Are Conservative Evangelicals Really Unhappy With the Nashville Statement?

Katelyn Beaty says the Statement bothers some evangelicals because a few Trump supporters signed it.

Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission was a leading signer of the Nashville Statement and a vocal critic of President Donald Trump during the 2016 election. Only about 5 percent of the Nashville Statement’s original 187 signatories were pro-Trump.

By Alex Chediak Published on September 1, 2017

Katelyn Beaty has an article in the Washington Post entitled “Why Even Conservative Evangelicals are Unhappy with the anti-LGBT Nashville Statement.” The anti-LBGT label is a cheap shot. It’s even worse than calling the pro-life community “anti-abortion.” The Nashville Statement is intended to affirm everyone, including those with same-sex attraction. Such people are among the statement’s initial signers.

Beaty’s main point is that the Nashville Statement bothers some evangelicals because a few Donald Trump supporters signed it. Beaty quotes pastor Skye Jethani: “Had white evangelical leaders … withheld support for Mr. Trump after the infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tapes, maybe their opposition to same-sex marriage would be viewed as … principled, rather than as a bigoted position.” In other words, evangelical leaders who supported Trump lost their moral credibility in the process. So any statement they signed should be rejected.         

But the Nashville Statement is a general set of claims. It’s not directed at Trump in any way. Evangelicals who disagreed on Trump can agree on the nature of marriage, sex, and human nature.

Only about 5 percent of the Nashville Statement’s original 187 signatories were pro-Trump. Most of these few people were openly critical of Trump’s track record with women. Wayne Grudem is a good example.

Beaty writes, “Last fall, Wayne Grudem, CBMW’s co-founder, defended Trump after the candidate was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault.” That’s not true. Grudem responded to those tapes by calling for Trump to withdraw from the election. That’s the opposite of defending Trump! Grudem also deleted his previous endorsement of Trump, which had gone viral. Yes, a few weeks later, when Trump didn’t withdraw, Grudem argued that we should vote for Trump’s policies. But even then, Grudem said that he found “both candidates morally objectionable.”

You can’t transfer Donald Trump’s missteps to those who voted for him in spite of those missteps. And you can’t reject the document because 5 percent of its backers pulled the lever for Trump.

What Does Donald Trump Have To Do With It?

The really big problem is that Trump himself could not sign the Nashville Statement. So how can he be the main cause of its opposition among conservative evangelicals? In his first on-camera interview as President, Trump affirmed same-sex marriage as the law of the land. Not all do. For example, Senator Cruz has said that Obergefell was wrongly decided by the Supreme Court and that state and local officials could refuse to obey it. But that’s not Trump’s position. This past June the President even called for international recognition of gay marriage.

You can’t reject the document because 5 percent of its backers pulled the lever for Trump.

On persons who identify as transgender, candidate Trump said that Caitlyn Jenner could use any bathroom at Trump Tower. And he opposed the North Carolina bathroom bill. Yes, he’s signed a memo asking the military to go back to the pre-Obama transgender policy. But that’s more about costs and avoiding disruption. It’s not rooted in the kinds of affirmations and denials laid out in the Nashville Statement.

Trump does seem to be pro-life. And he seems committed to appointing originalist judges. But none of this means that Trump affirms the Nashville view of marriage and gender.

Non-Trump Concerns Do Exist

There are conservative evangelicals who have expressed concern with the Nashville Statement. Matthew Lee Anderson wrote a lengthy critique. Several women have expressed concerns because of the history of the organization that issued the Statement, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). They would have liked to first see an apology for what they view as CBMW’s past promotion of extrabiblical gender stereotypes.  

Katelyn Beaty herself has a good Twitter thread where she unpacks 3 things she wished the Nashville Statement would have included. None of them relate to Trump. Nor did they make their way into her article.

 

Dr. Alex Chediak (Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley) is a professor and the author of Thriving at College (Tyndale House, 2011), a roadmap for how students can best navigate the challenges of their college years. His latest book is Beating the College Debt Trap. Learn more about him at www.alexchediak.com or follow him on Twitter (@chediak).

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  • LYoung

    Don’t know why anyone should be up in arms about stating the biblical obvious.
    If one is not a Christian why would they agree? And if Christians need to be reminded of the biblically obvious, they are probably not reading the Bible very closely.

    • Augie

      William Maddock ^^^^^^ previous statement is proof folks are not in the Scriptures.

  • The anti-LBGT label is a cheap shot. It’s even worse than calling the pro-life community “anti-abortion.”

    But I thought the pro-life community WAS anti-abortion.

    • Bob Adome

      The pro-choice movement is pro-abortion. Next.

    • JP

      The pro-life community is anti-murder of babies.

