At the end of last month, a group of Evangelical theologians, pastors, and leaders put out what they called the Nashville Statement on sexual morality. The first thing to note is that 50 years ago, it would have been regarded as self-evident to most Christians.
Money quote: “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.” So far, so conventional, especially for Evangelicals. And some of the immediate rebukes of the statement, in their desire to have Evangelicals embrace the sexual revolution, are a little silly. These teachings go back millennia in Christian thought. To ask orthodox Christians simply to embrace the opposite overnight is to ask them, in some ways, to abolish themselves.
But you immediately wonder if the statement is going to condemn divorce or contraception or multiple successive marriages or pornography or masturbation or countless other questions of sexual morality that heterosexuals grapple with. And you can search the document for any thoughts on these questions. In fact, it has almost nothing to say to 97 percent of humanity on sexual matters.
What it does instead is condemn the 3 percent. In fact, it does more than condemn the sexual behaviors of gay and transgender people. It erases our self-understanding entirely. Money quote: “We deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.” It is not just what we do that these Evangelical leaders object to; it is who we are. Our very “self-conception” is a defiance of God’s will. We sure aren’t part of nature, even though scientists have observed variations on the sexual norm in countless other species. We are merely heterosexuals who have chosen to act out our desires in sexually immoral ways. The words gay and homosexual and transgender describe nothing but sin. In this way, Christianity doesn’t have to grapple at all with the testimony or experiences of gay or transgender people, because we don’t, strictly speaking, exist. At best, we are beset with “psychological conditions” that lead us into sin and Hell.
When nature produces intersex people, the Evangelicals therefore have a bit of a problem. Read more via New York Magazine