groaned. I thought about those who are suffering right now in Houston. I thought about what just happened in Charlotte. I thought, “Really?” This is necessary RIGHT THIS MINUTE? I couldn’t have said it better Wayne. Thank you for this.

    1. “Right this minute” is when the discussion is happening in the larger culture, so “right this minute” is when they decided to respond. If you’re concerned about the juxtaposition with H. Harvey, it seems to me this was surely planned long before Harvey happened.

  2. So elegantly said Wayne. Thanks for offering a counter view. We just want others to know the God we know. As you say we are more concerned with certain sins as opposed to our own faults. I loved the example of Sara with Zoey. I will need to keep such an example in mind in my own life.

  3. Jen Dillner Vincent

    I’m so thankful that there are still some leaders as foolish and ruined as you are. Thank you for always pointing the way to the kindness of Jesus.

  4. John and Dodie Davies

    Thanks again Wayne for such helpful insight! also the beautiful illustration that you recount about Sara and her puppy….just wonderful….John and Dodie (something must be wrong with our Springer Spaniel , she has never once tried to dig, garden or sand! )

  5. I haven’t read the Nashville Statement…don’t really want to if it will bring the grief I suspect it would. I’m a recovering Pharisee, and have seen first hand (in my own offspring) the results of living by withholding grace while attempting to be the person responsible for ‘helping’ Papa bring conviction.
    Wayne, I appreciate the gentleness and mercy Papa has shared with you that influences us. I’m growing to understand how deeply loved I am, and it has radically changed me.

  6. Excellent article and from your point of view what should have these Christians leaders have done? I think you hit the nail on the head: what are the practical real to life ways that we help/love people entangled in such sin without comprising the fidelity of Scripture? Because we know that we will answer to Jesus for the way treat or don’t treat people according to his righteous standards of the kingdom of heaven (e.g. Matt 5:3-48).

    1. Michael, What should these leaders have done? Learn to love people trapped in sin. Jesus has the amazing ability to love people without condoning the brokenness in their lives. We can too. Political statements like this, however, invoke Law as the impetus to change, rather than the conviction of the Spirit who invites people to Jesus for rescue. There’s nothing in this statement that people around these people didn’t already know about them. We don’t make stands for morality by proclamations like this, but by living the morality as an example to others, inviting them to know the God we know. This is not about the “standards” of the kingdom of heaven, this is about a real relationship with him that can transform any willing heart.

      1. Are you saying the signers DON’T love people trapped in sin? Do you know them that well? Or are you simply saying that it seems to appear by the wording and timing of this statement that that MAY be the case?

        1. You seem to want to twist my words about a Statement into a condemnation of individuals I don’t know. You miss the point entirely. I don’t know how loving they are or are not, but I am saying this statement in the context in which it was released repudiates love for Law as the means of salvation, whether they intended it to or not. The insider crowd won’t get that. They think it is love. But if you could only look at it from people on the outside, whom Jesus loves, and how they regard this approach.

          1. I don’t want to twist anything–I simply asked what you meant by the words you typed. You said that these leaders need to “learn to love people trapped in sin.” That obviously implies that they don’t know how to love such people. If they already know how to “love people trapped in sin” and demonstrate that knowledge by doing it, then they have nothing to learn. I even gave you the benefit of the doubt when I offered an alternative explanation of your words in my last sentence. How did I misunderstand your words?

          2. Paul, this statement doesn’t love people well who are trapped in sin. I thought that was clear in the original post. Loving people is not a matter of knowledge but how you treat people with the knowledge you have. Many of the leaders listed in this statement by their writings and actions put behavioral conformity as a qualification for love, when I’m suggesting love is the qualification for us being helpful in someone’s trust in God and then their transformation. If they do it well apart from this statement, great. But I have no evidence of such and the limited evidence I do have from former staff members of some of these wouldn’t reassure me of that fact.

            However, I did suggest that some people who signed this probably had to overcome an initial sense that they shouldn’t. Those may love well and just got trapped into this process. I don’t know. This article isn’t about the particular individuals involved, but the statement itself and how it will impact Christian mission in America. It was not an attempt to judge the individuals involved, only to criticize their corporate action.

          3. When I was institutionally incarcerated I slowly but surely began to see “0utsiders”,
            especially unbelievers, as almost a dangerous and different species, literally!
            People to be avoided at all costs so as to keep me from being contaminated with whatever
            toxic beliefs they adhered to by which I might become infected, should I get too close to them.
            Go figure, but that concept stuck to me until I ditched on Apr 22nd, 1991 and haven’t looked
            back because I discovered Jesus in a way that He designed me to know Him. One on one.

          4. I don’t think this statement was intended to “love people well;” that’s done in other ways. I took this statement as a necessary (as perceived by its authors and signatories) statement to make completely clear how the Bible speaks to this issue, since so many in the church, as well as in the world, seem to be so confused.

          5. You’re right, Paul, it didn’t love people well and can’t be excused because it had some other purpose. Love is love. Love does express truth, but it does it in ways that cares for the hearers. This was simply preaching to the choir while standing in the street. t don’t think people are confused about how the net-calvinist Baptist crowd views homosexuality or transgendered people. The fact that they have to keep saying it speaks more to their bondage and unveils again their misunderstanding of how Truth and transformation comes to those who are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

  7. Wayne,
    You raise a fundamental principle of Christ-likeness in this post; namely, what should an “effective disciple” of Christ look like in the modern church? I’m sure you’re familiar with the good work of Leon Fontaine and his book “The Spirit Contemporary Life”. This is mandatory reading for the folks I shepherd in a discipleship ministry at my church for the underlying reasons you cite here — the responsibility we have in how we share the love of Christ to those who don’t know Him.
    Having said that, there’s an irony in your post that contradicts the analogy of Sara, the puppy and the garden. As I read it, Sara has a loving compassion for the puppy even when WHAT the puppy does is counter to her vested labor and goal for the garden. That means she is resting in her personal faith about the outcome of her actions – both now and in the future. Otherwise she’d likely react against the puppy. Contrary to Sara’s feminine, compassionate, Christian nature (and that of my own wife), us men behave as if it’s time for an all-out airstrike against the enemy the moment we perceive a challenge to our beliefs or practices, and we don’t care WHO the enemy is — we’ll take out the guy seated in the pew next to us if we have to, in defense of the proper living-out of the Gospels.
    Even though your perception of the divisiveness of The Nashville Statement seems practical and correct for today’s evangelical or practicing disciple, those of us who share your sentiments must ask — would a non-believer reading this post come away with a BETTER, more spiritually-discerned understanding of what it means to be a Christian, or would he be more convinced than ever about the hypocrisy of “unity” among Christians?
    When we call out our fellow Christian brothers and sisters by labeling them “Pharisees”, and further support our doctrinal righteousness by pointing out the majority of those signing this Nashville document are mostly white males that “tend to focus more on morality than Christ”, we’re sending a rather arrogant-sounding message to both the Christian community as well as the secular. We’re demonstrating we can roll up our sleeves and be just as anti-Christ-like in our thoughts and speech as those we’re accusing. We’re saying that when we believe we have the moral high ground we’d darn well better shout it from the mountaintop. To that end, how is that any different than The Nashville Statement?
    As disciples, we have to be just as spiritually discerning as Jesus is in how we address and compare our insights to those within our house and the proper administration of the Gospel message. Everything we do in public must reflect God’s spirit of love and respect for each other you mentioned. Otherwise, we can be lured into a sin of pride by flaunting our doctrine or works in the face of those who we neither live with, serve with, or know personally but who’ve devoted themselves to Christ in their own way, presumably at God’s calling. Being humble in spirit for us might mean less vocal opposition and chastisement of other Christians, but Holy Spirit lead strength in doing the righteous work of Jesus in the manner you described above (with all credit to His grace, of course). I think we sometimes assume that fellow Christians have some sort of armor seasoned over time to be able to shield themselves from bullets coming from other believers, but if we are all created in the image of Christ, then it seems to be more “Christian” for us to assume they’re doing the best they can for God even if we don’t agree with everything they do.

