The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood released The Nashville Statement today. It condemns—not just those who choose to live authentically as LGBTQ Christians—but also those who affirm their choice to do so. Evangelical leaders have decided, and put into writing, that this is not an issue that we can disagree on while still being part of the same faith. They have effectively declared entire Christian denominations to be sinful for daring to accept and include folks like me.
Here’s the thing. Personally, I could not care less about this statement. I think it’s absurd that this debate is still happening, and to be completely honest, I actually laughed out loud when I read the name, “Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.” The Nashville Statement won’t affect my life or how I live it. It won’t affect affirming denominations or their stances on scripture. It won’t affect the rest of society, and it will not change anyone’s mind.
Because between their responses to the World Vision debacle, Ferguson, the election, the continued support of Donald Trump, Charlottesville, and countless other crises, evangelicals have completely squandered whatever moral authority they once held. They have zero credibility in the eyes of those outside of their echo chamber. No non-evangelical is putting any stock into John Piper or Francis Chan’s signatures. Evangelical opinions about queer people hold no weight whatsoever to those who are committed to social progress.
There are questioning and closeted queer kids sitting in those evangelical pews. Queer kids who are already four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. And they don’t know that there’s a world outside of the evangelical echo chamber. They’ve been told that the evangelical church is The Church. And those kids are going to read that statement. They’re going to see their pastor’s signature on that statement. They are going to feel terror, shame, and hopelessness, and they are going to believe that it’s from Jesus.
Because for some of these kids, evangelical Jesus is the only Jesus they know. No one has told them that the Body of Christ is queer. They don’t know that it’s queer and it’s black and it’s disabled and it’s undocumented and it’s sleeping on a park bench. They’re growing up in a church that tells them that their sole purpose is to share the Gospel, the Good News, with everyone they meet. But they don’t know that Jesus is good news for them, too. They don’t know that God is even better than some Christians are willing to believe.
I really don’t want to care about what evangelicals are saying anymore. They have no sway over me. They have no relevance. I’ve found a church home outside of evangelicalism, and I’m more in love with Jesus than ever before. In four months, I’ll graduate from my evangelical university, and my last tie to fundamentalism and conservative Christianity will be cut. I shouldn’t have to care about The Nashville Statement. It has nothing to do with my life.
But I can’t not care. Because when I graduate in four months, those kids will still be sitting in those pews. There will still be folks who are full of terror and shame because of the kinds of teachings that their leaders have signed off on. There will still be good Christian parents losing their kids to suicide because of this theology. And I care a lot about that, you guys. We all should.
So as long as evangelicals are promoting this kind of fruitless and exclusionary distortion of Jesus, and as long as they continue to drive Image Bearers away from the arms of Christ, as much as I don’t want to…I’m going to care about what they say. And I’m not going to shut up about it.
You are loved by God.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
You are worthy of wholeness and happiness.
You belong here. You are not a burden.
I’m so glad you’re part of my family.