Another Perspective On The Nashville Statement By Rev. Dustin Bartlett

Reverend Dustin Bartlett

Another Perspective
by Rev. Dustin Bartlett
September 3, 2017

Earlier this week a group of evangelical Christians, under the guise of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, released the “Nashville Statement.”  If you haven’t read it yet and you really want to, you can Google it.  I’m not going to reprint it here.

Or, I can save you the trouble of Googling it and summarize it for you:  “Sex before marriage is wrong.  Homosexuality is wrong.  Being transgender is wrong.  Marriage is between one man and one woman.”

It’s nothing new or groundbreaking.  On the contrary, it strikes me as being rather tired and old.  The preamble reads like it was written by people who are still pouting over the fact that the stranglehold they once held on political power in this country has forever slipped from their grasp.

But even though it’s nothing new, I feel the need to respond to the “Nashville Statement” specifically because its authors would have you believe that their statement is biblical.  (It isn’t.)  They would have you believe that the Bible expresses the very same views, with the very same clarity, that the “Nashville Statement” expresses.  (It doesn’t.)  They would have you believe that, if you want the Bible to be your guide, then you must endorse their views on sexual orientation and gender identity.  (I don’t, and you don’t have to either.)

I’m writing this article to make sure the world knows that there are millions – literally millions – of Christians who pray earnestly, who study the Bible earnestly, who seek to follow Christ earnestly, and who have come to a very different conclusion about what the Bible does and doesn’t say about homosexuality.

Let’s start with this – the Bible doesn’t actually contain the word “homosexuality.”  Anywhere.  In the whole Bible.  That’s because there is no ancient Hebrew or Greek word which corresponds to the modern term “homosexuality”.  Not only did the ancient authors of the Bible not have a word for “homosexuality,” but they didn’t even have a conception of homosexuality as we use the term today. 

That’s not to say that there weren’t sexual relationships between people of the same-sex in the ancient world.  There certainly were, and they are widely attested to in the historical record.  However, the same-sex sexual relationships of the ancient world took place primarily between people whom we would today refer to as “straight” rather than “gay.”  And they were not distinguished from other sexual relationships based on the sexes of the participants, much less treated as a single, homogenous phenomenon distinct from sexual relationships between people of the opposite sex.

The idea expressed by the word “homosexual” – or better yet, “gay” – meaning a person who, due to their neurological and biochemical physiologies, is attracted to members of the same-sex  and who may want to pursue a life-long, committed, romantic relationship with another person of the same-sex was an idea that simply did not exist in the ancient world.

If the modern concept of homosexuality as something separate and distinct from heterosexuality didn’t exist in the ancient world, then the Bible can’t possibly be talking about homosexuality as use the term today.

It’s certainly true that there are passages in the Bible that condemn sexual relations between people of the same-sex.  But these aren’t addressing homosexuality as we understand the term.  They can’t be, because the ancient authors of the Bible had no such concept.  Rather, these passages of scripture are part of larger lists of taboo behaviors that were to be avoided in order to keep the people of God from worshipping the idols and the false gods of their neighbors who regularly engaged in those taboo behaviors.

The Bible doesn’t give a clear and direct condemnation of gay people or transgender people like the authors of the “Nashville Statement” would have you believe.  The Bible is incapable of making any such condemnation, because being gay or being transgender – as we use those terms today – is something for which the Bible’s authors simply lacked any conception.

The Bible is very clear, however, about how we are supposed to treat other people.  You won’t find the word “homosexuality” anywhere in the Bible, but you will find “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  You will find “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  You will find “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  And you will find “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”

In fact, in the Bible you’ll find a history of how God’s people slowly but surely let go of prejudices in order to keep expanding the circle of welcome.  In the New Testament, you’ll read the story about how, even though the scriptures were clear that gentiles could not be part of the Jewish worshipping community, the Jewish Christians welcomed their gentile brothers and sisters into the church.  And you’ll read about how, even though the scriptures were clear that a eunuch could not come into the temple (Deut. 23:1), the early Christian church welcomed an Ethiopian eunuch as one of their first converts.

All this is to say that those who try to tell you, “The Bible is clear that marriage is between one man and one woman,” either haven’t read their Bible very carefully, or more likely they intentionally selectively edited the Bible to fit their narrative.  And this article is to let you know that there are a lot of Christians, like me, who take the Bible very seriously and also totally affirm our LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ.

P.S.  I hope you took away from this article that the Bible is big, and it’s complicated, and that’s even before we get into translating from Hebrew and Greek into English.  If you have questions or would like to discuss this further, I am the pastor of the Custer Community Church in Custer, SD.  You can contact me here.

