Getting Sex Wrong Is a Foundational Error by James M. Kushiner
As an expression of the mission of Touchstone to promote historic Christian orthodoxy, we are pleased to publish the Nashville Statement (see below), an Evangelical coalition statement on biblical sexuality. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood convened a meeting of Evangelical leaders on August 25, 2017, that was hosted by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission during its national conference. At the meeting, a coalition of scholars, pastors, and other leaders composed, discussed, and endorsed the Nashville Statement, "in the hope of serving Christ's church," according to the statement's preamble. It was first published online on August 29, 2017.
Many Christians today prefer not to talk about sex because they have been accused of being obsessed with it and speaking about it too much. In response, we point out that the New Testament itself does not avoid sex. John the Baptist forfeited his life for upholding sexual morality in condemning Herod for marrying his brother's wife. Jesus spoke clearly about marriage and its one-flesh conjugal nature. The apostolic writers addressed sexual sins in the New Testament epistles; fornication, along with other sins, is condemned in the closing verses of the Book of Revelation.
Today we see the fruits of the so-called sexual revolution manifest in, among other things, abortion, shattered families, out-of-wedlock births, and the destructive behavior of sons raised without their fathers. This revolution has repudiated the age-old and universal recognition that sexual intercourse must be accorded special protection and dignity in marriage, and must be channeled therein for the flourishing of human society. Today's post-marital view of sex insists that sexual restraint outside of marriage is mostly repressive and psychologically unhealthy and, further, that individuals may act on any form of sexual self-expression that occurs to them, as long it is consensual.
Not only have the sexual revolutionaries embraced various forms of sexual expression, they have also re-defined sexual embodiment itself, so that one's "real" sex is now said to be determined by one's personal preferences. Teaching children that they could be the opposite of their biological sex is another chapter in the ongoing abuse of children, joining abortion, no-fault divorce, and the encouragement of teen promiscuity in assaulting the clear teachings of Scripture and endangering more souls. This is a place where the churches of God have no warrant to retreat even an inch from the witness of the Christian tradition, espoused by a great cloud of witnesses over the past two thousand years (see also James Spiegel, page 21).
We join the signers of the Nashville Statement in standing firm in these matters.
—James M. Kushiner, for the Touchstone editors
Nashville Statement: A Coalition for Biblical Sexuality
"Know that the Lord himself is God; It is he who has made us, and not we ourselves. . . ." (Psalm 100:3)
Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God's design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God's beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual's autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God's good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.
This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?
We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.
We believe that God's design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God's good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ's church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.
WE AFFIRM that God's revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God's original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God's design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.
WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about "eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb." With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person's biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God's holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God's holy purposes in creation and redemption.
WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God's original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.
WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality—a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.
WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.
WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God's design of his image-bearers as male and female.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one's biological sex and one's self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God's revealed will.
WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ's death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.
WE DENY that the Lord's arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.
—This statement, along with a list of its signatories, can be found online at https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement. It is reprinted here with permission.
James M. Kushiner is the Executive Editor of Touchstone.