In Response To The Anti-LGBTQ 'Nashville Statement,' A 'Nazareth Statement'

It is important for churches not to pervert God's love in order to affirm their biases.
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Whereas 150 Conservative Evangelicals have issued the Nashville Statement, a statement which we find to be heretical and boldly against the teachings of God as we find in the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ.

And whereas our nation is on fire with derision fueled by White supremacy and racism, sadly communicated by the actions and words of the President of the United States.

And whereas in a climate of hatred the rights of women, racial/ethnic minorities, LGBTQ persons, and religious minorities are at risk, we at Middle Collegiate Church stand on God’s side. We stand on the side of Love. Further, we stand with Jesus of Nazareth, whom we know both as rabbi/teacher and savior. Like Jesus, we welcome all who are burdened and heavy laden with the stress and strife of life. Like Jesus, we ask ourselves always, what would love have us do?

We believe that Jesus of Nazareth’s most profound teaching was in response to the question of which commandment is the greatest. Jesus said to love God with everything we have ― our whole soul, mind, heart, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourself. When asked who was our neighbor, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, a religious minority, who stopped to help a sick stranger on the road. Jesus used a scorned and hated person as the example of what love looks like.

We believe that Jesus’ love was revolutionary love ― love that feeds folks when they are hungry, love that gives folks drink when they are thirsty. Love that visits those who are sick and imprisoned, and liberates folk from their suffering. We believe Jesus cared for those who were on the margins ― women, children, and the poor. His message was meant to flip the status quo on its head; the first will be last and the last will be first, and a little child teaches us what the Reign of God is like.

Following Jesus of Nazareth, here are 10 affirmations of our living faith:

  1. We believe all human beings — reflecting an expansive universe of genders — are created in the image of God, just exactly as we are (Genesis 1–2). Each of us is reverently and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). Therefore, we celebrate the unique sexual expression of each of human being. Jesus said nothing about gay; we say LGBTQ people are just-as-they-are, by design, and beloved by their Creator.
  2. We believe all human beings are created in God’s image. Therefore, women, men and people of all genders should be treated equally in the marketplace, in congregations, in all public spaces, in the military, and at home. We believe fully in gender equality.
  3. We believe the glory of God’s creation includes our beautiful racial/ethnic and cultural differences. Therefore, we abhor racism, we stand fully against white supremacy, and we encourage the removal not only of racist statues, but also of racist statutes. We know more completely the nature of God when we study God’s image in the faces of beautiful people who are from Spanish speaking nations, from the African Diaspora, from Asian heritages, from the Pacific Islands, from Native American origins, and from Europe.
  4. We believe the earth is God’s and the fullness thereof. Therefore, we must care for the earth as though we are partners with God, because we are. Climate change is real, and it is a spiritual discipline to use our resources ― water, fuels, plants, and animals ― with tender care. We must reverse the damage done to our planet by our greed and carelessness.
  5. We believe the Spirit of God came upon Jesus (Luke 4) and gave him power to liberate the captives. Therefore, we stand against the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration, which warehouses the children of God. We must think about restorative justice, and rescue our children who are imprisoned as adults.
  6. We believe there is no such right as manifest destiny, nor a Doctrine of Discovery, presuming the ability of Europeans to take land already occupied by human beings. The creation of borders to enhance the coffers of the rich has led to outrageous and inhumane treatment of immigrants and refugees. Therefore, we support DACA and DAPA and stand against ICE raids that separate families.
  7. We believe God speaks many languages to God’s people, so they might know God fully and be reconciled to each other and to their Creator. Therefore, we stand against Antisemitism, Islamaphobia, and Xenophobia. We are called to love the stranger, because we were all once strangers in a strange land. Our Christian faith calls us to imagine God at work in every place, in every way, by every and all means necessary.
  8. We believe that Jesus spoke volumes about money. We believe that all of God’s children everywhere should have food on the table, a warm and safe place to live, affordable health care, and resources enough to have abundant life. In other words, everyone should have enough. There are resources enough for it to be so and we stand against any prosperity gospel or theology that increases the wealth of the very few while the masses go hungry.
  9. We believe any personal relationship with Jesus Christ must include liberation for those who are suffering. None of us are saved until all of us are saved.
  10. We believe that in every age the Church will have to wrestle with what it means to be faithful today. This is what it means to be disciples. Ours is a living faith; God is still speaking.

In conclusion, we believe in the power of revolutionary love as a force to heal our souls and the world. We believe all of creation is groaning, like a woman in childbirth, waiting for the children of God to show ourselves. We believe these challenging times are birthing pains. And we are urging all who call on the name of God to show ourselves, to stand for justice, to stand on the side of Love.

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