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(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)

The Nashville Statement and the future of the church

The furore surrounding the Nashville Statement may have come and gone, but I have been in a lot of discussions about the missional implications of the LGBT “problem” recently and I feel I ought to make a belated stab at an appraisal.

The Statement is not well written and is ambiguous at critical points. It fails to explain its terminology. It makes no attempt to present the biblical, theological, or scientific reasoning behind the terse affirmations and denials. It gains theological focus at the expense of pastoral sensitivity, to put it mildly. It reduces the complex, shifting boundary conditions of human sexuality to a crude moral binary. Taken at face value, it is divisive. The tone is authoritarian, self-important and archaic. The whole idea of signing a statement of this sort seems to me vain and rather pointless.

Apart from that, I’m not sure I see what all the fuss has been about. The Statement is pretty much what you’d expect from a reactionary conservative organisation, and the reaction against it is what you’d expect from that part of the church which is desperately trying to mend bridges with the LGBT community. But it raises some broader issues that are perhaps worth commenting on.

Heterosexuality and patriarchy

The Statement is published by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and is implicitly, therefore, an affirmation not only of heterosexual marriage but also of patriarchal marriage. The presupposition is apparent in a couple of places.

First, it is said in Article 1 that marriage “is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church”. This is not as obvious as you might think. In the biblical context patriarchal marriage worked very well as a metaphor for the covenant relationship between God and his people and between Christ and the church. But the modern egalitarian model, which of course is not supported by many of the signatories to the Nashville Statement, has already made this metaphorical usage virtually unworkable. Even the rather contrived efforts of complementarians to reproduce the patriarchal arrangement mostly fall a long way short of the inequality presupposed in the New Testament.

The relationship between Christ and the church is not like the relationship between a husband and his wife unless we are prepared to grant the husband a status and authority in regard to his wife comparable to that of Christ in regard to the church.

Jesus told the disciples, “whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mk. 10:44), but this does not mean that we are bound to maintain the institution of slavery for the sake of the metaphor. Biblical patriarchal marriage is a metaphor for the relation between Christ and the church, but we are not bound to maintain any particular form of marriage for the sake of the metaphor about Christ and the church.

Secondly, there is reference in Articles 3 to the “divinely ordained differences between male and female”. Presumably what is in view here is the subordination of the woman to the man. Article 4 denies that such differences “are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome”. I think that there is a very strong case for attributing patriarchy to the judgment pronounced on the woman in Genesis 3:16: “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you”.

What’s going on here is something similar to the argument that the complementarian view of the relation of the man to the woman is grounded in the subordination of the Son in the godhead. Just as the subordination of the woman is supposedly entailed in the logic of the Trinity, so heterosexual marriage is logically entailed by the relation between Christ and the church.

The world has moved on

The Statement is written from a particular American religious perspective. This is apparent in a number of ways: the authors and signatories, for example, appear mostly to be American male—probably Baptist—pastors, heads of organisations, and academics; and you wouldn’t bother complaining that “Many deny that God created human beings for his glory” in Europe these days.

Fundamentally, the Nashville group assumes the continuing priority and privilege of the Christian moral voice within modern western culture. It assumes that the church still has the right to speak on behalf of humanity as a whole. It assumes that the church is still in a position to call the world back to a traditional Christian anthropology and social ethic. It is backward-looking rather than forward-looking.

Against that background, Article 2 affirms that “God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage”.

Now we can say with some confidence that God’s “revealed will” for his people is “chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage”. But I’m inclined to think that Genesis 1:23-25 is not an argument for confining sex to marriage but a statement about the centrality of the enduring relationship between a man and a woman for the formation of human society. This applies descriptively to all human societies, including modern secular western society. But it is not framed prescriptively, as an expression of the will of God for all people.

Is it so clear that the Bible expected the nations to conform to biblical norms? Did the prophets have much to say about the sexual mores of the Egyptians and the Babylonians?

The question I raise here is not so much whether lifelong heterosexual monogamy is a creational ideal but whether, outside of the Christendom paradigm, it is appropriate or meaningful for the church to presume to set the standards for societies that are not bound by covenant to the God revealed in the biblical narrative.

