Not long ago, some evangelicals published The Nashville Statement. Unfortunately, it is not about the tripe that parades about as country music these days. It is rather about sex, gender, and marriage.
Predictably, it drew a lot of praise for the great moral courage and clarity that it demonstrated as well as a lot of criticism for the narrow-minded hatefulness it delivered.
And that’s just what evangelicals said about it.
What should we make of the Nashville Statement?
As you might guess, I have a few thoughts.
First, it is good for Christians to have a voice in biblical and moral issues in society, even if, or perhaps especially if, it is a controversial topic on which the Bible is clear. There is nothing in and of itself that is wrong with a statement like the Nashville Statement. It might be appropriate on any number of topics. Letting Christian truth be known is a good thing and when a number of Christians band together to do it, it might be a better thing.
Second, it can be dangerous for Christians to make statements or participate in statements that are devoid of relationships. As with all brief statements (and many not-so-brief statements), it is difficult to communicate personal love, empathy, and grace toward others.
Third, Christians need to move past the idea that we can say biblically faithful things that will please people who have no desire to be biblically faithful, or who have a distorted view of what biblical faithfulness really is. As Christians, we need to brace ourselves that we are increasingly marginalized in American society, and American society may have been the last bastion for public Christianity on the globe. Those who do not believe Christ will reject our views. Even fellow believers will object to some things that we judge to be biblically faithful. We must train our conscience by the Scriptures, follow it, and then let the chips fall where they may.
Fourth, Christians need to accept that public statements like the Nashville statement will have little to no positive effect in the society at large. It is doubtful that there is any significant number of people out there who are going to repent of their sins and embrace Christ because of the Nashville Statement. It is unlikely to lead to the next Great Awakening. It may, in fact, harden some. Even professing believers are hardened by the statement because they consider it harsh, too divisive, or even flat-out wrong. If we put our hope in public statements, however well-meaning they are, we will be greatly disappointed.
Fifth, Christians should recognize that very few of the people we are called to reach and minister to will know anything about the Nashville Statement. Which is to say, it really has no relevance at all for our local church ministries. Go love people, serve them, evangelize them, and disciple them. Chances are they won’t ask you about the Nashville Statement. They might ask you about their marriage, their kids, the relationship they want to get in, or the one they want to get out of. They might request prayer for a sick child or a new job. But they probably don’t care what Nashville thinks about anything.
Sixth, there are questions about whether or not signing the Nashville Statement involves a compromise of biblical commands about separation and fellowship.
I regret to inform you that my word count has just expired.