The Nashville Statement
During the week of June 25-28, 2019, the 47th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (our church’s highest court) met in Dallas, Texas to deliberate important matters concerning our denomination.
One very contentious matter brought before the General Assembly was an overture (1) asking the General Assembly to “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’ on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration”. This biblically-based, graciously, circumspectly, and gently expressed document, was produced by “the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to address questions regarding gender identity and homosexuality that are contested in our culture.” (2)
Read the Nashville Statement (pdf document) here
The contention at the Assembly was over Article Seven of the Nashville Statement:
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture. WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.
The reason this statement was, and continue to be, the focus of so much debate is this: there is a growing movement, even among Evangelical believers, that proposes that a Christian person may embrace as his or her essential being (nature, character, or identity) something the Lord, in His wisdom, justice, and grace has called sin; i.e., a homosexual identity (Cf., Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6:11). Simply stated, may an individual rightly think of himself/herself as a “Gay Christian”?
The General Assembly vote was finally taken, and by a good majority (60 % to 40%), the statement was passed as a ‘biblically faithful declaration.” The Nashville Statement is non-binding, but the Assembly declared it to be a document the church may use as a resource in teaching and counseling.
The Session of the Bryce Avenue Presbyterian Church offers the Nashville Statement as a resource for helping Christians — even those struggling with any kind of sexual sin. With the words of the overture presented to and passed by the 47th General Assembly of the PCA, the Session commends this document to the congregation and all who may read it:
“‘The Nashville Statement’ clearly reiterates the truth of foundational passages of Scripture and our confessional understanding of marriage, gender, and sexual ethics. It affirms God’s good purpose in ordaining the binary nature of gender while bestowing His image on mankind (Gen. 1:27), His design for marriage between one biological man and one biological woman (Gen. 1:23, 24), and the sinfulness of homosexual and transgender desire as well as conduct (Mat. 15:18,19; I Cor. 6:9-11). In addition to affirming these historic, orthodox truths, the Nashville Statement also lifts up the hope of the gospel to the sexual struggler, pointing the reader to our Lord Jesus Christ as “the double cure,” saving us both from sin’s guilt and power.” (3)
Here, then, is a clear, helpful, biblically founded, carefully crafted resource that will call all believers, no matter their particular struggle, to holiness of life, character, thought, and action.
Study it carefully. Apply its Scriptural truth to your life. And find hope in the living God.
1) “An overture ordinarily is the request of a presbytery for action by the General Assembly upon a specific matter (11-4).” - from the Rules of Assembly Operations, Article XI
2) From an article by Dr. Richard Phillips: “Four Cheers for PCA Approval of the Nashville Statement,” July 1, 2019, on the Reformation21 blog site: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2019/07/four-cheers-for-pca-approval-o.php
3) From the OVERTURE 4 from Calvary Presbytery (to the Overtures Committee of the GA) “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’ on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration” https://www.pcaac.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Overture-4-Calvary-Nashville-Statement.pdf
Additional valuable insight in this area is provided in this article by Rosaria Butterfield “What is wrong with gay Christianity?”
The 47th PCA General Assembly also commended for study the RPCNA’s “Contemporary Perspectives on Sexual Orientation: A Theological and Pastoral Analysis” from their 2011 Synod Meeting.