Does Australian Christianity need a Nashville Statement?

Today, The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (CBMW) announced the Nashville Statement, a manifesto designed to bring clarity to the Christian view of human sexuality.

Evangelical leaders from across the USA and the UK are signatories, with many more names being added, from across churches and different denominations. They share in common a belief in the truth and goodness of God’s word and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are also expressing concern over  the culture’s reconstruction of sexuality, and are calling Churches back to the Bible and to trust God’s purposes.

The Preamble states,

“Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.

This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?

We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.

We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.”

 

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In recent days we have seen a number of Christian leaders in Australia reject the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality, and doing so with the intent of persuading the public, both Christian and non Christian, that God supports sexual unions that are not within covenant union of marriage between a man and a woman. One can understand why so many Australians and even Australian Christians are confused on these issues when recognised Bible teachers come out with their hermeneutical trickery. Other Christians feel unable to speak to these issues, not because they lack conviction, but out of fear of being ostracised.

It is the case that almost every major Christian denomination in the country has a formal position on marriage, one that reflects the Bible’s presentation. However, these are often unaccompanied with adequate theological and pastoral reflection, and they don’t speak to other matters of sexuality.

In our current climate, could we do with our own Nashville Statement? How could it be helpful for Churches? Obviously we would need to change the name to something more Aussie: perhaps Bourke or Newcastle, or Frankston! Which of the 14 articles would need recalibration for our context, if any?

There may be reasonable objections to putting together a nation wide Christian oracle, and it would be helpful to hear and consider these. One thing though has become increasingly clear in recent weeks, and that this is not a season for Aussie Christians to become unclear about or lacking confidence in God’s good purposes, and in the beauty of the Gospel.

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15 thoughts on “Does Australian Christianity need a Nashville Statement?

    • Jesus did however publicly and clearly affirm God’s design for marriage and sexuality.

      Would you suggest that other Christian creeds and statements are unnecessary? The Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Westminster Confession, etc

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      • Are you so certain? He simply answered a question about the debate between Rabbis Hillel and Shammai on whether or not it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason, even if she were a bad cook. It’s evangelicals who manage to read the gospels and epistles into the Pentateuch.

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      • The Gospels are nowhere near as clear as you seem to believe. Jesus statement about divorce is backed up with the claim that celibacy is not for everyone and that we shouldn’t force it on others. By disallowing SSM we are forcing celibacy on others.

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      • “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

        Jesus is perfectly clear. When questioned about marriage he went to the beginning and affirmed the Genesis paradigm for marriage. Jesus consistently and only affirmed marriage between a man and a woman and explicitly called all other sexual relations as porneia. Sex in marriage? Yes. Outside marriage between ma & a woman? Celibacy.

        You’re statement simply has no legs.

        Also, while our society likes to condemn celibacy as some great moral evil, the Bible is quite positive about celibacy. Sam Allberry has written a helpful article on this topic – https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-celibacy-can-fulfill-your-sexuality

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      • It says, “created them male AND female” not “male OR female”. The ανθροπος – man – is made of both female AND male substance. The ‘and’ is emphatic not indicative. Further if you read Genesis 2, the man exists as human before he is separated in to male and female. The primal adam is androgynous.

        Further, the verbs speak more to the forsaking of parents, of giving up rights to Jewish patriarchy. It is a rejection of the claims of Ezra, and the claims of Deuteronomy in the freedom of men to dominate women. Hetero-normative theologies are simply a continuation of the patriarchal system that Jesus seeks to dismantle in Matt 19.

        v11, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given.” If we expect to force people to remain celibate who are not married, the logic follows that then we should allow same sex couples to marry so they are not forced to be celibate.

        I agree that the Bible is positive about celibacy. But with the caveat of verse 11 ‘not everyone’. And just because someone doesn’t have hetero-normative desires, that doesn’t mean they have been given the teaching to be celibate. You are forcing them to accept the teaching.

        I’m sorry but your claim is eisegesis and doesn’t hold up to a contextual reading of the passage.

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      • I suppose you wouldn’t want to check the text before dismissing that?

        I think you’ve made up your mind on what you want the text to say but just in case you want to check the commentaries:
        Ulrich Luz “Matthew: A commentary” Translated by Wilhelm C Linss, p489.
        Stephen Yulish. “Adam: male, female or both?” Anima 9, no 1 (Sep 1982), 59-62.

        Luz references some other sources as well.

        Also check Megan Warner. ““Therefore a Man Leaves His Father and His Mother and Clings to His Wife”: Marriage and Intermarriage in Genesis 2:24.” Journal of Biblical Literature 136, no. 2 (2017): 269-88. doi:10.15699/jbl.1362.2017.241017.
        Link: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.15699/jbl.1362.2017.156765

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  1. Christiasn who identify as same sex attracted and are celibate for the sake of the kingdom such as Wesley Hill and David Bennett due to it’s article 7. These faithful men acknowledge they are gay, yet the statement appears to preclude them. I wonder how widely CMBW consulted in drafting this statement.

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    • Yes, that’s right, as in what you say about Hill and Bennett. I don’t read it as excluding them. It certainly does not exclude same sex attracted Christians for some of the signatories are so. I understand though that Wesley Hill identifies as gay, while others would not.

      One would have to ask CMBW about their consultation process

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  2. So the issue is whether to redraft article 7: “We deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes as revealed in creation and redemption.” It comes down to “don’t call yourself ‘gay’, call yourself same sex attracted” doesn’t it?

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