Kirk Leavens on the ‘Nashville Statement’

In a superb response to the notorious and insensitive ‘Nashville Statement‘, released upon a hurting world by out-of-touch-with-reality Evangelical leaders at the end of August this year, other Christians – “…some of the queer, trans, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, gender-queer, asexual, straight, single, married image-bearing Christians at House for All Sinners & Saints (Denver, Co)” – wrote the ‘Denver Statement’; a point-by-point rebuttal of the Nashville Statement.

The Denver Statement was posted on the Patheos blog* – and it is quite simply a breath of fresh air.

One of the replies to the blog post particularly caught my eye, from Kirk Leavens, a man of wisdom and compassion whose contributions to the Patheos blog are always well worth reading. Here is the quote; I think you will like it:

“The Nashville Statement on human sexuality is the latest attempt by the Religious Right to position male-female complementarianism, patriarchy and gender stereotypes as the Biblical norm for today, thousands of years from the culture in which male dominance and female subservience was the norm. One of the main problems with the belief that the Bible gives us a clear picture of “one man, one woman,” is…that it does not. The truth is conservatives must carefully pick and choose their verses to support their thesis, conveniently overlooking the much more numerous passages that portray the ugly side of complementarianism and submission.

“Contrary to most evangelical thinking, while the NT gives us excellent advice on loving our enemies and our neighbors as ourselves, the Bible, as a whole is a mixed bag on the issue of “Biblical Marriage.” With Biblical marriages involving polygamy, concubines, maid servants, spoils of war, sisters-in-law, rape victims, etc., conservatives must do a lot of cherry picking to come up with a definitive view of marriage.

“I am sure most of this is coming from the hard right of evangelicalism, the Southern Baptist fringe that grew into the dominant voice in conservative evangelicalism in the 80s and 90s during the takeover of SBC [Southern Baptist Convention]. What most evangelicals don’t know is that during this time period the moderates along with female teachers at Baptist universities were all forced out by the fundamentalist wing of the SBC. Evangelicalism has never recovered.

“This shift among the majority voice in Evangelicalism does not just condemn “homosexuality,” but would push a strong, hyper-Calvinism as the only “truly biblical” understanding of atonement, would severely limit divergent views such as Arminianism and Pentecostalism and has forced out moderates and postconservatives from teaching at their seminaries, as well as severely limiting women from teaching or using their spiritual gifts. This is not a group of people open to the work of the Holy Spirit. They are fundamentalists, period.

“The tragedy of the Nashville Statement is that it closes the door to dialogue about human sexuality, and attempts to rigidly compartmentalize gender stereotypes, ignoring the realities of gender and sexuality. It also closes the door to further understanding and reform amongst evangelicals. The door has been shut on careful consideration of the Biblical passages themselves, preferring a inerrant, literal hermeneutic that does not take into consideration a great many things: culturally bound materials, story as opposed to historical facts, and a general inability to differentiate Kingdom principals from cultural mores.

“In all of this we are to be schooled on marriage by a group of people whose heterosexual marriages end in divorce 50% of the time, differing little from the culture they pride themselves as being superior to. It has sadly become all too apparent that fundamentalists favor law over Grace, continuing over a century of vigorously defending indefensible attitudes towards race, women, violence and sexual minorities. This needs to stop.”

And I couldn’t agree more with what he said. Quite often you hear the phrase, ‘What is the world coming to’, and I often think the same thing about Christianity. It’s high time people professing Jesus as Lord began to confront the really serious issues of our time instead of wanting to install video cameras in other people’s bedrooms! Seriously, these people seem to think that the number-one big problem of our time is that some people have a ‘different’ sexuality. It’s not poverty, not North Korea’s nuclear program, not Donald Trump’s divisive presidency, not global warming; no, it’s what people do in the privacy of their own homes that is the number-one issue.

How twisted is that?

Anyway, enough of my ranting 😉 I’d like to also point my readers to Kirk’s complete article in which he expands on the points he makes in the quotation I have given above. Although you will recognise some of the paragraphs from above, there are some new and interesting points that he makes as well. Here’s the link*.

Finally, a word of explanation. My blog purports to be, on the whole, me doing what I see the Father doing; me saying what I believe the Father is saying. That’s what my header is all about and it’s the mission statement, if you like, for my blog. In these times, I see the Father doing a great work amongst and through the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Intersex ‘community’. These people are going to play a major part in the next Revival; indeed, they are already doing so.

To quote Rabbi Gamaliel, in Acts 5:38-39, “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Yep. Please consider this post prayerfully and hear what the Voice of the Spirit is saying to you 🙂

*In case the links here ever disappear (you never know!), I have generated verbatim copies of the originals on their own pages in this blog.

Here is the link to the copy of the Patheos article on the ‘Denver Statement’.

Here is the link to the copy of Kirk’s article on his blog.

I did not share a link to Kirk’s original reply because it is worded here exactly as he originally did it anyway.



3 thoughts on “Kirk Leavens on the ‘Nashville Statement’

  1. Thanks Tony for your excellent post. Good thoughts. One of the side issues on the topic of “Biblical marriage” I keep bumping into is the accusation that progressives are ”conforming” to society and it’s pressures by supporting SSM. What conservatives fail to see in scripture is that the Biblical standard of marriage essentially was the same as most other patriarchal societies whether Jewish, Pagan or Christian. In other words, the Bible ITSELF “conforms” to standard male dominate societies. It is nothing new, Paul merely adds a Christological spin to it. When one adds literary criticism to the mix, certain verses don’t add up to Paul’s style and are seen by many scholars as an early second century insertion reflecting the growing male resistance to egalitarianism that was prevalent in the first century church, again reflecting how society helped shape scripture in the form we now have.

    Due to the implicit “docetism” of the conservative understanding of the Bible (it’s God’s words, not man’s), conservatives are unable to see any “humanness” in the ancient near east household codes, instead seeing them as fundamental Kingdom principals. It’s interesting how they can understand Paul’s statements on slavery, for example, as culturally bound, yet not his statements on headship. Conservatives themselves, are forced to conform to society when they in making this allowance.

  2. Fascinating stuff, Kirk, thanks for that comment and its content.

    I note also that in the original Patheos post, there is some discussion about the ‘Biblical standard’ of marriage…especially in OT times, there was polygamy, there were concubines, there were also many rules about marrying one’s sister-in-law should her husband (one’s brother) die…all kinds of things that we would not dream of enacting as law today. There is some ‘improvement’ by the time of the NT but even then the lines are blurred; it is my observation that there seems to be no such thing as a ‘Biblical’ marriage standard save for the responsibility that human relationships entail with regard to social care, raising a family and what have you. And that can be achieved by aunts and uncles, grandparents and other family members, as well as by those outside the family. It seems to me that what we call ‘marriage’ today is almost entirely founded in our own culture – which is absolutely fine, of course, but to claim it as the Biblical standard is utterly incorrect. That said, I know from personal experience that this modern system of marriage can work because my late wife and myself had a blissful marriage for nearly 33 years, so it can indeed work. But that doesn’t mean that everyone else’s ideal of marriage is the same as mine. Adam and Steve, or Alice and Eve, can work just as well as Adam and Eve, as long as there is mutual love, care and respect.

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