The recent “Nashville Statement” by the Coalition for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (catchy name!) has a lot of people in my online neighborhood talking. I discuss a little of it below.
What I’m writing about here, though, isn’t the Nashville Statement, but the 1987 Danvers Statement by the same people. It’s just as much fun.
This statement by the then newly-formed CBMW outlines their views of male and female roles according to “God.” By this time in my life, I can shrug off the Danvers Statement. I don’t ascribe to their inflexible view that women are specifically created to be subordinate to men. Nor do I credit their assertion that God built in “masculine” and “feminine” traits as part of the created order. (Male and female refers to biology; masculine and feminine refers to behaviors. One is mostly concrete; the other changes from culture to culture — or, indeed, from person to person.)
But, one part made me laugh. They’re explaining how men and woman are different (but equal! Except when women want to do things that only men should do). They explain that, as far as the church is concerned:
- Sin “inclines men to abdicate spiritual responsibility and grasp for power.
- Sin “inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.”
In other words:
Sinful man: I SHALL BE AS GOD AND RULE ALL! Bwahahaha!
Sinful woman: THE OFFICE OF ASSISTANT PASTOR WILL BE MINE! Hahaha!
Seriously, of all the horrible things a sinful woman can do in a church body, this is the worst you can come up with? What about spiritually abusing other women? What about spreading dissension and gossip to get rid of a leader she doesn’t like? What about ruling her family and/or her Bible study group with anger and twisted Scripture? What about, I don’t know, abdicating spiritual responsibility and grasping for power?
Nope. Just resisting limitations and not using her gifts in “appropriate ministries.”
This is why I don’t credit much of what the CBMW has to say about my identity as a woman. Their vision for me is so very small. I can’t even sin as good as a man does.
A thought or two on the Nashville Statement.
If you managed to get me into a conversation about this issue, you’d find me a lot more flexible about it than my evangelical pedigree and faithful-to-the-historical-faith husband would indicate. The conflict between overarching theology and the impact it has on individual human lives is a tension I continually wrestle with.
I understand the theological underpinnings of this statement. But I found a few phrases that I disagree with, and knowing the culture in which these words are drafted and disseminated, I find the small differences alarming.
For instance, I can see the justification for Article 10 if it said:
We affirm that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes a departure from historically-accepted Christian faithfulness and witness.
We deny that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is an issue about which otherwise faithful Christians may agree to disagree.
What it actually says is:
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 Christrians should agree to disagree.
What this article says is that if I even approve of a homosexual or transgender relationship, it’s the same as denying essential doctrines such as the deity of Christ or his resurrection. It invalidates my “true Christian” qualifications.
(Also, for the record, I don’t consider it “a matter of moral indifference” so stop assigning motives, okey-dokey?)
This statement was signed by some “big names” in Christian circles. They evidently agree that the church must make its people choose between “gays” and “God,” but last year many of them scrambled down from their moral high ground and endorsed Donald Trump as president. They were willing to approve of a man who doesn’t even pretend to adhere to traditional Christian sexual mores, just to preserve their political power. I find that blatantly immoral.
Back to the point — isn’t it seriously overstating the case to place one’s view of sexuality as an “essential” element of Christian faithfulness and witness?
Not to the CBMW. These people do consider a view of sexuality as central to Christianity. They have a driving need to know who is male and who is female, because their entire theological hierarchy depends upon knowing who is in authority and who cannot, according to God, be in authority.
Otherwise, everything gets all muddled up. You don’t know who is grasping for power and abdicating spiritual responsibility, and who is just sinfully discontent with the imposed limitations of their role. And the world just can’t take chaos like that.