The “Nashville Statement”

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood — now there’s a title designed to reassure the insecure — has spoken. Article 10 — they elevate it: X — is obviously only one section of many (XIV). This council of 187 (CLXXXVII) evangelical leaders calls itself complementarian; that is, men and women naturally have different required roles that complement each other. Therefore, ordination of women is restricted, and male chefs should get out of the kitchen and stick to grilling.

Article X of the pentecostals’ 2017 convention document states that marriage is one man and one woman.

It affirms chastity outside marriage and fidelity within.

It affirms the distinct and divinely ordained differences between men and women and links these to anatomy.

It mandates chastity if one is attracted to one’s own gender, and that “adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception” is a sin.

It states that those who “approve of homosexual immorality and transgenderism” are living in sin.

So much wrong here. Where does a thinking, fact based religious person begin? Article X is a target rich environment, as military folks might say. I’ll follow the list, usually in order.

The opening statement is just the first shot in an obviously belligerent, defensive sounding salvo. They’re right in saying marriage means one man and one woman. It can also mean loving partners of the same anatomical gender. An even scarier fact for the Council, if they were to study the facts, is that partners’ hormones can lean strongly one way or another in spite of genitalia. For instance, liberals love to make fun of the Bachmans’ marriage, because Michelle’s husband seems so effeminate. “Oh, he’s gay, believe me!” Suppose he is; is that our business? If they’re a loving couple, good for them. But if he’s a gay man who married a female for appearances and to satisfy rigid religious belief, pentecostals would applaud this marriage, even if Mr. Bachman lives in torment and denial of his own identity. Would then Mr. Bachman be true to himself? If not, would Jesus bless such a lie?

That the sages of the council affirm the distinct and divinely ordained differences between men and women, and link these to anatomy, is an underhanded way — pardon the expression; should I have said quick and dirty way? — of checking us at the door for our fitness for various tasks without assessing talent. Not only does this fascination with magical genitalia tell us much we might not want to know about the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, but it implies that God has a penis and probably looks just like that old white man on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. They’d say that Phyllis Schlafly, who spent her life on the road saying women should stay home, was right. In her words, that is. Ignore her actions.

As to chastity outside marriage and fidelity within, the behavior of many of the composers of the “Nashville Statement” makes a mockery of the whole Article. Life is simpler, perhaps, for the minority who actually practice chastity to this degree, but even for the purest of heart and behavior, this is a goal only to aspire, as is consistently imitating Jesus. And breaking such a vow of chastity should bring down love and support, not condemnation.

And speaking of chastity, the ignorance behind the mandate to remain chaste if one is attracted to one’s own gender is breathtaking. This means, really, taking a vow of chastity. The Roman Catholic church has proven thousands of times that such a vow is often too heavy to bear. Such a proscription is a leading cause of teen suicide, alcohol and drug addiction, and tortured heterosexual marriages.

And look again at that thinking. If one is attracted to one’s own gender, then one obviously has a gay or trans “self-conception,” which is another sin: double jeopardy, and a recipe for insanity for the complementarianist in such a position. These evangelicals insist in spite of all fact that any form of being gay or transgender is a “psychological condition,” which opens the door to pray-the-gay-away treatments, which do terrible mental damage.

One ray of hope: By acknowledging that one actually can be “attracted to one’s own gender”, the council implicitly acknowledges the existence of the natural variety of sexuality. Homosexuality has always been a feature of the human race. It’s in the Bible — the ancient Hebrews wouldn’t forbid something that didn’t exist — and it’s even winked at: See the beautiful love story of David and Jonathan. And anyone who works with animals and is observant should be able to tell you that gay cows, cats, penguins, etc. didn’t make a “lifestyle choice.” Please.

Which leads us to “homosexual immorality and transgenderism.” Here I agree with the pentecostals but only because I’m reading carefully. I see immorality as an evil path, chosen in error, to counsel against, be it homo- or heterosexual. I also see the preachy pentecostals as guilty of not seeing the splinters in their own eyes. To condemn gay people is a cynical way to distract us from their own shortcomings.

And “transgenderism”? What is that? To elevate one’s transgender identity to an “ism” denies reality. Being transgender is not a belief system. As with any kind of gayness, nobody but nobody decides to change one’s gender identity on a whim. Each of us is born somewhere on the sexual identity bell curve. I’m thankful I was born straight and secure with it, so LGBQ people aren’t any kind of threat to me or my marriage. The writers of the “Nashville Statement” appear very threatened. And a fixation on gayness often bespeaks fear and a very deep closet. Makes me wonder.

Belief is blind by its very nature. These people look as if their belief has them spoiling for a fight against science and the obvious, but they’re also likely feeling cornered and afraid, made defensive by the voices of reason and unable to listen to anyone outside their inward facing circle.