Why the Nashville Statement is Loving
If you've been on any social media whatsoever, you've probably heard about something called the Nashville Statement. It has seemingly been a very controversial, polarizing statement made by many evangelical leaders concerning God's design for men, women, relationships, and marriage. There have been people on all sides (including evangelicalism) condemning those who have signed the statement and one of the biggest outcries is that this statement does not represent Jesus at all and is very unloving.
I've read many articles and listened to many podcasts concerning the statement. I've browsed the dumpster fire that is Twitter with the hashtag #NashvilleStatement. At this point, I don't think I can help but add my two cents to the conversation. Something is bugging me that I see repeated by many evangelicals and liberals alike that leaves me asking every time, "Have you actually read the Bible? I mean, all of it? Actually, have you even paid attention to just the words (all of them) that Jesus said?" There is no way that I could think this is the case.
Before we jump in let me address a couple of personal things that I see people often criticizing Christians about. First, yes I have gay friends, I love them, and they know my stance on this issue yet still choose to hang out with me. Second, I am in no way saying I am better than you on any account. It is just the opposite in fact. I would say that apart from the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, I am probably worse than you. I lived in sexual sin for several years of my life and I would argue that my heterosexual sin is just as bad as any homosexual sin. It is only because of the freedom found in repenting and believing in Christ that I can speak freely today.
Maybe this article isn't even so much about the Nashville Statement as it is about what is love. If Jesus was all about love, and I do think He was, then maybe we should ask what love is. I think our current culture has started defining love as making sure someone is happy or accepting everything they ever do and never telling them that anything they do is wrong. This is not love.
Jesus loved people where they were and I think Christians should too, but He also cared about where they were going and I think this is what many people miss when they talk about Jesus. Jesus called sin for what it was and many times instructed people to either "repent and believe" or "go and sin no more" (Mark 1:15, John 5:14, John 8:11). By our culture's standards, Jesus is saying hateful words here. Jesus even says this in Matthew 7:13-14, "13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." How dare Jesus say that many will take the way leading to destruction, right? I thought He loved everyone and accepted them just how they are?
I could go on and on because believe it or not, Jesus said this in Matthew 10:34:39
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
He came to set people against each other? He wants you to lose your life for His sake? How are people missing these statements? These are the loving statements of Jesus. Statements like these are what proves that the Nashville Statement is a loving document by evangelicals who take the Bible seriously and want the best for those around them.
Once again we see Jesus' view of the seriousness of sin in Mark 9:43-48 when he says:
43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
Leaving someone in their sin is a very unloving thing to do. We are all sinners. I am not saying that any of us have successfully graduated from sin, but by God's grace I have been saved, been given the Holy Spirit, and with His help I am fighting my sin day by day seeking to take up my cross, lose my life, and follow Jesus. Do I fail daily? Of course. Do I hate that? Yes, but the Bible tells us that none of us will be made perfect until we pass from this earth and are with Christ.
Our desire is to see others freed from the grips of sin. God has shown me that His way written in His word is the best way to live. He designed life, earth, and everything here and He knows how it works best. Following His words is the narrow way, the way that leads to life. He has spoken on marriage and human sexuality and that biblical truth is laid out in the Nashville Statement.
Article 14 in the Nashville Statement says:
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.
WE DENY that the Lord's arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.
This is a loving statement. This says that no matter your sin, Christ is able to save. This is the loving call to repent and believe. This is the offer for a full and better life.