So, a group of Evangelical leaders under the banner of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood put out a statement this week that not only called for traditional understandings of gender and sexuality but also took it upon themselves to deny the title Christian to those with more progressive positions. The statement also seems to at least suggest that egalitarian believers who do not see a hierarchy in the relationship between men and women are not truly "Christian" either.
While I find the text of the Nashville Statement decidedly unpastoral and frankly unkind it does not surprise me or even bother me that a group would call for a traditional understanding of sexuality in itself. Many faithful Christians for thousands of years have held these views, the majority of faithful Christians in the Global South hold these views today. However, to reduce "Christianity" to agreement on these issues is an unfortunate misreading of what orthodox means. James K. A. Smith has written a good article exploring the problems with expanding "orthodox" beyond the historic creeds of the faith [read it here] and indeed, at Commons, we hold to those historic creeds as our statement of faith [read it here]. There are always going to be issues of disagreement within the body of Christ and we must remain faithful to each other if we are to remain faithful to Christ. [Jn 17:20-21]
In that spirit I offer my response to the Nashville Statement adapted from the work of Father James Martin. The intent is to express a kind, pastoral and gracious expression of orthodox Christianity that any faithful follower of Christ could and should affirm.
I affirm: That God loves us all. I deny: That Jesus wants us to insult, judge or further marginalize LGBTQ people among us.
I affirm: That all of us are in need of grace. I deny: That LGBTQ people should be in any way singled out as chief among sinners.
I affirm: That when Jesus encountered people on the margins he led with welcome not condemnation. I deny: That Jesus wants any more walls between him and those he loves.
I affirm: That LGBTQ people are full members of the church. I deny: That God wants anyone to feel that they don’t belong especially if they choose Jesus.
I affirm: That LGBTQ people have often been made to feel less than by many churches. I deny: That Jesus wants us to add to any suffering.
I affirm: That LGBTQ people are some of the holiest people I know. I deny: That Jesus wants us to judge each other, when he clearly asked us not to.
I affirm that the Father loves LGBTQ people, the Son calls them and the Holy Spirit guides them. I deny nothing about God’s love for them.