Early this week, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) published The Nashville Statement, laying out a biblical understanding of gender and sexuality. It is fairly straightforward, fourteen short articles affirming positives about God’s design for us as men and women, and denying the misunderstandings (can we bring back the word heresy?) brought about by militant feminism and the Sexual Revolution.
Particularly refreshing to me was the way that the writers included all disordered expressions of sexuality. Article II says,
“We deny that any affections, desires or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.”
There’s more to the attack on marriage and sexuality than it just being between one man and woman, and I appreciate that this was acknowledged. Whatever our personal struggles may be, sexually, we are all held to the same standard:
Are you married? No? Then don’t be fooling around. End of story.
I was surprised that some things needed saying, however. Article IV refutes the idea that “[gender] differences are a result of the Fall.” Article VI affirms that those born with ambiguous genitalia are capable of being faithful Christians. I was unaware that these were things discussed in Christian (or any) circles.
I’ve been hunting around for people who are saying that gender is a result of the Fall, because the statement is just so absurd.The bible is full of beautiful wedding imagery from beginning to end, describing how Christ loves his Church. It seems absurd to say these passages are on accident or born from misfortune.
The top-billed signers on the Statement read like a who’s who of Evangelical Christianity. My pre-coffee brain was surprised to not see any bishops or priests as signees, but two cups in, the light bulb went on. Catholics have no need for such a declaration.
Despite what folks like Fr. James Martin may say, Catholic teaching on gender and sexuality can never change. As a Catholic, you either believe what the Church teaches, or, well, you aren’t really a Catholic. Any modern questions about such matters have been dealt with by encyclicals, Church Councils, or my personal favorite, JPII’s Theology of the Body. One clever comment on facebook called the statement “the poor man’s Church Council”. Heh.
Of course, the outrage at the Statement was immediate. “How archaic”, “how hateful”, “horrible timing”, and my personal favorite “the god (de-capitalization mine) I know wouldn’t say this!”. While I am sure that members of the actual LGBT community probably find it brash and grating, I would be curious how many “allies” are equally as outraged as Sharia Law is being actively practiced in the United Kingdom. Traditionally, they take quite a harder line than Christians do on sexual immorality.
When he was still pope, Benedict XVI stated that he believed the Church would get much smaller, but be much more faithful in the coming years. I believe this applies to our Evangelical brothers as well. In the last few decades especially, its been very easy to have your own personal Jesus who wants nothing but your immediate happiness and for us all to just get along. But the Jesus in the Gospel clearly states that being a Christian is hard work, and won’t win you any popularity contests.
|Photo copyright Hilary Thompson 2017. All rights reserved.|
The Nashville Statement is a line in the sand. It is an opportunity for Evangelicals (Catholics too, really) to stop and think if they are up to the challenge of the Gospel. It is simply not possible to go with the currents of modern culture. Good work to the CBMW for reminding all Christians which side of that line we need to be on.