Two days ago (29 August 2017) a group of conservative American Evangelical Christians issued “The Nashville Statement” on human sexuality. I won’t repeat all 14 articles here (although they are short), but I think Art. 10 can serve for the whole:
“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.”
Because this statement has been widely distributed, by both those who agree and disagree, it has the power to gravely harm many Christians. In that light, I feel empowered, indeed, obligated as one who has taken up a ministry of public preaching and teaching, to make a statement myself.
MY TORONTO STATEMENT
The authors and signatories of the Nashville Statement are my siblings in Christ and those of all other LGBTTwQ Christians, and we are theirs. Therefore any disagreement or correction must be made in love. In that spirit then I say that the authors and signatories are dangerously misled and mistaken. They have confused the spirit of the age (to which we should not be conformed (Rom 12.2)) with the insights derived from modern philosophy and the natural and physical sciences.
God’s two revelations – in God’s Creation and in God’s written word – can never be in conflict with one another. If they appear to be, then we have mistakenly interpreted one or the other (or maybe both!). As St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas did each in his own day, we must learn to allow the revelation of the Creation explored by our divinely-created reason to illuminate our reading of the highly poetic Primeval History of Genesis, especially Genesis 1.1-2.4.
The root and ground of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah does not lie in the correct interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis, but in the love of God embodied and expressed in Jesus and acted out in our human love for God and one another. St Paul tells us that the old binaries of slave and free, of Jew and Gentile, and even of male and female no longer exist for those of us who are in Christ (Gal 3.28). They have been wiped out in the unity of the Body of Christ. Christian leaders should not attempt to reimpose any of those binaries on Christians or on those seeking Jesus. This is tantamount to demanding circumcision before baptism of Gentile believers.
Their identification of homosexuality with immorality harks back to a misunderstanding of Paul’s writings, especially in Romans, as I have written elsewhere (http://wrestlingwiththebible.ca/clobbertexts.html). I repudiate the suggestion that homosexuality is intrinsically immoral. Any human action may be immoral: for example, we may use our God-given ingenuity to murder, our imagination and powers of persuasion to call others to the sins of racism, our bodies to rape. That there are immoral homosexual acts, as indeed there are immoral heterosexual acts, does not mean homosexuality or heterosexuality either one is inherently immoral.
I want my fellow LGBTTwQ Christians and seekers to know that many many churches large and small join me in rejecting the Nashville Statement. We must not allow it to make our siblings in Christ feel they have once again been rejected by the Church! And we must pray in love for the individuals and institutions who wrote and signed this statement, that they will open their hearts to the inclusive love of our risen Lord and their minds to his revealing Spirit.
Dr Abigail Ann Young
31 August 2017-08-31