This morning I happened upon John Piper’s introduction to the “Nashville Statement“. Apparently leaders within the Evangelical community found it pertinent to reintroduce, in a sense, what they describe as God’s view of human sexuality. Unsurprisingly, this supposed manifesto takes umbrage with any form of human sexuality that is not explicitly heterosexual, monogamous, and within the confines of marriage.
Never mind the reality that society is still painfully short of granting everyone respect, personal agency, and equality. The Nashville Statement is reckless and tone-deaf, intimating that mainstream Christian views are somehow ‘under attack’ while proclaiming that those that don’t adhere to them are ruining humanity. This is a bigoted declaration that, while saying nothing new, aims to control people and assert a particular view of Christianity as morally superior.
What’s laughable, if not terrifying, is the reality that they even wrote this dumpster fire of a document concerning “sexual purity” when many of its creators voted for Trump. To persistently defend and continue to support an individual that literally bragged about being a sexual predator (I’m looking at you, Tony Perkins!) is bad enough. But then to publish some obscene rhetoric that purports to know the magical truth of what human sexuality is, self-proclaim the authority of knowing God’s vision for humanity, and attempt to control how others live their life? It’s dreadfully hypocritical.
This whole episode angers me for many reasons, despite the fact that it is nothing new or surprising. No one is threatening the way of life of mainstream Christianity. To pretend the faith is threatened creates a false notion of victim-hood, when the truth is that criticizing Christianity where it attempts to discriminate others is an important practice. Free speech, while permitting us to speak our minds, does not allow us to intimidate, condemn, or control others. The notion that Christianity is under attack has no basis in reality; instead, it’s a reactionary ploy because Christian rhetoric is no longer blindly accepted and adhered to at-large in the public square.
That’s not to say Christians aren’t entitled to speak their minds about their faith. That’s perfectly acceptable, even as I (and others) have the freedom to lament such speech when it is abominable and discriminatory. What’s unjustifiable, however, is to attempt to legislate the lives of others based on your values and beliefs. To discriminate under the guise of religious authority is terrifying, yet it remains a tactic that works with overwhelming success.
When Christian doctrine concerning sexuality is publicly criticized, apologists will often insist a couple of things:
- Folks like me who clamor for tolerance are intolerant of their beliefs.
- Society permitting individuals to marry any consenting adult they please, and allowing people to determine for themselves their sex/gender identity, is an infringement upon one’s right to practice their faith.
I’ll tackle these in order. First, I’m not intolerant for criticizing one’s beliefs when they contradict the notion of equality. As I stated above, people are entitled to maintain whatever beliefs they choose, inasmuch as they do not prohibit or affect the lives of others. But tolerance, by nature, must be intolerant of intolerance.
Secondly, no one’s life is being negatively impacted because two women can marry each other or because transgender individuals are fighting for the same rights and agency as everyone else. Obsessing with how others choose to live their lives, when it has absolutely no effect on your own life, is an awkward exercise to undertake. More awkward still is claiming that your values and way of life is threatened because others aren’t living just like you.
You are allowed to go to whatever Church you choose; to proclaim whatever belief you have concerning marriage; to state your beliefs regarding the concept of heaven/hell and who’s going where; to celebrate holidays that remain meaningful to your faith tradition. You know what you don’t get to do? Claim discrimination if you maintain intolerant views that are criticized or claim that marriage equality, transgender rights, et al. is degrading your personal life. And you especially do not get to create laws that actually discriminate against folks who believe, love, and live differently than you – and then pretend America is a great nation that promotes equality.
I suspect there will be conservative Christian leaders in the future that re-author such beliefs, maintaining fervently that they aren’t discriminatory, but simply echoing ‘God’s will’. If condemning others that refuse to live and play by your rules is ‘God’s will’, you can have that god. I’ll be over here trying to figure out what it means to love and live in community with those your faith rejects, no matter how many times I find I’m still a work in progress.