When it comes to the Nashville Statement, I watched it play out in real time on social media. I denounced it both on Twitter and in comments on various posts on Facebook. Even so, definitely wanted to blog a few thoughts now that I have had a few days to chew on it.
“There’s Nothing New Under The Sun.” – It’s The Same Old Same Old
Everything that was said in the statement has been said a million times before by culture warrior religious leaders seeking to stigmatize LGBTQ+ people. That said, it is uniquely damaging in that it is possibly the first time some young people have seen such organized hatred. Plus, every time a statement like this is made, it opens old and inflicts deep new wounds. This is not the Gospel of Christ, it is the curse of modern day religious Pharisees who deny that the love of Christ would bless and affirm LGBTQ+ lives, relationships, marriages, and families.
By the way, He does.
I am honored to be one of the initial signatories of the Christians United response and am very encouraged to see a genuine groundswell of love centered Christ followers directly and roundly condemning the Nashville Statement. It is a really good statement so check it out!
Who wasn’t on the list?
I hate to admit it but I was actually encouraged by one thing, one missing element, in the Nashville Statement; not a single current Restored Hope Network (RHN, ex-gay/conversion network) leader was listed on it. One former Exodus staff member (Mike Goeke) and speaker (Christopher Yuan) were on there. The infamous “homosexualism” hater Robert Gagnon (former board member of RHN) was listed as well. However, neither Anne Paulk, Stephen Black, Andy Comiskey or any of the RHN network leaders were included as initial signatories. I might have missed someone but I was encouraged that RHN wasn’t included. Maybe they aren’t seen by others as the go-to resource for evangelicals regarding all things ex-gay?
Among a myriad of possibilities I could think of, it is possible that they may have been invited but declined to sign it. I could easily see them aligning with other fringe religious right activists who believe that the Nashville Statment doesn’t hate Gay Christians enough. Who knows? And, it doesn’t really matter. it says something to me that current RHN leaders were not included as initial signatories.
And while this is just the most recent salvo in the culture war between religious stigma and LGBTQ+ equality. There are *many* progressive Christ followers and resources out there to counter all these old culturally derived curses with true life-giving apologetics and resources. Plus, every time this type of thing rolls around, the voices of love gain strength, clarity, volume and numbers of people willing to speak up.
for LGBTQ+ Christians
I believe culturally derived Christianity, as we have known it, is failing under its own ego, personal ambitions, and addiction to influence and power. Christ followers are truly returning to our first love in Christ alone and not depending on others to validate our place in the Body of Christ. We do not need to seek the permission of the Nashville Statement’s signers or supporters. We do not have to subordinate ourselves to them as “the voice” of Christianity into our culture either. We, LGBTQ+ Christ followers and our allies, have a place because He is our Lord and Savior whether anyone else agrees or not. Christ is our strength and we will rise to each and every occasion with love, direct and careful confrontation, and grace.
for LGBTQ+ Community (as a whole)
In a nutshell, religious stigma empowers anti-LGBTQ+ hatred in all sectors of society. You may not see this type of thing as your battle to pick, and maybe it isn’t. But please be encouraged that some of us in the midst of all this understand, all too well, how this type of effort has been used against our whole community. Yes, we busted out of the church closet, but we are against all shame and condemnation being brought against the entire LGBTQ+ community. It may be our unwanted and unasked for battle but it is for *all* of us that we remain faithful to speak against religious leaders bearing false witness about God’s love for His LGBTQ+ children.
Those are my thoughts :). If the Nashville Statement was hurtful and discouraging to you, I wish you peace and encouragement. May any shame and condemnation fall of with healthy confidence and joy.
Being Free is Good,