The Irrelevancy of the Nashville Statement

Article 10 of the Nashville Statement.

I waffle back and forth between anger and uncontrollable laughter at the Nashville Statement. Anger, because it is so spectacularly tone deaf. Laughter, because it is so spectacularly tone deaf.

Nothing prompted the Nashville Statement except the same old impending, post-Christian apocalypse already upon us, driven by the spirit of the secular age. In other words, there was no particular driving force except everyday evangelical paranoia. I mention this only because there are several other things that immediately come to mind as more timely for evangelicals to address.

How about a statement against white supremacy, what with this year’s national displays of xenophobia and racism culminating in white supremacists marching in the streets and feeding off the President’s forgiving words? Or speaking of the President, perhaps a statement against the many sexual sins he embodies? Surely, if it’s always timely to make broad, sweeping statements of judgment about sexuality, this year — when many in the evangelical church actively support a serial, unrepentant adulterer, fornicator, accused rapist, and sexist — would be a great year to chastise the church’s departure from the traditional Christian (hetero)sexual ethic.

Or if evangelicals must publicly state something about homosexuality, why not address all the grieving, estranged LGBTQ+ Christians whose “loving” families abandoned them, ridiculed them, and persecuted them? Why not apologize for the many ways the traditional Christian sexual ethic has been wielded as a weapon rather than as a healing? Why not acknowledge the high suicidal rate among transgender kids? Why not finally take the pastoral stance this issue desperately needs?

Of course, this is an oft-repeated criticism of the evangelical church — why are you always talking about homosexuality as the chief of all cultural evils when there are so many evils to choose from? But I will repeat it: Why, evangelical church, are you always talking about homosexuality as the chief of all cultural evils when there are so many evils to choose from? Even if you believe in the traditional sexual ethic, why is it that two gay Christians in a loving relationship is cataclysmically destructive in a way rampant divorce, adultery, white supremacy, abuse, and hateful rhetoric are not?

Yes, the breakdown of the family is alarming. But it should not be controversial to say that parents shunning their gay children, transgender kids committing suicide, husbands abusing their wives under a divine mandate, authoritarian parenting, porn use, infidelity, an adulterer-in-chief — those sorts of heterosexual sins are breaking down the family in a way gay marriage and transgender identity cannot and will not.

Like I said, when I first heard about the Nashville Statement, I wanted to laugh. The actual evangelical church — not to mention the church at large — is not particularly interested in hearing the same old stance against homosexuality. They’re more caught up in discussions of race, leaders trading their moral authority for political affluence, and the Christian machine’s destruction against those who disagree on secondary issues.

The Nashville Statement is thus wholly irrelevant to conversations and concerns that are most pressing or should be most pressing to the American church in its current political, sociocultural, and historical context.

Then again, I’m not surprised at its irrelevancy. Its callousness, poor timing, and ignorance of the concerns of real people who actually struggle with being a person of color or gay or gender dysphoric in the church is not a coincidence.

The statement was named after the location of its drafting, in the footsteps of historic articulations of orthodoxy like the Nicene Creed. The hubris of even daring to associate the Nashville Statement with the likes of the Nicene Creed shows an appalling ignorance about orthodoxy.

For one thing, all historic articulations of orthodox faith were ecumenical. The whole church got together and hashed out their differences with the hope that the Holy Spirit would guide them. There was an understanding that the truest devotion to Christian orthodoxy could not be accomplished by one church alone but by the whole, catholic Church. This is true from the very beginning, when the apostles met to discuss issues of inclusion and moral practice back in Acts 15.

There is nothing like that about the Nashville Statement — no wrestling, no invitation or openness to hear what God might doing in the LGBTQ+ Christian community, no input from those who disagree. There was nothing at all surprising about the Nashville Statement: it repeated the same poorly articulated fundamentalist party line about sexuality, with the intention of drawing a line between its adherents and its dissenters.

It’s backwards from how the church has operated when defining things as orthodox: first, the drafters of the Nashville Statement articulated what orthodoxy is; then, they issued it to the larger church to deal with.

This “sign your name” style of orthodoxy only further divides a divided, uninformed church catholic. The fact that there are counterstatements popping up around the internet, also articulating the one and only stance on Christian sexuality and inviting signatures from laypeople and clergy alike, demonstrates how ultimately ineffective the Nashville Statement was as an attempt to clarify orthodoxy once and for all.

But it’s not really about orthodoxy, is it? It’s not about rallying the church catholic to truth or inviting the LGBTQ+ community into wholeness and healing. Those who signed the Nashville Statement thinking such were sorely deceived. As president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood explicitly stated, it’s about division. It’s about drawing lines in the sand.

It’s the classic evangelical obsession of reducing Christianity to who’s in and who’s out.

But the current debate is not primarily about the traditional Christian sexual ethic versus the secular spirit of the age — the who’s in and the who’s out. The debate is about whether the effects of the traditional Christian sexual ethic and the articulation of the traditional Christian sexual ethic are consistent with Christ. There is a huge gulf between those who signed the Nashville Statement and those who didn’t — and it’s, surprisingly, not between those who support the traditional Christian sexual ethic and those who don’t.

