Evangelicals release ‘Nashville Statement’ on faith and human sexuality

A coalition of U.S. evangelicals released the “Nashville Statement,” a proclamation that has similarities and crucial differences with the Church’s Proclamation on the Family.

The statement has been criticized by all of the usual critics and praised by some conservative religious types, including many who are not evangelicals.

Note to readers:  M* is a Mormon web site, and nobody here is promoting traditional evangelical Christianity.  But it would behoove Mormons to study this document and see that there are some areas of agreement that Mormons have with conservative evangelicals.  Most of the Western world will condemn this statement.  But given its similarities to the Proclamation on the Family, I would hope that faithful Mormons will treat the evangelicals involved with this statement with charity while also recognizing potential allies.  At the same time, there is nothing wrong with politely pointing out some differences of doctrine we have with our evangelical brothers and sisters.

Read here for more information the history of the Nashville Statement and who signed it.

Here is the statement in full:

Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.


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 are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes gladhearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance.


This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.


We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.


Article 1
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenantlove between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.
Article 2
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.

Article 3
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.
Article 4
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
Article 5
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.
Article 6
WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are
acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and
should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.
Article 7
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.
Article 8
WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in
purity of life.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.
Article 9
WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality— a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.
WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.
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.
Article 11
WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his imagebearers as male and female.
Article 12
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires
and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.
Article 13
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender selfconceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological
sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.
Article 14
WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.




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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

18 thoughts on “Evangelicals release ‘Nashville Statement’ on faith and human sexuality

  1. Doctrinally, the statement is about what I would have expected from the sponsoring organization, which is probably more conservative on sexual role issues than the Proclamation on the Family is.

    However, three things surprise me:

    1) A greater focus on gender identity than on homosexuality.

    2) The suggestion, although implicit, in Article 12 that homosexual desires (as opposed to merely actions) are sinful.

    3) The lack of sympathy or compassion expressed toward LGBTQ individuals.

    The document seems more designed for drawing an unequivocal line in the sand than trying to change anyone’s mind.

  2. Eric, good comment. The statement seems to be lacking the emphasis on “love the sinner, don’t love the sin,” which I think is how most LDS people see this issue. So, yeah, drawing a line in the sand apparently seems important to the evangelicals. Once again, I am thankful for prophetic authority. The prophets seems to have a way of stating things that is clear and concise but also conveys love and support, which I think is important.

  3. Agree with both of the comments thus far. As mentioned, this is obviously quite a bit more conservative than the prophetic perspective, which is deliberately vague in areas where God has not yet revealed specifics. While I certainly love our Evangelical friends and neighbors, I always find it highly interesting when those who claim “sola scriptura” nevertheless feel free to take a strong stance in areas where the scriptures are completely silent.

  4. Given my research, I perceive marriage to be about the children produced in the marriage. Therefore, I don’t agree with the emphasis that marriage is only ever between one man and one woman.

    I assume this set of articles doesn’t actually preclude a widow or widower from remarrying, since Evangelicals don’t believe in eternal persistence of marriage.

    I do like the language of this better than the relatively stilted language of the initial 1998 statement from the Southern Baptist Convention. Looking at the SBC family statement, it doesn’t address sexual identity.

    XVIII. The Family

    God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.

    Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

    The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

    Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

    Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-25; 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalms 51:5; 78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Proverbs 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9; Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:8,14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7.

  5. I don’t see the document as lacking in sympathy, as has been suggested. I see sympathy throughout. As a guide for helping the faithful avoid sin, I think it does an admirable job.

  6. I don’t see any of Eric’s points.
    1. Transgenderism is always paired with sexual behavior/morality, either within an article or with the preceding article.

    2. About article 12, ” WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires
    and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” is a specific gospel principle, and one that Paul frequently visits, that a sanctified person (ie, one who has been not only pardoned, but -transformed- as the article states) no longer desires to sin. In evangelical teaching, as well as LDS, the transformation to no longer sin is not necessarily coincident with repenting and forgiveness. The way I read it, Their article 12 is not meant to say the repenant person is automatically and immediately relieved of SSA.

    3. Oh give me a break. Please don’t require patronizing PC baby-talk in order demonstrate sympathy or compassion. What they are doing here is preaching Christ, and him crucified, for -all- sin, including all forms of sexual immorality.

    Articles 5 through 8 are very compassionate in light of outsiders’ perception of evangelical thought in the past. I’d say they even show advancement in diplomacy and outreach efforts compared to the past.

    Even the LDS Proclamation doesn’t cover everything that the later essay on SSA does. And not all LDS teachings/doctrines on repentance/forgiveness/sanctification/healing are included in the SSA essay. You still have to piece together various LDS documents/scriptures/talks/interviews to finally conclude “everything gets healed in (or by no later than) the resurrection” especially as pertains to SSA.

    Can SSA be healed/cured in this life? Sure. Some few individuals have so testified. But even they say it’s a long hard road. And this evangelical piece is correct to allow for the possibility, while still implying that eventually everything is healed and restored.

    I’m with Geoff, that this is a major thing showing how close evangelicalism is to LDS. I hope this promotes some kind of alliance in the culture war. These similarities in stance may lead some evangelicals to even drop the idea that we are some kind of demons.

    As I’ve harped on in the past, the cultural war going on now, conducted mainly in academia and the media, is over/for the minds and souls of children and youth who have not yet fully formed their sexuality, or sexual whatever-you-call-it/outlook/persona.

    Face it, one of Satan’s avenues of attack is to get as many people as possible to be involved in both sexual sin, and sexual confusion/misunderstanding which also leads to sexual sin. The enemy wants more sexual sinners of all stripes. Does the enemy want more homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgenders if he can get them? Sure. He wants as much as he can get of anything that goes against Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. If it’s bad, Satan wants more of it, he wants more people doing it, and to get people hooked on sin younger and younger.

