The Nashville Statement and Why It Matters to Catholics

Just before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, a group of Evangelicals issued a statement reaffirming the ancient teachings of Christianity about homosexual practice, the definition of marriage, and transgenderism. Calling it “The Nashville Statement,” churchmen from a variety of evangelical traditions drafted a document aimed at catechizing the people of God. Hurricane Harvey quickly overwhelmed this significant news, but not before the signers took criticism from both secular and ecclesial sources. I believe faithful Catholics should welcome the Nashville Statement, and sign it. And we should pray that this Statement leads to greater unity and collaboration among Catholics and Evangelicals.

What exactly are the signatories of the Nashville Statement hoping to accomplish? Denny Burke, one of the initiators of this project told me: “The Nashville Statement is not a culture-war document. It is a church document. It stakes out no public policy positions. It advocates for no particular piece of legislation or political program. We intentionally aim this statement at the church because the church’s faith is what is under duress right now. In too many quarters, she (the church) has adopted the spirit of the age.” This is why people with a wide variety of views on ecclesiology, the sacraments, church authority, the role of women in the church, and many other issues, came together to present a united front on homosexual practice, same-sex “marriage,” transgenderism, and the power of God’s love to transform.

Predictably, liberal Protestants replied with Manifestos of their own, claiming that the Jesus they know and love would never say such things. These statements confirm the necessity of The Nashville Statement. As the Preamble of the Statement says: “This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?”

We Catholics can sometimes indulge ourselves in some triumphalism about our magisterium. We have authority structures, guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus made promises to us that he did not make to Martin Luther or Henry VIII. Protestants are on their own. “Me and Jesus.” “Every man his own interpreter of Scripture.” And so on.

Now that so many of our Catholic authority structures have become corrupted, we are getting a taste of what our Evangelical brothers and sisters must put up with. Now is not the time for triumphalism. Now is the time for comradeship, cooperation, and collaboration wherever possible.

All those things are certainly possible with the Nashville Statement. As Peter Wolfgang, a Catholic and president of the Connecticut Family Institute, told me, “I hope it re-asserts Evangelicalism’s historical faithfulness to Biblical morality and shores up the alliance with Catholics on those issues. Mainline Protestantism’s apostasy is old news but in recent years even the Evangelicals have begun to drift. I hope the Nashville Statement reverses that trend.”

Like Mr. Wolfgang, I gladly signed the statement. For me, Article X was decisive.

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. (My emphasis.)

The Church is at war. Sister Lucia, the last surviving visionary of Fatima, reported that the Mother of God told her: the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. The Sexual Revolutionaries ultimately want to take over the resources of the church, and use them to promote the opposite of what the Church has always taught. Those resources include the moral authority of the church, and the appeal of the person of Jesus himself. Not to mention all the buildings, bank accounts, property, and employees.

Most of the Mainline Protestant denominations have collapsed on issues of sexual morality and the permanence of marriage. Beliefs that were at one time the common patrimony of all Christian churches are now considered the idiosyncratic views of a handful of rigid, narrow Catholics and freaky Evangelicals. Although the Catholic Church continues to be the last hold-out, many within the Catholic hierarchy are wavering or worse. The dogmas are still technically intact, on paper. In practice, the implementation of those truths divinely revealed by Jesus is often lame, to say the least.

There can be no doubt: The sexual revolutionaries have infiltrated the churches. They are using the resources of Christianity to promote their views. The revolutionaries occupy the same buildings, wear the same vestments, and use the same labels. But they have invented a new religion, without ever admitting it. The sexual apostates, both Catholic and Protestant, are counting on no one noticing that their newly invented religion bears no relationship to historic Christianity.

Now in a literal war, what does the general order the soldiers to do when the enemy is about to cross the bridge and take over the town? Or, when the enemy is about to take possession of an armaments factory? Blow up the bridge. Blow up the factory. Blow up your own stuff, so the enemy cannot use it against you.

Obviously, we are not going to literally blow up anything. But we have an obligation to figuratively explode ideas. With the Nashville Statement, especially Article X, our Evangelical brothers and sisters have drawn a line in the sand.

Someone had to say it: The sexual revolutionaries have invented a new religion. It is NOT Christianity. I am grateful that our Evangelical brothers and sisters have said it. I support them in saying it. Making this point loudly and clearly is an absolute strategic necessity. Not to mention an obligation of Truth and Justice.

I have seen traditional Catholics object to the Nashville Statement for not being Catholic enough. The Statement does not condemn contraception or divorce. True enough. But we do not have to deal with every issue in order to deal with some issues. My Catholic street creds are in order. The Ruth Institute and I have spoken out about the harms of divorce, contraception, surrogacy, and artificial reproductive technologies, and just about anything else anyone might say the Nashville Statement overlooks. Yet I have no problem signing the Nashville Statement, and you shouldn’t either. Let’s give our Evangelical brothers and sisters full credit, and support, where it is due. What the Statement does say certainly needs to be said.

Let me close with these final words from Sister Lucia, as reported by the late Cardinal Caffara. Don’t be afraidbecause anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. And then she concluded: however, Our Lady has already crushed its head.

The “final battle” over the family is driving faithful Christians of all traditions together. We are finally working together, as we have not for 500 years. If we play our cards right, the Holy Spirit may put an end to our divisions, while he is saving the family.

Jennifer Roback Morse

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Jennifer Roback Morse is the founder and president of The Ruth Institute, a non-profit organization focused on keeping the family together, protecting the rights of children and helping the millions of people who have been harmed by family breakdown. She is the author, most recently, of The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims (2015). To hear more from Dr. Morse, sign up for her e-newsletter here and receive a free gift.

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