    Speaking for myself, I can’t (and won’t) reasonably conclude that men or women signing The Nashville Statement are doing so ignorant of perceptions both within and outside of the Christian establishment. What we have to be instead is our own beacon of God’s light within the sphere of influence He has granted us in His grace, and be that sort of loving and respectful disciple you’re talking about. To me, THAT is the sort of Fruit of the Spirit that begins to impact a society that’s moving away from the Truth. THAT is the sort of Christian modeling that raises more committed disciples and grows His kingdom, and those of us who share your sentiment are BLESSED to be on the forefront of that calling! What a truly exciting opportunity it is to be able to serve that way. If we truly believe in the sovereignty of God and His ultimate control over all aspects of life, then we must know – as your Sara does – that it will ALL work out for His good purpose, and the character we develop along the way matters (the Apostle Paul and Paul Young would both agree I think).
    Numbers 6:24-26 to you and yours, Wayne. Keep up the good work of spreading the Love, brother.

    1. Is there anyone left on planet earth that believes Christianity is a unified faith? It may be misplaced, but my hope in writing this article is that it would invite people of faith and goodwill to consider a different way of looking at the problem. The Pharisee charge was intended less as a personal accusation, but an identification of how their voices sound. I’ve been in rooms with some of these people who definitely represent the spirit of the Pharisees far more than the Spirit of Christ. They are belligerent, angry, and demeaning toward people who don’t agree with them. I think their actions do disfigure the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not speaking of course of their own individual journeys, that’s up to God, but I am contesting their public proclamation and what it does to distort the Gospel they claim to espouse. Jesus and Paul thought it important to call out activities that don’t reflect the priorities of the kingdom so that unbelievers won’t be unnecessarily alienated from God, and that young believers will have an example of what kingdom impact in the age of the Incarnation can look like.

      No I don’t expect them to listen to me, but they are the ones with the megaphone and national media exposure. I’m just the voice of one person hoping to stimulate a better conversation, and keep the door open for people to discover who God is. Both Jesus and Paul called out the “religious voices” when they thought they were following God and had no idea how much their efforts undermined the love of God unfolding in the world. I’ll definitely take your comments to heart, because humility always opens better doors than arrogance. I just don’t know that honesty is always arrogance and disagreement is always negative. But we all have room to grow in these things.

  8. As always, your wisdom is eloquently stated. I so appreciate your perspective and agree with you completely!

  9. I needed this. I told my husband last night, how can you live in the middle? I don’t understand my world. This “statement” speaks something so wrong. But I can not go the other way either. So where do I fit in with my feelings of compassion and love for others struggling, but still know that God did say something about this idea? I’m in the middle somewhere. It leaves me without a home. A camp. I don’t belong anywhere. But your article and thoughts spoke so true to my heart. I’m not alone. I can have convictions and compassion at the same time. And there are others. I needed to know. Thank you.

  10. Man Wayne, that “Nashville Statement” pushes EVERY button in this Texas lady who is still struggling to shake the laws that the Southern Baptist Convention teachings put on me from a very young age. When I first read the “articles” I just got really REALLY hot. I was mad and wanted to throw things, and curse. Just so much in there that just makes my eyes roll into the back of my head. SO much hypocrisy in them. It’s so maddening.

    But shortly after, I got in my car to head back to my office, and like God does so often, he spoke to me through a song. “More Like Love” by Ben Rector came over the radio. He was pulling me down off the ceiling, even though I didn’t want to come down. God reminded me to BE LOVE. So I asked Him to show me how.

    Quickly I began to feel really badly for these pharisees who sincerely believe that their beliefs are LAW. And I feel bad that they can’t relax into the LOVE that God is offering them. Then my heart just broke for God himself. How sad I am that there are well meaning people that are portraying Him in this light. I hurt for everyone involved. The divide just grows deeper and wider. And I just want us to look like LOVE.

    Thank you for your wisdom in these times, my friend. I am so saddened by their actions, but I am thankful for your voice.

  11. I totally agree with you. At the end you talk about grace, which I think is the key in this whole discussion. God loves everybody — No matter what–grace abounds. Aren’t we all perfectly imperfect? God holds us in this reality–living “in the middle”, as a responder mentioned, and this is what Abba has graced us to do if our heart is open and listening.

  12. Wayne – thank you so much for your commentary. If anyone doubts the damage this Nashville statement has already done in a few days to the cause of Christ I would invite them to listen to what atheists are saying about it – one atheist blog I sometimes read referred to it as coming from people with hate filled hearts and stated this is what it means to be an evangelical Christian today. Really – that is not the testimony I want to have.

    1. And part of that is some atheists want to call anyone who believes in God morality as a “hater.” It’s the way they marginalize them in the public eye. Some times they are right. Some who say “love the sinner, hate the sin”, clearly hate both. But most people of faith who have moral convictions really are discovering that they can love those who have a different moral platform than their own. As I said in the article, if they don’t find our God endearing, they won’t want to walk in his ways.

  13. Thank you, Wayne, for putting into words what my heart was feeling. I appreciate your thoughtful words and your unwavering eyes on Jesus.

  14. Pretty much an inarguable treatise Wayne. I perceive it also to be a litmus on
    possibly sincere believers that really haven’t experienced the love of Christ as
    revealed in the gospels. Standard dilemma, they know about HIM but they really
    don’t know him (intimately as in the Greek). So sad. Too much institutionalism
    will probably bat close to 1.000 on that.

  15. The author of this article seems to have an issue preaching what he practices. He notes, “I agree with much of what it says about morality and seek to live my life accordingly.” Yet, he disagrees with the decision to produce the statement, calling it a “bad idea.”

    In the first three words of the critique, the author delivers a straw-man argument, comparing those who signed the document to “Pharisees” (he will do this a second time in the article, too). This is a strong accusation from one who complains that the statement is not “steeped in kindness and respect across our deepest differences.” But, alas, many of the signees “were mostly white and mostly male representing those groups that tend to focus on morality more than Christ.” So, I presume they deserve harsher condemnation than would be acceptable for the rest.

    The author complains that the signees are quick to judge sexual morality while “remain[ing] strangely silent about religious arrogance, gossip, the excesses of capitalism, and ignoring the log in your own eye while you try to rip the sawdust out of someone else’s.” However, the author failed to research the sermons, writings, and blogs produced by many of the signees that go into great detail on religious arrogance, gossip, greed, and hypocrisy. Many of these resources are available, free of charge, on various sites online.

    With the straw-men out of the way, the author gives his reasons for rejecting the statement, all five of which are severely flawed.

    First, the author suggests that the statement “packages God’s desire for humanity as Law to obey instead of a Loving Father to embrace,” thus “repudiat[ing] the incarnation,” distorting “how God rescues people from their own brokenness and restores them through love and transformation.” The author, however, does not realize that the statement both gives moral principles to be obeyed, as well as offering forgiveness in a Loving Father to embrace. Articles 8, 12, 13, and 14 (28% of the statement) specifically offer hope, forgiveness, and love to those whom the other parts of the article might affect. Furthermore, the author assumes that precise moral clarity cannot coincide with the gospel’s call that “rescues people from their own brokenness and restores them through love and transformation.” However, Scripture repeatedly tells its audience to “repent and believe.” In order to follow the first command, “repent,” we must have a clear idea of what we must repent from. Moral clarity does not oppose the gospel, but supports it.

    Second, the author suggest that the Nashville Statement is a “political statement” that “confuses the differing role of government and the faith community in matters of marriage and sexuality.” Strangely, however, the Nashville Statement does not claim to be a political statement. It is a document created by the church, and for the church. In 0/14 articles does it describe or address the state.

    Third, the author says that the statement “It smacks of religious arrogance by calling its conclusions “essential” for faith, and attacking those who see it differently as “foolish” and “bent on ruin.” The author fails to realize that this complaint would be better aimed at Jesus and the apostles, who made numerous moral claims deemed as essential for the faith. If the Nashville Statement correctly explains the details and implications of the claims that Jesus and the Apostles made, then the statement does not “smack of religious arrogance,” but rather represents biblical truth. The author seems to agree with some of the statement’s claims and tries to live by them (see above), so why does he not address specifically those which he thinks are arrogant, rather than biblical?

    Fourth, the statement “assumes that Christianity has a handle on masculinity and femininity when religious environments are notorious for stereotyping those distinctions to selectively distribute power rather than embracing the revelation of God.” The author does not realize that the Bible (the “revelation of God”), upon which Christian doctrine is built, claims to “have a handle” on gender issues. The author should not reject the statement because it speaks with authority on this matter. Rather, the author should detail the points in the statement that are not derived from the “revelation of God.”

