We live in a world where we view snippets of news through the lens of our Facebook page. Lately, my Facebook page has been exploding with news about the Nashville statement.
This statement has started intense conversation about the path of Christianity in this day and age. It was met with criticism and agreement, with some people applauding it, and others denouncing the intentions. This article is my perception of the Nashville Statement, so let’s dig in.
First off, if you aren’t aware of the statement I urge you to read it before you read this. You can click the link below and gain a better understanding of what I am referencing.
The Nashville Statement is a doctrine released by a prominent group of Christian evangelicals outlining how they will address same-sex marriage, gender roles, and sexuality in the church. Included in this document is a petition which you can sign to affirm that you believe in their statements.
I believe this document was written with good intentions. I KNOW CRAZY! I believe these authors, pastors, and Christians thought this was the right direction to publicize their faith.
I do not however, understand how they could write this statement and believe that it would demonstrate the gospel we believe.
Perhaps these evangelicals wrote this pledge because they are scared. They are scared of the division that is eating it’s way into our churches. Maybe they believe that if they don’t set a clear standard for Christian practice then heretical thinking will run amuck in our churches. They want to set and adhere to a specific standard of Christianity.
To be fair, these points are valid. But there is a big problem with this tactic:
The problem is they have created a rhetoric which will further isolate and divide the Christian community. They have created a division between those who agree and those who disagree with their beliefs.
By writing this document they have erected a platform for hate, exclusion, and supposedly “right” vs. “wrong’ thinking. They have also decided, that if anyone opposes their beliefs they cannot call themselves a Christian. Ouch. (See Article 10).
It hurts me to read the names of the pastors who endorsed this statement. Pastors like Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, and so many others. Pastors who are loving, generous and whole heartedly seek Christ in their daily life.
Despite this, I cannot look at this document and believe it comes from a place of love.
The reality is we have all contributed to a culture of hate. We live in a world where church people hide in their chapels, and atheists refuse to set foot in any religious ceremony. Where the LGBTQ community hates Christianity, and where Christians hate the LGBTQ community.
We have become dangerously divided.
We have spun a narrative that demonizes the “other.” That separates us all, and brings anger to the surface of our conversations. The Nashville statement, a political tool, has further divided our communities, and propelled us into our separate truths.
I am the first to admit that I may be wrong. That many Christians will read this article and shake their heads in shame. They will believe that I am a “lovey Christian hippie,” who does not understand the consequences of my actions.
But I would like to propose an alternative. An alternative to signing the Nashville statement and unearthing anger in our society.
I want to propose Jesus.
Jesus, a man who spent his life loving people where they were at, regardless of who they were. A man who didn’t write petitions, or stage protests, but instead lived out the gospel in his daily actions. A man who turned an atheist to a prophet, and a prostitute into a woman of virtue. A man who is and will forever be the definition of love.
I am sorry if you do not believe that love is the answer. I truly do.
I believe that now, more than ever, it is our responsibility as Christians to love people. Not by compromising our values, or hiding our beliefs, but through our actions. By laying down our discomfort and agenda, by simply loving people where they are.
Here’s the thing. You are allowed to agree with the tenants of the Nashville statement, I am not, and will not, tell you differently. That is your opinion, and you have a right to it.
But I urge you to decipher the intention behind this document. To see that by signing a petition, by pledging to a language of “affirm & deny,” you remove your ability to extend love and grace. By writing a petition and attacking others, we demonize those who need God’s love, and we isolate everyone from our faith.
This is not the first time that Christians have been divided. It is a well rehearsed and predictable troupe that dates back to Christ’s time on earth. We see this same division in the church of Ephesus. Paul wrote and begged them to unite under their faith.
“1 As a prisoner in the Lord, then, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received: 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 and with diligence to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” ~ Ephesians 4:1-6
I believe that Christians are better than this. We have to be better than this.
I believe now, more than ever, we need to unite as one. We must work together to bring love and understanding to this society. We must join together in faith, join together in mercy, or watch the gospel fade away.
Thanks for reading,