The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Around 250 Protestant leaders of the Netherlands, including pastors and politicians, signed the document on marriage and sexuality. Pro-LGBT groups denounced it.
The Dutch prosecution service is examining whether the Nashville Statement on marriage and sexuality is punishable, after the controversy about a recent translation that was released last week.
The document was signed by around 250 Protestant and evangelical leaders of the Netherlands, including pastors, ministry leaders and politicians.
A spokesman of the prosecutor said they will analyse if the document incites violence or discrimination towards persons or groups because of their sexuality, and decide whether the statement was made deliberately to hurt or harm someone.
There has been a debate in the media and social networks in recent days in the country. The Netherlands has one of the most permissive and liberal legislation regarding sexuality.
DIFFERENT OPINIONS AMONG CHRISTIAN POLITICIANS
One of the signatories to the Nashville Statement is Kees Van der Staaij, leader of the Christian party SGP in the Lower House of Parliament, who said on the tv program This is the day of the broadcaster EO, that “the SGP has never made it a secret of the biblical notions about marriage, family and sexuality”.
“I find the comprehensive afterword in the Dutch version particularly valuable. It rightly emphasizes the great responsibility for careful handling with people who have probing questions about their sexual orientation and gender”, Van der Staaij added.
Another Christian MP, Gert-Jan Segers, party leader of the Christian Union, explained in a Facebook post why he couldn’t sign the declaration.
“I did not sign because I am afraid that the conversation about faith and homosexuality has not been served with this statement […] I hope that as Christians in our society we will not show an admonishing finger, but above all a listening ear and a helping hand”, he wrote.
Emancipation minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said on Twitter that the existence of a Dutch version of the declaration is a “step back in time which shows that emancipation is still a long way off”.
“THE STATEMENT IS NOT MEANT TO BE ANTI-GAY”
One of the initiators of the Dutch version of the Nashville statement, Reverend Maarten Klaassen, explained that the document “is not meant to be anti-gay at all. In the first place, it only wants to stand up for the classical Christian position on man and woman”.
According to Klaassen, “that conversation is now conducted unilaterally, so that it is important to talk about it within the church”.
"That's because of the huge influence of the gay lobby on society and we want to make a different sound, namely what the church has always stood for", the preacher said.
Klaassen lamented that the Nashville statement is now being put down in the media as a kind of anti-gay manifesto, because “the authors want to show understanding for those who are struggling with their homosexuality”.
Another signatory of the Nashville Declaration, Rev. P. den Ouden, also pointed out that “it is meant to articulate what a Christian marriage means, and the homosexual debate is a derivative of it. Thinking that the Nashville Declaration is an anti-homo pamphlet does not do justice to it”.
AMSTERDAM MUNICIPALITY FLEW RAINBOW FLAG
Meanwhile, Dutch gay and transgender rights campaign group COC said the statement “gives the impression that gay feelings can be changed but dozens of research projects have show that homosexuality cannot be changed with treatment and therapies, and that such treatments are downright dangerous”.
COC is organizing a “Celebration of Love” in Amsterdam on Wednesday in response to the Dutch translation of Nashville declaration. Mayor Femke Halsema will speak at the event, Amsterdam local television AT5 reports.
On Monday afternoon the Town Hall of Amsterdam flew the rainbow flag in protest against the Nashville declaration. “In our city you can be who you are and like who you want”, the city council said on Twitter.
THE NASHVILLE STATEMENT
The Nashville Statement is a manifesto released on August 2017, which presents a list of 14 core beliefs, based on a historic evangelical doctrinal view of sexuality, identity and marriage.
As t says in its preamble, the statement aims to “serve Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture”
The first 150 signatories include evangelical leaders such as John Piper, Francis Chan, D.A. Carson, Wayne Grudem, James Dobson, R.C. Sproul, Russell Moore, John MacArtuhr, R. Albert Mohler, Sam Alberry, Nancy DeMoss, Alistair Begg, Vaughan Roberts, Michael Reeves and Kevin de Young.