    Finally, the author returns to this point: “[The Nashville Statement] offers no compassion, kindness, or hope for people who do not conform to their view of morality. Instead it will embolden those whose animosity and fear seeks to hurt those who disagree with them and it will add further condemnation and despair to those who do not yet know God’s love for them.” Again, articles 8, 12, 13, and 14 are in direct contradiction to this point. They explicitly offer the compassion, kindness, and hope that the Bible offers. It seems clear that this author was not interested in fairly representing the Nashville Statement in this area.

    The author closes the article by saying, “Maybe if we truly understood grace, we would spend less effort crafting moral statements and more loving others like God loves us. That’s how Jesus said he would change the world. Let’s try that!”

    I must say, that if this author truly understood grace, he would see that grace abounds when we recognize our sin and repent of it. In as much as the Nashville Statement is faithful to scripture, in defining sin and calling sinners to find forgiveness and life in God, it is a gracious document.

    1. Thank you, Ryan Quinley, for your clear and measured response, and for sticking to what the Nashville Statement says, and to what the Bible says, rather than commenting upon the personalities of signers. If some of the naysayers here would also do such a comparison study, some might be convinced to withdraw their comments. You have performed a public service, Ryan. It’s sad that so many in the world see [the] good [of the Bible] as evil, but truly unfortunate when Christian do also. As I recently read, the battles of those of us who claim to be Christians are not truly with other humans, but need to be with prayer and the Bible as weapons in the unseen spiritual battle. Thank you again.

    2. I’d like to respond to the following comments made by Ryan Quinley:

      “The author fails to realize that this complaint would be better aimed at Jesus and the apostles, who made numerous moral claims deemed as essential for the faith.”

      “The author does not realize that the Bible (the “revelation of God”), upon which Christian doctrine is built, claims to ‘have a handle’ on gender issues.”

      Neither Jesus nor any of the apostles claimed that “male authority” was essential to the Christian faith. Men are nowhere commanded to “exercise authority” over women anywhere in the New Testament. This doctrinal position emerged in the commentary and translation work of 3rd and 4th century theologians (Origen, Augustine, Jerome etc.), who used Neoplatonic philosophy as an interpretive guide to the Bible. Plato’s hierarchical “order of nature” became confused with God’s “order of creation.” Plato taught that just as the spirit must rule the body, so too must men rule over women. Echoing this belief, Augustine distorted the Genesis account by comparing Adam to “the spirit” and Eve to “the flesh.” He interpreted Adam’s comment regarding Eve, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23), as an indication that men must rule over women, just as spirit must rule over flesh. This is not “biblical revelation.” It is bad exegesis, biased by a hierarchical and dualistic (not to mention non-Christian) philosophy.

      Augustine’s views were imported into the Protestant Reformation through the commentary work of men like John Calvin, who said, “Let the woman be satisfied with her state of subjection, and not take it amiss that she is made inferior to the more distinguished sex” (Commentary on 1st Corinthians). Again, neither Jesus nor the apostle’s ever spoke such demeaning words concerning women; nor did they ever place men on such an idolatrous pedestal.

      In addition to bad (and sexist) commentary, we also have later Latin and English translations that change the meaning of words (Junia becomes a man, Euodia becomes a man, Phoebe loses her status as a diakonos and protastis and becomes a “helper” and a “kind friend” etc.), add words that do not occur in our oldest Greek manuscripts (e.g. Ephesians 5:22 & 24), and also add headings that reinforce a patriarchal reading of the text.

      No, the Bible itself, as it was written in its original languages, by its original authors, under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit does not make any of the claims later projected onto the text by men who were deeply prejudiced against women. The notion that men were made to “exercise authority” to which women must “be subject” does not have it’s origin in the mind or heart of God.

      I believe it’s long past time for the church to pay closer attention to the following words from the prophet Jeremiah and the apostle Paul:

      “How can you say, ‘We are wise! We have the law of the LORD’? The truth is, those who teach it have used their writings to make it say what it does not really mean.” (Jeremiah 8:8)

      “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, which are based on human tradition and the spiritual forces of the world rather than on Christ.”

      Those who insist that “male authority” is essential to the Christian faith have confused the traditions of men with the will of God (c.f. Mark 7:8).

    3. A problem I have with the original document, btw, is that article 4 is frequently used by the signatories to defend the idea that God’s design for men was to “have authority,” whereas as his design for women was to “submit themselves” to men. Article 4 is also used to defend the idea that Genesis 3:16 (your husband “will rule over you”) is God’s “prescription” for gender relations, rather than a “description” of the tragic consequences of humanity’s fall.

      Further, the signatories typically confuse conversations about sexual morality with issues related to the oppressive subjugation of women by men, in the name of God. The Bible does have a lot to say about how we as human being express our sexual feelings. Sexual behavior can be very loving and life-giving (sometimes literally); but that is certainly not always the case. Sexual behavior can also be deeply hurtful and demeaning. God, through the Bible and the Holy Spirit, does call us away from expressing our sexuality in ways that are harmful. He calls us to freedom.

      In contrast, the Bible does not prescribe the roles of “leader” to men and subservient “follower” to women. I truly wish that the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood would one day stop confusing the human tradition of patriarchy with the will of God. They seem to make no distinction between what is actually written in the Bible and what they themselves infer.

  16. From England, thank you. I read your blog and listen to your pod casts but wouldn’t normally comment. On this occasion I felt I had too. Perfectly imperfect, I like that. If this thing is not about grace and love we are all done for. I’ve found in my life that every time I feel I’ve ‘made it’ spiritually I discover ‘that’s not it! ‘ and I have to come back to the love grace and mercy of my Heavenly Father. As humans we try to find structures, statements that make us feel safe and OK, but those very things allienate or condem others who may be struggling with this journey of faith. Or those who are looking on wondering what this thing is all about or is it for me. As you say, unless we know how much we are loved and accepted by God how can we ever really change, be real, be anything. I resonate deeply with how you express the fathers heart. I have, by no means got this thing altogether just walking down a path trying to keep close, to a Father who loves me. Keep doing what your doing. Thank you again.

  17. Wayne: I first read you thoughts yesterday, and this morning went in and read the articles. I seemed to be okay until I got to Article 10. Article 10 starts off as “It is sinful to approve of… ” and then goes into the same spiel. So I take away from this that I am the one who has the problem of “sin” because I have chosen to let people live their lives our according to their own choices and convictions instead of pointing out their “sins”. Their statement tells me that it is not good enough just to love someone, I have to take a pointer to their life and address their sexual choices, in order to be right myself. In the words of Colonel Potter in MASH. “Horse Hockey”

    This whole things sounds like a defence mechanism from an organization that feels backed in to a corner… like some wet rat. When did it become okay to white wash over people like they are some robot to be programmed and fixed. Where is the compassion for humanity… the love that lets us see inside a person and find the child that God created, loves and is broken.

    Why is the “church” so threatened by sexuality anyway? I still haven’t come up with the answer to that one, and I have asked it for years.

    Thanks Wayne .

    Ruby from Calmar.

    1. As one man posted on a Facebook comment, there is great fear that our shifting cultural morals will spell destruction for us. But again, those mostly have to do with sex. Our culture is still pretty much in agreement about the immorality of theft, cheating, murder, etc. The disagreements are about sex and sexuality. One side sees it as the moral degradation of culture and that side is losing because it seems to put them on the side of discriminating and judging people who don’t share their point of view. That perception is discrediting the Church in the world because it isn’t kind and gracious at all to people who are living ways that does not intrude on anyone else’s rights and freedom. Plus, I think sex always has a titillation factor that people like to focus on, especially when some people live counter to God’s desires and seemingly “get away with it.” They want to intrude on that party, methinks.

    2. Ruby – I also noticed that article 10 condemned me, a straight Christian. So glad, as the scriptures clearly affirm, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus – and that is exactly where I am.

    3. While the Bible speaks to homosexuality as a sin, you just write off the words of the Bible as a fairy tale.
      I assume you consider the 10 commandments as old thinking and irrelevant.

  18. I could not love this article more. You have put a voice to my grave misgivings on Christians drawing a line in the sand and then daring the lost to step over it on their way to God. Thank you, thank you, for writing this. I’m sharing on Facebook in hopes that people cheering the recent proclamations will come to their senses.

  19. “Moralists always go large on sex and remain strangely silent about religious arrogance, gossip, the excesses of capitalism”and I would add, about bad bizness behavior, (not paying your employees correctly, cheeting taxes etc.)
    So true Wayne !