The signers of the Nashville Statement talked about the doctrine itself (“beautiful” and “precious” were common adjectives). The dissenters, even if they agreed with the traditional Christian sexual ethic, talked about the ugliness, despair, burdening, and violence these views and the traditional way of expressing these views had on the LGBTQ+ community.

Jen Hatmaker sums up the real issue in a series of tweets: “If the fruit of doctrine regularly & consistently creates shame, self-harm, suicide, & broken hearts, families, & churches, we [should] listen. … If the natural end to a doctrine is not consistently leading to whole, healthy, vibrant lives in Christ, something is wrong with it.”

This is at the heart of the evangelical debate on LGBTQ+ issues.

The Nashville Statement fails to understand that debate. It dismisses out of hand that its precious, beautiful doctrine, as stated, is or could at all be partially or wholly responsible for LGBTQ+ suffering. It offers its doctrine as an unequivocal solution to LGBTQ+ pain, when the people closest to the pain are insisting the doctrine is the cause of that pain.

Because of this misunderstanding, the real losers are those who think the Nashville Statement’s exclusion will affect the church. The Nashville Statement drew so sharp a line in the sand that its adherents cut themselves off from the rest of the church still in the throes of this debate. By regurgitating a solution without understanding the problem, they made themselves irrelevant. Laughably, they think a small segment of conservative evangelicalism, already compromised in morals and principles, has the authority to determine orthodoxy for the entire church catholic. In their zeal to decide who’s in and who’s out, they have only made themselves the outsiders.

But the Nashville Statement has no authority — neither in actuality nor in reputation. And so the rest of the church will grow deeper in wisdom, love, and truth, while the Nashville Statement fades into obscurity.

The Nashville Statement is nothing more than people wanting to be right stating their beliefs in public with no desire to hear about the real life consequences their beliefs wreak on the weaker — just another clanging cymbal in a cacophony of irrelevancy.

Photo Credit: Religion News Service

37 thoughts on “The Irrelevancy of the Nashville Statement

  1. Abigail

    Thank you for writing this! I probably agree theologically with 90% of the Nashville Statement, but when I first learned about it, I literally gritted my teeth. I am so tired of evangelicals presenting one-sided, nuance-free arguments. It doesn’t reject homosexuality by casting a vision of glory for what sexuality should be — read Wesley Hill’s “Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality” for that — but restates claims without input from gay Christians like him who hold orthodox beliefs and engage in costly obedience.

    I see and acknowledge how the Christian community has often wretchedly failed to treat LGBTQ persons with love and dignity, and what I’m about to say is not meant in any way to mitigate or deny that. However, tweets like Jen Hatmaker’s don’t speak to me, because even though the church needs to be aware of the impact of doctrines and shape pastoral care accordingly, the truth or falsity of something is not determined by how it makes people feel. If the world is broken by sin, and the line between good and evil cuts down my own heart, then I will experience tension, frustration, and guilt when faced with the idea that, for example, I can’t have bad temper explosions whenever I want. Being under the lordship of Christ can be grating, painful, and difficult, but that doesn’t mean that God’s commands are wrong; it means that my heart is wrong, but faithful obedience and sanctification can lead to peace, heart change, and new habits. If a doctrine doesn’t lead to whole, vibrant lives in Christ, then we need to change how we approach and apply it, and I’m glad that so many people are wrestling with this, but we can’t throw out doctrine based on feelings alone.

    To make sure this is clear, I am not saying this as an irrelevant outsider. I am moderately bisexual, and though it is certainly not the most important thing about who I am, it significantly shapes how I see the world, because I can see it through both the eyes of an orthodox Christian and the eyes of someone who knows what it’s like to experience attraction to other women. Working through this, starting in 2015, led me to a deeper embrace of the gospel than ever before, because I realized that I was completely loved and completely forgiven, and that things in my life which I wanted to repress and discard and get angry about were ultimately God’s grace to me, because they made me realize that I loved Him more than anything else and was actually willing to give up anything to follow Him. Because of this experience, I get really excited over works like Wesley Hill’s, that helpfully apply the gospel to this issue and provide hope in a world fixed on self-fulfillment that you can choose a different path. And I grit my teeth at the old, weary arguments that cast LBGTQ issues as inherently Other and don’t recognize how this is ultimately just another sphere in which Christians can pick up their cross and follow Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bailey Steger

      It’s so disappointing that conservative evangelicals have access to people like you and Wesley Hill yet STILL offer the same uninformed judgment against LGBTQ Christians. Ugh! Anyways, I so appreciate your perspective.

      I agree with you that truth doesn’t change based on how it makes people feel or about how hard it is to follow. It’s about examining the fruit of something — if it’s consistently bad, something’s wrong (which I think you would agree with, as you note the pain of misapplied or harshly applied doctrine). But that, of course, begs the question about what fruit belongs to which tree — is the LGBTQ suffering Jen Hatmaker identified a fruit of merely misapplied doctrine or bad doctrine altogether? It’s difficult, because conservative evangelicals don’t allow any sort of emotion or pain be an indication of falsehood, but on the other hand, emotion and pain alone can blind rather than illuminate.

