The Nashville Statement on Human Sexuality

Sep 23rd, 2017 | By | Category: Christian Life, Featured Issues

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I have been involved with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) since I took a few post-doctoral classes at what was then Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  One of those classes was taught by Dr. Wayne Grudem, one of America’s foremost theologians and New Testament scholars.  He is a founder and leader of CBMW.  CBMW has produced significant scholarly articles on the roles of men and women in the home and in the church and has consistently defended the position now known as complementarity:  Men and women are totally equal in the home and the church but God has assigned specific roles for each in these institutions.  [See CBMWs Danvers Statement of 1987.]

CBMW has just released The Nashville Statement, a statement on “biblical sexuality.”  Denny Burk, president of CBMW, declared that “the aim of The Nashville Statement is to shine a light into the darkness—to declare the goodness of God’s design in our sexuality and in creating us as male and female.”  Theologian Albert Mohler comments that “it is clarity in the midst of confusion that will stand the test of time and the test of truth.”

In this Perspective, I seek to bring The Nashville Statement the exposure it so richly deserves.  To that end, I will quote extensively from salient portions of the Statement.  To see the complete statement and a list of the endorsements of the statement, go to www.cbmw.org/nashville-statement.

Preamble:

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 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.

 

Article 1

WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.

WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship.  We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.

 

Article 2

WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.

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.

 

Article 3

WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.

WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.

 

Article 4

WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.

WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome. 

 

Article 5

WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.

WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.

 

Article 6

WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers.  They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.”  With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.

WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.

 

Article 7

WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.

WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.

 

Article 8

WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.

WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.

 

Article 9

WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality— a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.

WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.

 

Article 10

WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.

WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

 

Article 11

WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.

WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his image bearers as male and female.

 

Article 12

WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

 

Article 13

WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.

WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.

 

Article 14

WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.

WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach. PRINT PDF

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2 Comments to “The Nashville Statement on Human Sexuality”

  1. Arlie Rauch says:

    Thanks for sharing this excellent document! I tried to be closely involved with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood from the beginning of its existence. At some point not long ago I wondered whether they still existed. As far as it affects me, they have become very much less visible, though this may or may not be true for others. It’s nice to see that they put out this statement. To me it is clear, understandable, accurate.

  2. Richard Pendell says:

    Of course, the Mayor of Nashville has been very irritated that the name of his city is part of this document’s title.
    Article 10 has generated the greatest degree of angst. It is true that embracing ANY doctrine of Man or God apart from and in direct contrast to Scripture constitutes “another gospel” with a distinct identity. Paul and the Apostles were continually defending the purity of Christ’s Gospel against cultural and philosophical addendums that other teachers and lawyers felt absolutely necessary.
    Tim Keller says that in post-Christian America, people accept and defend clearly non-Christian beliefs because they don’t recognize them as beliefs at all. They are simply the unquestioned cultural concensus of educated people. He says outside of North America, people still assume it is normal for everyone has a distinct set of beliefs. Here, it is the mark of an educated person to hold and passionately defend a rigid set of beliefs while seeing himself as
    sophisticated and progressive non-believer. Such people can easily embrace “another gospel” by seeing it only as a logical group consensus and not what it really is.