  20. Sounds like “nobody is going to tell me how to run my life”. And anyone who tries to remind believers that God has righteous standards set up for our benefit and protection can be dismissed as a Pharasee and a hater. I would guess that the writers being mainly white males also qualifies them as racist, sexist and bigots. I suspect no one is trying to tell the world to adopt Biblical standards for their life . More likely this may have been a message to a Church that has taken it’s guidance from the popular culture, Hollywood and the media, not the scriptures. Not warning believers about the danger of sin is like letting your child play with a cobra because you don’t want to offend them. Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery “Neither do I condemn you”. But he didn’t accept her sin. He said “go and sin no more”.

    1. Dan there are so many assumptions in this response that I don’t agree with I wouldn’t know where to begin. I believe in helping people find freedom from sin, but not through the Law and human effort, but through a loving engagement with jesus Christ. I never accused these people of being racist or bigots and don’t believe them to be. I don’t think the Church of Jesus Christ takes it’s theology from popular culture or the media. Those who follow him will be like him. That is true as true can be. But that’s the finish line, not the starting line. I think I was clear that until people engage a loving relationship with the living God they have no hope of changing themselves. If the did, then Christ died in vain.

    2. Pretty clear thinking there bro. We live in an age where the clarity of thought wrought
      in us by God Himself as we walk in a right relationship with Him has largely been diminished
      for a variety of reasons, of which I would suggest the apostasy of those naming the name of
      Christ while not really know Him (intimately) could be a major factor. Paul said in Phil 3:10
      “that I might know Him” Strong’s G1097, to “know” (absolutely) in a variety of ways, eg., Joseph
      did not “know” Strong’s G1097 (absolutely) Mary, etc, etc.

  21. John 8:11 (NLT) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

    I’m not sure how much more of a direct Statement of Morality (Go and sin no more) Jesus could have presented to the woman caught in adultery. He spoke very lovingly and directly to her and to the sin in her life.

    Wayne, where would you say the Nashville statement erred with regards to scripture? I would be interested in learning how many of the articles were inaccurate when compared to biblical teachings. Please provide scripture references to support your claims.

    Bible believing Christians are becoming more and more confused because of false teachings and poor biblical knowledge and this Statement was laid out in a very direct and loving manner.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. You left out his first words, “Neither do I condemn you.” And I believe the “Go and sin no more,” wasn’t a command to live by the law, but was the empowerment for her to leave her old life and embrace his. We can do nothing without his help and care. Reducing the gospel to a set of standards to obey is living by the Law. We’ve been set free to live by the law of love, which is an entirely different reality. If you read my article my disagreement is not with some of the moral claims of the statement, but in its presentation calling the world back to law. Read Romans 1-8 to understand that distinction if you don’t already understand it.

      1. Wonderfully said. Yes, Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome, Galatia and Colossae were meant to help Christians realize that our freedom is found in union with Christ, through faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The law and human effort bring only bondage, division and condemnation. The law was merely a tutor to bring us to Christ, so that we could be transformed by God’s redeeming love, from the inside out.

    2. Thank you Dru , I agree that too many ” modern”. christians disregard the written word and would like to do away with scripture so they can rewrite it to fit the ideas of Christianity. I believe that to many are afraid to take a stand and prove their convictions with scripture.

  22. This offers a different perspective. This is from one of the signers, a former lesbian. “Conversion to Christ did not initially change my sexual attraction for women. What conversion did change immediately was my heart and mind. My mind was on fire for the Bible and I could not read enough of it or enough about it. The gospel gave me a light that was ruinous. It ruined me for the life I had loved. The Lord’s light illumined my sin through the law and illumined my hope through Jesus and the gospel. The gospel destroyed me before the Lord built me back up. In saying “yes” to Jesus and “no” to the desires of my flesh, I learned that the only way to peace with my God was through the Cross—the one that Jesus died on and the one that I was called, with the help of Jesus, to carry….”

  23. I think a long treatise could be written to counter Mr. Jacobsen’s arguments against the Nashville Statement, but I’ll just settle on one of his bullet points, which states:

    “It [Nashville Statement] smacks of religious arrogance by calling its conclusions “essential” for faith, and attacking those who see it differently as “foolish” and “bent on ruin.” It overstates the conclusion of Scriptures to support their own prejudices and fears and there is no humility that admits even those who believe these things have a difficult time living true to them. Shouldn’t we clean our own house before telling others how to clean theirs?”

    The first clause in his first sentence addresses Article 10:
    “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.”

    My question to Mr. Jacobsen would be, “Do you agree that approval of homosexual immorality is a position that Biblical Christians can hold?” If so, it would appear that his argument isn’t with the signers of the Nashville Statement, but with the Bible (I Cor. 6, Rom. 1, Lev. 20, etc.).

    As to the “foolish” and “bent on ruin” quotes, I feel that Mr. Jacobsen is taking them out of context to support his thesis. What the preamble to the Statement actually says is:

    “This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?”

    “To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.”

    Along with a couple of other responders to the article, I find Mr. Jacobsen’s use of the word “pharisees” harsh. Among the signatories of the Statement are J.I. Packer, John Piper, D.A. Carson, Sam Allberry, and R.C. Sproul, all of whom have written thoughtful, scholarly, and most of all, Godly works that have benefited millions of Christians, myself included. I don’t think they signed this without much thought and prayer, and find it perplexing that they would be labeled “pharisees.”

    The Nashville Statement, like many other declarations of the past (Nicene Creed, Barmen Declaration, Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, etc.) was created to provide a succinct statement of Biblical thought in an attempt to combat syncretic forces which attempt to dilute the power of the Gospel. The fact that it has met with an onslaught of criticism from the secular world–as well as progressive Christians–should come as no surprise.

  24. Thanks Wayne. You expressed so eloquently what my friend and I discussed the other day about our adult children. How our first reaction is to love them whatever their decisions and to allow lots of room for Father’s love and grace. I want to remember to extend this same kind of love and understanding to others I meet too recognizing I am in need of Father’s love every day.

  25. I agree with the Nashville Statements. Jesus said that your righteousness must exceed those of the Pharisees. Jesus loves everyone he allows to go to eternal judgement. Love has to be defined in eternal terms rather than temperal emotional feelings. Love changes our nature to reflect his. Its not Love to declare someone as righteous while denying the power of God to change ones nature to reflect the character of God. The continual excused practice of the sinful nature, whether it consist of sexual or self righteousness, reveals the lack of dependance on the Holy Spirit and lack of focus on our redeemer. Love doesnt leave you in the ditch of defeat but lifts you out. Love values the victory in Jesus rather than just following the rules of religous expectations. Only in Him do we have righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    1. And, Tim just how do you think our righteousness will exceed that of the Pharisees? Is it because we try harder with better rules? That wasn’t Jesus’ point. His point was that they were so focused on external behaviors that they became toxic in the culture. Our righteousness will only exceed that of the pharisees when it comes from the inside out, not from the outside in. Apart from him we an do nothing, and when we lay out a behavioral agenda without first connecting people to Jesus, we don’t do them any favors. A definition I read years ago has been helpful in my journey: “To a Pharisee truth is more important than love, to a disciple of Jesus love is the most important part of truth.” I have often admitted to being a pharisee for the first 42 years of my journey and didn’t appreciate the things I believe now, so I get why people can’t appreciate you can be grounded in the morality of Scripture but also love people who can’t see it from where they are and want to help them find reconciliation in Christ rather than load them up on law. This is not a discussion about the difference of outcomes, but the process by which people embrace him and his truth. And love is not a warm fuzzy feeling where anything goes, it’s being committed to the best good of another because you care about them and that will include truth as part of the journey. I find legalists tend to focus on the outcomes of knowing Christ, while leaving out the knowing Christ.

      1. I resonate with your position and certainly understand imputed righteousness. His righteousness is only what is accepted by God. Man can also resist the grace of God and continue walking after the sinful nature, where it says in Romans will cause death. The Spirit can put to death the sinful nature if we recognize our total dependence on him. To tell someone you can receive grace without forsaking the desires of the sinful nature, is in my opinion producing counterfeit conversions and becoming those luke warm Christians that are rejected from Christ. To not warn others of the boundary Jesus warns of,
        in my opinion, sets those up for failure those that could have know the peace of God through genuine salvation.