      I have personally experienced several changes of heart where I followed correct doctrine to a T only to have it destroy me, and it’s incredibly painful to hear people say that that destruction was because I wasn’t faithful enough. So because I have been maligned and misunderstood, I’m very open to the possibility that LGBTQ Christians have tried to follow “correct” doctrine to a T and found it destructive. This is why I so value LGBTQ Christians, both those like Wesley Hill and those like Matthew Vines, because I think their voices and experiences are key to fully understanding this issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. villemezbrown

    I had never heard of The Nashville Statement prior to this post. To me, it is completely irrelevant regardless of content. So why am I commenting? I need to respond to Abigail’s comment and your reply. I have not read Wesley Hill, but based on what is written here, I am confident he is not a more reasonable alternative to ultra-conservative, fundamentalist views on LGBT+ issues. Any perspective that makes someone self-described as “moderately bisexual” feel “engaging in costly obedience” is a way to be Christian and gay is both wrong and dangerous. More dangerous than The Nashville Statement in my opinion, because it is easy to write that off as extremist and hostile to gay people. Coming from a man who labels himself as gay makes Wesley Hill’s perspective much more insidious. We feel he must be on the side of LGBT and therefore less harmful, but his view is just as damaging. Let me be as clear as I can. If you believe in a God that created gay people and desires that those gay people live their whole lives as if they weren’t gay, then you believe in something that isn’t true. It is as simple as that. Any view that expects or encourages gay people to deny or repress or hide their gayness, or yes, even one that expects gay people to acknowledge their gayness but never ever act on it, is inherently damaging to gay people no matter how you phrase it. You are certainly free to believe whatever you want, but if you claim membership in the LGBT group and then espouse positions that are harmful to LGBT people, I feel compelled to point it out.

    There are lots of gay Christians who have much healthier views. This is a good place to start if you are interested:



    • Bailey Steger

      Thanks for your thoughts, Adele. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I am honestly so torn and confused in this area; I am relatively new to the ins and outs of LGBTQ+ support. My first personal exposure to LGBTQ people was an acquaintance who was gay, accepted himself as gay, did not, to my knowledge, feel that *being* gay is a sin, but he was Catholic and after much reflection believed he should not “act on his gayness” (or however he phrased it). I sincerely hope he did not make that decision out of repression. My heart in this was, “Well, I’m not gay, so I don’t feel comfortable telling a gay person what he should or shouldn’t think about his gayness and how he should live his life.”

      I suppose I was equating in my mind someone like Wesley Hill with the minority of transgender men who detransitioned back to female and feel like their voices and experiences aren’t being validated in the LGBTQ+ conversation (even though they don’t believe that all or most transgender people want to transition and are frustrated when conservatives hijack their stories as a way to silence the LGBTQ+ community). As a cis, straight person, I didn’t feel comfortable judging any LGBTQ person’s thoughts about their sexual orientation or gender and wanted to amplify all LGBTQ voices at equal volume. But after reading your comment, I can see how being supportive of someone like Wesley Hill as well as other gay Christians who believe gay relationships are holy is not quite the neutral, understanding position I thought I was taking. I’ll definitely be thinking about what you said, thanks.


  3. David

    Hi, Bailey!

    You write, “How about a statement against white supremacy, what with this year’s national displays of xenophobia and racism culminating in white supremacists marching in the streets and feeding off the President’s forgiving words?” — and I just wanted to say there are SOME conservative evangelical voices you would approve of on these issues.

    Southern Baptist leadership in particular has been vocal about racial reconciliation for the past few years, and at their conference this year they passed (albeit with much sturm und drang) a resolution against the alt-right. On the other hand, a lot of people in the pews are less than pleased with all this. For a thoughtful piece on this dynamic, with a comments section that illustrates the pew-pulpit divide PRETTY DARNED WELL, see

    So the picture isn’t unremittingly bleak, but neither are we riding together into a wonderful new world of racial harmony on the backs of our sparklecorns (like unicorns, but sparklier. Obviously.)

    – David

    P.S. “Everyday evangelical paranoia” is a GREAT phrase, and I hope you turn it into a post someday. Because boy, the way y’all talk about “the world” and the way the world ACTUALLY IS — there’s just a /stark/ divide, and it sets at least /some/ people up for a departure from conservative religion, because I know a handful of people who moved to a more liberal stance ’cause they encountered the world and went, “Huh. These people don’t SEEM like spiritual zombies wandering through meaningless lives, consumed by lust and sin. I… I think they’re just normal people. /Huh/.”, and then they had to do a whole lotta rethinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey Steger

      That’s true. It’s just that that racial reconciliation statement was still very controversial and felt like pulling teeth to get it out — not the gleeful, out-of-the-blue denouncement that the Nashville Statement was. More like the guilty, “Oh, yeah, right, we’re not supposed to let people know we’re racist” rhetoric typical of old school evangelicalism. Perhaps I’m being too picky, because you’re right — they did denounce the alt-right and white supremacy. Even while not doing much about it in real life. Not that I’m frustrated or anything…..

