Lately, the Nashville Statement, which affirms the traditional view of marriage as a covenantal lifelong union between a man and a woman, effected by God, has drawn condemnation from many sides. The condemnation is unsurprising, given that, in mainstream circles, opposition to same-sex marriage is considered tantamount to denying the humanity of gay people. Indeed, it’s not even surprising that some are condemning this clear statement of historic doctrine from within the church. A clear statement of what motivates Christians to oppose the Nashville Statement can be found point-by-point in the Denver Statement.
Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in an exciting, beautiful, liberating, and holy period of historic transition. Western culture has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being by expanding the limits and definitions previously imposed by fundamentalist Christians. By and large, the spirit of our age discerns and delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life that is so much richer and more diverse than we have previously understood it to be. Many deny that God created all human beings for God’s glory, and believe that God’s good purposes for us are limited to those whose personal and physical design is cis-gendered, heterosexual, and socially acceptable expressions of male and female. However, many Christians now understand that binary and backwards thinking excludes a large and important part of God’s beautiful plan for God’s people. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for God’s creatures is clearly inclusive of a variety of identities of gender and expressions of sexuality that have previously been denied by shortsighted and limited thinking, teaching and preaching that has ruined lives and dishonored God.
I find it hard to read it without cringing. “Fundamentalist Christians” have supposedly imposed a narrow-minded view of human nature on western civilization. Supposedly “[m]any deny that God created all human beings for God’s glory.” Support for traditional views of marriage and gender is just “binary and backwards thinking.” Refusing to support gay marriage “excludes a large and important part of God’s beautiful plan for God’s people.”
This paragraph, like much of the rest of the statement, is filled with empty rhetoric and blatant mischaracterizations of the positions espoused by the Nashville Statement. Indeed, the Nashville Statement specifically says that ALL people bear the image of God and can live fruitful lives in his service. And while it might sound nice to assert that same-sex unions are a beautiful part of God’s plan, assertions without scriptural support are worthless. When you’re arguing that the millennia-old doctrines of the church should be revised, you need something more than inane slogans.
WE AFFIRM that God has created humanity out of love and for the purpose of love.
WE DENY that God intends marriage as a gift only to be enjoyed by those who happen to be heterosexual, cis-gendered and fertile.
No disagreement on the affirmation, but the denial misses the point. The question is not whether marriage is for some people and not others. The question is what marriage is. Plus, how can you possibly infer from the Nashville Statement that infertile people shouldn’t be allowed to marry? Either the people who wrote the Denver Statement have very poor reading comprehension or they are deliberately mischaracterizing the Nashville Statement. Not a good look.
WE AFFIRM that God created us as sexual beings in endless variety.
WE DENY that the only type of sexual expression that can be considered holy is between a cis-gendered, heterosexual, married couple who waited to have sex until they were married. But if you fit in that group, good for you, we have no problem with your lifestyle choices.
Not much to say about this except that it seems to leave the door open to polyamorous relationships. I wouldn’t be surprised if these people supported such relationships, to be frank, because I think they have a strong commitment to denying any and all normative views of human sexuality in favor of an “anything goes as long as there’s consent” mentality.
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in God’s male & female image, and that all human beings share this image of God in common but express it differently in body and spirit.
WE DENY that we as human beings can fully conceive of the glory of God’s image or rightfully believe our language can define its limits. Therefore, we deny those who do not conform to society’s gender norms are outside of some kind of “divine plan”.
Here, the statement attempts to hide its radical revision of long-standing doctrines under the guise of epistemic humility. Who are we to make normative claims about human nature? After all, we’re limited beings. This is a stupid argument. Refusal to take a positive stance on human nature is itself a positive stance on human nature. In effect, the Denver Statement is saying that we ought to adopt their ill-defined, amorphous concept of human nature instead of the one we’ve had for thousands of years. They feign intellectual humility, but their hubris is obvious. We, unlike all the patriarchs of Israel, the church fathers, and all the saints, are humble and enlightened enough to acknowledge that we shouldn’t make normative claims about human nature.
WE AFFIRM that the glorious variety of gender and sexual expression is a reflection of God’s original creation design and are aspects of human flourishing.
WE DENY that such variations are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
Not much to unpack here. Just an unsupported assertion.
WE AFFIRM that the biological capacity for human beings to reproduce is a glorious wonder and that humanity continues to discover the gender and sexual diversity with which God has created humans.
WE DENY that gender is always linked with biological sex characteristics, and we deny that those whose bodies contain physical or psychological realities outside of the “norm” need curing or reparation.
The thing is that there’s no reason why this logic shouldn’t extend beyond sexual orientation and gender identity. What about people with genetic defects? Do they not need “curing” or “reparation”? Should we consider all variations to be normal so that deviation from the norm is logically impossible? After all, norms exclude. Progressives both inside and outside the church are making war on the very concept of normality for this reason.
