By Abby Zimet / Common Dreams
Sigh. Just when the country could use some healing, here comes the hateful, vengeful, medieval and distinctly unholy Nashville Statement, a 14-point manifesto on “Biblical sexuality” released Tuesday by 150 evidently godless evangelical Christians of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW).
Convening earlier in August in Nashville, the CBMW affirmed their belief that “homosexual or transgender self-conception” is a sin and abomination, a ruinous “departure from Christian faithfulness and witness,” as is premarital sex. The only okay sex is married sex, between (duh) a man and woman. Any of you doing any of that other sketchy stuff: Sorry, but also not. Hell awaits you, as it should.
To CBMW leaders, the manifesto is “an urgently needed moment of gospel clarity,” shining “a light into the darkness” of an unruly age that questions “God’s good design of male and female,” and offering evangelical pastors “wise, biblical, and gracious guidance to their people.”
To others, including many Christians, it is “bigotry penned by a bunch of out-of-town idiots,” the ugly expression of “an Iron Age belief system based on ignorance and fear (whose) fruit is suffering, rejection, shame, and despair” and whose timing – post-Charlottesville, in the midst of Harvey’s devastation and the hypocrisy of megachurch kingpin Joel Osteen – is “callous beyond words.”
City officials also quickly distanced themselves. In a statement titled, “The Power of Nashville,” Mayor Megan charged the manifesto was “poorly named” and “does not represent the inclusive values of the city and people of Nashville.” Residents agreed, posting fiery online condemnations under #NashvilleStatement, #EmptyThePews and #NashvilleUnites, which was formed after Charlottesville.
They called out evangelicals for helping elect a serial adulterer, sexual predator and all-around grifter, charged they’d “hijacked” Jesus, suggested they “could’ve just called it Statement of Homo/Transphobia instead of disparaging an entire city,” asked, “Remember that part in the Bible where Jesus was super hateful, mean spirited and judgmental? Neither do I….” and, as thousands suffered in Houston, quoted Jesus’ inclusive invitation in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
One of the most searing rebuttals came from activist and Pastor John Pavlovitz, who figured he could “just offer a finger” in response but decided instead on “a few words.” He then translated the Nashville Statement into savaged “plain language.”
As in: “We’ve made this ‘statement’ because those still listening to our message aren’t interested in loving their neighbors as themselves or caring for the least (or) welcoming the outsider (or) any of that annoying Jesus stuff…(but because we) are at the precipice of extinction (and) just want an enemy to wage war with.” In order to maintain “that intoxicating rush of superiority and a small dose of the control that we’ve grown addicted to (and are rapidly losing),” he goes on, “We’re preaching hard to what’s left of our hateful choir.” Lesson learned: The choir’s there, but the resistance is louder.