      Oh. My. Word. The everyday evangelical paranoia was so exhausting and misleading that as soon as I encountered the real world, I tried to forget it and never think about it again. Maybe if I read one too many apocalyptic comments on Facebook, I’ll go back and try to sort it out. ;)


      • Allison Caylor

        I have to second David’s comment that white supremacy has indeed been condemned by evangelicalism. Aside from the convention’s statement:

        Matt Chandler:

        John Piper:

        And I honestly understand why not every single pastor alive has addressed the issue. It’s not coming from a tolerance or affiliation with white supremacy, but simply an unwillingness to engage in conversation so rife with hatred and rhetorical traps for white conservatives. You know? Like, to us it seems so utterly absurd that anyone would mistakenly think we’re white supremacist, that even talking about it seems dumb. I know you don’t agree, but I’m guessing that’s the way a lot of people are thinking. To me, even Matt Chandler’s little sermon thing about it seems out of place, like he’s desperately grabbing his chance to display how non-racist he is. So if a bunch of white Christians felt like they needed to make this huge grand clarification on the topic, it would be giving weight to an accusation that shouldn’t have any weight at all.

        Whereas the LGBTQ thing is so much bigger, so much more relevant to actual churches and lives, and so much more confusing and difficult, so it makes more sense to wade into that and lay out their beliefs. (Although I still don’t think it’s helpful.)


      • Bailey Steger

        I guess this all depends on one’s perspective of the state of the church, as you pointed out. Like you acknowledged, I (and most POC) would not agree that the LGBTQ conversation is bigger, more relevant, and more confusing and difficult than racial reconciliation, and it’s incredibly painful for POC to constantly hear the white evangelical claim that racial reconciliation is not that big a deal or that it’s ludicrous to assume white evangelicals harbor some form of white supremacy or racism or racial bias. But again, like you said, that’s exactly where these conversations break down and need to happen — not everyone agrees on what’s more critical to the church at this time (and that’s where the emotion and frustration comes out!). So while there’s a huge outcry against the Nashville Statement about its tone deafness and timing, and I agree with that outcry 100%, it makes perfect sense to me, as a former fundamentalist, why the supporters of the Nashville Statement think it’s perfectly timed and necessary given the current state of society and the church.

        There are so many layers of assumptions we all have to unpack, when one part of the church says, “This is a beautiful, precious, perfectly timed statement” and another party says, “This is a hateful, ugly, poorly timed statement.” So much work to do!!!


      • Allison Caylor

        Yes … Americans (in Christianity and outside it) have become so polarized it’s almost like a blind person and a deaf person trying to have a conversation. There is so much work that needs to be done to even be able to communicate effectively across the liberal/conservative divide, and it doesn’t seem to be happening.

        I’d like to note that I meant thinking evangelicalism is *white supremacist* is the thing that seems so crazy to us. You know, that we actually like those alt-right Nazi folks. I would never choose those words about someone sharing about some sort of prejudice they had personally experienced. I would want to look deeper into the situation (as one ought to when any sort of accusation is raised against someone) but I would never call that absurd or dumb. Society in general thinking that Christians in general are Nazis seems absurd and dumb.

        Anyway. I think that the sticking point is a little different than “which issue we think is most important.” Because conservative Christians’ stance is that society-wide injustice against black people is in the past and cannot now be resolved by a social overturn; whereas (to my understanding) liberal Christians believe we need to be actively changing social structures to advantage black people, actively elevating black people over white people, to balance out the wrongs of past generations. So it’s not that we on the conservative side think “systemic injustice against black people isn’t as important as homosexuality,” but that systemic injustice against black people isn’t a thing. And I know that’s the wrong thing to say on a website like this, but I’ve formed that belief not only by examining facts (statistics, historical social changes, etc.) but, yes, by *listening to black people* whom I’ve personally known.

        Truly, I’m not trying to hash up a racism debate — just trying to to really dig down to find the core of that liberal/conservative divide in Christianity. I think this might explain why the Nashville Statement seemed important to its writers and not an Anti-White Supremacy statement. What do you think?


      • Bailey Steger

        Oh, wow, we are definitely a blind person and a deaf person shouting across a huge divide here if we don’t agree on systemic injustice still being a thing. :) I see what you’re saying, though, about how that could be the root of the Nashville Statement prioritizing homosexuality over a nonexistent issue.

        I’m not entirely sure I would say that evangelicals see race issues as nonexistent — maybe they wouldn’t go so far as to agree that there’s systemic racism today, but from what I’m seeing, it seems to me that many POC in evangelicalism are pushing for racial reconciliation, and evangelicalism is grudgingly accepting it rather than denying that it’s needed. Of course, a lot of what’s happening in this particular racial reconciliation process seems to be acknowledging evangelicalism’s racist past — the Southern Baptist Church was formed as a protest against integration, as was parts of the homeschool and Christian school movement, etc. — and there has been movement to acknowledge and apologize for those racist roots.

        I’m basing a lot of my speculation on the SBC debacle regarding the statement against the alt-right. When the movement was first brought to the floor, the SBC dismissed it — but there was a huge backlash against the dismissal, and the statement was eventually passed. That’s where I’m getting the idea that evangelicals *do* kind of grudgingly acknowledge that it’s an issue of some sort, but it’s not as important to them as something like the Nashville Statement. And I haven’t seen a lot of public, prominent evangelicals denying the importance of racial reconciliation, even though there’s lots of lay evangelicals who would. But that could also be because my Twitter feed leans more centrist than right. ;)

        Basically, I don’t know. That’s a good question. From what I’ve observed, I still think evangelicals care to prioritize issues like homosexuality over race, but it’s quite possible that’s because of a lot of evangelicals just feel like they have to be politically correct and pretend nonexistent race issues are a thing.