WE AFFIRM that the bearing of God’s image occurs in every glorious genital and chromosomal variation found in the human race.
WE DENY that any variation in the human body exempts one from living a joyful and full life.
Dear people who wrote the Denver Statement: You’re not special. We all believe this. Although I’d drop the “glorious.”
WE AFFIRM that there is no longer male or female but all are one in Christ Jesus our Lord.
WE DENY any self-conception that presumes one is capable of knowing God’s holy purposes for other people, and that such self-conceptions can be consistent with the Gospel of grace, love, and mercy as demonstrated in holy scripture.
Yes, it seems very wise to take the Apostle Paul out of context to imply that sex and gender are no longer meaningful concepts. And also, I may not know what God’s plans are for other people, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make any claims whatsoever about the moral status of choices they might make. Killing, lying, and stealing are bad. Saying so is not me being arrogant or presuming that can know God’s purposes. It’s just me making a moral claim, much as the Denver Statement is making a moral claim here.
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.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is outside the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that anything puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.
Agree 100 percent with the affirmation. The grace of God extends to people of all kinds who struggle with the brokenness of the world in all conceivable ways. But your denial suggests that the Nashville Statement says that people can be put outside the hope of the gospel. Which makes me really angry at you, because that’s obviously not what the historic Christian doctrines teach. Anyone can be saved, not because people aren’t actually so bad, but because the saving power of Christ is greater than any other power that exists.
WE AFFIRM that sin distorts all aspects of human life.
WE DENY that human beings can escape sin by simply upholding a particular doctrine or lifestyle.
Again, I tell you: You are not special. This is the teaching of the Nashville Statement.
WE AFFIRM that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, and while we believe in the full inclusion of all people into the body of Christ (here we stand we can do no other), we cannot bind the conscience of other Christians.
WE DENY that it is sinful to approve of queer identities and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
We’re free to hope for “full inclusion of all people into the body of Christ,” but not everyone gets to be part of the church. The church has to punish people living in habitual sin. If you think that opposing same-sex marriage and rejecting prevailing views on gender identity is sinful, then you need to sanction the people who are doing so.
WE AFFIRM our duty to love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s image-bearers.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ is sufficient for this day.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is something that must be supplemented by works, piety or doctrine.
I’m happy that we actually agree on a fair number of points, but I’m disheartened because the inclusion of such points indicates that the Denver Statement drafters don’t think that we agree on them.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake prejudice and see such prejudice as our own and not as God’s.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-righteous assertions of absolute knowledge of God’s will.
Holy crap. Apparently adherence to millennia-old doctrines about marriage and sex constitutes “self-righteous assertions of absolute knowledge of God’s will.” What a straw man. No one claims to have absolute knowledge of God’s will. The Nashville Statement makes a relatively modest claim that has extensive historical precedent and philosophical support in addition to scriptural support.
WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person; this is a supreme treasure.
WE DENY that God is a boy and has actual arms.
So the affirmation is pretty similar to the one from the Nashville Statement, except that it excises the need for repentance and trust in Christ. This change raised my eyebrow. I don’t even know what to make of the denial. They’re probably trying to make some point about taking scripture too literally. Who knows.
Article 15 (this one is just ours)
WE AFFRIM [sic] that the church has often been indistinguishable from the dominant culture in the ways in which it has sanctified oppression and bigotry towards historically marginalized and demonized people groups, of which the LGBTQ+ community is one.
WE DENY any ideology, theological or otherwise, that results in the further marginalization, rejection, dehumanization, and overall suffering of LGBTQ+ individuals.
If you remove the ideologically laden language, then I wholeheartedly agree with this final statement, and I think that signatories of the Nashville Statement would, as well. The church should teach that God’s sovereign grace can save anyone from anything. However, refusing to affirm same-sex unions and the new gender theory is not oppression or bigotry. I do not need to affirm everything about a person in order to love that person as myself, just as I do not need to affirm everything about myself. Indeed, there are parts of me that I wish Christ would destroy now, and that I expect him to destroy in the hereafter when my body is resurrected and glorified. Whatever corruption exists in my body or soul, I bear the image of God. This goes for everyone.
I find it extremely disheartening that Christian advocates for same-sex marriage and the new gender ideology have adopted wholesale the strategy of the broader culture. They use the same rhetorical tropes and tactics, laying it on thick with talk of “marginalization” and “oppression,” suggesting that anyone who disagrees with them is just being bigoted. Ironically, the Denver Statement decries the church’s failure to oppose the dominant culture when that culture is oppressive to certain groups, but fails to recognize that it is little more than a Huffington Post article with some Christian jargon sprinkled in. Love is not the only thing that is supposed to distinguish the church from the world. We’re also supposed to be holy.