The Nashville Statement (A Plain Language Translation)

This week over 150 Evangelical pastors and Conservative Christian leaders released a joint manifesto on sexuality and marriage entitled the Nashville Statement. The Tennessee city’s name was attached to the document, due to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s annual conference in Nashville where the document was ratified.

The statement is steeped in churchy language and dusty religious-speak regarding marriage, creation, gender identity, and sexual orientation, which may be difficult for the average ear to decipher, especially if not raised to crack the code of such theological buzzwords.

Below is a Plain Language Translation so you can hear what’s actually being said here beneath the sanctified verbiage:

Evangelical Christians are at the precipice of extinction—and we know it. We are a profoundly endangered species coming to grips with the urgency of the moment, of our impending disappearance, of the whole thing going sideways here in the Bible Belt—and we’re in a bit of a panic. 

We are leaking people from our churches, watching multitudes walk away in disgust, and losing market share in the religious landscape, as well as the vice-like stranglehold we’ve had on American politics for the past 241 years—and we are rightly terrified.

Yes, we made our bed with this President, which a few months ago seemed like a victory, but we now realize we are inextricably tethered to an absolute monster, and have no choice but to deny Jesus daily and double down on him, lest we lose every ally. However, we forgot that people aren’t stupid, and they see the disconnect between the President and the Jesus we’re trying to simultaneously claiming allegiance to—and we desperately need a distraction to muddy the waters; we need an easy battle to regain the credibility we’ve forfeited as we’ve sold off our souls and built our personal empires.

We know that the only hope we have in regaining a foothold in the culture (as onion skin thin as that hope is), is to stoke the passion fires of our remaining base, who are rapidly dwindling to now include only those most susceptible to fear of the other; those who are most easily aroused by talk of other people’s bedrooms and body parts and marriages. We’re preaching hard to what’s left of our hateful choir.

And so right now, in the middle of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, in one of the most divisive years in our nation’s history, in a time when we are terribly fractured—we’ve chosen to gather as Christian leaders:
not to condemn the White Supremacy and racism our President has refused to,
or to decry this Administration’s ties to Russia,

or to state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter,
or to offer support for Muslim-Americans,

or to stand in solidarity with the tens of millions who may lose the ability to be cared for,
or to leverage our influence to rescue people under water in Houston.

No, we’ve chosen this moment to launch an unprovoked attack on an easy target.
We’ve chosen to perpetuate and sanction discrimination, violence, and bullying against an already marginalized community.
We’ve chosen to do damage and create conflict, in a time when the world is so starved for healing and so immersed in discord.
We’ve chosen to use our sacred text; not to bring comfort or create unity or engender hope—but to beat the hell out of people who spend much of their days already walking through hell because of the cruelty of our disciples.
We’ve chosen to wage cheap war on innocent and vulnerable people in order to feel mighty again.

We’ve done this because regardless of all our lip service about love and Grace and compassion—we really just like to pick fights that give us that intoxicating rush of superiority and a small dose of the control that we’ve grown addicted to. We really want to hold the kind of power that we’ve become accustomed to (and are rapidly losing.)

And so we’ve once more trotted out every dangerous, Science-denying stereotype, every tired religious platitude about Adam and Eve, “God’s design”, and “ordained differences between men and women”—because that’s all we have left.

We’ve tossed out all but a handful of quite debatable verses from the expansive library of Scripture, and once again chosen to go back to the well of injecting ourselves in someone else’s personal business one more time—in the hopes that maybe it will be like it was in the old days, when people didn’t realize how twisted we’d gotten it and just how little Jesus we were actually emulating, and believing this kind of harassment is redemptive.

We’ve made this “statement”, because those still listening to our message, aren’t interested in loving their neighbors as themselves, or caring for the least, or being the merciful Samaritan, or welcoming the outsider or washing people’s feet (or any of that annoying Jesus stuff). They just want an enemy to wage war with.

And so despite him never once condemning or criticizing anyone for their gender identity or sexual orientation in the totality of his life and ministry—we’ve put these words in his mouth and stood on a social media mountaintop and in our bully pulpits and shouted them to the world in one last gasp for survival.

And we hope that no one sees just how terrified we are of our own extinction.

This is a dissenting opinion, from those of us without fear, who want to lead with love.


Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.




324 thoughts on “The Nashville Statement (A Plain Language Translation)

  1. “…We’ve tossed out all but a handful of quite debatable verses from the expansive library of Scripture…”

    What (besides personal preference) makes one verse more debatable than another?

    If it aligns with current social norms that the masses follow, does the instantly make it a little more shaky than the other ideologies of Scripture?

    Thankfully, the one that says “Judge and not be judged” is for a currently unknown reason on a much more firm and less debatable foundation.