      2. I truly doubt that many, if ANY, of the signers would claim that “the outcomes of knowing Christ” EVER come about without “knowing Christ.”

        1. Which, again, is not the point of this piece. Whether they do or not, I do not know and then we’d have to parse out what it means to “know Christ.” Is it to engage a living presence in the universe, or is it simply knowing about him from what the Scripture and their local preacher says.

          1. Which ones, in particular? I’m genuinely curious. Can you name one who has said or written such a belief or lack of belief?

          2. You made it personal when you disparaged the motivations of the authors/signatories of the Nashville Statement. You stated that “many of them do not believe that he speaks to people.” Apparently, you have some firsthand knowledge of what “many of them” believe and don’t believe, and, giving you the benefit of the doubt, I’m assuming you have some evidence, either written or something you heard some of them say. If it was verbal, maybe there’s video somewhere. I’m interested in reading/hearing/seeing it.

          3. You haven’t read their books or heard their interviews? If not, I haven’t got time to find exact quotes or references. But some of these guys are well known for disparaging Charismatics and others who claim to hear God speak. Seriously, you must have better things to do than to keep pushing your views on my blog. At least I hope so.

  26. A lot of opinions here – I’d like to share a bit of a personal testimony as I am not in the same place on this one I was a few years ago. Jesus gave a new command – that we love one another in such a way that our love would demonstrate we are his followers. I have come to realize that you cannot love without listening and during the past few years I have been listening a lot – to gay Christians. I especially found helpful Justin Lee’s book Torn, the story of a Christian young person so vocal about his faith he was called god-boy by one of his high school classmates. But he also had a same sex attraction that he didn’t want and could not rid himself of. He said that the external culture war between gays and Christians raged within him. I also found the Gay Christian Network video – Through My Eyes – the stories of Christian young people in their teens and twenties who discovered they had a same sex attraction and how their families, churches, and friends responded to be very moving. I discovered too that gay Christians often think longer and harder and longer and harder about what God is really saying in the gay clobber passages of Scripture when they are considered in their historical and cultural contexts as well as the meanings of some of the words in the original language than straight Christians often do when they use these passages to condemn homosexuals. I also decided to take Jesus seriously when he said to do to others as you would have them do to you and so gave some thought to the question – how would I want to be treated if I was that 12 year old kid with puberty setting in and discovering that I was not like the other kids who were discovering the opposite sex but that I was attracted to the same sex. Where I find myself now is having a great appreciation for a straight Christian woman named Kathy Baldock who designed a t shirt that she wears to gay pride events – including the big one in San Francisco. It reads – Hurt by church – Get a str8 apology here. She says she has hundreds of stories – I’ll bet she does. Loving enough to listen changes the conversation.

  27. Great comments Bob . . . oh that we would simply love others in a way that would clearly demonstrate Jesus’ love . . . that we follow Him. Not sure why we organize ourselves around the concept of Biblical Sexuality (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood).

  28. While I am not a big fan of long doctrinal statements, I think this whole blog post is totally out of line, and misrepresents the Nashville Statement. First of all, where do you get that this statement is a political statement? The Preamble opens up with ‘Evangelical Christians….’ It appears to me to be a document to encourage evangelical Christians (and probably church leaders in particular) to hold to a Biblical stance on a sexual morality issue, not some kind of political statement.

    I have heard pastors discussing the idea of having their stance on homosexuality clear in their doctrinal statements in case they are sued over discrimination issues. The idea seems that if their doctrines are clearly stated that they may be able to use the Bill of Rights as a defense in a lawsuit. That may be part of the motivation for putting together a statement like this. I don’t see any reason to think it was made to use as a kind of outreach to unbelievers.

    I am thinking about this quote from the blog,
    “Moralists always go large on sex and remain strangely silent about religious arrogance, gossip, the excesses of capitalism, and ignoring the log in your own eye while you try to rip the sawdust out of someone else’s.”

    That sure comes off as judgmental. How do you know the authors or signers of this document have a log in their eyes? Someone could just as easily accuse you of being arrogant and judgmental for your attitude toward these people.

    IMO, this statement is already too long. It’s not about religious arrogance, gossip, or capitalism. How much into ‘excesses of capitalism’ are the evangelical pastors who are likely to sign this document, anyway? Does a statement against a few specific sins have to deal with every other sin?

    How about asking this, is it a good thing to teach against sexual immorality? Well, yes it is.

    Let’s suppose a husband and wife team had a ministry of teaching teenagers not to engage in premarital sex. They focused on regular ‘straight’ sex. The man teaches the boys about their responsibility to treat the girls as sisters in Christ, to save sex for marriage. The wife teaches the girls about being holy vessels for the Lord, and gives them a dose of realism about the difficulties of teenage pregnancy. This is all done in a respectful manner and many of the teens abstain from sex.

    If you responded to this, what would you say? Would you tell them, “Why didn’t you go teach their parents also about the dangers of adultery. That is a huge problem, and you didn’t even touch it? You hypocrites! Why didn’t you warn them against the dangers of the excesses of capitalism.” I suppose you could launch into a tirade criticizing this couple for all the things they did not address in this ministry.

    Or you could ask yourself the question, is what they are doing good? Does it edify? If the answer is yes, you could encourage this couple in their ministry.

    You wrote in your blog,
    “It packages God’s desire for humanity as Law to obey instead of a Loving Father to embrace. As such it repudiates the Incarnation of Christ to win by love and affection what law and obedience could never win. Left to itself, this Statement distorts how God rescues people from their own brokenness and restores them through love and transformation.”

    Where do you get that? First of all, I found the wording to be rather tame. It does not demonize those who engage in homosexual behavior or the gender confused. For example, it says,
    “WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life. WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.”

    Could they have included something about the Spirit of God working in us to help us overcome sin? Maybe something from Romans 8 that all evangelicals could agree with? Sure.

    This isn’t a gospel tract. This isn’t a document to tell people how to be saved. It clarifies a basic stance on a sexual issue.

    I’m not a big fan of most doctrinal statements, and there are a few specific details in this one I’m not to sure about. I’m not planning on signing it. But I have no basis for condemning those who sign it.

    I think some of this post may have more to do with your internal frustration at certain issues in the evangelical landscape with any wrongdoing on the part of the authors or signers of the document. Personally, I am frustrated at evangelicals who think that not taking firm stances on doctrinal and moral issues is somehow more loving than doing so, the type of attitude shown in this post.

    I also see nothing wrong with statements like this, “it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness”. Have you read Romans 1? It addresses the issue of those who approve of the various types of sin described in the chapter. And the wording of the Nashville statement seems a lot tamer than the wording of Romans 1.

    Is the attitude shown in this blog more loving than the attitude displayed by the author’s of the Nashville Statement by the wording they chose? At least they are standing for a Biblical truth. What is this blog post about– criticizing those who stand up for Biblical truth because they do it in a way that is not to your liking?

    1. Link, did you intentionally misread my post so you’d have something to criticize, or do you really think I believe the things you ascribe to me here? You create so many read herrings, it would take all morning to try to clear up your faulty conclusions based on this article and I don’t have time. That’s what bothers me most about moralists–they can’t simply express disagreement and invite conversation, but make a plethora of twisted accusations no one has time to answer. The Pharisees knew Scripture better than any one else in Jesus’ day, but they couldn’t recognize God when he stood in the same room with them. Thus, except for the occasional Nicodemus, they missed him. Even worse, to defend their “truth”, they sought to keep others away as well. The difference of opinion here is not what is Biblical truth, but how is it best expressed in a broken world. Bashing people over the head with it because of the fear that society is moving away from their views will do nothing for the culture. It will only make the choir feel falsely superior. That’s my concern, and you seem to underline it.

      1. Wayne, well said.
        I also respect you for taking the time to put your ideas out and to respond to people. And I think that you have been misquoted and attacked. Very unjustly. And very meanly.
        Brother in Christ, if anyone has ever imbodied “a soft answer turns away rath”…
        Brother, that’s YOU!
        God bless you.
        Hey out there, can I get an AMEN?

          1. Wayne, I felt a little creepy about some of the comments that were made. One poster, i just really felt a not so good spirit about what he said and how he said it. Kinda be careful.

