Much attention has been given this week to the Nashville Statement, a manifesto on sexuality published Tuesday by the evangelical Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW).
I disagree with the CBMW statement. I affirm that all human beings, regardless of sexual orientation, are made in the image of God, all are loved by God, all are called to be loved by Christians, and all are equally welcome in the Body of Christ.
But, while I disagree with the CBMW message, and its earlier crusade against feminism, I respect the fact they and their followers can read Scripture and come to different conclusions than me.
We all have an obligation to discern the meaning and contemporary application of Scripture, and I wouldn’t presume to think I have the only right conclusions.
Despite these differences in belief and doctrine, we all are commanded to deal with each other in love — that is our Christian calling.
My contention with the Nashville Statement, then, isn’t so much that I disagree with the CBMW, or they with me, but rather with the statement’s express bar to mutually respectful disagreement over human interpretations of Scripture.
The statement denies it’s possible for “otherwise faithful Christians” to agree to disagree on this topic. The authors profess compassion, and a “duty to speak the truth in love at all times,” but slam the door on any loving, respectful discourse with those of dissenting opinions.
In this 14-article diatribe the CBMW has deliberately placed themselves in opposition to not only every LGBT member of society, but also to every other Christian who does not share their preoccupation with sexuality.
It is regrettable, that at a time when the Body of Christ is increasingly splintered, at a time when the Christian church looks less and less like Christ, at a time when our nation is torn by racism, poverty, unrivaled political strife, and natural disaster — that at this time a group of pastors and theologians chose to use their position to sow more division and strife into this world, rather than the desperately needed peace and compassion of Christ’s love for us all.
At a time when humanity cries out for the balm of Christian love, the CBMW focuses not on the poor, the stranger, and the hungry, but instead drives a wedge between Christians over sexual orientation. Their manifesto is a distraction from our Christian mission, and a poison to the Body of Christ.
There is room in God’s family for our differences of opinion. Out of 2.2 billion Christians, there are at least that many interpretations of what it means to follow Christ.
But, whatever differences we have, if we are to call ourselves Christian we cannot abandon Christ’s commandments: to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Singling out and judging people in manifestoes isn’t about love. And if it isn’t about love, it isn’t about God.