America used to rally in times of stress; now it comes apart

A century and a half ago Ralph Waldo Emerson pondered the following: Every Stoic was a Stoic; but in Christendom where is the Christian?

Apparently not in Nashville, at least not among the 150 evangelical religious leaders who met there last weekend and signed the Christian manifesto on human sexuality. Released on Tuesday, the Nashville Statement comprises 14 beliefs in the form of affirmations and denials, but the one that is most indicative of the direction in which this group wants to lead us is Article 10:

“WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.

“WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.”

We have heard evangelicals denounce homosexuality before, and watched them become apoplectic over same-sex marriage and the transgender culture. But Article 10 extends the condemnation to those who even approve of such “aberrant” behavior, i.e., if a gay friend intimates to me that she is being discriminated against and I commiserate with her, I’ll be headed off to hell right along with her. According to the Nashville Statement, if we call ourselves Christians we must fervently disavow any sexual activity not restricted to men and women…or as Article One so elegantly states it, [W]e deny that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship.

Got it, but regardless of what God has said, polygamy is illegal in America and group marriage is not. (Yep, I had to look up polyamorous.) As for same-sex marriage, this is a Constitutional issue; and ever since June 26, 2015 state-level bans on same-sex marriage are illegal. And bad news for the CBMW—Nashville may be a city, but Tennessee is a state.

And what is the CBMW? That would be the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the little group that threw together the little party that eventually issued the Nashville Statement. Incidentally, that mention of “womanhood” is little more than a bone to toss to their female adherents: the CBMW formally restricts the ordination of women and has been critical of gender-neutral Bible translations. So much for womanhood.

And so with the nation reeling from the assault of a hurricane and with the shame of Charlottesville still echoing in our collective consciousness, the CBMW decided it was good time to double down— to augment the displacement from the hurricane with more displacement via “God’s word,” and to augment the shame of Charlottesville with even more shame by marginalizing more than four million Americans.

If the evangelicals have no use for the LGBT community, then I’ll admit I find the evangelical community gloomy, dismal, and tedious. The difference is I don’t plan to legislate against their right to live their lives, even the 80% of them—Trump voters—who gleefully and hypocritically countenanced the abuse of women and the call to violence and more recently the defense of white supremacy, but who somehow drew the line at allowing Hillary Clinton to trash emails.

And with all this came multi-millionaire preacher Joel Osteen’s refusal to open his Lakewood mega-church to hurricane victims last week.

In Christendom, where is the Christian? All we know today is where he isn’t.

 

3 Replies to “America used to rally in times of stress; now it comes apart”

  1. These evangelicals live in a black and white, either-or, world where no ambiguity, grey areas, creative thoughts, or more than two boxes are allowed; where living, growing, dynamic, evolving theology is heretical. If not for their power and money and influence, they would be irrelevant.

  2. I understand fearing the change that the LGBT community portends, but I don’t know how they can excuse the behavior of someone like Donald Trump who, in a world raked by original sin, has never asked God for forgiveness. Okay I haven’t either—except in a formalized prayer—but I’m not pandering to these evangelicals and looking for their vote.

    1. And if I could “explain” that first clause in the paragraph above which I didn’t phrase particularly well…when I taught American Lit and we talked about the Puritan theocracy, I always told the kids that fear was the prominent motivator—that the hunting of witches and such was not merely superstition and perversity. And when the deists began to exert themselves, that was the end of theocracy in America—until the last election when I think these newly minted Puritans found that they had re-inherited America. Now they would want to impose their will and crush anything in their way. They’ll fail again, but probably not until they’ve conducted a few more witch hunts.

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