My Response to The Nashville Statement

Earlier this week, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released a document entitled “The Nashville Statement.

Because I am passionate about loving LGBT people well due to some very personal ties, I feel compelled to express with utmost clarity my own convictions regarding sexuality.

Though I am an Evangelical Christian and though I live in Nashville and though I incompletely agree with parts of “The Nashville Statement,” I believe it is an extremely poor and untimely expression of beliefs in numerous ways, and one about which I am sad and angry.

And so, I’ve come up with some statements of my own.



Article 1

I AFFIRM that sexuality is complicated, confusing, and ultimately a gray area in a world that insists on being black and white.

I DENY 
that sexuality is merely the sum of our biological parts and AFFIRM that the characteristics of gender difference are mostly shrouded in mystery and therefore cannot be described in ultimatums.

Article 2
I AFFIRM that God has boundless compassion for individuals questioning their sexuality, and that He will love people through their own particular journeys.

I DENY that LGBT people are going to hell based on how they identify themselves.

Article 3
I AFFIRM that the Church is called to be a place where sexuality can be discussed openly, freely, and without fear of judgment.

I DENY that the Church has any right to condemn God’s children based on their gender identity.

Article 4
I AFFIRM that describing oneself as gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. as a partial expression of one’s experience of life are helpful descriptors that have many nuanced layers of meaning and that each person’s story must be heard in its entirety before jumping to conclusions.

I DENY that describing oneself as any of the LGBT descriptors is a violation of God’s “natural order”.

Article 5
I AFFIRM that a continuous searching of the Scriptures combined with consulting of the Holy Spirit is required to mold our understanding of sexuality.

I DENY that the discussion should ever be “closed” on the topic of sexuality.

Article 6
I AFFIRM that I will personally love and cherish every LGBT person I have the honor of knowing.

I DENY that my own convictions will prevent me from respecting another person’s story.

Article 7
I AFFIRM that evangelical Christians have been historically hateful and phobic of LGBT people.

I DENY that hate and fear are appropriate responses to difference of any kind.

Article 8
I AFFIRM that Christians have the radical and joyful privilege to BE FAMILY to their LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ.

I DENY that same-sex attraction for a Christian equates to a lifetime of loneliness and shame.

Article 9
I AFFIRM that God is fully and uniquely at work in each of our lives and that He will mold our hearts to His will if we are willing to be open to the painful and uncomfortable processes He uses.

I DENY that I have all the answers.


I’m sure I could go on and on . . . but for now I will stop there and leave you with this beautiful song about a Christian man who experiences same-sex attraction and how a church’s all-too-common condemnation of LGBT people deeply affects him . . . and the radical love of Jesus that broke through all of the man’s shame and fear.

It Is Okay to be Happy

“Lindsey, is it okay for you to be happy?”

You’d think that would be an easy question to answer my counselor. Of course it is okay for me to be happy! I love being happy! Why’d you even ask that question? Instead, I felt my expression turn doubtful and anxious. A heaviness settled in my heart. I had been accustomed to ignoring a deep desire of my heart for 24 years, and in the past year had wrestled with God in sadness, bitterness, confusion, anger, and resignation – but never happiness. I surely must be doing something wrong. My over-analytical mind frantically searched for the problem.

“I don’t know. It feels wrong,” I finally answered.

We talked of the well-worn path of grief I had walked in for so long, how it didn’t make sense to me that the grief felt more right to me than the happiness did.

But familiarity, however painful, can feel more comfortable than happiness.

And that’s what is so dang confusing. Counter-intuitively, we are all drawn back to unhealthy habits, addictions, relationships, patterns of thinking, etc. not because it brings us joy, but because it feels like “this is just the way it is. This is reality.” We have succumbed to lives of mediocrity and pain because it is easier, safer, and less disappointing.

“You know, happiness is one of the most vulnerable emotions,” my counselor said.

At this point the trashcan was getting very blurry (during our sessions my gaze has an inexplicable tendency to wander to the trashcan instead of my counselor). I hugged a pillow closer to myself and tried not to burst into tears.

“I’m scared,” I whispered.

“Why?”

“Because the more happy I am about something, the sadder I’ll be when its gone.”

“That’s true. They’re linked, aren’t they?”

I thought of the movie Inside Out; of Joy and Sadness becoming inextricably connected by seeing each other’s incalculable worth in the final scenes.

“It’s easier to just stay sad. Then I won’t – ” I choked on a sob and took a moment to take a shaky breath, “be devastated.”

My counselor nodded in understanding. Or at least, I think she did . . . I could only see her through my peripheral vision, as my eyes were still firmly fixed on the trashcan. Finally, I let out a small chuckle.

