The Nashville Statement, Injured By Lateness

Being raised in a small business family meant I heard the pithy idioms of business such as, “What are the three most important things for any business? Location, location, location.” The point being that where a business is located can make or break it – considering things like entrances, ease of vehicle traffic, easily visible, etc. To this day I will pass by businesses and even some churches and think – “does anyone even know this is here?” Or “I’d love to stop there, but I’d never be able to get back out onto the road!”

On top of those business concerns, timing is everything. When to launch an advertising campaign – or for real estate people, when to purchase property and when to sell. Buy too early, and you’re stuck paying property taxes for years before any profits are made, and buy too late and your profit margin is cut precipitously.

I say all of this to make a broader point about timing and making broad statements like the now “infamous” (in secular, and some Christian circles) “Nashville Statement.” If you haven’t read the Statement, and would like to before I spoil the ending, click here.

Personally, theologically, I agree with the statement. See this post. And also this one. I think the language could probably use some tweaking to be less… I don’t know… legal-sounding? This document is trying to come off like some new Declaration of Independence, and might have seen more widespread acceptance even five years ago.

Here’s why the timing was off on this one. Many LGBT+ individuals and those who support them are feeling pressure from the current government. They feel attacked by recent Presidential statements and orders, such as the military transgender ban, and suddenly the Evangelical branch of the church decides to release this statement that they have seen as attacking them and their way of life. I realize that it takes time to write what some may feel needs to be an ironclad statement covering every single base, but the timing feels almost as if the church is backing up the government’s efforts to push against this group. And if these groups that feel attacked already distrust the church, they will certainly not love it more now.

I realize that there are some who will come back at me with verses that talk about the world hating Jesus and the Church. I understand that there are some verses that talk about people hearing what they want to and disregarding truth and orthodoxy. I am aware of the verses that talk about contention between the Church and the world. I understand the concept of “tough love.”

I am also aware of the the commissioning from Jesus to be “fishers of men.” And a good fisherman knows you don’t fish without bait. Right now it seems like we’re trying to catch fish with dynamite – which most certainly kills the fish in the process.

I am not saying to toss out orthodoxy. I am not saying to disregard Scripture for the sake of comfort. I am not advocating that the Statement itself is wrong – just the timing. Do we, as the Church, want to be seen as colluding with the government? (I don’t think the Church is, particularly, but it may seem that way for those outside the Church.) Christians need to be very careful feeling safe under any government. Christians need to be especially careful of feeling in control of any government, which is the moment Christians tend to become targets of manipulation.

To sum up – I don’t disagree with the affirmations in the Statement, but I disagree with the timing and feel it has been put out during a time when Evangelical Christians feel safer to say things boldly, instead of during a historical moment when it would have been more costly, say, during the previous presidency. In other words, this Statement was a little late, and may have come across as tone-deaf and lacking tact.

How do you live out your affirmations in a way that is bold, grace-filled, and backed by Scripture? When have you had a situation that waited too long before being addressed and became more difficult to discuss? How did it turn out? What conversations about faith or life have you been putting off with your kids?

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