Some Thoughts on the Nashville Statement

Raising questions about Article 8 on the issue of same-sex attraction.

“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.” This denial is undeniably true. But its silence is deafening. It is silent on the basic question of whether or not homosexual attraction is a sin. A public declaration about the sexual sins of our age must start with an answer to this question. Instead, this article leaves too many questions unanswered.

 

The Nashville Statement: A Coalition for Biblical Sexuality is in many ways a needful and alluring public declaration even as it is misleading and ambiguous in its pronouncements.

The necessity of this kind of public statement is set out carefully in the preamble. The church is in a “period of historic transition” concerning fundamental creational realities. Marriage, sex and gender are being redefined at a breath-taking pace. Secularism is the beast scratching at the Church’s door. And it will take “biblical conviction, clarity, and courage” to bar the door.

Its allurement is in the many truths it pronounces, truths shrilly denounced by the usual suspects in society. Marriage, chastity and fidelity are forthrightly affirmed. The differences and dignity between men and women are affirmed as well. Gender roles (“self-conception as male or female”) are set forth in opposition to transgender and homosexual deviancy.  There is a call for the killing of sinful desires and a holy life before God.

The allurement of this statement is also in its public nature and the public figures who signed it. It is good to declare the truth of God’s Word publicly and collectively. It is preferable for a formal church gathering to do such, but this is the age in which we live.

Yet the allurement of a public document about pressing issues signed by public figures is unhelpful as well. It is unhelpful because it hints at a possible compromise within the declaration. When well-known pastors from disparate theological convictions gather to write a public statement, disagreements are sure to be minimized or buried.

Consider the most obvious example of part of Article 8:

“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.”

This denial is undeniably true. But its silence is deafening. It is silent on the basic question of whether or not homosexual attraction is a sin. A public declaration about the sexual sins of our age must start with an answer to this question.

Instead, this article leaves too many questions unanswered.

If same-sex attraction was not part of the original creation, is it like sickness and disease that came after the fall? Is homosexual attraction like blindness or Paul’s thorn in the flesh as one pastor suggests? Is same-sex attraction merely a temptation as another pastor thinks? If it is a temptation or like a sickness, is there any moral culpability? What is attraction and its relationship to desire? How does it relate to the biblical category of the flesh? And if it is a sin, is it a heinous sin in comparison to other sexual sins?

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