There is a theological failure at the heart of the so-called ‘Nashville Statement’, issued this week by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, whose tagline is 'A coalition for Biblical sexuality'.
The God in which Christians believe changed and changed everything when that God became incarnate. No longer was God ‘out there’, but is with us.
The failure in the ‘Nashville Statement’ is in not recognising that incarnation – making the physical world the vehicle of divine grace – is not a phase God went through but an act with eternal significance. Incarnation is for ever and not just for Christmas.
The implications of the incarnation of our God are far-reaching. Incarnation means that everything – every human life, every stone, every mustard seed, every speck of dust in the vast universe – is capable of showing us God. Every scrap of new knowledge shows us something of the staggering creative power of our God. Nowhere is that more evident than in the ways in which human beings are coming to understand themselves. Not only does our God create a stunning diversity of life and expression in the natural world, God creates a stunning diversity of life and expression among human beings. Diversity and difference lie at the heart of what we come to understand of our God through the evidence of the world around us and the world within us we are slowly discovering.
The simple binaries of the pre-scientific world no longer work: we are discovering that as God is a diversity of persons, so human beings – created in that God’s image – are also diverse, each with gifts of grace to bring to the whole, each with a life which God in Christ wants to be lived in all its fullness and to flourish as God wants all human beings and all of creation to flourish. Our mission, as followers of God in Christ, is to celebrate and give thanks for all that diverse expression of life and to work with our God for the flourishing of all of God’s loved, blessed and cherished children.
Attitudes and actions that mitigate against that flourishing are unjust and evil: they are acts of sinfulness for which repentance and true metanoia are required. Incarnation demonstrates that the God in whom Christians believe and worship is a living God, leading us through the Spirit of God at work in the world, into new understandings of truth and justice and love. The failure of the ‘Nashville Statement’ to take the theological fundamental of incarnation seriously is, in fact, a form of atheism and idolatry. Atheism in that it actively dis-believes in the living God of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures; idolatry in that it puts a human construction of ideas and understandings in the place of the living God and worships it.