A diversity of views, opinions and theologies is something that is incredibly precious and a valuable asset for the Christian Church. However, forceful insistence from any side of a debate that results in oppressing other Christians can be very damaging.
Unfortunately, this week's Nashville Statement which reaffirmed traditional views of gender and sexuality, ignored the incredible faithfulness that LGBT+ Christians and their allies have, suggesting they possess a lack of understanding of the Bible and of the nature of God himself.
Yesterday’s blog post by Tim Thornborough said that the statement seeks to "appeal to Christians to stand firmly on an understanding of God’s will". But there is a glaring error in this statement: God’s will is beyond all understanding. We can discuss, debate and attempt to comprehend God’s plan for us but we will never find out the true answer in this life.
Christians United’s statement, which was issued in response to the Nashville Statement rightly said: "A new day is dawning in the Church, and all Christians are being called to step out boldly and unapologetically in affirmation and celebration of our LGBT+ siblings as equal participants in the kingdom of God".
It argued the Church is on the "brink of a new reformation", which is "on the leading edge of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work".
Christians who support LGBT+ equality and marriage are not seeking to destroy traditional understanding of marriage, but rather widen our understanding and embrace the love for all that Jesus shows for all.
The Nashville Statement mentions God’s "design" numerous times, stating that any orientation other than heterosexuality is simply "individual’s autonomous preferences". But a simple conversation with an LGBT+ person would instantly resolve this false assumption, for sexuality is not a choice, but part of someone’s identity and a true component of their being. God made us all in his image: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). We seem to forget that the love of Christ stretches far beyond our understanding and, to him, sexuality, gender, race or any other part of identity does not and cannot obstruct our path to God.
If we deny LGBT+ persons of their love for one another, we are denying them of God’s love
One of the most striking biblical quotes in these debates is 1 John 4:8 – "God is love". LGBT+ Christians experience love the same as any other human on this planet. Love is universal. If we deny LGBT+ persons of their love for one another, we are denying them of God’s love and, in turn, of God himself. It is not in our capacity, nor our human right, to reject Christians from Christ because of our own personal reservations.
In response to the fourteen traditionalist articles in the Nashville Statement, the Christians United statement has ten articles of acknowledgement, acceptance and love for LGBT+ Christians. They should be "welcomed in to the life of the Church and society just as they are, without a need to conform to the heteronormative, patriarchal, binary sexuality and gender paradigm that Christianity has come to promote and embrace". Their callings for service and vocation in Church, whether in lay or ordained ministry, should not be ignored but should be approached with arms open-wide.
Healthy discussions must be had as we explore the idea of a more affirming and inclusive Church, but we should uphold each other’s views with dignity and respect. We are a broad Church, I just hope and pray we can be even broader, much more accepting and affirm both the relationships and the ministries of LGBT+ people in our churches and in our community.
Yes, I am a devoted Christian. Yes, I believe in the same God as those who signed the Nashville Statement. And we also believe in the same Jesus who died, resurrected and ascended to heaven. But no, I cannot agree with the Nashville Statement. Instead I believe God calls us to radical inclusivity.
Premier Christianity is publishing a variety of perspectives on the Nashville Statement. Click here to read an alternative viewpoint.