  2. As it is in the struggle to maintain life, the beast in the last gasps of breath will act the most savagely to survive. This is what we are seeing today with these extremist views. They are in their final expression. It is a very dangerous time, but we must amass our strength to make sure the true teachings of tolerance, understanding and compassion are saved for all humanity.

  3. I can, with great confidence, list a few things Christ hates.

    He hates sin – which is defined in Scripture.

    He has and will condemn those who offer another “gospel” that is free from repentance.

    He will hold to account those who misuse His words…especially those who claim to be teachers.

    Christ is the head of His Church…comments here may claim it’s full of hate, is dying, is irrelevant, but those words are just the anthem the lost sing as they march down the broad way. Place yourself under Christ’s authority. For that, you need to go elsewhere than this blog.

  4. Pavlovitz is making a false judgment (how he loves to judge it seems) and bearing false witness. . . “We’ve made this “statement”, because those still listening to our message, aren’t interested in loving their neighbors as themselves, or caring for the least, or being the merciful Samaritan, or welcoming the outsider or washing people’s feet (or any of that annoying Jesus stuff). They just want an enemy to wage war with.”

    No, not really Mr. Pavlovitz. They are simply affirming what the scriptures teach and what believers have held to for 2,000 years. You clearly love the world and want to be loved by the world. That’s your choice.

    1 Tim 6:3-4
    3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing.

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  9. From someone who has always identified as a conservative evangelical, thank you and Amen. When I read that the NS had been published, I was astounded! I thought, “Really? We needed another one? We haven’t said these things enough?” The evangelical church has truly become a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal. So very sad with this entire past year.

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  11. ‘Christian America’ Dwindling, Including White Evangelicals, Study Shows
    By Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service 9-06-2017

    The future of religion in America is young, non-Christian, and technicolor.

    Almost every Christian denomination in the U.S. shows signs of growing diversity as white Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, give way to younger members, who tend to be of different races, according to a study released Sept. 6 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

    And American evangelicals — once seemingly immune to the decline experienced by their Catholic and mainline Protestant neighbors — are losing numbers and losing them quickly.

    Americans are also continuing to move away from organized religion altogether, as atheists, agnostics, and those who say they do not identify with any particular religion — the group known as the “nones” — hold steady at about one-quarter [24 percent] of the population.

    The study, “America’s Changing Religious Identity,” contacted 101,000 Americans in 50 states. And while the survey spotlights transformations afoot in many religious groups, it also shows a seismic shift for a long-standing American religious powerhouse: white evangelicals.

    “This report provides solid evidence of a new, second wave of white Christian decline that is occurring among white evangelical Protestants just over the last decade in the U.S.,” said Robert P. Jones, PRRI’s CEO and author of “The End of White Christian America.”

    “Prior to 2008, white evangelical Protestants seemed to be exempt from the waves of demographic change and disaffiliation that were eroding the membership bases of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics,” he said.

    “We now see that these waves simply crested later for white evangelical Protestants.”

    Among the survey’s chief findings:

    · White Christians, 81 percent of the population in 1976, now account for less than half the public — 43 percent of Americans identify as white Christians, and 30 percent as white Protestants.

    More findings may be read here:

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  16. My impression is that we are witnessing the violent self-destruction of the dying Old Christianity, while at the same time you can see, if you pay attention, the birthing of the New Christianity. The New Christianity is a return to Love, in the highest sense of the word. I personally like to call it Gaian Christianity because I’ve conceived a new human identity which recognises that we are one with our Mother Earth – whose spiritual name, in my philosophy, is Gaia. Yet, we are also One with each other, with Life itself, and with God. Did Jesus not teach us about our Oneness with the Father? Of course he did!
    In my Gaian philosophy it’s in our destiny to eventually see born a Gaian version of every religion or spiritual path. What makes them Gaian is that at their core they all teach that every path is of equal value, that there is no one path that is the only true path, that we are all one with God, that God is Love, and therefore we are Love, and we are God in individualised form. Gaian Christianity will practice Love in all its forms, and always steer its followers away from fear, hate, division and superiority. Christians will no longer tollerate other religions, they will fully appreciate them – and the differences which make each of them unique. Gaian Christians, in my opinion, will embrace all of Life and seek always to show others a path back to Love through the example of their own lives, lived.
    Gaian Islam will do the same.
    Gaian Judaism will do the same.
    Gaian Hinduism will do the same…
    and so on.
    Jesus practised and taught Love, not Christianity, correct me if I’m wrong.
    So as the Old Christianity burns up in a great ball of fire, some of us will choose to be a part of the New Christianity by returning ourselves to Love and helping each other find their own unique and loving way to walk this Earth, our mother Gaia.
    Because Love is the only true religion, you can call it what you want but that doesn’t change the fact that its simply the most authentic and unique expression of who all of us truly are.

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