Last month, a group of evangelical leaders came together to write the Nashville Statement, reaffirming the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality, transgenderism and chastity. It welcomes people with homosexual attractions to Christianity and explains how they are called to live a life of chastity. Despite the respectful affirmation of church teachings, many people, especially progressives, expressed deep outrage.
Progressive Christians and atheists alike labeled the statement as a hateful, homophobic piece of garbage. They acted as if they saw Hitler urinating on a rainbow, when in reality, the statement is nothing but a loving outreach to those with same-sex attractions.
Christians who encourage gay people to live a life of chastity aren’t homophobic but loving. Christians don’t want to see anyone go down a path of sin. They want to promote God’s plan for them.
The statement is not simply about homosexuality. As the statement explains, God calls everyone to stay abstinent from sex before marriage.
While written by evangelicals, the Nashville Statement affirms the Catholic teaching that God intends sex to be open to life. Some priests feel differently, such as the Rev. James Martin, recent author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity.”
On Aug. 31, Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, where he criticized Martin’s work. Sarah also emphasized the importance of chastity for Christians with same-sex attraction.
“With God’s grace and our perseverance, chastity is not only possible, but it will also become the source for true freedom,” said Sarah.
He also talked about the importance of promoting truth.
“To love someone as Christ loves us means to love that person in the truth,” said Sarah. “Those who speak on behalf of the church must be faithful to the unchanging teachings of Christ because only by living in harmony with God’s creative design do we find deep and lasting fulfillment.”
A few days later, Martin responded to Sarah’s criticism.
“Cardinal Sarah’s op-ed inaccurately states that my book is critical of church teaching, which it is not. Nor am I,” said Martin.
On a positive note, Martin called Sarah’s op-ed, “A step forward.”
Christians can learn important lessons from the Nashville Statement and Sarah’s op-ed. One lesson in particular should stand out: Christians are called to promote the unchanging teachings of the Bible in a loving manner that encourages everyone to follow God’s plan.