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Topics: Nashville Statement and LGBT issues, The Nashville Statement

Russell Moore Discusses the Nashville Statement on NPR

December 20, 2017

On Tuesday, NPR’s nationally syndicated program, “On Point,” dedicated a segment to the Nashville Statement. In the segment, Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and an initial signatory of the Nashville Statement, joined the discussion with host Tom Gjelten and two other guests: Peter Marty, senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa and publisher of The Christian Century magazine, and Amelia Boomershine, deacon-in-residence at Grace Church, a Methodist church in Dayton, Ohio. Moore spoke in defense of the Nashville Statement, while Marty and Boomershine took positions against it.

The conversation can be heard above, and is well worth the listen. A couple of brief thoughts on this:

  1. At one point in the segment, Marty, along with several of the callers-in to the show, charges evangelicals and signers of the Nashville Statement with an obsession with sex. But as Moore rightly points out, it is the culture that is sex-obsessed, not evangelicals. Why the Nashville Statement now? Think about the headlines over the last few years: Bruce Jenner, Obergefell, bathroom bills, DoE “Dear Colleague” letter to public schools giving guidelines about opening girls restrooms to boys, gender identity in the military—not to mention the intrusion into Christian livelihood with the stories about wedding bakers, florists, and photographers. In the midst of this massive cultural sea change, evangelicals simply bore witness to the fact that we still believe what the Bible says, which is what a strong majority of Americans believed even five years ago. In short, we still believe what the church has taught on marriage and sexuality for 2,000 years. Why does it seem like evangelicals are obsessed with sex? Because the culture is chaffing against the Bible’s sexual ethic, and Christians are feeling the pressure to compromise.
  2. In another part of the show, Marty argues that only seven verses out of more than 30,000 in the Bible speak about homosexuality, so evangelicals should stop obsessing over this sin. This statement ignores all of the other verses that present a positive vision of human marriage and sexuality. And this is exactly what Marty does when he makes the claim that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. As Moore rightly rebuts, Jesus addresses the issue of homosexuality indirectly by defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and he grounds this definition by explicitly quoting from Genesis 1 and 2. This makes Marty’s point about how evangelicals are wrong to ground views of marriage and sexuality in Genesis 1 and 2 especially bizarre: not only is there theological reasoning for doing so—namely to point to God’s pre-fall design for marriage and sexuality that is uncorrupted by sin—but this is exactly what our Lord and Master did.
  3. One of the callers said that his son is gay because God created him that way and he is simply acting out of his – to use his word – “nature.” The thing is, the Bible doesn’t disagree with him on this second point, while it emphatically denies the first (1 Cor. 14:33). In fact, the Christian doctrine of sin couldn’t be clearer on this. In three of his letters, Paul speaks of the necessity of putting off the old self (lit. “man,” ἅνθρωπος) and putting on the new self (Rom. 6:6, Eph. 4:22, and Col. 3:9). In writing this, Paul acknowledges that all of us are born with a nature that is bent toward all manners of sinful practices. Each one of us could justify ourselves when we sin by saying that we are just “being our self,” that we are sinning according to our nature and we can’t do otherwise. But this is the gospel: Christ came to set us free from our sin natures and to make us new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). The Christian should no longer justify himself when he sins and say that he is merely acting out of his “nature.” Instead, we are commanded to live in the gospel-created reality that our old self has been crucified with Christ: “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11).

Much more could be said, but for now I am very thankful for Dr. Moore’s clear defense of biblical orthodoxy and Christian sexual ethics which aired across the country on Tuesday.

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