n the wake of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s “Nashville Statement,” RD published commentaries by Daniel Schultz, who called the manifesto “less of a theological statement than a Facebook post,” and Candace Chellew-Hodge, who argued that “this kind of damage has only been done to the LGBT community because we have given them the authority to do it.” Below, Eric Reitan opts for the point-by-point rebuttal that, we felt, might be of greater utility to readers with family or friends who find this sort of thing compelling. ⎼ eds
I am a straight cisgender Christian man, but for years I have listened to my LGBT neighbors, made LGBT friends, and vicariously shared in their struggles and triumphs. As an ethicist, I’ve wrestled with the lessons of those experiences—lessons that recently culminated in a book on same-sex marriage and Christian love. Based on that work, there is much I want to say to the authors of the Nashville Statement, who sought to reaffirm hostile conservative Christian views on the (presumably sinful) existence of LGBT people. But since the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s manifesto has 14 articles, let me limit myself to 14 points of my own.
- You do not speak for all Christians. In fact, there are many faithful Christians, across denominations, who strongly disagree with you. And although you write your manifesto with the kind of confidence that suggests you can’t possibly be mistaken about God’s will, that confidence doesn’t make you right (but does raise important questions about humility and hubris).
- The Christians who disagree with you cannot be dismissed as nothing but sell-outs to secular culture. In my book, The Triumph of Love: Same-Sex Marriage and the Christian Love Ethic, I argue that Christian support for same-sex marriage flows from nothing less central to Christian faith than Christ’s command that we love our neighbors as ourselves. I’m hardly the only Christian LGBT ally who thinks so. You may think we’re wrong, but if so you need to wrestle with our Christian arguments rooted in Christian values, not caricature us as cultural accommodationists.
- You cannot hide behind the “love the sinner, hate the sin” mantra. Of course we can love people who do sinful things. But the question is whether things like same-sex marriage and gender-affirming surgery are among those sinful things. Sometimes it’s unloving to take something to be a sin in the first place. Can I love my diabetic neighbor properly if I think it is sinful for her to use insulin? Of course not. If our condemnations leave a trail of dead bodies and broken lives, they might be out of sync with the law of love.