Editor’s note: The following essay appears in the Fall 2022 issue of Eikon.
When the Supreme Court of the United States recognized same-sex marriage as the law of the land on June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges, I immediately responded by saying that we have opened a Pandora’s Box that had no floor. How little did I realize what an understatement that was. Five Justices had redefined marriage and rejected centuries of a virtually unanimous understanding of what marriage is: a union of a man and a woman in conjugal and covenantal relationship. But, there is a paradox that followed the Obergefell decision. As Albert Mohler rightly observed, “Everything has changed, and nothing has changed.” Everything has changed because we have opened the door to an “anything goes” ethic and understanding of marriage. Same-sex marriage is simply the first step in the deconstruction of a once understood sacred union between a man and woman. Polygamy, incestual marriages, multi-partner marriages and who knows what else will surely follow. The Supreme Court has laid its own trap that it will find next to impossible to escape, as radical autonomy and freedom become the rails on which its train will now run.
And yet, nothing has changed — at least for the Christian who looks to the word of God for guidance and direction. That is one reason I am extremely grateful for the men and women who boldly and compassionately penned the Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality in 2017. Born out of a conviction that the Bible speaks clearly to gender, sexuality, and marriage, the Nashville Statement points to God’s good design for human flourishing and joy while also celebrating his good gifts of male-female complementarity and monogamous, heterosexual marriage. “The Father knows best” could summarize the theme of this necessary declaration.
Those who authored the Nashville Statement, as well as the more than 24,000 persons who have gladly added their signature, know they are swimming upstream and against the torrid currents of an increasingly post-Christian culture. But the church follows the marching orders of a crucified and risen King, not the whims of a culture bent on its own demise. We joyfully declare in concert with Holy Scripture the “true story of the world and of our place in it — particularly as male and female,” and we affirm and confess that “our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God.” While loving unconditionally the LGBTQ+ community, we must speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), identify sin where we see it, and point to the hope of a new creation we can all experience in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).
I believe the Nashville Statement is a concise and faithful summary of divine truth revealed in God’s inerrant Word. It is grounded in God’s good creational design (Gen 1–2) and immersed in the redeeming gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why I was honored to be one of the original signatories to this historic and critically needed statement. It is desperately necessary and a correction to a society rushing headlong into the quicksand of its own destruction.
Danny Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and also serves on the CBMW board and council.
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