BHSU-Rapid City Community Lecture Series to Include Sessions on Racial, Gender Disparities

Black Hills State University – Rapid City announces the line-up for the spring 2017 community lecture series. All lectures free, open to the public, and will be held on Monday evenings at 6:30 p.m. in room 112 at BHSU-Rapid City. The first lecture Jan. 23 features Hayley Brooks, a genocide studies advocate, examining bystanders as perhaps the largest group of perpetrators during the Holocaust.   

SPEARFISH… The Black Hills State University-Rapid City community lecture series returns in 2017 with a line-up of speakers and topics to provoke thought and challenge perspectives.

The lecture series begins Jan. 23 and features 11 lectures by BHSU professors along with area educators and regional activists. All presentations are scheduled for Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at BHSU-Rapid City (4300 Cheyenne Boulevard), room 112. The presentations are free and open to the public.

Gene Bilodeau, executive director of BHSU-Rapid City, said he welcomes and encourages all students, faculty, staff, and community members to attend the lectures.

“We’re offering this lecture series to give students and community members the opportunity to enhance their lives beyond their normal classroom, home or workplace boundaries,” said Bilodeau. “We hope to engage individuals with thought provoking information which allows them to interact with the presenters in a question and answer period at the end of each presentation.”

The lecture series will kick off Monday, Jan. 23 with Hayley Brooks, a genocide study advocate. Brooks will focus on bystanders as perhaps the largest group of perpetrators in the Holocaust. Using inspiration from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum temporary exhibit “Some were Neighbors” and from the personal story of Irene Gut Opdyke, a Polish nurse who aided persecuted Jews, Brooks will focus on choices people made during the Holocaust and highlight lessons learned from their stories.

The BHSU-RC community lecture series schedule:

·         Jan. 23, “Holocaust Choices,” Hayley Brooks, genocide study advocate

·         Jan. 30, “All We Are Saying: Activism in Music,” Dr. Trenton Ellis, assistant professor of human services at BHSU; and Dr. Dan May, assistant professor of mathematics at BHSU.

·         Feb. 6, “Impacting Perceptions,” Hailima Yates, community member

·         Feb. 13, “Madness: Women in Popular Culture,” Dr. Laura Colmenero-Chilberg, professor of sociology, BHSU

·         Feb. 27, “Dialect Discrimination from Disney to Django: How Hollywood Uses Language to Reinforce Racial Stereotypes,” Lindsey Clouse, instructor of composition and humanities, BHSU.

·         March 13, “Rise of the Third Reich,” Robert Haivala, adjunct professor at BHSU and assistant attorney general of South Dakota.

·         March 20, “Historical and present racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system,” Joshua Houy, Department of Political Science & Criminal Justice, University of South Dakota

·         March 27, “The Video Game Monologues,” William Cockrell, instructor of behavioral sciences at BHSU.

·         April 3, “Who is the Reluctant Celebrity? – Crazy Horse, Korczak Ziolkowski, Chief Henry Standing Bear,” Dr. Jeffrey Wehrung, assistant professor of management, BHSU.

·         April 10, “Transgender 101,” Terri Bruce, transgender rights advocate

·         April 24, “LGBTQ+: Fleshing Out the Acronym,” Dr. William Cockrell, instructor of behavioral sciences; Dr. Lesleigh Owen, instructor of behavioral sciences; Terri Bruce, transgender rights advocate; Dr. Emilia Flint, associate professor of behavioral sciences.

For details on each lecture topic, visit the BHSU Campus Calendar at Contact Gene Bilodeau at with questions.

On Transgender Day of Remembrance

John Kerry
Secretary of State
November 20, 2016

Washington, DC – On Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States solemnly honors the memory of the many transgender individuals who lost their lives to senseless acts of violence.

Transgender persons around the world are targeted by rising levels of violence fueled by hatred and bigotry. This is a global challenge and we all must do more to protect transgender persons on the basis of equality and dignity.

In the United States, our Constitution enshrines freedoms of peaceful assembly, speech and association, and it affirms that everyone has equal protection under the law. Around the world human rights and fundamental freedoms are recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that every person is born free and equal in dignity and rights. Every person includes transgender women, transgender men, and other individuals who face marginalization on account of their gender expression or gender identity.

Today we stand in solidarity with the incredible resilience and leadership of the transgender community in responding to stigma and marginalization. Transgender persons deepen our diversity, broaden our communities, and strengthen the values we cherish. When all persons reach their full human potential, free from fear, intimidation, and violence, nations become more just, secure and prosperous.

The United States remains committed to advance the human rights of all persons, including transgender persons. On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, we reaffirm equality for all as part of our core constitutional principles and as a human rights priority of U.S. diplomacy.