A superb public statement on marriage, sex, and identity

The Greater Love Declaration is a statement drafted by a bunch of British evangelicals. And it is absolutely superb. I know that of the making of public statements by evangelicals there is no end; it’s easy to switch off! But I think this declaration adds something very significant to the public witness of the church. And I’d encourage every Christian reading this to get behind it. 

Back in 2017, lots of US evangelicals produced the Nashville Statement, which helpfully addressed the same issue. But in my opinion, the Greater Love Declaration does an even better job. It manages to speak clearly to the sexual confusion in our culture by directly applying the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the subject. It’s not a statement that just tries to “keep it positive”. It doesn’t fudge the issue, but you finish reading it, and think: “isn’t the gospel of Christ wonderful?”. It conveys the sheer goodness of what Jesus is doing in the gospel. 

I wouldn’t describe it as an “aggressive” statement, but it models Paul’s strategy in 2 Cor 10:5 – “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. It’s not just a defensive statement, which is often how the church ends up sounding on this topic, but it gets forward on the front foot. 

Here are some excerpts: 

“Since the Christian attitude to sex is, as in all other things, not self-satisfaction for the sake of self but self-denial for the sake of others, Christians, bearing true witness to their natural sex as God created them, are to pursue chaste singleness outside of marriage and exclusive faithfulness within it.”

Isn’t that a great contrast? “self-satisfaction for the sake of self” versus “self-denial for the sake of others”. 

Point no.8 has a “Here I stand” ring to it. It makes me think of the Scottish Covenanters in the 17th C, signing the National Covenant, refusing to let the Stuart dynasty interfere with the crown rights of King Jesus over his church: 

8. There are no circumstances – not the threat of legal sanction, nor of financial penalty, nor of social stigma – which will cause us to abandon our Lord’s call to love in this way, in sexual matters as in all others. And therefore there are no circumstances which will cause us to abandon the Christian doctrine of marriage, nor to cease teaching it, to all people of every age.
If the cost to ourselves of faithfulness to our Lord, and love for those around us, is high, we nevertheless commit ourselves to these things. For in this way too, we recognise that we are called to lay down our lives for the good of others; for there is, as our Lord Jesus Christ said, no greater love than this.

The material on “Sexual identities and Conversion to Christ” in the Doctrinal background section is exceptional. It refuses to take its cue from the world, and doesn’t accept premises about sexual identity, which Christians have been far too quick to swallow. 

It’s packed with helpful lines of thought for preachers to plunder and start using in their preaching, for Christians to absorb into their thinking and impress upon their children, and for us to start using in our conversations with a world very, very confused and on this issue. This is the kind of thing the Early Church Apologists were doing in the 2nd C.  

Tolle legetolle lege (“take up and read, take up and read”), as they say.

You can find the Declaration here.

The Doctrinal background material is here.