The only thing that is likely to bring the world to ruin is climate change caused by unrestrained material consumption—and the church is just as guilty on that count as the rest of post-Christian western culture.

The Nashville Statement recognises that evangelicals “find themselves living in a period of historic transition” and that western culture is becoming “increasingly post-Christian”. But transition is always going to be difficult. An old order needs to be dismantled and a new order constructed, and it’s not going to happen overnight. So to reinforce the call to faithful witness with a smug protest against a “world that seems bent on ruin” seems to me shortsighted and condescending.

The church has to come to terms with the fact that the world has moved on and that we can no longer credibly dismiss the developments as morally wrong. In fact, it is beginning to feel as though the boot is on the other foot. Glynn Harrison writes in A Better Story: God, Sex & Human Flourishing:

As if from nowhere, Christians whose views once occupied the mainstream of public morality suddenly feel weird. It’s worse than that: they feel guilty. Guilty for holding views held to be degrading to the human spirit. Guilty that they belong to a faith accused of heartlessly pushing the most vulnerable and marginalized out into the cold. Guilty for having apparently heaped abuse on those whose only crime was being different.1

In fact, the only thing that is likely to bring the world to ruin in the foreseeable future is climate change caused by unrestrained material consumption—and the church is just as guilty on that count as the rest of post-Christian western culture. Paul would have had a field day with this one.

A lot of people complained about the fact that the Statement was released while hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc in Texas. I think that the irony of the mistiming is profound.

So, on to eschatology….

The Nashville Statement and the narratives of mission

The Nashville Statement has as its telos “full and lasting joy through God’s good design”. This is set in contrast to the secular “path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God”. So “faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female”. The task of the church is to proclaim, embody, model an authentic created identity as male and female.

This assumes a cosmic missional metanarrative, and I grant that it has a certain overarching validity. But the missional narratives in scripture are not told at the cosmic level. They are told at the level of peoples, societies, cultures, and civilisations. The mission of the early church was to engage the Greek-Roman world, not the cosmos; and it had political outcomes in view—the overthrow of long-standing régimes, both in heaven and on earth.

The same is true for the history of the church. It is not a history of simple uniform witness to creational and redemptive realities. It is a history of social and cultural change—of Christian empire and nationhood, of schism and reformation, of furious intellectual debate, of colonialisation, of cultural collapse and marginalisation. The dogmatic evangelicalism defended by the authors of the Nashville Statement is itself an adaptation to historical change. It is a contingent modern phenomenon, not an ideal form of Christian existence.

So the challenge, I suggest, is not simply to reaffirm ageless biblical truths but to tell a credible forward-looking story about the place and purpose of an increasingly isolated church in the evolving secular environment. We need a new, historically relevant eschatology.

Towards a new, historically relevant eschatology

1. The argument of the New Testament is thoroughly eschatological. Nothing that Jesus said or did makes sense apart from the belief that Israel was heading towards a disastrous war against Rome. Nothing that the apostles said or did makes sense apart from the belief that Jesus would be “revealed” in a foreseeable future and confessed as Lord by the nations of the Greek-Roman world. Only on the periphery of the New Testament vision do we come across belief in a final judgment and renewal of heaven and earth.

2. Paul regarded same-sex sexual activity as unnatural. But his condemnation of it was directly framed by his eschatology. It was the leading ethical characteristic of a pagan culture that was subject to the “wrath of God” (Rom. 1:26-27). People who engaged in same-sex sexual activity would not “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9).

3. The coming of the wrath of God against classical pagan culture and the inheritance of the kingdom of God are theological references to the historical transition from pagan to Christian empire. Historically speaking, Christendom, in this broad sense, was the culmination of the long story about Israel and the nations. It was the concrete social-political embodiment of the victory of Israel’s God over the gods of the Greek-Roman world. Once the eschatological transition had taken place, the connection with idolatry was lost. Same-sex sexual activity was viewed simply as perverse and unnatural—a distortion of the dominant Christian worldview.

4. Christendom survived, in one form or another, until some point in the modern era when the scales tipped decisively in favour of secular humanism. In this respect the collapse of Christendom constituted the end of the biblical storyline. We are now beyond the victory of YHWH over the nations. That is all history.

