'Nashville Statement' Making you want to run from Christianity? Read this first.
I grow weary. I’m frustrated. I’m weary, for once again some Christian leaders used their interpretation of the Bible to condemn humans who identify as LGBTQ or express their sexuality in a way they see as immoral. I’m frustrated, because I am a white heterosexual male pastor whose feeling tired. Yet, I’m not the one who is receiving the thirty lashes inflicted by the Bible and those who choose to interpret it in a particular way.
An article from Fox-news captures the essence of this recent event:
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), consisting of a number of evangelical Christian leaders, published a manifesto aimed at addressing issues of sexuality. It was endorsed by scholars, pastors and leaders at a Nashville conference Friday.
“The spirit of our age does not delight in God’s good design of male and female. Consequently, confusion reigns over some of the most basic questions of our humanity,” CBMW President Denny Burk said in the statement.
“The aim of the Nashville Statement is to shine a light into the darkness – to declare the goodness of God’s design in our sexuality and in creating us as male and female.”
I write not to argue over the 6 or 7 texts that are used to denounce homosexuality, the morality of same-sex marriage, or the validity of one method of reading the Bible versus another. (Though I am willing to answer questions or explain why I support the LGBTQ community, equal marriage, and my view of scripture. Warning: If we enter into a dialogue, my aim is not to change your mind. I expose my ideas, not impose them.) I write with a call to action in mind.
First, if you are growing weary of religion and in particular Christianity given the recent actions and words of some Christians, if you have directly or indirectly been hurt by a Christian or a Christian community, if you identify as a disenfranchised Christian, please pause one moment before you shut the door and turn away from Christianity all together. I get it. I came pretty close to walking out the nearest exit. It was then that I discovered a group of people who, like me, had grown disillusioned with a brand of Christianity they could no longer stomach. The group identifies themselves as “Progressive Christians.” They read the Bible seriously. So seriously that they discovered that the Bible actually teaches us how it wants to be read. The results are exciting. Here are just two out of eight statements from Progressive Christianity that came about from exploring the Bible seriously yet not always literally.
By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who seek to be a community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to: conventional Christians and questioning skeptics, believers and agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities, those of all classes and abilities.
By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who seek to be a community that finds joy in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes.
These statements along with the other six, are breathing new life into the weary and offering healing to the walking wounded.
Second, if you do walk away, know that I along with other Progressive Christian communities respect your decision and believe that you are walking the path you need to be on at this point in life. Down the line, if you decide you miss or need to be a part of a spiritual community again, we will still be here. No questions. No judgments.
Third, if you identify as a Progressive Christian, please continue to let your city, town, or village know you exist and are a viable option for the disenfranchised.
Yes, I’m weary. Even more so, I’m hopeful. Why? Because the man whose path I follow also grew weary yet he embraced the power of love and justice and carried on to the end and left a group committed to keeping his legacy alive.
Rev. Tony Minear, PhD. is the Lead Pastor at Church of the Beatitudes a Progressive Christian Church based in Phoenix AZ.
To reach Pastor Tony
Link to FoxNews article:
Link to the text of the Nashville Statement:
Link to the press release from The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
Link to the Denver Statement by Rev. Nadia Bolz Weber:
Link to response by the UCC church leaders: