With only a self-imposed deadline to release a statement on human sexuality that surprised exactly no one, the Council of “Biblical” Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) has demonstrated just how disconnected many conservative Christians have become from the issues that are actually impacting people today. Here’s a little round up of the news from this month:
White supremacists marched through Charlottesville with clubs, shields, and body armor, beating people up, threatening the black people, and chanting Nazi slogans.
Climate change has brought yet another devastating hurricane to the American mainland, leaving a major city under water, and dozens dead (including a brave police officer assisting with rescues). Extreme floods are devastating sections of southeast Asia as well, leaving over a 1,000 dead.
The DACA act that created the Dreamer program for immigrant children has kept families together, but the Trump administration is poised to end it, ripping children and parents away from each other (Dreamers are already being deported by the way).
The folks who agree with CBMW can believe whatever they want about LGBT issues and same sex marriage. It’s a free country. I’m going to charitably disagree with them and reject their misguided attempts to turn the Bible’s teachings on sexuality into a black and white issue. I’ve already addressed where I think the Bible leaves us on LGBT issues and same sex marriage.
My main concern here is the way this “Nashville Statement” illustrates the dramatic disconnect of these Christians from the urgent issues of our day for the sake of pressuring religious leaders to sign on to a document while also further entrenching themselves into a defensive position where dialogue has been ruled out.
I’m not the first person to notice that the same energy, effort, and influence could have been used to address climate change, sexual assault, racism and white supremacy, or the suffering of the poor in the midst of climate change. While churches open their doors in Houston to flood victims and clergy reckon with the violence in Charlottesville, a group of Christians decided this was the time for their big PR push for their statement on human sexuality. I want to take these statements one step further by noticing how these leaders have allocated their time in order to issue it.
Some of these people were also involved in the SBC resolution against the “Alt-right” white supremacist groups that nearly failed to pass due to concerns about the language. Many have remarked that any resolution against LGBT folks would have sailed through the SBC voting process regardless of the language. Mind you, an LGBT resolution would have had many people working around the clock ahead of time to make sure it was worded perfectly.
I don’t know how much time and money was expended for the CBMW Nashville statement, but let’s imagine that perhaps it was a six-month process:
- Theologians and “experts” were surely consulted.
- There were meetings, theological debates, and committees who worked on drafting the precise language.
- A website design company was hired and consulted throughout the process.
- Signers were contacted.
- Public relations details were managed.
- Meetings were no doubt conducted in order to manage all of this.
There was a significant investment of time into this project. It didn’t pop up over night. These aren’t the sort of people who would release a theologically sloppy statement. They surely parsed every single word with care.
Like I said, they can believe what they like and release statements about those beliefs, but the particular timing of this is devastating.
At the very least, they could have delayed it so that their congregations could focus on sending relief to the flood victims in Houston, let alone to assure the victims in Houston that they are the focus of Christians across America.
I’m not sure what the scope of CBMW is beyond keeping women from teaching the Bible, protecting patriarchy, and denying rights to LGBT folks, but at very least the influential people who signed this document could have worked toward equally strong statements on truly black and white issues that impact people in America.
They could have issued a clear condemnation of white supremacy and racism.
They could have issued a theological statement about the urgency of climate change and its impact on major weather events.
They could have issued a statement about caring for immigrants and the importance of the Dreamer program.
The hard truth of this statement is that many of these conservative Christians, who are overwhelmingly white, are willing to invest time in the condemnation of LGBT people but they failed to use their time to advocate for people of color when it was urgently needed this month.
I have heard over and again from supporters of the Nashville Statement that no one should be shocked. This is what these people believe. What’s the big deal?
This only drives home the insult of this statement and its horrible timing.
A group of Christians spent significant time drafting an unnecessary statement defining what everyone already knows they believe while the nation is waiting for them to adequately address racism, climate change, and immigration.
Can you imagine if these same people issued a statement saying that there is no room for disagreement on white supremacy, since the Gospel makes us all equal under Christ?
Can you imagine if these same people issued a statement saying that there is no room for disagreement on immigration, since the Bible teaches us to welcome the alien and foreigner?
Can you imagine if these same people issued a statement saying that there is no room for disagreement on climate change, we have failed to be stewards of God’s creation?
These are statements that can be made based on clear biblical teaching. They could address issues that directly impact life and death issues today. They could take a step toward bringing healing and unity to our land.
Instead, they have chosen to further marginalize a group that has already been kicked out of their churches on multiple occasions and in multiple ways. They have proven just how completely tone deaf they are to the issues of today and just how incapacitated their obsession with denying LGBT rights has made them.
We now have undisputed evidence about the priorities of these Christians.
When America was being torn apart by racial violence, the Christians affiliated with CBMW were most likely putting the finishing touches on their statement on human sexuality and contacting influential leaders.
When the people of Houston were wading through flood waters and waiting for rescue on their roofs, the Christians affiliated with CBMW deemed it was time to draw attention to their statement on human sexuality.