5. The transition from Christendom to secular humanism has brought a massive reevaluation of the ethical status of same-sex sexual activity, at least in the West. Certain aspects of LGBT culture may still invite comparison with pagan idolatry, but the whole thing is rapidly becoming normal and, frankly, bourgeois. More importantly, the western church generally shares an intellectual outlook that can no longer treat same-sex attraction as contrary to nature or moral perversion.

6. Modernity has opened up a whole new chapter in the story of the people of God. The church can in principle take a stand on the creational normativity of heterosexual marriage, but it is unlikely that it will drag the western world back to a Christian worldview. The divergence between the two accounts of reality is now irreversible.

7. The church is, therefore, having to rethink its missional function. To my mind, the right model is not the incorporation of as many people as possible into an alternative reality on the basis of personal conversion. The mission of the church is to mediate in rather complex ways, as a priestly people, between the living God and the institutions and individuals that make up the multifarious secular culture in which we are embedded.

8. People self-identifying as LGBT and Christian are not going to go away. Even if the church in principle takes a stand on the creational standard of heterosexual marriage, it will have to accept the presence in its midst of LGBT people who insist on being acknowledged as faithfully Christian.

9. My sense, then, at the moment, is that the overriding task of the church will be creatively to manage the tension between its own peculiar commitment to the creational norm and the unavoidable integration of LGBT people. I don’t know yet how we will do that, but I’m pretty sure it will be articulated by means of a Story rather than a Statement, the work of grassroots communities rather than of any ecclesiastical elite.

  • 1. G. Harrison, A Better Story: God, Sex and Human Flourishing (SPCK, 2016), Kindle loc. 132-35.

Comments

With regards to the deal about the submission of women not being a product of the Fall, the passage I have heard marshaled to support this is the end of 1 Tim. 2, where Paul suggests that women should be silent and submissive in the church apparently because of the sequence in which man and woman were created as well as the fact that it was the woman who was deceived.

I don’t particularly care for that line of argumentation, myself, but it’s something to throw into the mix when parsing through the reasoning of such groups about the submission of women.

There’s a chapter in my book Speaking of Women: Interpreting Paul on the meaning of 1 Tim. 2:11-15 based on an earlier article in Tyndale Bulletin 44.1 (1993) 129-142, “What Eve Did, What Women Shouldn’t Do: The Meaning of AUTHENTEŌ in 1 Timothy 2:12”, which can be found on the Tyndale Bulletin site. There’s also some discussion here. In brief, I argue that authentein means something like “exercise a bad influence over” and that Paul uses the analogy with Adam and Eve to warn against the danger of socially “unformed” women introducing foreign ideas into the churches.

It struck me that the statement was an institutional/political/judicial approach. It is a traditionalist defense against the perceived heresy of the age. Despite some of its language it is not really designed to persuade or invite but to rally the troops in the pews to reaffirm doctrine. This is meant to strengthen conservative parishioners and church members in the culture wars.

I would love to see your reaction to the myriad of progressive counter-statements. I found them unhelpful in the extreme and little more than an insistence that any and all sexual choices are valid and any attempt to disagree is hateful. Progressives seem equally committed to dogma and politics.

I get the sense that I am more conservative than you in politics and economics, but I feel stuck between increasingly reactionary evangelicalism and progressive evangelicalism which is often liberal politics with a thin veneer of Christianity.

I haven’t read your whole text, but my first thought was why would you think of sexuality as subject to the “complex, shifting boundary conditions of human sexuality,” but treat the interpretation of the New Testament as being dependent on historically determined meaning? Do we humans not deal with theology and even history as dependent on the “complex, shifting boundary conditions of human” perception?

Fair comment, Richard. The reference to “boundary conditions” suggests that for most of us, most of the time, sexual/gender identity is clear and uncontroversial. There is considerable focus on the boundaries at the moment for social and political reasons, just as there is considerable focus on the uncertainties of historiography in the postmodern world. But I’m not sure that there are not some things that we can say about history with a reasonable degree of confidence. We question the details of Josephus’ account of the Jewish War, we try to allow for his transparent bias, but we trust the broad strokes of his narrative.

Besides, the issue with the narrative-historical approach is not that we can say for certain what happened, but that history, no matter how limited and ambiguous our knowledge, is a much better context for reading the New Testament texts than dogmatic theology. So in fact, we are making a positive hermeneutical choice for uncertainty—contextualised historiography over absolute universal theological system.

