The Nashville Statement is a controversial statement that has been released by CBMW.org, a strongly Patriarchal and very gender driven organization that is devoted to defending a hierarchy between men and women in the church and the home. Prior to this Statement it might have been argued that the organization’s positions were archaic or even tone deaf but, as you will see, Statement sets forth a very clear position that is intentional and exclusive. There are many other issues to address with this Statement, and we hope to address those as we move forward, but we wanted to share this response now. This wonderful response was shared by Dalaina in a Facebook group we are both part of and is shared here with her permission.
The Nashville Statement was released yesterday. It is a very sneaky document signed by big names like Francis Chan, John Piper, and James Dobson. Despite how they are marketing it, the Nashville Statement isn’t even about defending a traditional view of sexuality as heterosexual.
Denny Burk, the president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood—the group responsible for the Nashville Statement—declared, “Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether even if they claim otherwise.” Here Burk is elevating one’s view of sex, marriage, and a complimentarian view of male/female roles to utmost importance in matters of faith. According to Article 10, if you affirm gay marriage, or even if you believe that women can equally lead alongside men in the church or home, you are not a Christian.
CBMW sees gender and sexuality as the foundation of faith – not the salvific work of Jesus. Burk says the Nashville Statement is “a line in the sand.” It is meant to shuffle people into who is in and who is out of Christianity, though the measure isn’t relationship with Jesus, it’s a view of gender and sexuality. In my opinion, the Nashville statement has elevated the topic of gender far beyond where the Bible does and has added requirements to receive God’s saving grace.
Article 4 has intentionally vague language: divinely ordered differences between men and women are good and the fall didn’t change them. Unless you’ve read up on CBWM and what “divinely ordered differences” means to them, you may not realize is that they believe those differences include authority in male DNA and submission in female DNA. They see these roles as a part of creation rather a consequence of sin (Genesis 3:16) and thus will extend even into the afterlife (women will submit to male rule in heaven). Many in CBMW (Bruce Ware and Grudem specifically) go so far as to say that this is rooted in the “eternal subordination of the son” which is a modern name to an old heresy (Arianism) that makes Jesus eternally other than God the Father and eternally subordinate and submissive to him.
If you look behind the scenes, you find that the Nashville statement is making (modern western culture-defined) “masculinity” and “femininity” a matter of orthodoxy. This means that frankly, I am no longer a member of Christian faith because though I am straight, I lead men and thus have left my “divinely ordered difference” and have “opposed God’s design.”
I am of course concerned about the damage the Nashville Statement may do to our LGBT sisters and brothers in the church or our neighbors outside the faith, but no matter where you are in THAT debate, at the very least it should be made clear that the Nashville statement makes a particular view of sexuality and gender as important as the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus. For that alone, we should reject it.
Dalaina May lives with her husband, Dan, and four young sons in Southeast Asia where they are involved in local anti-trafficking efforts. When she isn’t working, stepping on Legos, or breaking up lightsaber fights (in other words, after bedtime), she is usually geeking out on theology or advocating for Christian involvement in social justice issues.