This may sound strange, but I am incredibly grateful for the attacks, heresies, and controversies Christianity has endured in its 2,000-year history. It is from those times of turmoil that we learn and are refined.
In the apostolic era, the time when Jesus’ apostles were alive and writing, many questions about the divinity of Jesus, the Christian’s relationship to the law, and what it meant to live a holy life needed to be answered.
A millennium and a half later, Christianity endured another large controversy surrounding the authority of Scripture, salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and other important doctrines. We call this the Protestant Reformation.
In each episode of conflict, whether the friction was sourced inside or outside of it, the result has been the same: Men and women of God study the Scriptures and develop careful, biblical, gospel-centered responses.
In the 21st century, one of the most often debated doctrines of historical Christianity has revolved around sexuality. In its most basic form, the question at the heart of the conflict asks if same-sex attraction, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage are acceptable to God.
Many churches and parachurch ministries have addressed the issue. Several who choose to speak biblical truth into our culture, such as American Family Association, are labeled hate groups for it. But few have developed a response as concrete, concise, and convicting as the Nashville Statement by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
The Nashville Statement says nothing new. It echoes what biblical, historical Christianity has believed and taught since the writing of the New Testament. However, it applies those ancient truths to contemporary issues with a careful mix of grace and truth.
What I find particularly encouraging in these 14 articles is how CBMW splits each argument into what we as Christians affirm and deny according to Scripture.
John Piper describes the Nashville Statement saying, “It is built on the persuasion that the Christian Scriptures speak with clarity and authority for the good of humankind. It is permeated by the awareness that we are all sinners in need of divine grace through Jesus Christ.”
While the Nashville Statement is focused on sexuality, it never loses sight of the fact we all need the grace of God. Its closing article states, “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 who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.
“We deny that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond His reach.”
May we read and embrace each of these articles with that in our minds and hearts.
You can read the articles below. If you want to learn more about the Nashville Statement or to sign it, click here.
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.
WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.
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.
WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality — a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.
WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.
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.
WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his image-bearers as male and female.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.
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 who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.