    • Andrew Mason

      It’s not really an accurate depiction. The pro-abortion crowd don’t tend to have much interest in anything apart from abortion – an act they consider birth control and a matter of choice. The pro-life crowd try to offer all services, but don’t do abortion, for obvious reasons. Where the Far Left control government they try and get legislation passed so that pro-life organisations have to advertise pro-abortionists, but there is no requirement for pro-abortionists to recommend alternative options e.g. counselling, adoption etc.

    • Mo

      @ Chuck Anziulewicz

      “But I thought the pro-life community WAS anti-abortion.”

      We are. This statement in the article made no sense to me.

    • stumpc

      The secular Left and other pro-aborts often try to reduce pro-Life people to merely being against abortion, presenting it as an arbitrary position adopted only to injure and punish women with unintended pregnancies. They refuse to recognize that “Pro-Life” is a comprehensive position that recognizes and upholds the sanctity of all human life at every stage of development or age. Any violence against completely helpless and innocent victims is abhorred and opposed. These deceivers are also fond of saying that pro-life people do not care about lives after birth. This is another lie and part of their overall playbook of disinformation. In truth pro-Life workers have done more than any other group to help women and babies, especially those who have been shunned and abandoned by husbands, boyfriends and families who were attempting to force them into killing their children.

    • Mike Ward

      Maybe he meant to type “anti-choice”? Just a guess because I don’t know any pro-life people who aren’t anti-abortion.

  • Anyone who opposes the Nashville Statement, and claims to be Christian, is not paying attention where they should be.

    • Augie

      e 8 e
      I oppose the Nashville Statement and I am a Christian and I am paying attention to where I should be. I was in agreement to the Statement until I read Article 8 and that was the game changer for me. There is nothing that supports that statement in the scriptures. This very verse comes to mind in support of my opinion.

      1 John 1:5-10 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
      8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. You sir are a deciever and I pray your voice will never be heard!

      • Christine Wright

        I believe I’m reading article 8 much differently than you are. I see that as speaking of a pre-Christian sin/state. Before I became Christian I was a sinner, I practiced Islam. Then I found Christ and ” walk in the purity of life”. After I found Christ the Holy Spirit convicted me of further sin in my life, and I did as He commanded I do, then “further walked in the purity of life” found only in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Once someone is saved, they are also convicted of sin and through His healing Power we are no longer slaves to the desires of this world. I was told to quit smoking, and I did but it wasn’t overnight. I had a struggle with it before I truly understood the length and breadth of my freedom from sin..

        Anyway, it is in this light I read article 8. As much as I’m a Christian, I’m also a former Muslim, a former smoker, a former lot of things.. yet Jesus chose to save me and set me free anyway.. while those things are past, they will always make up a part of who I am, and keeps me very humble.

      • eddiestardust

        I’m Catholic and I signed it so there!:)

      • Look on Facebook for my video “Regarding Article 8 of the Nashville Statement” to see my reply.

  • acommentator

    The author is exactly right that the Nashville Statement has nothing to do with Trump. And it is not a substantive argument to point out that some people who signed it support Turmp. Is what they say right or not? That is the only question.

  • Augie

    Article 8 was the game changer for me. I was in agreement until I read that statement. Goes against everything the Bible teaches.

    • LYoung

      I see the ‘muddiness’ of the affirmation
      section of Article 8, Augie. But the reality that Christ can and does set us free from sin is upheld in the 2nd part.
      For instance, if I am an adulterer, before I repent and ask Christ’s forgiveness and deliverance, at the moment of his deliverance I am seen as clean before my Lord. I am no longer a slave to adultery and am set free. I do not identify as an adulterer any longer. The same is true for someone repenting and asking forgiveness for homosexual sin or any sin. We can be set free in Christ and know our identity is in Christ, pure and holy.
      It may be an ongoing battle in our lives but we do not need to be identified by our sins, only by our Savior.

  • Christine Wright

    I think it’s neither here nor there whether or not a Christian supported a Trump presidency. We don’t live in a nation governed by religious law, we live in a nation governed by a secular law. This is the United States. Not ancient Israel. Jesus said “My Kingdom is not of this world” among other similar statements. When I vote for who I believe will best lead the nation, I’m not looking for the next pastor, I’m looking for a man who is best equipped to lead a secular nation. As such, I don’t care about a man’s past, I was once Muslim and once hated Jews… that was prior to my own salvation. Whatever Trump is or is not, how good of a Christian he is or was is neither here nor there for me, and I’m not one to judge upon a man’s past, but rather, judge upon his present and decide if this is the man who can lead our nation toward the path I believe best. I’m really not one to expect the Washington Post and it’s writers to have any understanding of that anymore than anyone else who is clueless as to the ministry of Christ.

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