Nashville Statement: August 31, 2017

Dear Mr. VP,

In the weeks and weeks of focus on the alt-right, white supremacists, and Nazis, it’s easy to forget some of those other folks on the right. But important to remember them, since I think that while you’re doing a lot of head-nodding to the alt-right, your true loves are in the Christian Right. I can almost imagine you writing “Mike Pence + James Dobson 4eva” on a notebook, except you’d probably be worried about the homosexual implications of such a declaration.

Anyway, while the fa and the antifa are battling in the street, the Christian Right is still meeting and scheming and putting out things like this: the Nashville Statement. (And I’m honestly surprised you’re not on the list of signatories. I’m sure you’re there in spirit.)

In sum, the Nashville Statement says this: men are men, women are women, and men and women are equal in the eyes of God, but they are inherently different. Gender is not fluid, men should marry women, don’t have sex unless you’re married, and same-sex attraction is wrong but God loves everyone, since we were all created by Him, after all. And if you think you can be an accepting Christian, nope! Sorry, wrong!

Article 10
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.

Interesting, too, it directly tackles the complication that the existence of intersex people creates for the argument that genitalia = gender, saying:

Article 5
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.
Article 6
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.

Here is evidence that the Christian Right is not stagnant. They are not a movement living in the past; ironically, they are evolving. They are considering the new arguments leveled at them and they are working to answer them. The leaders of the movement are meeting, and they are plotting. As they did during the Reagan presidency, and again when Dubya was president, they know they have an ear in the White House: you.

I hope this is obvious to everyone, but clearly the release of this document on the heels of Trump’s order banning transgender people from the military is not a coincidence. You got that order written. You are the link between the White House and James Dobson, Denny Burk, Tony Perkins, and the whole C Street gang.

I am scared that in the face of straight up fascism, we are going to think this is all reasonable, and that you, the political face of the Christian Right, are reasonable.

THIS SHIT IS NOT REASONABLE. This is dehumanizing. “WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s
revealed will,” reads the statement. “God does not approve of your identity,” is what that says — and what’s more dehumanizing than saying that the supreme being who supposedly created all of us doesn’t approve of the actions of you, his creation? And this seems pretty obvious to me, but maybe not to everyone, so I’ll say it: the walk from dehumanization to violence is very short.

Also frankly, though less importantly, this is also just ridiculous: the continued argument that sex is for married people isn’t even taken seriously by many Evangelical Christians. While 25.4% of Americans identified as Evangelicals in a 2015 Pew Research survey, data consistently shows that about 95% of Americans engage in pre-marital sex. I’ve been mentally combing through my list of closest friends and I believe I know literally NO ONE who has not engaged in sex outside of the glorious covenant of marriage. (In the event that these letters are ever made public, though, and available to my mother, let’s just pretend I am the exception.)

Here’s the challenge for the left: we are fighting a war on two fronts, and those two fronts are both empowered by representation in the White House. The Nashville Statement is a public declaration of war against the LGBTQ community AND against secularism. James Dobson isn’t carrying a torch across a college campus, but he is, nevertheless, engaging in an act of violent hate speech. It needs to be noticed, and remembered, as we march towards what feels like the inevitability of a President Pence.


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