Today I printed my first full draft of "Where True Love Is: an Affirming Devotional for LGBTQ+ Individuals and Their Allies," which should be available November 1. I've been working on it intensively for months, and the pressure to finish is intensifying.
As synchronicity would have it, today I also read the Nashville Statement; a treatise of modern day Pharisee-ism. In case you haven't seen it yet, it's a list of affirmations and denials about LGBTQ+ reality written by a distinctly unChristian brood of vipers.
The document contains no new revelations about Jesus condemning people who have non-binary sexual or gender identities (because he never did). It mostly repeats the same tired old arguments which don’t hold up to honest Biblical exegesis. But it delivers a new level of cruelty which I've not seen so succinctly verbalized.
Have a look, if you can stomach it:
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 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 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 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.
These proclamations are riddled with bad logic, shoddy theology, inaccurate science, and a completely unChristlike lack of compassion. The authors demand that a person born with both male and female chromosomes must identify as either male or female, despite the fact that God created them to be biologically both. By the signers' logic, if a mother of a teenager who has ovaries and testes supports the kid's decision to live as neither gender or both genders, she is sinning. She should demand that the child choose one, and pray that the choice matches God's "ordination."
The demagoguery on display is nauseating, destructive, and completely counter to the mission and methods of Jesus Christ.
Statements about homosexuality and same-sex marriage are rather lackluster in comparison, perhaps so that the full weight of the group's contempt could be focused on issues of gender. Do they know that the Jewish roots of their proclaimed faith disagree with their stance? Do they know that one of the tractates of the Talmud lists four genders in addition to male and female? Probably not, and if they did they'd brush it off the way they do all arguments which point out the inhumanity of their positions: the Bible supposedly tells them so.
If the Nashville Statement weren't so very, very painful, its conflicting logic would almost be funny. Here's part of the paragraph which introduces the affirmations and denials. I'll break it down sentence by sentence:
"Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God."
Did you catch that? Male AND female? Just like Genesis tells us: created male AND female. Not OR. We are all a mix of the two in varying degrees, in God's image and likeness.
"It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be."
Amen and amen! God created all of us exactly as we are. Some of us are completely comfortable in the prevailing cultural conception of masculinity or femininity. Some are more of a mix of the two. Some biologically match our gender identity, some don't. But all of us are God's creations, and are therefore what he created us to be. It would indeed be foolish and hopeless to try to change that.
"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."
Amen and amen! God is most greatly glorified when we live fully as the person he designed us individually to be: cisgender, transgender, or non-binary.
"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."
Amen and amen! When we live into the person God individually designed us to be, we have the greatest freedom, and can live life to the fullest. Just as Jesus desires.
"He is for us and not against us."
Amen, and amen! He is for each persecuted LGBTQ+ person, heterosexual ally, and affirming cisgender preacher. He is even for all the hypocritical modern day Pharisees even though he hopes they will re-read the gospel verses in which Jesus repeats "Woe to you," and then repent as John the Baptist urges.
Reading the Nashville Statement sickened me in a week already filled with horror from hurricanes Harvey and Trump. But it did show me that my Where True Love Is devotional is desperately, desperately needed.
Now back to editing.
Suzanne DeWitt Hall is the author of Rumplepimple, a hilarious illustrated story book featuring a misunderstood doggy hero and his two moms. His next adventure, Rumplepimple Goes to Jail, will be available soon!