Recently, members of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and other Evangelical leaders released a statement–titled the ‘Nashville Statement’–that reaffirms the traditional Christian teachings on sex and marriage. Following the statement, some liberal leaders including Nashville Mayor Megan Barry criticized the statement, especially claiming that the positions reflected in the statement were not shared by all Nashvillians. Even the editor of the Hustler, Sarah Friedman, published a letter from the editor that criticized Vanderbilt for not condemning the Nashville Statement. I would have criticized the school for taking a stance on a controversial issue (as it wrongly did following recent developments with DACA and Title IX policies), but the Nashville Statement fundamentally does not affect anyone who is not a Southern Baptist. It is not trying to set a policy for all of Nashville, but is a reference to the fact that it was made in Nashville, the headquarters of the SBC.
Nothing in the Nashville Statement prevents gays and lesbians from living their lives as they choose. Nothing in it even has any impact on the lives of non-Southern Baptists; even for Southern Baptists, it largely just reaffirms long-standing beliefs. Regardless of your social and religious views, it is true that the Bible condemns homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, among other verses). Our culture, however, is not always one that aligns with traditional Christian values. I do personally believe that homosexuality is wrong (NOTE: this does not mean that all homosexuals are bad people), but I and other Southern Baptists have no intention of criminalizing homosexuality. The same applies to other issues- I strongly believe that casual sex and hook-up culture are deeply immoral and disgusting, but you don’t see me trying to stop people from doing the wrong thing at some frat party.
What I do ask is that my rights be respected. It is such a tragedy that we live in a world where good Christian bakers, florists, photographers, and other wedding personnel are being prosecuted for their beliefs on marriage. It is upsetting to me that I am even having to write this article. The Nashville Statement should have been a non-issue; my fellow Southern Baptists should be able to go to our churches and live out our lives in accordance with our faith–just as gays and lesbians can live theirs, as long as it does not interfere with anyone else’s life. We do not have to agree with each other’s lifestyles and we should always try to shape the culture with our faith and values. We can disagree with each other, but no one should try to stop Christians from living out Christian lives (and I won’t stop you from living yours either).