    Bottom line, let’s parse and nuance this thing _charitably_, and take it within the Evangelical’s overall doctine, as well as our overall doctrine. You can’t get everything into one simple list.

  7. Given how other Protestant groups have knelt to conventional wisdom as found in most of academia and media, a strong statement was called for. I doubt this will make friends between LDS and evangelicals because while beliefs are similar, ours could be seen as more diffuse if the denial of sacrament is not considered with the seriousness it should receive.

  8. True enough, Pat. Since God doesn’t seem to have revealed much regarding transgenderism and how His Church should respond thereunto—probably because the term has been Orwellianly constructed to be intentionally vague—I could easily see plenty of Catholoprotestants taking issue with the Church of Jesus Christ’s moderate response.

  9. My first thought were:
    Art6 seems to leave a door open for some people to interpret their own identitiy differently than the rest of the document would suggest. But probably a small door.
    Art 12. Yesy yes yes. This is just a statement of faith in Christ’s merciful atonement. 13 and 14 also. Among these three articles, some are more general and some more specifically about sexual identity/ practice.

    I agree with Bookslinger. Especially his last paragraph, “Bottom line, let’s parse and nuance this thing _charitably_, ” When reading it charitably it says exactly what they believe.

    It is all good

  10. Notable to me was Article 13 “WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.” It’s hard for me to see for sure what they are meaning, but it seems to be saying that God would not sanction anyone believing and accepting that they have same sex attraction. This seems contradictory to Article 8 “WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.” I suspect I’m missing something.

  11. I’m struck by how difficult it is for people who are not prophets and apostles to write about and declare God’s will.

    The Family: A Proclamation to the World primarily proclaims truth, it doesn’t spend much time at all – basically none (like this document does in literally every other paragraph) fighting the “culture wars” by citing and disagreeing with alternate viewpoints.

    It is fine for what it is. Nothing in it surprised me.

  12. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World primarily proclaims truth, it doesn’t spend much time at all – basically none (like this document does in literally every other paragraph) fighting the “culture wars” ”

    You sure about that, Mr. Harvey?

  13. Michael Towns,

    What I mean by my comment is that the Prophets and Apostles who received The Family: A Proclamation to the World don’t seem to feel a need to cite the negative (e.g., “We Deny … “) rather they simply state truth. The closest the LDS document gets to citing the specific negative is:

    “We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”

    In reading the evangelical document I was struck by how focused they seem to be on the fight itself, while reading the LDS proclamation I was struck on how focused it was on building us up in this life and preparing us for eternity. The tone, content, and purpose of the two documents just seemed very different to me.

    Obviously that’s my opinion only, and I assume everyone who reads either document with react to them differently based on what they bring to table themselves.

  14. KarlS: the self-conceptions of the “we deny” section of Article 13 looks to be a parallel construction to the “transgender selfconceptions” of the “we affirm” part of the same article, linking biological sex to self-conception as male or female.

    Article 13
    WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender selfconceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological
    sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.
    WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.

    In other articles as well “self-conception” is usually, but not always, elaborated with “as male or female”.

    Article 6 talks about physical disorders of sex development (presumably genetic or birth defects), and seems to make allowance for some degree of “we don’t really know in some rare instances, but you can still be obedient to God and live a holy life.”

    Taking several articles together, they do separate out SSA and homosexual behavior, which is what the Brethren have done too.

    In article 7, “WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption” we can parse that charitably by noting they said “homosexual … self-conception” and not SSA. Which is also in line with what Elder Bednar once said in General Conference, that SSA does not define who you are.

    So, according to Elder Bednar, and this Ev statement, just because one has SSA, they don’t have to consider themselves (self-conceptualize) _as_ homosexual.

    Our popular culture wants people to believe that if they have SSA then they “are” gay (and should ahead and “do” gay.) Elder Bednar said no to that.

    The more I study this, the more parallels I see to our GAs’ statements. Granted, the GAs’ statements and talks seem a bit more inspired and elegant.

  15. from https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Is_the_Mormon_%27%27Proclamation_on_the_Family%27%27_official_doctrine%3F#cite_note-4:

    President Boyd K. Packer described the circumstances behind issuing the Proclamation:

    The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve issued a proclamation on the family. I can tell you how that came about. They had a world conference on the family sponsored by the United Nations in Beijing, China. We sent representatives. It was not pleasant what they heard. They called another one in Cairo. Some of our people were there. I read the proceedings of that. The word marriage was not mentioned. It was at a conference on the family, but marriage was not even mentioned.

    It was then they announced that they were going to have such a conference here in Salt Lake City. Some of us made the recommendation: “They are coming here. We had better proclaim our position.”

    The intention, then, was to proclaim the Church’s official position on these matters.

    Also from the same website:

    The Proclamation was first read by President Gordon B. Hinckley at a General Relief Society Meeting on 25 September 1995. Before reading it, he said:

    With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history. I now take the opportunity of reading to you this proclamation….

    President Hinckley did not, then, regard the doctrine within the Proclamation as radical or new—it was intended to be a reconfirmation and reiteration of doctrines long taught by “the prophets, seers, and revelators of” the Church.

    I support the principles taught in the Proclamation — but I stop short of calling it revelation — they didn’t claim it as revelation, so I won’t. Our leaders issued it to remind us of basic principles, and I thank them for that. But you know, if they felt a need to strengthen us with a proclamation, it is very possible there was some inspiration behind those feelings. God works in mysterious ways.

    I’m glad the evangelistics made their own statement.

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