“What is it?” asked my counselor, curious.

“I was just thinking…its kind of like waiting at the doctor’s office to get a shot.”

This was clearly not enough explanation. “Yeah? Tell me more,” said my counselor expectantly.

“I can’t spend my whole life in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, holding my breath for the next time pain and sadness comes. I’ll miss out on so much of what goes on outside the hospital.”

My therapist is used to me speaking in metaphors and caught on quickly. “So its kind of like in life there will be times when you have to go to the doctor’s office to get a shot . . . when grief and pain will hit you . . . and you’ll have to deal with it then . . . but there’s so much more for you than just anticipating the sadness.”

All my life I continually have had to remind myself that it is okay to be sad. Now, I’m slowly learning that it is also okay to be happy. Happiness is sometimes scarier than sadness, but that does not mean it is any less real.

I have a long way to go. I often run back towards the waiting room in trepidation and doubt. But I’m taking baby steps to dare to trust in the goodness of the Lord. Happiness is a gift from His hand, and I am to hold it with open hands, fully aware of the potential brevity of the emotion and the circumstance; fully aware that my enjoyment of His good gift brings absolute delight to my good God.

Its okay – its truly and blissfully okay – to be happy.

God’s Economy, My Good

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“It seems like you have this concept of God’s economy  . . . that if He gives a good gift . . . a job, a relationship, good health . . . to someone, then He must be taking away something good from someone else. But that’s not the way God works. He is the Giver of good gifts.”

God is the Giver of good gifts. 

God’s economy is goodness, not evil; flourishing, not suffering.

This was my turning point.

For over a year, I had been accusing God for His unfair, even cruel ruling in my life. I wanted something that didn’t seem wrong or unreasonable to ask for, and all I had learned in the past year was that if I followed the path I desired, I would not be following God’s will.

When my turning point materialized in the form of the wise words of my counselor, I was slowly emerging out of my dark night of the soul which sneered in the face of God and said: if I can’t have this, you clearly hate me, and I don’t want You anymore. The festering pool of misery where I’d been standing had risen up to my neck. I had only one choice . . . to try to swim out of my misery in a way that made complete sense to me and that would seem to give me the most happiness . . . or to let the waters rush over my head and see if God really was who He says He is . . . did He really care about this part of my life?

For once, I decided to place my bets on the goodness of God instead of my own wisdom.

I soon realized that God only needs one tiny act of surrender to reveal His goodness. It took me ten years of hiding and one year of intense grief and suffering to surrender my deepest desire and step out in faith that God is not only with me; He is also for me and for my good.

Let me just take a moment here to pause and say that the Enemy is crafty . . . I had to take a break from writing this blog post and go for a walk because I could feel panic and doubt set in . . . whispers of, ‘do you really believe God is good?’ ‘do you really believe He is not holding out on you?’ ‘you’re still struggling and grieving. If God is good why aren’t you completely happy and at peace all the time?’ I’m calling the Enemy out on His lies today. I do believe God is good. And when I don’t believe it, I will choose to try to believe it anyway. My happiness is not a prerequisite to God’s goodness.

The moment I let go of the design I’d drawn up for my life, God dropped me directly into the blueprint I thought I resented. I found myself flustered, bewildered at how quickly God showed me His plans are not arbitrary or cruel. That in fact, He had been on the edge of His seat, waiting for me to give Him a tiny space to show just how good of a Gift-Giver He is.

All these truths I “knew” were suddenly beginning to inexplicably and unexpectedly be experienced.

  • And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  • For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • How much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)
  • Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
  • Taste and see that the Lord is goodblessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8)

This is not the prosperity gospel.

Am I happier than I have been in a while? Yes. But happiness is not the point. My struggles have not disappeared. My grief has not been absolved. Life will never be fair and life is often not good. I am not guaranteed ownership of any of the good gifts that God provides. There is no formula to receive God’s goodness. God gives whenever and however He wants to give.

But the memory of this particular gift, however long it lasts, given to me at the pinnacle of my surrender, will help me to lay down my will again, knowing that whatever God asks me to sacrifice, however painful the process, and even if I never see the fruit of my surrender . . . is truly for my good.

~~~

God calls us to risk the stories we want because it’s the only way we’ll live in the story we need – His. – Ben Riggs

There are many things I will never understand on this earth. There are many days I will think that my ways are better than God’s ways. Every day is a new opportunity to surrender. But what a relief it is to surrender into the arms of a God who is sitting on the edge of His throne, eagerly anticipating my participation in His story, in the economy of His goodness, with my ultimate gift the Creator of goodness Himself.