What is the Nashville Statement and Why Does it Matter?

On August 29, 2017, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released a statement affirming a conservative evangelical view of gender and sexuality. It has been endorsed by a wide variety of evangelical leaders. Containing a preamble and fourteen articles, the Nashville Statement is labeled as a Christian manifesto on human sexuality.  The statement asserts that marriage is  defined as a union between one man and one woman and that sexual intimacy should only pursued within this context. The statement addresses the issue of transgenderism by asserting that, “the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.” The statement clearly expresses that regardless of sexual desire or genital abnormalities, those desiring to follow Christ and submit to His scriptural mandates regarding gender are capable of living a fruitful life pleasing to God.

Although this statement does not make any explicitly unbiblical claims, there was significant media coverage and backlash. This is no doubt in part due to those who signed this statement. Notable signees are as follows: John Piper, Christopher Yuan, Wayne Grudem, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, Rosaria Butterfield, along with many other well-known professors and theologians.

The House for All Sinners and Saints in Colorado responded with their own treatise they call the Denver Statement. Mirroring the structure of the Nashville Statement, it denies that God restricts marriage and gender identity to cis-gendered, heterosexual definitions. Variety in gender and sexual expression are not a result of the Fall but are rather a component of human flourishing. They affirm that same sex attractions are part of God’s original intent for creation and that gender is not bound to biological sex characteristics.

Most conservative evangelicals agree that the Nashville Statement does not present any new information regarding the intersection of Christianity and sexuality. However, the content is not the only element of the Nashville Statement that is to be considered. Some have criticized the statement for being contradictory to Jesus’ command to love. Nashville's mayor Megan Barry tweeted that “[the] so-called ‘Nashville Statement’ is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.” Though the statement does not reflect the views of Nashville it large, historic Christian documents have always adopted the names of the cities in which they were adopted. Additionally, taking a stand for something as true is not un-loving. Jesus never stopped loving people but was often condemned for taking “unpopular” positions. The Nashville statement stands on strong biblical grounds and was communicated graciously with hope for all people.