      2. Dear Wayne,
        It’s not my intention to twist or misrepresent your words in any way. I think I stuck fairly close to what you wrote. What I saw in the document was a carefully and gently worded document that affirmed the value of those involved in these sins as human beings. It was not full of harsh language. I found your comments about the statement to be much harsher than the statement was, labeling the authors or signers as ‘moralists’ and treating the document as a political document designed to cause division. I found your blog post here to be harsh and judgmental toward the authors.

        Maybe you should re-read the Nashville statement and your blog post above and ask which is harsher and judgmental. It is a sin to indulge in homosexual sex, something the Nashville Statement addresses. But is there any reason it is a sin to issue a statement clarifying that it is a sin to indulge in homosexual sex and the various other things the Nashville statement addresses? Why go loggerheads with these people if what they are doing is not sin. Couldn’t it even be a good thing?

        Something else to consider is that people get saved through a variety of means. Some people come to faith after they meet a very kind, compassionate Christian who sits and listens to them and is very generous in terms of time. Others come to faith after hearing a Christian who talks about sin, maybe even from the type of evangelist you might consider a ‘moralist.’ Jude says to save some with mercy, and to save some with fear. Some of us come to faith through a mix of influences. Could it be that some of those you consider to be ‘moralists’ are actually just functioning in their role as part of the body of Christ?

        1. And I see the statement as an arrogant shot-across-the-bow of Christians who espouse other viewpoints (which would be a fair conversation if they were actually in the conversation) and more sadly another condemnation for people who don’t take their moral compass from the Bible because they have yet to meet the God behind it all. Law is not the best way to approach them, or any of us for that matter. You think the statement loving because you agree with its purpose. While I agree with most of its content, I find its approach runs counter to the new covenant. Because you see it the way you do, you twist my conclusions to mean things I don’t believe and didn’t say. Wouldn’t I be in the best position to know that? You seem to see the work of God through the lens of sin and law, or at least that statement does. I see the Gospel through love and Incarnation that sees righteousness as the fruit of a relationship with the God of the Bible, not the starting line for lost people.

          1. “Law is not the best way to approach them, or any of us for that matter.” Isn’t that what Jesus did there?

          2. Really?!?! That’s your conclusion? I think Jesus is showing the complete fallacy of thinking you can get to God by law and performance. The rich young ruler thought he’d cleared the bar and yet he was still bereft of eternal life. Knowing he wasn’t being honest with himself, since “there is none righteous, no not one.” Jesus gives him something to do he finds impossible. His point, in my view, is that Law and obedience cannot get us into right relationship with God. Only he can. “What is impossible for man, is possible for God.” AS I’ve been saying all along, Relationship with him is the key to transformation not standards and demands for human performance. That’s why I think statements like this miss what the new covenant was all about. It’s not the goal that’s off, but the process and that makes it toxic to people drowning in their sin.

          3. I agree with your understanding of Jesus’ intention here. I’m simply pointing out that Jesus approached (your word) him with law to get him to where He wanted him.

          4. Jesus didn’t point out TO THE SINNER the fallacy of law-keeping as a means of salvation. He challenged the man to keep the law, knowing already that he had likely done so to near perfection, before offering him a challenge He knew already that he couldn’t meet, to drive the man to desperation in his self-righteous attempts to earn salvation. He offered the man the opportunity to walk with Him in relationship, but the demands He made were too great, and the man left sorrowful.

          5. I see the authors/signatories of the Nashville Statement, many of whom I know personally, doing the same thing. They’re clarifying what the Bible teaches about this particular sin (or category of sins) for people who insist that their proclivities are NOT sinful to show them that they’ll NEVER be able to measure up to God’s holy, righteous law and to drive them to throw themselves on God’s mercy. That’s what I see.

          6. But the Incarnation is God coming to us in our sin and inviting us into his kingdom. God’s not waiting for people to throw themselves on his mercy in utter shame of their failures. He is the one out seeking them, loving them as harassed and helpless and inviting them to something so much better. That’s very different than the approach you’re suggesting above. Why do you keep pressing for your point of view, Paul? I’ve heard it before and I think that approach is the reason people have rejected the “church” as a place of love and hope and have mistakenly sought comfort from the world.

          7. Calling it an arrogant shot across the bow is impugning the motives of the authors, as if you can judge their hearts. That was one of the main issues of my response– the judgmental attitude toward those who wrote the statement.

            And how much tolerance should Christians really give toward viewpoints such as this? Didn’t Christ correct a church where some of the people were tolerant of ‘that woman Jezebel’ teaching the people to fornicate and eat meat offered to idols? We shouldn’t re-open basic issues like sexual immorality and renegotiate the truth. We do not have the authority to do that. Jesus is Lord.

            Paul wrote, ‘for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.’ Also, he writes that the law is made for ‘man-bedders.’ So why would using law be wrong for those deny that they are sinning? The statement also has grace in it. Did we read the same statement?

            It seems like you have your own particular philosophy of what is acceptable in terms of church doctrine, evangelism, etc. I don’t see this statement as designed as an outreach tool. If it has a political purpose, maybe it is to give church leaders a possible tool in court, but that seems unlikely. It seems to be designed to encourage leaders to stand firm on moral issues and not succumb to pressures from the world.

            As far as evangelism goes, there are a lot of approaches. Jude says save some through mercy, save some through fear. If you like to dialogue with people and be ‘incarnational’– whatever that means to you, do you have any basis for those who soften people up with a bit of the ‘law’ approach before presenting the Gospel? Why did God give the law first, then reveal the Gospel, if giving law first is wrong? What reason do you have for thinking your approach to these issues is the only right way, and theirs is wrong? What reason do you have to think that God would agree with you on that?Does their taking a different approach mean they are arrogant?

            I am not sure what beliefs you are talking about that you say I ascribe to you.

          8. This is a great example, Link. You see my comment about an “arrogant shot across the bow” as a personal judgment of the signers. Why do you personalize it? I wasn’t. I was talking about what the readers feel who don’t share our view of God and the world. They see it as arrogant, because is a clear statement of we-are-right-and-you-are-wrong. This statement does not give grace to the hearers; it does not invite a conversation. It’s everything they fear from a block of people that want to disparage them and take away their civil rights as human beings, no matter how much we may take exception to their lifestyle. If this were a discussion in-house about what we believe the Scripture say about morality and how the people of God are to live in this day, it would be a legitimate conversation. But it wasn’t that. It was written by a select group of people from a certain theological persuasion and they didn’t invite the input of others. Their conclusions about transgenders, for instance, is drawn from an extrapolation of their biases. There is no clear Scriptural statement on the issue nor did they evidence any compassion or understanding for those oppressed by the sense that their biology and their psychology do not align. (And don’t use the clothing Scripture in Deuteronomy, because that isn’t the same thing.) It’s easy to condemn such people without even having a conversation with them to see if our biases are true.

            Why did they feel the need to make this statement now, when everybody already knows their position on these issues? Is it because others who claim to follow Christ are equivocating on the issues of homosexuality? Again, that would be an in-house conversation.

            I agree that the Law is good as it shows us God’s order for the universe. But it depended on human effort to follow, and humanity doesn’t have enough to overcome its own brokenness. So Jesus came into the world to give us access to the Father so that by knowing him and receiving this power, we would be transformed by having his laws written on our hearts, not on tablets of stone or PDF files. I trust the work of the Spirit to work in people’s hearts and bring them over time in line with God’s desires. It’s not a matter of meeting standards, but changing the twist in our hearts that finds its expression in sin. The Law brings death. The Spirit brings life. When God is “no longer counting our trespasses against us,” why do we want to condemn people with their failures before inviting them to know the God we know? The Incarnation made the Law as a process for change, moot! It invites us to relationship instead, and that will transform us.

            What reason do I have to think God also sees it this way? For starters the books of Romans, Galatians and 2 Corinthians, not to mention a couple of decades of experience of helping people find God’s love before we seek to conform their behavior. Jesus warned us to be servants to others, not compel them to embrace our morality. As long as we seek to use the powers of government to discriminate against people in these areas, they will not listen to our message of redemption. I don’t know that I’m right, but I’m willing to follow my conscience here and raise a different voice. The Nashville Statement people had their say. I felt it needed to be responded to. It’s amazed me how much of a trip wire disagreement is for those who think Law is the best expression of Christianity for the world, without realizing they are still serving the old covenant. Just because they dress it up in new covenant terms doesn’t mean they aren’t still serving the Law. Can’t we set these things out plainly and commend ourselves to every many’s conscience in the sight of God?

            I wanted people to know there’s another way to think about these things and find a more redemptive way to hold to morality while they are living in a very broken world.