Ah, but perhaps, the “hermeneutical choice for uncertainty” is just a bit too conveniently correspondent with our cultural ambivalence toward scripturally prescribed norms?

Perhaps, but the historical method presents its own challenges. It doesn’t let us off the hook. It just puts us under a different type of obligation.

I enjoyed the response of Peter Enns to the Nashville Statement. In your piece, I think to use terms like ‘the missional implications of the LGBT “problem” ’ may actually be part of the problem.

Possibly. But you’d have to explain what you mean.

In the phrase ‘the missional implications of the LGBT “problem”, what kind of “problem” is being inferred? The item posted suggests that because LGBT people are becoming more visible and socially integrated, and therefore becoming legitimate missionary targets (“missional implications”), ways will have to be found of including them in the minority group who call themselves the church (still the world’s largest religious grouping, by the way at c.2;4 billion adherents and c.31.5% of world’s population), whilst resolving the apparent ethical dissonance that seems to create.

Underpinning this is the view that equal marriage (which is what all the fuss is about) is biblically proscribed. There is, in fact, no such proscription - not in Genesis 2, nor in the rest of the OT, the only same sex activity in view being Canaanite male shrine prostitution - Deut 23:17, 1 Kings 15:12 etc, Neither is there such a proscription in the NT. Romans 1 simply reprises the context of the male shrine prostitution of the OT, but updating Canaanite with contemporary fertility cult figures as objects of worship. The other two NT passages merely introduce or repeat single words whose meaning is debatable and not in contemporary usage beyond the NT. Ephesians 5 suggests something far more subversive, that Christ (male) is in relationship to the church as his bride (female), a substantial proportion of whom are male!

In other words, the argument for the church no longer having the right to insist on the universality of its values because YHWH no longer rules the nations and because it is a minority ‘fringe’ group, as I have understood it, by-passes the more important question of what the bible is actually saying. Once we have had a more open discussion on the meaning of scripture in relation to contemporary LGBT issues in particular, and then a glance at how we interpret scripture, we might go on to question how or even whether the church needs to be believing or saying something different from the rest of the progressive world on single issue subjects.

As was the case with women in leadership, divorce and remarriage, slavery, flat earth, cosmology, cosmogenesis, and so on, what the bible was held to be saying in relation to modern day practice or belief changed significantly in the light of changing experience, better information, and improved methodology for biblical interpretation.

What I meant by the phrase ‘the missional implications of the LGBT “problem”’ was that many people in conservative and evangelical churches are finding it extremely difficult to know how to respond to the accelerating promotion of LGBT rights in the West. My limited experience with missional organisations, in particular, suggests that they are looking for a way to stay true to the traditional understanding of scripture while at the same time building good relationships with the LGBT community. I know people who are doing it effectively, but it is a difficult circle to square. Of course, other fine solutions are available.

I disagree with your interpretation of the Bible on these matters, which is why I think the narrative approach may be necessary. Leviticus 18:22 is not couched as a prohibition against the use of male cult prostitutes (qedeshim). In any case, by the New Testament period Jewish revulsion against same-sex practices in the Greek-Roman world was certainly not confined to cult prostitution.

I agree with your last paragraph, though. It’s why I think there is something to be said for deliberately telling a “new” story about the people of God in the modern world.

Thanks for the clarification. Do you have any evidence that Jewish revulsion against same sex practices was not confined to cult prostitution? Anyway, that is what is being addressed in.Romans 1:21-32. About Leviticus, we disagree.

I notice you don’t mention an open discussion about what the bible actually says on the subject. This has generally been my experience of those who hold “true to the traditional understanding of scripture” (as with other “traditional” understandings of scripture).

We’re agreed on the Nashville Statement though, about which and its signatories, the best that could be said is to lock them in shipping containers, tow them to the mid-Atlantic, and let them sink. A modest proposal, I think.

What are your reasons for saying that cult prostitution is addressed in Romans 1?

I think there is a very open discussion going on about what the Bible says: Brownson, Loader, Hill, Holmes, DeFranza, Bell, Gagnon, Paris, Wilson, Gushee, Hirsch, Hays, Harrison, Song, Paul, Webb, Vines, Sprinkle, and many that I haven’t read.