      • David

        Hey, Allison.

        You write: “to my understanding, liberal Christians believe we need to be actively changing social structures to advantage black people, actively elevating black people over white people, to balance out the wrongs of past generations.”

        I would say you’re off base here; speaking for myself, though obviously I can only fit half of the bill, I don’t want to raise black people /over/ white people. I want to see them lifted up /to the same level/ — my goal, or my end game, or whatever, is to have *actual equality of opportunity.* Along with that, I’d like to see society evolve to the point that black people are treated with the same level of dignity and respect that white people can take for granted.

        We’re a long way from both of those goals, but neither one of them requires white people to lose *anything*.


      • Bailey Steger

        ^This. And I would add that those who advocate for racial justice* would not be viewing their work as merely “balancing out past wrongs” but righting current wrongs that have their roots in past wrongs. There are demands to acknowledge past wrongs, for sure, but it is hoped that a willingness to acknowledge past wrongs is coupled with a willingness to see how variations of those past wrongs (that we all agree are horrible) are happening today.

        I think many white people mistake equality for fairness — we’re like one of my completely capable students who got angry whenever another student got specialized help or attention because of his learning disability, or the big sibling who feels jealous that mommy holds the newborn baby more. Both kids made accusations of unfairness because they didn’t understand that students with learning disabilities and newborn babies have different needs than able students and three-year-olds. If the teacher or mother were “fair” per the children’s demands, the baby and the disabled student would suffer in ways the able, older kids would not. And that’s not just.

        Advocates for racial justice are attempting to do what the teacher and the mother do. Many white people aren’t aware of our white privilege, so we think the playing field is even. That makes sayings like “black lives matter” and initiatives to specifically help POC or amplify their voices seem like black people are being elevated OVER white people. You’ve probably seen the illustration of a tall person and a short person looking over a fence? The tall person needs no help looking over the fence; the short person does, and so he gets a box to stand on so they can both look over the fence. Of course, the ideal would be removing the fence (systemic injustice/disability/age gap) altogether so that the playing field is completely equalized.

        *I purposely didn’t use the word liberal because I don’t identify as politically liberal, and many theologically conservative people support racial reconciliation.


      • Allison Caylor

        Yep … pretty big divide, isn’t it? :(

        This may just be me projecting my own thoughts onto them, but I’ve thought that evangelical leaders have been getting on the racial reconciliation train because it just looks SO BAD not to. You know? The belief in modern-day white Christian racism is so widespread and stubborn that it doesn’t seem worth arguing about anymore. And, too, I think it makes sense for a group like the SBC which, like you said, does have actual racist roots, to be vocal about how it has changed.

        Essentially, I think they’re all reluctant to apologize, declare against white supremacy, etc. only because of a belief in their innocence, like I was saying earlier. When I heard about the anti-alt-right declaration debacle, the motivations made perfect sense to me … even though they were stupid about it and made themselves look really, REALLY bad.

        Imagine if gossip started going around that you were planning to rob a bank. You know it’s not true, but if you started knocking on doors and shouting in the streets that you had no such plans, it would actually lend credit to the gossip: “Methinks thou dost protest too much.

        So, I’m not saying refusal to address all this is the wisest course, but I certainly can grasp how it would make sense to some.


    • Allison Caylor

      But I’ll add that I’m pretty torn about the perspective I just wrote. Yeah, the accusation is a lie that’s been passed around like a game of telephone. But good people sincerely believe that white Christianity is racist (and that white supremacy is a big movement), so they’re predisposed to take silence as affirmation, and I think the church should care about that. But then, we’re churches, not culture dominators or social commentators, so maybe we should just be preaching the gospel, and if people take “we’re all humans and sinners who can find grace and love at the cross” to mean “God loves white people the most and if you’re gay, you’re going to hell,” then that’s just not our problem. So you see … I’m torn.


      • Bailey Steger

        It’s interesting that you say “we’re churches, not culture dominators or social commentators” — I wouldn’t agree with that! (Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you.) I think part of the problem is that evangelicalism is both trying to fight in the “culture wars” AND throwing up their hands and saying, “Hey! We’re not about politics; we’re just about Jesus!” Because evangelicalism is HUGELY involved in Republican politics and talking about culture and cultural revolution and reclaiming everything for Christ, etc., etc. — and none of that is necessarily a bad thing. But at the same time, the evangelical church is extremely selective about what culture wars it wants to fight. Evangelicalism is really happy to talk about Darwinism and sex and homosexuality all day, every day, but when it comes to race or poverty or capitalist greed or whatever, the evangelical church wants to retreat and dismiss those issues as unimportant to the church or to society, that in fact talking about them is what’s causing division. It’s really noticeable to outsiders when the evangelical church is silent on certain issues and vocal on others — which is why the LGBTQ+ community feels more attacked by evangelicalism than evangelicals realize and why POC feel abandoned more than evangelicals realize. Silence holds a lot more meaning to outsiders than the evangelical church thinks, and I think that’s where misinterpretation happens a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Allison Caylor

