By John D. Pierce, Executive Editor, Nurturing Faith Journal

Much pushback has come from thoughtful Christians and others following the harsh, single-focused condemnation of same-sex relationships and “transgenderism” (as these mostly preacher-types call it) — and of those who support such persons — in the Nashville Statement released this week.

But it is quite helpful how these religious authoritarians have offered a needed clarification.

The statement, ill timed or not, does more than express an opinion or conviction. It affirms that those of us who disagree with their conclusions are not only wrong but outside their religious clubhouse.

Thank God for the clarity!

Many of us who seek to follow Jesus have long tired of being associated with the narrow-mindedness, judgmentalism and bigotry of religious fundamentalism that arrogantly claims sole control of the Christian mantle. Anything that creates space between those who hold such attitudes and us is much appreciated.

This statement is the classic fundamentalist bluster and heavy-handedness that has haunted Christianity for a long time. Here are some of those marks:

First, this statement is another example of primarily white, male pastoral authorities arrogantly conveying to all: “We’re right; you’re wrong; agree or get out.”

Second, these endorsers gladly and freely offer the grace of God in Jesus Christ to everyone — as long as everyone embraces their firm, narrow doctrinal conclusions. That’s precisely what they mean by “repentance.”

Third, this is a prime example of how fundamentalists never learn from the past.

This statement follows a historical pattern of defending as biblical the exclusion and inferiority of persons based on race and gender. Despite a long history of defending slavery, racism and gender oppression, there is not a hint of humility by offering any possibility of being wrong on this issue as well.

However, having this public acknowledgment that those of us who stand in disagreement are of a different tribe of faith (guilty of “an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness” according to Article 10) is deeply appreciated.

Indeed, my faith in God is vastly different. My understanding of and love for Jesus has no semblance to this kind of selective, even cruel, condemnation of often fragile young persons struggling with their sense of value and full identities.

I just hope those targeted by this statement will know so.

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