The three forms of same sex practice in the classical world were cult prostitution, paedophilia and master-slave relations. The Romans 1 passage concerns the consequences of idolatry, in which male prostitution at the shrines and public festivals was a striking feature. The immediate connection of this kind of same sex practice with the context Paul is describing is obvious, though no doubt he would have abhorred the other kinds as well, and possibly this abhorrence is included in the passage.

The concept of congenital same sex attraction, and the possibility of committed, stable, lifelong same sex relationships in a social context does not seem to have featured in accounts of the ancient world. The subject of today’s debate is therefore not in view in either OT or NT, and certainly not in Romans 1, and should not be confused with it.

You are.right that there is considerable writing on the subject currently, both in print and online. My contention is that this rarely takes place at local level in a considered way. Usually it’s the church leaders views that are enforced, or the subject is ducked altogether. I always challenge.any assumption that the ‘traditional’ view is biblical. The issue in more complex than that, and the bible is being abused if it is presented as speaking directly to current circumstances without huge qualification.

Paul also directly attributes unnatural female sexual activity and the whole vice list of 1:29-31 to the rejection of the creator and idolatry. There is no reason to think that he has specifically the cultic context in mind. The emphasis is not on any specific area of same-sex behaviour but on the corruption of desire: “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity… dishonorable passions… consumed with passion for one another….”

I disagree. The whole of 24-32 describes a consequence: A ‘therefore’ proceeding from 21-33. As far as same sex practices are concerned, the immediately visible form of such practices was cult prostitution. As regards women, the passage does not specify what the ‘exchange’ was.

Buy. anyway, the discussion is misleading, as very little in Romans 1 describes what is in view today: the recognition that same sex attraction is innate, and that the most ethical way of handling it is to create the possibility of expressing it in stable, committed, lifelong relationships. This is a thoroughly biblical ethic.

You mention DeFranza in your list of authors. She should be given special attention, as she develops a biblical framework for rejecting the ‘male female’ creation of Genesis 1 as exclusive and prescriptive for today’s gender debate (in the intersex phenomenon in particular).

Anyway, I realise you are pursuing an entirely different approach to the subject, which I don’t want distract attention from. We both agree we are in a world of post-biblical ethics, in the sense that you cannot simply transpose one set of commands from then onto today’s context without considerable study of both contexts. I simply deny at every point the validity of transposing the ethics of OT and NT over same sex practices onto today’s context as an a priori.

You seem to be at a mission conference where these issues are to some extent being aired. Good luck.

Do you have any evidence that Jewish revulsion against same sex practices was not confined to cult prostitution?

I’ll check Loader when I get home. Philo has quite a lot to say on the matter. Given the apparent extent of same-sex behaviour in the Greek-Roman world (see Hubbard’s Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents), it would be very odd if the Jews obsessed only about temple prostitution.

In the Apocalypse of Abraham we find reference to “naked men, the foreheads against each other, and their disgrace, and their passion which (they had) against each other, and their retribution” (Apoc. Abr. 24:8).

I affirm Andrew’s affirmation of what you say in this last paragraph. I do, however, note that what you say doesn’t directly and reasonably convey the implication that because so many other matters of Christian interpretation have seen the light of reasonable reevaluation that same gender sexual relations is necessarily in the same category. This is a categorical _non sequitur_. There is nothing I’ve been able to find in the New Testament that suggests that any author thought God’s will included a trajectory toward same, ambiguous, polymorphic, or anything other than monogamous heterosexual relations.

I was wondering which last paragraph you were referring to - it goes back a way. I didn’t use the trajectory argument to support equal marriage. Of the revaluations I mentioned, only slavery might fall into that category. Of women in (church) leadership, divorce and remarriage, the biblical trajectory might be said to be in the opposite direction to much current practice. The methodology of interpretation needs to be different from the standard historical grammatical interpretation, and this, I think, opens a much more fertile field of interpretation, which has much in common with how both Jesus and Paul practised it (even where we might appear to come to a different conclusion from Paul over same sex relations).

Andrew,
Do you believe there are any boundaries set by God before humanity as absolute in regards to sexual relations?

As always, thanks.