        I think there I slipped into talking about the Reformed ideal instead of the evangelical reality. As I understand it, we (the Reformed movement) believe our duty is to focus on journeying together toward our true home, instead of being primarily warriors and opinionists regarding the world we’re in right now. We’re supposed to care for the needy among us and in our communities, and work toward holiness and love among believers, but not (as a church) be waving political flags and championing certain candidates or government officials. Because then we get where we are now, and it’s such a mess. Our silence on Trump’s personal immorality becomes deafening because we’ve vocally supported his politics, where we should just be minding our own business. And that’s just one example.

        I mean *as the church,* not as individuals, obviously.


      • Bailey Steger

        Ah, that makes sense. Sometimes it’s hard to see *in actuality* where Reformed ends and evangelical begins (and then the Christian reconstructionist movement gets thrown into some Reformed circles too, just to make life confusing), but from what I remember of my Reformed years, the ideal was, as you said, not about culture wars — not in the explicitly political way evangelicalism goes about it. There’s still a belief in Reformed theology about redeeming culture and how there’s no real sacred/secular divide, which leads to a potential and actual kinship with evangelicalism, but again, the Reformed tradition wasn’t formed as a reaction to liberalism and a friend to Republicanism, soooo it’s not the same political beast as evangelicalism is. :)


  4. ChristineW

    Why now? I’m reliably informed (though could be mis-paraphrasing) that in the last year CBMW lost the debate over eternal subordination of the Son – which was one of their theological pillars for complementarianism. The Nashville statement is their way of shoring up their position.


    • Bailey Steger

      Do you mind elaborating on how you see the connection between the debate about the eternal subordination of the Son and the Nashville Statement?

      (And that’s another ironic thing: they’re fine redefining one of the most FUNDAMENTAL pillars of orthodoxy (the Trinity), but it’s not okay for any Christian to hold any other view but theirs about a secondary moral issue?! That’s a very skewed perspective.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • ChristineW

        ESS provided comps with a theological trump card which they could deploy when challenged, particularly when dealing with critics who were broadly sympathetic to their doctrinal stance in other areas, but disagreed about women. This is my working understanding.

        There was a major discussion (apparently) recently among comp circles where they backtracked on ESS. So now they need something to fall back on. If (this is my theory) they can bring in LGBT debate and bracket anti-LGBT as not doing gender the comp [right] way, then it would give the comps grounds to bring other conservative Christians on side.

        I need to learn more about this. Have just ordered a book “The rise and fall of the complementarian doctrine of the Trinity”. I think it will help.


  5. ChristineW

    Hi Bailey, I want to understand what you mean by this:

    “But the current debate is not primarily about the traditional Christian sexual ethic versus the secular spirit of the age — the who’s in and the who’s out. The debate is about whether the effects of the traditional Christian sexual ethic and the articulation of the traditional Christian sexual ethic are consistent with Christ.”

    The way I see it, this IS about who’s in and who’s out. And the questions over how we use our genitals (and what genitals we have) has long been the battleground for this debate.


    • Bailey Steger

      Thanks for letting me clarify! I was trying to make a point that there’s a very large movement within evangelicalism that is tired of discussing LGBTQ issues from *merely* a “who’s in, who’s out”/”is gay marriage bad or good” and is moving on to more nuanced questions about the LGBTQ community and the church, with many evangelicals even wondering if Christians got it completely wrong. That large swath of evangelicalism is now really evaluating whether the standard evangelical stance on LGBTQ issues fits in with Christian charity. The Nashville Statement supporters want to keep the argument at, “The Bible clearly says homosexuality is an abomination, end of story, anyone who dares question that is not an orthodox Christian,” when a large part of evangelicalism is like, “No, no, that can’t be the end of the story, because look at how much devastation that stance has caused in the LGBTQ community.”

      So yes, it’s still a question about what a Christian ought to do if he identifies with the LGBTQ community, but it’s being approached in a more nuanced way now — and Nashville Statement supporters don’t get that.

      Does that make any sense??

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jasmine Ruigrok

    I’m just going to say that I don’t think truth has to be without compassion. Proverbs frequently repeats that we should not forsake mercy or truth; that mercy and truth preserve us, and they belong to those who do good. I can love a soul even if I condemn an idea. I can stand for a truth I believe in, but that should never mean I do not extend mercy to the face before me. Love should never mean I must stand for everything everyone does, otherwise I’m really standing for nothing. I don’t believe a gay lifestyle is God’s original or best design for our lives, but what a person chooses to do with their life should never stop me from loving and respecting them as a fellow human being. I don’t really have any thoughts on the statement itself, but if those who signed it are still extending the hand of love to those of the opposing view, I believe they have the freedom to stand for their convictions.

    I hope this comment comes across with the respect and grace I mean it in… I find this conversation a difficult one to participate in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey Steger

      This is such a difficult conversation. To be honest, as a feminist, I have a lot of difficulty with normalizing transgenderism, so I too often find myself in a similar position as the non-affirming — how do I show compassion while still having a different opinion? I don’t have answers to that.

