Perhaps some of you have read the recent “Nashville Statement” that was signed and promoted by some of the most well-known evangelical church leaders in America. I’m including the link for your own reading (https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement/), but suffice it to say that the statement argues for traditional marriage between one man and one woman, that all gay or lesbian persons are condemned because of their sexual orientation, moreover, the statement reasserts an old guilt-ridden, body-punishing view of human sexuality, namely, that any sexual experience outside the boundaries of a marriage relationship is morally wrong.
I would like to offer an affirmation of my own . . . one that is progressive, optimistic, grounded theologically and open to the ongoing evolution of the Christian faith . . .
- All lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, and questioning human beings are children of God. Children. Of. God. Consequently, all of these children of God are welcome in the church and should be able to celebrate their faith in a context of Christian community. People are people and love is love.
- Furthermore, sexual orientation isn’t merely a choice, but is primarily driven by who we are genetically wired to be from birth.
- Marriage is for people who love one another and who want to give their lives to one another. The sexual orientation of the marriage partners is not nearly as important as their love, devotion and willingness to care for the other person. In this day and age, anytime someone wants to undertake the adventure of marriage, they should be encouraged and supported by church leaders, not ridiculed or condemned.
- References in the Bible that condemn homosexuality should be understood as a by-product of that ancient time and not an enduring moral structure for human experience. (The same can be said for other issues noted in the Bible such as the role of women in society, the role of slavery in society, the role of medicine in society, to name just a few.)
- The trouble with the “Nashville Statement” is that it locks into an ancient time and perspective, and then tries to take historically conditioned realities and turn them into everlasting moral norms. While on the surface the statement might seem to be biblical, in fact, it is bad biblical interpretation and progressive churches around the country should continue advocating for an open, loving, inclusive way of understanding the Christian faith.
- Finally, from an experiential perspective, I will say this: Love is love is love is love is love. I have performed many same-sex marriages. I have performed many traditional marriages. Joy is joy. Love is love. Celebration is celebration. And people are people. I ground this viewpoint in the life of Jesus, the very Jesus who teaches me again and again to love my neighbor as myself.
So, Take a Breath, dear friends, and given the wide circulation of the “Nashville Statement,” I ask you to help me — if you feel as I do — that my affirmation deserves to be heard in a wider circle — Share it. Like it. Copy it. Past it. Print it. Quote it. Use it in a sermon. Read it at a church board meeting. Talk about it in a Sunday School class. Do whatever you want with it, because it belongs to you. What is at stake? Nothing less than the dignity and happiness of thousands and thousands of people, people who want to love God and also be themselves. This is my 2. Cents. Worth.