by Pastoral Intern Tori Jameson
MCC of Greater Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
The Nashville Statement (https://cbmw.org/nashville- statement) was released this week by a coalition of conservative evangelical leaders who oppose same sex marriage and fluid gender identity.
WE AFFIRM that marriage takes on many forms for many different persons, both within the Scriptures (old and new testaments alike) and through to the current age. We affirm the right of all persons to marry and to have their marriage blessed in a religious institution and witnessed by the divine, however they may define marriage, institutions and the divine. We affirm that Christian marriage takes many forms of covenant between persons, Christ and the church and that each of these forms is holy.
WE DENY that the biblical witness, the lived life of Jesus, and the forward march of the church reflect marriage as solely between one man and one woman. We deny that God’s love and covenantal blessing is bounded to one type of relationship at the expense of all others. We deny that God is not nearly as creative in God’s expressions of love and commitment as those who claim to be the children and followers of God.
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all adults who choose to participate in sexual activity is that safe, sane, and consensual sex between equals is awesome. We affirm the right of people to define their own sexual boundaries and their right to demand those boundaries be respected and affirmed. We affirm the right for adults to express themselves with their bodies and to not be shamed for their sexuality.
WE DENY that the only sex worth talking about is vaginal intercourse, choosing instead to name that sex as multi-faceted and complex. We deny that chastity until marriage is always the healthiest and best choice for consenting unmarried adults (though it may be the best choice for some if freely chosen). We deny that for all people all the time that a marriage covenant requires strict allegiance to a proscribed and exclusive relationship and way of sexual expression.
WE AFFIRM that every person, whatever their sex and whatever their gender, is made in the image of God. We affirm the holy journey of self-discovery and experimental expression, and commit to enthusiastic affirmation of our own and other’s sex and gender identities. We affirm that gender and gender expression does not correlate to dignity or worth.
WE DENY that God is ignorant of transgender people and their rich tapestries of experience. We deny that God is limited to boxes called “male” and “female” in God’s creation of people.
WE AFFIRM that gender roles are a patriarchal tool of control and are sinful when required of whole communities and demanded of individuals. We affirm that human good and human flourishing has nothing to do with conforming to gender roles. We affirm that the patriarchy is an intersectional problem and one that cannot be fought alone.
WE DENY that gender roles are biblical, and thereby, monolithic. We deny that gender roles have remained static. We deny that gender roles were created by God and in place since the earliest of human cultures. We deny that God is anything but pleased when God’s people express their gender in any way that feels right to them.
WE AFFIRM the right of all persons to feel comfortable in their bodies, including transgender persons. We affirm that science and medicine are gifts of God. We affirm the right of persons to pursue the best science and medicine for all aspects of their health, including reproductive health and psychological health. We affirm that trans and intersex people have as much God-appointed right to health and bodily autonomy as everyone else.
WE DENY that being trans or intersex is a cancer or anomaly in need of a cure. While supporting anyone’s right to medical care including gender confirmation interventions, we deny that trans and intersex people MUST use science or medicine to conform to a standard or change anything about themselves.
WE AFFIRM that intersex people are images of the divine no matter how they present themselves to the world. We affirm the right of intersex people to love whoever and however they love without conforming to any standard they do not wish to conform to. We affirm the right of intersex people to be full members of religious traditions and that they and their bodies are deserving of respect and honor.
WE DENY that intersex people are disordered. We deny that intersex people are eunuchs to be othered and then pitied. We deny that conforming one’s genitals to some standard is in any way related to Christian obedience.
WE AFFIRM a self-conception of having inherent worth, being loved by God, and belonging to a family or community should be defined as God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture. We affirm that homosexuality, bi and pan-sexuality, asexuality, transgender and non-binary gender, polyamory and all other forms of queer identity are as much valid and holy self-conceptions consistent with God’s holy purposes as cisgender, heterosexual and monogamous identities.
WE DENY that an imposition of a strict gender binary of male and female being and loving was God’s idea in creation, as such demands cause harm to God’s people and God’s church.
WE AFFIRM that same-gender-loving persons may live a rich and fruitful life through faith in Jesus Christ and in many other religious and ethical traditions. We affirm that homosexual, bi and pan sexual, sexually fluid and all those who may have loved someone of a shared sex or gender identity can proclaim their love as natural and part of the goodness of God’s creation. We affirm that doing justice, including communication, consent and covenant in relationships, is part of the gospel call to purity and holiness in life.
WE DENY the false gospel of patriarchy. We deny enacted heterosexual attraction as the measure by which one is deemed to have a pure life.
WE AFFIRM that marriage is not the end goal of every healthy relationship, though it may be for some. We affirm healthy sexuality both exclusive to and outside of marriage covenants.
WE DENY that marriage is an institution which will shelter a person from sexual sin. We deny that homosexuality is itself sexual immorality. We deny that sex acts outside of vaginal intercourse are themselves by definition sexually immoral.
WE AFFIRM that LGBTQ+ persons are voices in the witness of Scripture and the ever continuing march of Christian history. We affirm that some of God’s rainbow children have always been and will always be called to a life of Christian faithfulness and as witnesses to the gospel, including as clergy and religious leaders.
WE DENY that the rights of all human beings to a healthy and affirming sexuality and gender is something on which we can be silent or agree to disagree. To be silent is to be in sin.
WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to one another about the ways in which our narrow view of God’s creation hurts us all and our mutual subjugation under patriarchy and gender and sexual legalism.
WE DENY any obligation to consider theological and social positions that are trans exclusive, anti-gay, requiring of gender roles, and otherwise causing pain to gender and sexual minorities.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives transforming power, and that this power enables a follower of Jesus to put to death the siren song of the sins of legalism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, and willful ignorance. We affirm that to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is to walk in the full embrace of all of God’s children.
WE DENY that sexual sin, where it exists, is a sin greater than any other. We deny the portrayal of God as presented in the Nashville Statement and endorsed by 141 male and 12 female evangelical leaders. We deny that God’s rainbow children are in need of an especial pardon due to their gender, sex, relationship structure or sexual orientation.
WE AFFIRM that God has created trans people and has created cis people. We affirm that trans people are no more inherently sinful than cis people. We affirm the inherent worth and dignity of trans people. We affirm the right of trans people not to participate in conversations that question their worth. We affirm that God has created and called good a multiplicity of sexual and gender identities.
WE DENY that gender identity can be changed with conversion therapy. We deny, alongside scientific and ethical consensus, that conversion therapy is efficacious and anything but dangerous. We deny a god-ordained mandate that one’s sex and gender must and should match.
WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus entered a world populated by many kinds of people, including LGBTQ+ people, and came to overturn a political empire bent on the destruction of the most marginalized in a pursuit of power. We affirm that the gospel message of inclusion of all and especially the marginalized continues to today. We affirm that as a Christian community we must repent of our collective sins of homophobia, transphobia, patriarchy, and legalism and abandon the systems that name these sins as holy. We affirm that the feast of God’s abundance is open to all who freely choose it. We affirm that if God has a body, God’s arms are long enough to embrace God’s rainbow children.
WE DENY that anyone is beyond reach of the inclusive love of God, including the authors of the Nashville Statement. We deny their statement as anything but sin and intentional harm. We denounce the Nashville Statement as anathema to Christian love and the continuing health of the church universal.