      But I think I’m hearing over and over and over that making public blanket declarations about LGBTQ people that repeat the same old things we’ve all heard without any input from science, psychology, or LGBTQ experience is NOT compassionate. It’s not helping, no matter how much we want to think that speaking boldly on the “truth” is helpful and loving. The devastation the LGBTQ community is experiencing as a fallout of this kind of speaking the truth in love shows that something is clearly wrong with how we’re exercising both truth and compassion.

      Even though I am not 100% supportive of every tenet and nuance of the affirming crowd, I find myself more compelled to make these issues personal and pastoral rather than theological, even if I have ideological beliefs that I believe are important. I find myself listening more, learning more, and speaking less — my mostly uninformed opinion, built solely on ideology, is not going to be helpful to a larger conversation. So my goal, as a commitment both to the truth and to compassion, is to facilitate a loving, informed, and productive a conversation and to protect the rights and well-being of the LGBTQ community.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Allison Caylor

    Making a new comment threat to respond to Bailey & David. :)

    Thanks for the kind responses, friends. Let me see if I can explain what I meant. Yes, the SJW/liberal stated goal is to raise black people in general to the level where white people have always been. To make opportunity equal across the board. I get that. But the primary way I seem to hear we should go about that is to make individual, case-by-case decisions to raise individual black people over individual white people just because they’re black. Choose black speakers, black students, black employees, black presidents. They imply or even say that for every position/space in society, there’s a long line of excellently suited POC and a handful of white guys, and organizations/systems routinely choose only from that white male group. But that is an assumption, and a shaky one. If every circumstance in their lives had been perfectly equal, the candidates would be mostly white and 13% black. So if you want the government or organizations to elect/choose a greater percentage than that, you will have to be choosing individual black people over individual white people solely because of the color of their skin. That’s actually the opposite of equality of opportunity.

    And if that’s not enough, think of the credence that is given to black voices over white voices. If a white person (heaven forbid a white male!) shares their opinion, based on their experiences, and it differs from the experience-based opinion of a black person, the black person must be unequivocally believed and the white person told (kindly, perhaps) to shut up and listen to black people. Notice this is NOT me saying “black people should continue to be ignored.” This is me saying that everyone’s opinions and experiences should be judged by their correlation to reality—not by their skin color—and such would largely be the case were it not for the SJWs.

    So you see, if equality as SJWs describe it is eventually enforced, white people will indeed lose their opportunity to be chosen based on their qualifications and listened to based on their truthfulness. I long as much as y’all do for all of humanity to be equally safe and honored, respected and valued, but I believe that it is looking beyond race that will bring that about, not an intentional raising and lowering of people/s based on color.


    • Bailey Steger

      This is the first time I’ve heard a conservative argument about “looking beyond race” that doesn’t make me want to barf. Thanks, Allison. :) Again, this all boils down to whether or not there’s systemic racism and racial prejudice and outright racism. If there isn’t, your argument makes perfect sense. If there is, it makes more sense to me that we amplify black voices and experiences because it’s so easy for a white majority to ignore them or overlook injustices that don’t often happen to us — we have to offer a strong corrective to make the playing field truly equal.


      • Allison Caylor

        Aw, thanks! Haha!

        Yes, looking beyond race certainly won’t fix everything if there are racist systems that need active change. :) However, if it’s a society of racially prejudiced individuals causing oppression, then I still think looking beyond race is actually what is needed; once those people (or their kids) no longer based others’ worth on their melanin level, that kind of oppression would disappear.

        Thanks for going off topic with me. To link this back to the original conversation — the lens I’m looking through means publicly, repeatedly addressing race issues doesn’t seem helpful.


    • David

      So, I actually *don’t* “want the government or organizations to elect/choose a greater percentage” of minorities than is present in the general population. Why would I? Again, I don’t want a quota system; I want actual equality of opportunity, which should yield outcomes that are in the ballpark of proportional representation (but not precisely equal to it, because that’s not how statistics work).

      You also write: “They imply or even say that for every position/space in society, there’s a long line of excellently suited POC and a handful of white guys, and organizations/systems routinely choose only from that white male group. But that is an assumption, and a shaky one.”

      Is it really shaky? Let’s dive into a real-world situation and see how we assess it.

      “In the tech sector nationwide, whites are represented at a higher rate in the Executives category (83.3 percent), which typically encompasses the highest level jobs in the organization. This is roughly over 15 percentage points higher than their representation in the Professionals category (68 percent), which includes jobs such as computer programming. However, other groups are represented at significantly lower rates in the Executives category than in the Professionals category; African Americans (2 percent to 5.3 percent), Hispanics (3.1 percent to 5.3 percent), and Asian Americans (10.6 percent to 19.5 percent).” (Source:

      So among workers who are already in the industry, whites are significantly more likely to be promoted than members of every other race. Do you think this pattern is merit-based? If so, *why* is promotion (and therefore merit) linked so closely to whiteness? And, significantly, why is that a better explanation than the “SJW” approach, which would hold that a largely white executive corps selects new execs who mostly look like them?