          9. Here is my experience with gays.
            Several years ago (like 30) I had taken a new job. I really needed this job to help me pay for my graduate degree (law).
            Within 60 days, my boss’s boss got termianted, and then my boss was fired. I was considered part of the OLD team and the new boss was setting me up for failure and wanted me to quit so he could hire someone new. HIS hire.
            I was getting pushed out. But this man from my company saved my job. Why? He didnt think they were being fair to me and thought I deserved a chance to prove myself. And I did. And I paid for lawschool. He didnt have to help me. He didnt have to save my job. And as I got to know him, I found out he was gay with a “partner”, etc. WWJD? Would he be mean a reject a man, who was gay after he just saved my job? I chose to be his friend. That was Jesus would do. I think

  29. Thank you so much ,Wayne. I found this statement typical of your point of departure. “I refuse to accept this false dichotomy. It is possible to hold my moral convictions while at the same time loving and caring deeply for those who don’t. This is better communicated in conversations with people you know and care about, rather than making public proclamations.” It has always inspired me to seek deeper for that love that makes us pitch our tents within the most broken places in society- just the way Father did when he came to us. Even God chose to enter into the brokenness so that he could save us. If that is the Divine pattern, all we have to do is “LET the same mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” I am inspired again. Thank you so much

  30. Ha…reading this far down! Amen Gil!

    I don’t think God-followers will have the impact they can until listening to one another’s beliefs without imposing such beliefs on others. If beliefs you hold dear are debatable among scholars who believe the Bible is God’s words to us, why wouldn’t we have open, amicable discussions as opposed to Statements because we are right supposedly.

  31. Thankful for your voice Wayne and when I read the “we affirm…” statements listed above from the NS, it brought back the same fear that I felt when I was not approved by my pastor friends when I left the structured setting…they said I cut myself off from the Body and the Bridegroom…for some odd reason when it comes from “authoritative voices” it makes me feel scared a bit…like if I don’t agree with this Statment I’m not a pure Christian…the statement seems to be a dividing tool…to separate the goats from the sheep and seems to be the new ordained gospel…if one doesn’t believe this statement they are not a true Christian just like if they don’t attend local structured “church” on the “lord’s day” they are condemned. This statement comes from the same voice of those leaders who condemned me….not because of ill-will but because they believe it’s loving to do so. But I went to God crying after th leaders told me I am cut off from Him and I cried and cried, “Jesus they say I am not of You, please what do You say????” I cried as my whole life depends upon Him living breathing being in Him so the deveatstion for them to judge me and say I am not I could not handle…at that time I cried out to Him my daughter said “mommy turn the song up I like this…” we had never heard this song before it was “I AM YOURS” well that’s the chorus the name is “Rooftops” by Jesus Cultuare….as you can imagine I fell into the arms of Jesus and then screamed that song and kept screaming that song!!!! And kept screaming “He who the Son sets free is free indeed!” These voices from “authoritarian leaders” unfortunately try to produce fear which is opposite of Love….they are trying to do what Jesus alone does with separating and He finishes that parable with “Whoever does to the least of my brethren”…. that is love the action of feeding, clothing, not dictating words. Wow the more I hear these voices the more clear it’s not from Him. Like said here maybe it has to do with protecting the system…they feel threatened and so bring about this defensive…which backfires:(. We pray for His Bride to be free, united, and not deceived.

    1. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. Yes, it is amazing what religious people will do to others thinking it is God’s will and they consider it “love” to shame people into doing what they think is best for them. I’m so glad you’ve found your way beyond that into greater freedom. Bless you, Victoria!

  32. I also read this far! Thank you, Wayne, for your original article and your patient explanation over and over again. I know both have taken much time and I much appreciate the value it has added to my walk. Sadly, too many of the responses above give support to your original point re: the Nashville Statement.

  33. Wayne, I can only know what you mean by what you write. Who would not think an ‘arrogant shot across the bow’ doesn’t mean the ones doing the shooting are arrogant? To think someone you will mean it is arrogant from the perspective of other parties is not reasonable. You started off this article calling those who gathered in Nashville Pharisees. And would you have me believe you are not judging them?

    It is okay if unbelievers think we are arrogant for having beliefs. This is not a new thing. Pagans in the first century must have thought of Jews and Christians as pompous moralists for their sexual standards and a variety of other beliefs.

    Christians refusing to burn incense to idols or to Caesar as if he were a god must have seemed immoral and impious. Christian’s righteousness was perceived as wickedness. It was okay for the Christians to stand up for truth, even to preach against idolatry, even if they were considered wicked for doing so. Maybe they thought the Christians were arrogant. Nowadays, some people think of Christians as immoral for speaking out about same-sex sexual immorality. We should not be that surprised. Christians should not be silent even if people think we are immoral or arrogant for doing what is right.

    Why don’t you consider Jesus a ‘moralist’? Look at the sermon on the mount. Jesus preached some rather strict standards on vows, anger, speaking insulting angry words, divorce and remarriage, and giving to the poor. There may have been some critical listeners of Jesus’ teachings who thought He was too strict or a moralist or even arrogant.

    It is okay for Christians to be right, know we are right, and we can expect that may turn some unbeliever off.

    What I see as more dangerous is a trend you seem to be pushing. There is this wishy-washiness these days, in post-modern times, where some Christians want to stay away from taking a firm stand on moral issues. We are supposed to be salt and light. Part of that is through evangelism. But we can also have a positive influence on the general culture that even impacts those who do not believe. Who else is going to speak into the culture about morality? Secular rock stars? Hollywood producers?

    Maybe 60 or 70 years ago, an unbeliever might have had more respect for Christians. Based on cultural mores injected into the culture through the influence of Christianity, he may have realized it was wrong to fornicate, for example, or steal. I remember John Sanford, a Christian psychologist I think, saying or writing that even though he was an unbeliever, he knew when he was young that sex outside of marriage was wrong.

    Many Christians have the same stance. Sex outside of marriage is wrong. Homosexual sex is wrong. What has changed? Society has changed. Society does not respect these ideas or Christians who promote them. So should we shut up and not try to have an influence on what society thinks about morality, because people tend to respect us less? Should we be quiet because there are people calling evil good?

    I suspect the statement was put together because some who claim to collow CHrist were equivocating on the issue. It does not make sense that this document is some kind of evangelistic outreach.

    The law is made for sinners, father and mother murderers, those who engage in homosexual acts. Why is it wrong to point out what sin is?

    Proverbs 29:18
    18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

    ‘Vision’ here is not talking about a human goals and aspirations. It is revelatory in nature, reinforced by the reference to the law in the latter half of the verse. It is good for the culture if Christians influence it with a proper understanding of morality. Even if people are not saved, this can serve to bring some restraint, as it did in past generations.

    You ask, “When God is “no longer counting our trespasses against us,” why do we want to condemn people with their failures before inviting them to know the God we know?”

    It is good if sinners feel terribly and awfully condemned for their failures before they hear the Gospel. Godly sorry leads to repentence. The law of God is not bad.

    On the transexual issue, I think some parts of the statement are a bit speculative, but certainly we should oppose some of the developments on the transgender issue. Btw, how could you possibly know that the writers or signers of the statement haven’t dialogued with transgendered? There are people promoting giving pre-teens shots to stop puberty. One academic paper found some results for the idea that giving shots to stop puberty reduce stress and agression associated with puberty. This is being used to promote the idea that doctors should do this for gender confused children. If we could give a shot to kids to prevent them from losing their baby teeth, that may reduce pain and stress in childhood. They’d just have rotten teeth when they grow up. Transgenders probably face worse consequences than children in this scenario would. I’ve read that over 40% of people who go through with the operations end up committing suicide, and that Johns Hopkins stopped performing these operations when they discovered how harmful they were to people. It is good to oppose this just as it would be good to oppose putting cocaine and morphine in children’s medicine in 1900. This is a serious concern since there are groups that want to promote transgender operations for the gender-confused, including children.

    You wrote
    “I don’t know that I’m right, but I’m willing to follow my conscience here and raise a different voice.”

    If you do not know if you are right, then you should stop condemning fellow believers as ‘Pharisees’ and throwing the word ‘arrogant’ around when describing their statements. The Nashville Statement had a lot more gracious, kinder, more diplomatic language for describing

    “It’s amazed me how much of a trip wire disagreement is for those who think Law is the best expression of Christianity for the world, without realizing they are still serving the old covenant.”

