Prepare for a longer read. This essay is about the Nashville statement. If you are religious and easily offended, skip this one. I consider such statements by religious groups as harmful.
This issue stayed on my mind. Especially when I read this statement was adopted by influential people in the Netherlands. When you are raised as a religious person these kind of statement stop bothering you. I was a Christian. Living and breathing the principles of the Bible were second nature for me. Evangelical me was a different person. That was in the past though.
One problem I always had with my religion was how to deal with sexuality and relationships. This topic was always awkward or almost taboo. Yes I grew up in the Netherlands and religious fanatics also live here so stop being surprised. Evangelicals always acted modern but behind the friendly faces orthodox doctrine was the rule: man and woman only.
You see in Christian theology (among the Abrahamic religions) the human body is a vessel for your soul to the afterlife. There doctrines about how to keep the soul pure and free of sins. Even if the soul is pure, the human body still has its needs and cravings. Replace the word “cravings” with “lusts” and you see a big problem.
This problem is what makes the Nashville statement so harmful. A new human is a new life, the product of procreation. Thus a pure soul is born. We call it a soul yet after millennia still cannot agree what a “soul” exactly is. Then in religion the priests and preachers have to make sense of this complex event. They make sexuality and relationships something difficult with long words and dance around the biology of the process.
The harm continues. Procreation is the act of life creating new life, biology in motion. After millennia of scientific discoveries we know that there is more than only: man and woman. We humans are one of many species of organisms. Gender in biology is not a static definition. The priests and preachers speak of miracles, speak for God and create dogma for the people. Manipulating people’s perception and narrowing their view on life and relationships is dangerous.
Do you still follow? If so well done. For people who grew up without religion this is hard to grasp. Thing is once you know how religion can influence your perception of someone you think again. Think of religious versus heathen, pious versus sinful and going to heaven versus going to hell.
After I grew out of religion and experienced the world I struggled. My upbringing did not prepare me for a world full of diversity, different world views and other definitions. I slowly changed into an atheist. Religion does not make you a good person. Doing the right thing makes you a good person.
Practise what you preach or risk hypocrisy.
The harm continues. There is no point in living to pretend. As a religious person I would look friendly and polite but no matter who you were, if you were not religious I assumed you would burn in the afterlife. It was not a matter a of poetic beauty like Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” I was taught eternal torture because your sins condemned you. Cruel? Yes, but that is what small children learn because parents want their kids to go to heaven. God was love except if you sinned and yes that included the New Testament because you still had to convert and get baptised. Add the Nashville statement that condemns are non-heterosexual relationships as sinful.
We live in 2019 now. The narrow world view of the Nashville statement is at least 3.000 years old and only divides people.
“Only man and woman.”
Then explain the child abuse in the Roman Catholic church for starters, explain that…
“Only man and woman.”
So celibacy actually does not make sense…
“Only man and woman.”
What if your son or daughter is not heterosexual? You want your child to be happy or am I wrong?
Repeat and counter at your own leisure. If is a waste of time. The Nashville statement is pure hypocrisy. Here Christianity has itself to blame. Learn from history and stop dividing people for your own selfish interests if you preach that you have come to spread love and peace. People are not just saints or sinners.
We all share the earth and have to keep it habitable. So division (again) and you create war (again). Sow unity and you create peace. Thus we arrive at the real harm of the Nashville statement and it cuts deep. Realise how dangerous it really is and you almost become an atheist by disgust.
Europe has already been torn apart by centuries of religious division, persecution of heretics (disagreement was enough to be found guilty) and wars. Read about Torquemada, the 30-Years War and how the Spanish Inquisition among others led to centuries of tensions in Europe. I shall spare you the gory details.
Think for yourself and make up your mind.