      • Allison Caylor

        “So, I actually *don’t* “want the government or organizations to elect/choose a greater percentage” of minorities than is present in the general population. Why would I?”

        That’s great! I agree! I confess I was working with a (very strong) impression I’ve gathered, mostly from seeing ads, movies, colleges, business, and the government constantly torn up for being too white. I do think that the movement in general is much more concerned with outcome than opportunity, however. Your own example actually shows that a bit. The paragraph you quoted is talking about a result — promotion — not an opportunity. So we can only guess or assume the motivations for each choice by the higher-ups. Could it be prejudiced? Sure, maybe. But the numbers start to look a little less incriminating when you consider that white people are far more likely to graduate college and their average GPA is considerably higher than black people. God forbid that I imply it’s because of any inherent racial difference, but it’s the fact, so it’s actually possible that businesses *may* just be promoting based on credentials and work ethic — as they ought. We just can’t know, because we’re not in their heads, but either way, the answer is not to manipulate those percentages by hiring based on skin color.

        To be brutally honest, the higher rates of poverty, single parent families, dropping out of school, and crime among people of color are more than enough explanation for the whiteness of high-level positions across society. Is all of that caused by white people? It’s certainly worth looking into, but it’s not proven (or, probably, even provable). The government has been proving over the past few decades that just handing people money will not fix the situation. Ending welfare, legalizing drugs and privatizing the education system might help (cheesy libertarian grin) but I think there’s good reason to believe that equality of upbringing is what’s lacking, not equality of opportunity.


      • David

        Hopefully this will show up as a reply to Allison, /but/. I don’t think you should be so quick to dismiss my example! I chose promotion instead of hiring for a reason: all the people in this sample have already BEEN hired. They *all have*, regardless of ethnicity, the credentials and work ethic required to work in tech.

        So credentials and work ethic can’t be the reason whites are promoted more often than minorities. Or at least that’s unlikely in the extreme. They’re the ONLY ethnic group that’s *over*represented in management, relative to the talent pool working in tech. Every other ethnic group is underrepresented — even Asians.

        At the risk of sounding condescending (which I really don’t want to do! I’m just going on the assumption that you’re about the same age as Bailey and have limited exposure to the work force), I know that before /I/ entered the working world, I had a starry-eyed idea that promotions were all about merit. With a decade of work behind me, I think they’re partly determined by your work product and partly determined by relationships. The exact split will vary between jobs, but relationships are ALWAYS a key piece of it.

        So this issue is kinda a microcosm of why I drifted leftwards: in many, many separate cases I kept finding that the “SJW” position (here, that mostly-white execs are most comfortable with, and therefore hire, mostly-white replacements) seemed a lot more plausible than the conservative position (that white people just happen to be better management material than minorities, and that businesses — which are somehow above the merely human qualities of their employees — are responding rationally to this fact).

        Also I worked in a majority-black office for a couple of years and saw this dynamic from the other side, where there was no overt hostility or ill treatment but nevertheless it’s like– the three white employees were in the same work group; we shared the same assignments; our supervisor (who I really, really liked!) was probably the one who had the least in common with management (for starters, she was by far the youngest; the manager was big on authority and tradition and chain of command, so you can guess how well she likely got along with a young hotshot supervisor). Like, you could *see* that — without anyone being a bad racist monster — the white people were marginalized in these little subtle ways. I have no doubt at all that the same thing holds true for black people (or other minorities) in majority-white workplaces, because a lot of this, I think, is just expressing universal human behaviors.


  8. villemezbrown

    Allison, it is almost physically painful for me to read how oblivious you are to the incredible bubble of privilege you live in. Did you actually say, “White people are far more likely to graduate college” as support for your position? That makes me want to cry. There is systemic racism in our country. That is not an opinion, or an assumption, or a perspective. It is a demonstrable fact. I think about telling anecdotes or providing links to statistics or videos or – but in the end I think back to your analogy about the blind person and the deaf person having a conversation. I agree that that’s where we are, but what should be my response when I am deaf and mute and the blind person is pointing a gun at my friend and doesn’t even realize it? I have to do what I can to take the gun away and worry about making the blind person understand what I’m doing and why after my friend is safe.


    • Allison Caylor


      I accept that your pain and care in this is sincere, and I admire you for it. I ask that you too make room in your heart to believe that everything I’ve written comes from ongoing and careful thought and study and that my opinions spring from love for my fellow humans and a yearning to see true peace and respect for *everyone* in America.

      I’m not certain what is so specifically painful about me stating that white people are statistically more likely to graduate college than black people are. It’s a grievous fact which should not be, and I certainly don’t take any pleasure in it — heaven forbid; my stomach turns just thinking of such. But it is still a fact, which I was using to point out that the percentage of black people in a group of Americans is even smaller than 13% if we’re talking about college graduates. However, if my statistic or the way I applied it was demonstrably wrong, I’m open to hearing about it.

      We could certainly get into a fact-sharing, fact-checking debate about it all, but like you, I don’t think that would be constructive (or, for my part, very respectful to Bailey’s space). Each of us holds a huge web of interconnected beliefs which we consider to be facts, which no Internet conversation could undo. So I will just say God bless you, and may we each seek the truth as best we can.


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