Equip hasn’t signed the “Nashville Statement.” Why? It is incomplete and potentially counterproductive.
Whatever your opinions about the culture war are, it is over. People know what a majority of Christians around the world today and throughout time believe about same-sex romantic and sexual activity. Screaming louder about what we think is wrong isn’t going to convince anyone. Telling people what they should say no to isn’t compelling.
We have to offer people something they can say yes to—something undeniably better. An evangelical pastor recently shared with me the title of one of the many (redundant) modern books making the Biblical case against same-sex romantic and sexual activity, and he asked me what I thought about it. I responded that I agreed with the claims the author made, but the book was missing 100 pages. It was missing a positive and winsome explanation of what God has to offer those who experience same-sex attraction. It didn’t talk about the beautiful potential of celibacy or a mixed-orientation marriage. It didn’t call out churches that “correctly” teach about God’s intentions for sexuality but aren’t places where LGBT+ people can thrive in celibacy or a mixed orientation marriage. It didn’t inspire churches to invest time and energy to do that well.
That is what is missing from the Nashville Statement: an invitation to alternatives to same-sex romantic and sexual relationships where people can truly flourish. A recognition of how the Church has failed to empower Christians to thrive in the vocations of celibacy and mixed-orientation marriages. A vision for how those on the margins fit into God’s narrative for intimacy in the Body of Christ.
And when LGBT+ people who grew up hearing that Christians hate gay people read the Nashville Statement, it seems to affirm their assumptions. It creates a greater divide between LGBT+ people and Christians—and as a result, between LGBT+ people and God.
But Equip is offering something more to churches. We believe that every person is created in the image of God with a desire for the best things God has to offer. As Christians, we only need to accurately reflect the love of Christ and extend what God wants to offer, and people will grab hold of it! We want to help churches talk about God’s intentions for sexuality in compassionate and theologically accurate ways. We want to help churches care for those on the margins of a Church dominated by straight married people with kids. We want to empower churches to support celibacy and mixed-orientation marriages is programmatic and structural ways.
Do we agree with the content of the Nashville Statement? For the most part, yes. But is it enough? No.