About a week ago I promised to share some public reactions to the Nashville Statement, and the following is a brief attempt to follow through on that commitment. On a personal note, to say that the past two weeks have been dark for myself, my wife, and many of our LGBT friends would be an understatement of epic proportions. We have watched people we admire and look up to rally behind a deeply divisive and problematic document that utterly fails to provide the clarity that it promises, and that deepens fault lines in conservative evangelicalism that some of us are still trying to straddle and, ultimately, still believe can be healed. For this reason, even though I believe that marriage by definition involves a man and a woman, and that faithful Christian doctrine limits sexual behavior to the context of a marriage, I will never sign the Nashville Statement and I urge others to make the same commitment.
My reflections here will be brief, and will focus on one specific problem that my book (releasing tomorrow) highlights: the problem of invisibility.
First, LGBT people have suffered trauma at the hands of Christians, and to this date there is no collective statement from evangelicals confessing this as sin and expressing a desire to repent. The fact that the Nashville Statement omits any reference to this need for confession and repentance is pastorally insensitive and missiologically disastrous. Many LGBT people experience this sort of selective truth-telling as nothing less than spiritual abuse.
Second, a wide variety of conservative critics of the Nashville Statement suggest that Article 7 appears designed to exclude people like Wesley Hill and the writers at Spiritual Friendship (including me). This is an entire group of non-straight people who are leading faithful lives in obedience to Christ, yet the drafters of the Nashville Statement never consulted any of these individuals at any point during the process leading up to the release of the statement. This is, at the very least, an egregious oversight, and probably falls short of the command to, "so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Rom. 12:18).
Third, invisibility also results when someone might agree with the actual content of a document such as the Nashville Statement, but nonetheless would have no desire to sign it because of the process by which the document was formed or the posture the document strikes. For this reason, the Nashville Statement excludes LGBT people who might agree with the substance of the affirmations and denials it contains, but want absolutely nothing to do with it for other reasons (such as the previous two points).
Finally, the lack of a credible, public response to conservative critics by the drafters and original signatories of the Nashville Statement particularly isolates conservative LGBT people of faith to the extent that they rely on these voices to represent their own thoughts and opinions in the public arena.