Darren Doane

It’s the “set by God before humanity” part that I’m wondering about. Genesis 1-2 was given to Israel. Were the Canaanites told? Leviticus was part of the Jewish Law. Presumably first century Jews in the diaspora were supposed to bear witness to the Greek-Roman world that same-sex sexual activity, at least of the type commonly practised and portrayed in poetry, pottery, graffiti, mosaic, historical writings, and so on, was anathema to the creator God—and even that may have been primarily because the creator God was about to take control of the empire. Up until then he’d been happy to overlook their ignorance (cf. Acts 17:30).

Thanks Andrew,
A few thoughts and then I’ll attempt to graciously corner you.

The Acts verse regarding ignorance echoes when Paul says that the Jews crucified Jesus out of ignorance. Which seems a stretch, but man what a lot of grace Paul is extending by referring to The Law and sins of ignorance. Seems to be offering a pass.

I’ve read just about everything you’ve written. Including blog posts. Immensely blessed. But there seem to be a few holes. The great commission and Paul’s work, even when confined to a local ends of the earth, included teaching beyond Israel. And if Romans stretches to Constantine, which I believe most likely does thanks to your work, then we are well past the local just for Israel angle with the teaching of its Messiah to the conquered empire.

So I come back to my first question. Did The Son of God overthrow the ruler of this world and set before it’s disciples any standard of sexual standards that represented His Fathers will for His creation? If so, what is your baseline? If no, what is your baseline? I have already met individuals who identify with being trans species. Do you believe that’s
Possible? I have met individuals who believe they were created to have sexual relations with children and are working to pass laws that would lower the age of consent to 12. You down for that? If no, then what happens when that becomes the new marginalized group hurt by all this Christian hate preaching? They all believe my “traditional” views of the Bible are out dated and always have a Greek word play isolationist move to make their point.

One last thought. God always had the entire world in mind. You know this. From Israel being a blessing to the entire world to God fearers who seem to know the truth to bulls being slaughtered on behalf of all the nations. Abraham was called, as was Nicodemus, roman soldiers, Ethiopians, me you and Constantine. And we all ask How shall we live under our new King, The Son Of God. The “traditional” view does a bang up job considering there’s nothing new under the sun.

Thanks in advance.

Darren Doane

Thank you, Darren. An excellent comment.

Yes, there may be some holes.

God’s will for creation is not in dispute—not with me anyway.

It was not God’s will for creation that couples should divorce, but we’ve reconciled ourselves to that. We still uphold the ideal, and we endeavour to support couples to that end. But we don’t exclude people who fail to meet the standard. We could say that it is natural for some people to be same-sex attracted just as it is “natural” for marriages to break down—just to keep “sin” out of the equation. It’s a jump, but it’s a jump that we may have to make—or we may be pushed!—in the modern world for the sake of the wider priestly-prophetic witness of the church. Maybe.

Yes, it’s difficult to know where things will go from here.

I’m not sure what being “trans-species” would mean in practice. What are the behavioural implications? Bestiality? We can still ask the pragmatic question: how far can the church reasonably and realistically press in the direction of the creational ideal without undermining its wider witness in the world? In this case, we can still push a long way.

I presume society is not going to endorse sexual relations with pre-pubescent children. But of course, in the ancient world and in certain cultural contexts today there is nothing odd about girls being married as young as twelve. I don’t approve of the age of consent being 16 or 21 or whatever if that simply gives people a licence to engage in sex outside of marriage.

But you make a good case…

Oddly enough, I haven’t seen Christians who are all in for inclusion of same or alt-gendered sexual relationships acknowledge that the LGBTQ+ “community” has very little to no commitment to “marital” faithfulness as central to its agenda. As a whole the LGBTQ+ “community” is in fact committed to free and open sexual relations and a complete rejection of any kind of biblical restrictions. All of the pro-inclusion churches I’ve come in contact with do not practice church discipline in regard to sexual relations at all.

That’s a good point, though I know that there are a lot of same-sex couples who are living faithfully together. They’re just not making fuss about it and don’t necessarily share the values and objectives of the vocal militant LGBT+ community. But in my view, if the church embraces same-sex believing couples, it should be accompanied by the articulation of a more rigorous standard for covenant relationships for both heterosexual and same-sex people.