The “Nashville Statement” Fails to Understand God’s Plan for Women and Men

Most people reading the Nashville Statement recently published by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) will notice the repeated uses of the words “homosexual” and “transgender” in its fourteen articles. Strong opinions and visceral feelings regarding people who are LGBTQI and the church – whether the reader falls on one side of another of that discussion – might cause the reader to skip past the importance of a different set of labels found in Article 4:

We affirm that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.

We deny that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

What are these “divinely ordained differences”? The statement doesn’t say. Other CBMW writings, though, show the difference is that women are subordinate to men in all things: home, work, play, education. If a man and woman are involved, the man takes the lead and the woman follows. Always.

I disagree.

The Bible shows a lot of men and women working and living together. Sometimes the man takes the lead and sometimes the woman does. If a man ever lords it over a woman, it’s an example of sin entering the relationship and not of God’s original plan.

Here’s a brief look at what tell Bible tells us about the relationship between women and men, how it has been corrupted by sin, and the hope Jesus brings for restoration to God’s original design:

Genesis 2– From the beginning Man and Woman were created to stand side by side to do the work of God.

Genesis 3– They disobeyed God and one consequence of their sin was that in the fallen world women are oppressed by men, who are now in a ruling position over women.

Luke 4– In his first synagogue sermon, Jesus said he came to free people from the captivity and the oppression caused by sin.

Matthew 20– Jesus told his friends that only those outside God’s family strive to rule over others, and that in his new way of life the point was always to strive to serve everyone else.

John 13– Jesus showed them what serving others looks like by wrapping a towel around his waist, getting down on his knees before them one by one, and washing their dirty, smelly feet.

All other passages on men and women in the kingdom of God must be understood in light of God’s original design (Genesis 2), the problems caused by sin (Genesis 3), and the freedom we now have in Jesus from the consequences of our sin.

And that is where CBMW goes wrong with Article 4 of the Nashville Statement. The notion that women were meant to be subordinate to men before the Fall and entry of sin in the world leads to the misbegotten conclusion that women will continue to be subordinate to men after Jesus returns and brings in the new Heaven and Earth. It becomes an eternal dynamic.

But God gave women teaching and leadership roles over men repeatedly in Bible history: Deborah, Huldah, Anna, Philip’s daughters, Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, and more. He broke through the bondage of sin even in this fallen world in order to give a glimpse of life in the new and eternal kingdom to come with Jesus on the throne.

This is the true design for women and men under the New Covenant. There is no subordination to one another, only to God as he lifts all of us up.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us up with him in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus … . (Ephesians 2:6.)

The curse of Genesis 3 is no longer binding us. The relationship between men and women in Christ need no longer follow the design of the curse. There’s no place for it in the presence of Jesus in heaven, and that’s where you now sit. Right next to Jesus.



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40 Responses to The “Nashville Statement” Fails to Understand God’s Plan for Women and Men

  1. Angie says:

    For me, CBMW lost credibility to speak on homosexuality when its leaders called biological complementary marriages that do not subscribe to their gender roles “same-sex marriages.”

  2. Sandy Perry says:

    This. All of this. There are things in the statement that I agree with, but mostly I think it fails to give any room for love, grace or meeting people where they are.

  3. Sharon A Ferrante says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank YOU!

  4. I am so tired of the “the woman who doesn’t submit to anything they’re told by a man is an evil lesbian, satanism/witchcraft-practicing etc., etc., etc.,” drivel that keeps showing up in Christian circles. It’s stuff like that that prevents many women from being able to come to know God and see themselves as His image bearers (along with men).

  5. “Jesus told his friends that only those outside God’s family strive to rule over others, and that in his new way of life the point was always to strive to serve everyone else.”

    And yet, we keep trying to establish hierarchies and enforce submission, all in the name of God. On top of that, we see christians making declarations that their view – and their view alone – is the only true, and correct, and “biblical” one. Anyone suspected of thinking differently is automatically disqualified from claiming to be a follower of Jesus. I find it so hard to get my head around that! 😥

  6. Robin Monroe says:

    CBMW DID NOT write the Nashville Statement. The Nashville statement was formulated over several months by the group of people that are listed as “Initial Signers” and it culminated in the approval of the final document on this week at a meeting in Nashville which is why that is the name they gave the document. So – If you have a problem with the statement you have a problem with everyone of the Initial Signers that helped formulate it.

