NASHVILLE – The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) released, on Aug. 29, the Nashville Statement, a 14 Article affirmation of biblical sexuality. The statement addressed issues such as the definition of marriage, gender distinctions, various sexual sins, and God’s all-sufficient saving grace. It was initially signed by more than 150 evangelical leaders across denominational lines, and is currently available for both reading and signing on the CBMW’s website.
Perhaps the most surprising effect of the Nashville Statement was an instantaneous backlash by the LGBTQ community, avowed secularists, and liberal evangelicals. In a short time, negative responses were stated everywhere from social media to national news outlets. Seemingly overnight, the Nashville Statement had created a national controversy. Because of this controversy, it is important to ascertain the purpose of the Nashville Statement, to determine the plausibility of the negative reactions, and to understand why the Nashville Statement is necessary for our churches.
When asked about the overall purpose of the Nashville Statement, Colin Smothers, the Executive Director for the CBMW, explained, “It is a church document intended to help pastors and lay Christians alike to think truthfully, lovingly, and, above all, biblically about how the sexual revolution is challenging the Bible’s vision for human flourishing. The Nashville Statement is meant to give an answer to these fundamental questions [of identity and sexuality] from a biblical worldview and to point to the hope found in the timeless truth of the Christian Gospel.” As Smothers’ makes abundantly clear, the Nashville Statement was meant to help Christian churches understand and respond to the shifting sands of cultural sexuality. It was intended to bring further clarity to Christians seeking to understand a biblical sex ethic.
Those who oppose the Nashville Statement have generally not done so from a biblical perspective, but rather from an emotional one. Instead of following the historical Christian understanding of sexuality from the past millennia, those in opposition to the Nashville Statement conversely follow the current cultural whims. Rather than honestly looking to Scriptures for truth concerning sexuality, they rely upon a shifting sense of sexual enlightenment. The opposition to the Nashville Statement is not derived from Scripture, and therefore cannot be considered plausible.
Finally, it is prudent to consider whether the Nashville Statement is necessary for our churches. Even though the Nashville Statement simply affirms preexisting Christian teachings, it is necessary to bring moral clarity to a sexually confused culture. As the secular culture puts continued pressure on the evangelical church to accept and celebrate sexual sins, our churches need clear convictional statements that offer faithful, biblical certainty. By affirming declarations such as the Nashville Statement, churches are confirming biblical truths, encouraging their members with biblical convictions, and demonstrating the necessity of salvation to their communities.
Ultimately, the necessity of the Nashville Statement is perhaps best described in its final declaration, Article 14: “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.” The message of salvation is a remarkably simple one – every person is a sinner and needs a Savior. The only way that humanity can come to Jesus in salvation is to recognize what sin is, to repent of sin, and to turn to Jesus in full belief, faith, and obedience. The message of the Gospel is about repenting of sin, not celebrating it. Therefore, the Nashville Statement is necessary in assisting the Church to lovingly show lost sinners the peace, joy, and hope that comes from repenting of sin and coming to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.