About 70 Southern Baptist leaders recently joined with other evangelicals to affirm a “Christian manifesto” on sexuality issues — a statement that says Christians can’t “agree to disagree” on homosexuality and transgenderism.
“We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it — particularly as male and female,” read The Nashville Statement, released Aug. 29 by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW).
The coalition of leaders hopes to “provide help for churches and Christian organizations that are looking for biblical guidance on how to address homosexuality and transgenderism,” said Denny Burk, CBMW president and professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
The signers also hope to build a group of “like-minded evangelicals to stand together for the challenging days ahead” and to encourage young evangelicals who are under pressure to desert biblical teaching, Burk said.
The Nashville Statement is being labeled “anti-LGBTQ” by the media, and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry didn’t appreciate the statement’s connection to the city. But Baptist leaders such as Russell Moore say the document’s content is an “urgently needed moment of gospel clarity.”
“In a culture nearly defined by sexual confusion and brokenness … the church must stand ready to receive with compassion the many who are in need of a better hope,” said Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The document contains 14 affirmations and denials about sexuality issues. It begins by affirming God’s creation of male and female as equals who marry for the purpose of a “covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union” meant to “signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.”
It denies any leeway for homosexual, polygamous or polyamorous relationships — and it leaves no latitude for Christians who might believe differently on the topic.
In Article 10, the Nashville Statement called any church’s or Christian’s approval of homosexual or transgender lifestyles “sinful.” To affirm those lifestyles “constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness,” the statement reads.
Other points of the statement included:
• Adoption of “a homosexual or transgender self-conception” is inconsistent with God’s purposes.
• Same-sex attraction is not part of God’s original design, but people who experience such attraction may live fruitful lives through faith in Christ as they practice purity.
• People born with a sex development disorder possess the same “dignity and worth” as all other image-bearers of God.
In addition to Moore, other Southern Baptist signers included eight former Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) presidents; all six SBC seminary presidents; well-known pastors H.B. Charles, Mark Dever and J.D. Greear; and several SBC entity heads, such as Kevin Ezell of the North American Mission Board, O.S. Hawkins of GuideStone Financial Resources, Thom Rainer of LifeWay Christian Resources and Frank S. Page of the Executive Committee.
Other signers of The Nashville Statement included theologians J.I. Packer and Wayne Grudem, author and pastor John Piper, pastor John MacArthur, family leader James Dobson and theologians R.C. Sproul and D.A. Carson.
Burk said the aim of the statement “is to shine a light into the darkness — to declare the goodness of God’s design in our sexuality and in creating us as male and female.”
‘Biblically derived view’
The new declaration comes 30 years after the adoption of CBMW’s founding document, The Danvers Statement, in response to evangelical feminism.
That document, approved in a 1987 meeting at Danvers, Massachusetts, articulated “complementarianism,” which CBMW describes as “the biblically derived view that men and women are complementary, possessing equal dignity and worth as the image of God, and called to different roles that each glorify Him.” (TAB, BP)
The full text of the Nashville Statement is available at www.cbmw.org/nashville-statement.