Explaining the Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality

Pastor’s Note 1/31/2020

Happy Friday Grace Fellowship Church! Many of you have already read and began to digest the 14 articles our Elder Board is proposing to adopt from the Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality. We are adopting these 14 articles as part of what our church believes – and it has been the spark of some deep and challenging discussions. So this week for our pastor’s note, I thought it would be appropriate to lay out the biblical foundations of why we believe what we do about homosexuality, transgenderism, and other sexual deviations represented by LGBTQ+.

First and foremost, we want to affirm that human beings, irrespective of their sin or choices in this life, are all created in the image of God and therefore worthy of respect and dignity. No human being is excluded from being created in the image of God,

27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27 ESV)

Every single human bears the image of God within them – not that God has a body and we look like him physically because God is Spirit (John 4:24), rather, God in his nature is not flesh and blood, although Christ now eternally exists as fully God and fully man, two natures in one person, the essence of the Trinity is that God is a spiritual being, invisible in the sense that he does not fundamentally exist in a corporeal body. So what does it mean that men and women are made in the image of God? It means that every single human being is yes flesh, but they are supremely a living soul. You as a human being are by nature spiritual because you have a soul – the inner man as Paul calls it, (Rom. 7:22; 2Co. 4:16; Eph. 3:16). That soul reflects the character of God but is fundamentally spiritual. Because of sin, however, the image of God is marred in every single human being, to the point that that soul no longer reflects the image of God, but rather is distorted and desires sin rather than Christ. This is the condition every human being is born into – made in God’s image but marred by sin.  However, even though human beings sin, the image of God within still merits respect and dignity – Cain and Abel were born into sin by Adam and Eve, Cain killed Abel, and God declared it sinful explaining later to Noah that the image of God in man gives God the only authority to end a human life, (Gen. 4:1-16; 9:6).

We say this first because no matter what our views are on LGBTQ, we must always treat them with dignity and respect. The image of God in them requires that from us. That does not mean that we affirm their lifestyle as righteous, but that does mean that hostility, anger, and physical violence are never justified in a Christian’s interaction with those in the LGBTQ movement, even if they do those things to us.

The Created Order – God’s Original Intent For Sexual Relations

Having said that, what does the Bible have to say about homosexuality, transgenderism and so forth? The Bible is clear that God’s original, divinely ordained created purpose for human beings is a one man, one woman, lifelong relationship, (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:23-25). Any other sexual deviation beyond that only entered into human experience because of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. At this point, in regards to the issue of transgenderism – the Bible speaks clearly that God was intentional in his creation – that he created men and women separately and with their corresponding sexual organs. The implication here is that God’s created purpose as demonstrated in the biological sex of a person is to determine their gender not how they feel or perceive of themselves. The order here is 1) God creates – 2) humans live according to God’s creation decree. Humans as created beings do not have the right before God to determine their gender, God has determined their gender by their sex – male or female.

Sexual Deviations – Homosexuality and other forms of Sexual Immorality in the Old Testament

Sexual immorality existed from the fall onward – Sodom was filled with men who desired to defile the visiting angels (whom they thought were men) by taking them into the public square and sexually assaulting them, and God called them great sinners against the LORD (YHWH), (Gen. 13:13; 19:4-7).  Notice that the sin of homosexuality was called a sin against the LORD – meaning that sexual sin – any kind of sexual deviation from God’s original intent – is a sin against the LORD who created sex as a beautiful union between a man and wife.

Now beyond this, we move to Leviticus 18 – a hotly disputed passage amongst those who claim that homosexuality and transgenderism. As Christians we believe that the Old Testament codes of culture and sacrifices are no longer applicable because Christ has fulfilled all the sacrificial law. However, Jesus and the apostles were clear that the moral law – that which determined what was right and wrong according to God’s nature – is still binding on the Christian – see Jesus’ sermon on the mount where he uses and expounds the moral law of God. So yes, Leviticus 18 is still binding on the Christian because it declares God’s nature of holiness and what right sexuality is approved by God and what is a deviation from God’s created order.

In the beginning verses of Leviticus 18, God is clear to speak to Moses that the Israelites are not to do as the Egyptians and Canaanites are doing – because they are meant to be holy to the LORD. In fact, it is because of the rampant sexual immorality of the Canaanites that God says he is purging them from the land to give to Israel, and punishing them for their iniquity, (Lev. 18:24-30). Without quoting the entire chapter [link to chapter here], God declares these things abominations and sexual perversions – sexual relations with close family members by blood or marriage or otherwise (v.6-18), adultery (v.20), homosexuality (v.22), and bestiality (v.23). This isn’t complicated or nuanced, it is the plain teaching of the Old Testament that these things are sinful in any context.

The New Testament Perspective – Is it Any Different?

The New Testament is often put in contrast to the Old, but is the teaching on biblical sexuality really any different? Not at all – Jesus affirmed the created order in Genesis (Mat. 19:4; Mar. 10:6). Paul affirmed the declaration of the Law in putting all kinds of homosexuality in the category of sinful deviation from God’s design. Paul in Romans 1 clearly defines both male and female homosexuality as a result of God turning over human beings to their sinful desires, (Rom. 1:26-28). Both active and passive partners in homosexual acts are held accountable for their actions – an important point in Roman culture that allowed the dominating partner to be free from immorality if he was in control, (1Co. 6:9).[1] The important teaching here is, however, that someone who lives purposefully in these sins gives evidence that they are not born again, not in Christ, and not safe from eternal judgment, (1Co. 6:9; Gal. 5:19-21).

But the teaching of the New Testament doesn’t stop there – it affirms that in Christ, believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit, a new nature that yearns for righteousness, and that through the power of the Spirit of God they can turn away from these sexual sins and live a life of purity to the glory of God, as Paul writes –

11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Co. 6:11)

And further,

18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1Co. 6:18-20).

Conclusions –

Brothers and sisters the reason we affirm these things is because we know that God’s ordained order is what’s best for his creation. Created purpose being fulfilled brings genuine human flourishing to the glory of God. These positions are offensive to those living these lifestyles and those affirming them, and we are prepared for this. We speak them not out of malice but out of genuine love. We hold to these things because they are true not because they are popular. The Lord Jesus can and will save from sexual sin – he is not only the Savior from culturally acceptable sins but from the most unacceptable. We stand and glorify God together by proclaiming along with the Holy Spirit – such were some of us! But we have been washed, we have been sanctified, we have been justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God!

Having affirmed these things – please take the time to go to the Nashville Statement’s website and read the articles and the references given at the end of the statement, the articles of which your Elders have determined are representative of the biblical perspective on these issues.

Click the link here to read the Nashville Statement online.

See you Sunday!

  • Pastor Kyle

[1] ESV Textual note for 1Co. 6:9 referring to the words “men who practice homosexuality” – “The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts”

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