The people of Nashville feel a little aggrieved today, and rightly so, for the name of their city has been hijacked by biblical terrorists. Religious nutcases are at it again, spewing their hatred and sanctioning it under the title of the “Nashville Statement.” The manifesto consists of a preamble and fourteen articles which affirm their views on marriage as a one-man-one-woman god-ordained institution while denying numerous other viewpoints to the contrary. I’m all for people believing anything they want and striving to live up to their own principles. However, I get a little defensive when those views are thrust upon others. I also get defensive when religionists make God out to be a tyrant (but I’ve already addressed that topic in The Ethics of Religion and According to Plan as well as others). The signers of the declaration label anyone who disagrees with them as a sinner. “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.” Again, that’s fine, call anyone you want a sinner, but don’t legislate against them in the guise of doing God’s errand.
So what does any of this have to do with terrorism and legislation? Let’s begin with terrorism. When you destroy property (public or private) in order to make your statement, you’re a terrorist. When you picket and protest funerals and torment the grieving, you’re a terrorist. When you kill or maim people who behave differently than you believe they should–no harm to you–you’re a terrorist. All of these things have been done by those ascribing to doctrines similar to those expounded within the Nashville Statement. Then there’s the right arm of the law, the preferred weapon of civilized terrorists. I don’t know the signers of the statement personally, but I would guess that most of them support legislation defining marriage as a one-man-one-woman institution. Admittedly, I’m basing this supposition off of the extensive lobbying from religious institutions that I witnessed in recent years. In other words, they want the state to support their view. They go further to say that anyone who seeks a sexual union outside of this rigidly defined (and state controlled) format is a sinner.
The word sin (or its derivatives) occurs ten times in the statement. It references the Bible as support for all of this bashing. “WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship.” This is humorous considering that God sanctioned polygamy on numerous occasions within the Bible. Abraham, the father of the faithful, was a polygamist. Jacob, the one whom God chose to establish his people ISRAEL, was a polygamist. Moses was a polygamist and he instituted a law which, under certain circumstances, required some Israelites to enter polygamy. God’s prophet Nathan gave numerous wives to King David. And there are many other examples. Much later, the Apostle Paul made a statement similar to the one-man-one-woman doctrine. What?! The Bible contradicts itself? Impossible! Let’s perform some mental acrobatics in order to deny the obvious. So when evangelists tell me that the Bible denounces homosexuality and other “deviant” sexual orientations, I simply read those biblical references and find the contradictory commandments of A) killing homosexuals and B) not killing, period. I don’t lose sleep over it and instead I hope that all people, regardless of their sexual orientations, find as much happiness as I have, or more.
I found a couple of items in the statement to which I can agree:
- “This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church.” Yes it does and it’s about time that the church is defending itself against people who demand the right to love each other, instead of lovers defending their lives against the church.
- “Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all.” If this is true, then stop interfering with his domain. Leave it to him to legislate his will. The only laws which I have seen God establish are physics and freedom. It is not the place of governments to pander to religions by enforcing their doctrines and limiting the freedom of consenting adults who are not harming anyone else.
Some of the more difficult concepts for me may be found in article 6:
- “WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development … should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.” In other words, despite the fact that they’ve been formed differently by the creator, they can still only be either male or female, so suck it up, buttercup.
- “WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.” In other words, if you can’t comply with these teachings, stay single and get busy in the church.
The Bible is fraught with inconsistencies and contradictions–not exactly the type of thing that we should be using as the basis for modern legislation. It may not even be the best basis for forming a rational concept of morality. (If you’re interested, this project has undertaken to catalog biblical inconsistencies and other problems. Furthermore, the Jesus Seminar has produced a stunning body of biblical scholarship.) By the way, I love the Bible, but I feel free to take what is edifying and put the rest back on the shelf, so to speak. It becomes a case of who do you believe? The bible-thumping bigots who reference a single, infallible source while conveniently ignoring all that which controverts their claims, or scholars who meticulously and solemnly examine numerous sources while challenging thousands of years of tradition and their own viewpoints? For me, the choice is clear. The choice is love.
Author of JACK
Image of Bible heart taken from here.