    I read this and I think you are either just really judgmental toward Christians with a different view, or I wonder where you are at theologically for thinking teaching on morality is the same as serving the old covenant. Paul taught against fornication in passages like I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 6. Was he serving the old covenant?

    What about Acts 24:25, where Paul preaches to Felix who hadn’t received the Gospel, about righteousness, self-cotrol, and judgment to come until Felix trembled and sent him away. Was Paul a moralist? Was he serving the law by doing this? The Spirit convicts the word of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Why shouldn’t an evangelistic preacher go along with what the Spirit is doing?

    Jesus preached on topics related to righteousness and morality in the sermon on the mount and at other times. But He also knew when to be merciful and forgiving in one-on-one interactions with sinners. But He did not treat everyone the same way. Jude says to save some with mercy and others save through fear. It is good to know the right approach for the right person, to be Spirit-led in these situations.

    As far as the culture goes now, there are a lot of professing Christians who have a loose, wishy-washy view on these sexual morality issues. Some are influenced by the LGBT propaganda. They need other believers to explain biblical truths on this. There is also a trend in some churches (thinking mainly IC megachurches) away from teaching specific doctrines and toward feel-good messages.

    On the other hand, movements that teach clear standards and doctrines are growing. The new Calvinist movement has been growing. In the post-modern culture, even Islam, which has some objective standards, has been growing.

    Clearly teaching doctrine and morality was part of apostolic practice in the first century. Christ did it as well. So should we. Some people may think we are arrogant or even wicked for taking a firm stand on the truth. Should that stop us?

    1. This just keeps getting more complicated for you, doesn’t it, Link? You realize you are on a website read by people you don’t know and you’re making judgments that are completely wrong. I’ve said that to you a number of times, and yet your arguments just keep growing. I can’t possibly defend what I don’t believe. You read my blog with a negative bias and that clouded you’re interpretation of it and it doesn’t allow you to truly read my responses and listen to what I’m saying. You are truly missing the forest for the trees.

      I don’t disagree with a lot of what you’ve written here, but the spirit of it grieves me. I’m not wishy washy on morality or Scripture’s authority. Anyone who knows me would know that. I think people can act arrogantly who don’t think themselves arrogant. I don’t think the Pharisees thought they were arrogant, but it eventually led them to murder. Arrogance is one of those things the Old Testament makes clear that God abhors. It is mentioned way more than sexual sins. You seem to say that if what people say is true, it can’t be arrogant. I disagree there. You can be very arrogant with the truth, or humble with it. I think the more truth you know, the more humility you need to be heard clearly. That’s my point. No one suggests that evangelicals stop making their moral points in environments where they bear fruit. Do you think anyone was convinced by the Nashville Statement who didn’t already believe it? Do you think it moved the political needle in a positive direction? Do you think it was an honest in that it attempted to represent Biblical Christianity but only represented a small sliver of Southern Baptists and their friends? No one is saying to be silent on morality, but there are ways to do it far more effectively than the Nashville Statement did, and taken as a whole it will do more to alienate people from Christ than invite them closer to him. You can disagree with me on that, but your need to try to convince me or people on this website with ever-longer attempts to make your point, may speak to your own insecurity about these things more than it speaks our need to change. But if you want to have a dialog you will have to at least trust my answers to you and not twist them to mean something they don’t, and then blame me for not being clear enough. This is what bothers me about “moralists”. The only prism they look through is right and wrong, truth and error, and don’t see people lost in sin as those who need to taste of love and care, before being ready to embrace the Truth.

      Twenty-five years ago a good friend asked me, “When are you going to get past the misguided notion that Christianity is about ethics.” He shocked me. I had no ability to understand what he was saying. I saw it purely as ethics and had a lot of pride that I was keeping the very rules I admired. No, I didn’t see it then. I would have thought myself humble and just more committed to truth than others around me. But in time I came to see what he was saying. Christianity is about a relationship to the Living God through the work of Christ, by the power of the Spirit. His laws are not written now on tablets of stone, but he carves them into the human heart by his love, so that people come to live righteously not by observing (and especially not writing) moral statements, but because God’s grace transforms them from the inside out. It’s not about ethics, or morality, it’s about relationship that is real and transforming. Whenever we take our eyes off of that reality, we alienate those around us from Father’s love, rather than demonstrating the reality of a love worth living for.

      1. Yet again, our friend Wayne demonstrates the principal of “a soft answer turns away wrath”. Or at least he made a gracious attempt to turn away wrath.
        I have become much more sympathetic to the gay community after a gay man, who didnt even know me, saved my job.
        I started listening. I have 3 gay men whom I consider dear friends. They are welcom in my home anytime. 2 of them are “PK’s (preacher’s kids). They struggled for a long time, really struggled. But they “came out” and offered to their preacher dads, to walk away from their family and never come back. No, their pastor dads did not want them to just walk away. But they know that they will be hated and rejected by the evangelical church.
        There was no need for the Nashville statement. Gay men, who believe that Jesus Christ came back from the dead, know completely well that they are not welcome in the churches. Link will say (God bless him) that he loves the sinner but hates the sin. But Linc’s “love” will not be felt as love to any of my “PK” gay friends. It will be felt as hate, and non acceptance, etc.
        I have heard SO MANY sermons where preachers have vehimently (sp?) condemned gays. But why? I dont see that gay are flooding in to sit in their pews? If the preachers want to condemn sin, why dont they condemn that exists in their own congregation?
        Leave them alone!

  34. Yup, still reading too… haha. I am in no small part still fascinated by the fact even as recent as a year ago, I would have been giving myself and these other evangelical leaders I so religiously followed for years psychological high fives with this statement. I too believed that you were only truly loving someone if you drew a line in the sand about what constituted sin and that if only you went to the right seminary and followed the right people interpreting the Bible the right way you’d find truth and life. Until I realized truth was a person. It’s been a fascinating journey as Jesus took away the veil I held onto under the guise that I was actually being “loving.” My heart broke reading some of these statements, but probably only a minuscule fraction in comparison to how Jesus’ heart broke when he tried to reason with the Pharisees. Thank you Wayne for being brave enough to challenge this, even if your detractors are trying to trap you, it’s no different than when they tried to trap Jesus. Sometimes I wonder when Jesus warned his disciples the world would hate them because of him, if maybe he was talking about modern day Pharisees-not the “worldly” culture that is supposedly to blame for the downfall of society. Most studies actually point to poverty as the culprit…(but I digress :-/)

    I don’t doubt for a second those that signed this statement truly believe they are loving people as I once did, but you said it Wayne, it’s the context in which they are delivering this love that really does nothing but drive people further away from Christ’s amazing invitation to walk in a relationship with him first and let HIM produce the righteousness and morality in us. I just don’t know why I held onto the notion for so long that people only understood the Gospel if I first pointed out how crappy of a person they are. When I look back, that’s not at all how I met Jesus! I met Jesus through people that saw my brokeness and befriended and loved me and listened to my doubts and questions. But over the years as I “grew” as a Christian, I got too puffed up with knowledge. I really had to return back that moment when I first met Jesus. I’ve gone from being a parent obsessed that my kids make sure they read the Bible (with the “correct” doctrinal conclusion of course) and realize what terrible sinners they are in need of a Savior- to inviting them to know Jesus inside and out first, to be curious about Him and ask questions. I trust HE will reveal their hearts and need for Him in a way that my well-intentioned condemnation never could.

  35. Didn’t Paul tell us that the entire Purpose of the law is to show us that we can’t Keep it? I know how hard I tried- and failed miserably. When I admitted defeat, God was There- graciously took the mess I had made and began His work. That was 35 years ago, and the me that exists today bears so little resemblance to that poor pathetic creature that even I don’t remember her any more. I haven’t read this statement and won’t. IT took decades for me to break free of the chains of Calvinism and I won’t risk a single link finding a place to attach itself to my person.
    Though I can’t speak to the contents of that “proclamation”, I agree with your response Wayne. My experience tells me that God’s Love and Grace and infinite Mercy will succeed where rules and regulation and human effort fail. I am more aware of and grateful for His intervention now than I was that cold day in 1982.
    You’ve opened a big can of worms Wayne. Maybe we should all go fishing.

  36. Excellent article. We can’t emerge into the future clinging to the past.

    Or…You can’t steal second with one foot on first.

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