    • Tim says:

      CBMW is the publisher on its website, the drafters are the writers, and Article 4 is problematic.

      • Robin Monroe says:

        Albert Mohler talked about it yesterday on the Briefing and the Initial Signers are the drafters. It should only have been posted to the website, CBMW published it to their site also because they were one of the sponsors as was the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the SBC.

      • Yes, on their home page it appears as a main link as if it’s their own production, and there’s no disclaimer suggesting that they’re “just” sponsoring it. The only explanation offered for the statement itself is the preamble, which contains several references to “we” (e.g “we offer the following affirmations and denials”) — that would lead one to believe that “we” means the CBMW and therefore that the CBMW produced, wrote, and published it. If that’s not the case, they’re not going out of their way to make that clear.

    • Lea says:

      ” So – If you have a problem with the statement you have a problem with everyone of the Initial Signers that helped formulate it.”

      *raises hand* I absolutely do. CBMW clearly had their grubby little fingers all over it, though.

    • mot says:


      Count me as one who has a problem with everyone of the initial signers.

    • Tim says:

      I would expect those who are complementarian in their doctrine would not have the same issue with Article 4 that I have. That doesn’t change the fact that Article 4 (as comp doctrine generally) does not square with Scripture.

  7. Reblogged this on geraldfordcounsel and commented:
    I will soon write my own post about the Nashville Statement, but I must also share Tim’s post with you. It is an alert most necessary…

  8. Pingback: Reflections on Nashville Statement – Magnificent Strength of Heart

  9. Wow…I did not know that about the organization which wrote the Nashville Statement. Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. Jane Carole says:

    I agree with what you wrote about the subtle way that the patriarchal belief (about God’s original design being women in submission to men) was woven into a statement whose main subject is another very controversial issue. My question for you is: Would you explain your biblical position on the controversial issue that the N. statement attempts to address? (If you have a notice somewhere that you don’t talk about this topic in your blogs, sorry for asking .) I have not read all of your blogs and your responses to comments, so if you do talk about it and have answered my question elsewhere, please refer me to that. Thanks.

  11. Pingback: Evan, we hardly knew ye… | geraldfordcounsel

  12. J. McHue says:

    “But God gave women teaching and leadership roles over men repeatedly in Bible history: Deborah, Huldah, Anna, Philip’s daughters, Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, and more.”

    But WHY did God do this? It wasn’t, as you falsely claim, to make women equal to men in the role of biblical leadership. These women were given these roles because the men were failing to step up to the role God placed before them. If the men had done what they were supposed to do, none of these women would have been raised up by God. These women are the exception, not the example. God is very clear in His Word that women are intended to submit to men’s leadership in the church as they both submit to God.

    • Tim says:

      Do you have a citation for Huldah, et al, being used by God because men refused to serve?

    • Tim says:

      Also, Huldah, Jeremiah and Zephanie were contemporaries so apparently there were male prophets doing God’s work at the same time she was.

    • Lisa says:

      Not to mention saying that describing Junia, Phoebe, and Priscilla as “exceptions” is blatantly unscriptural, given that Paul commends them as examples to the local churches in his letters. Priscilla is always mentioned alongside her husband, indicating that they both were equally instrumental in the growth of the early church-certainly , she wasn’t teaching Apollos merely because the men refused to step up.

    • Julie Frady says:

      Are you saying that God does not want women to lead men on a moral level or just a cultural one? If God is just accommodating human culture, then it is not binding. Jesus broke cultural taboos all the time. But if you are saying this is because that is the way God has decreed things to be on the level of a moral law, then your argument falls apart. Because if women not leading men is moral law, then even God cannot break that law because to do so would be to sin. And God can’t sin. So if God brings even ONE woman to a position of authority over men — even if it *were* because no man would “step up” — then that proves that this is not a morally binding command. Either way, the argument doesn’t hold up. Women can lead men or they can’t. If they can’t, it’s either an accommodation of human culture or a morally binding command that transcends human culture. If the latter, then even God can’t make exceptions to it without sinning. If the former, then it doesn’t matter if we make exceptions to it.

  13. Julie Frady says:

    Nahum was around during the time of Huldah, too. And NO WHERE in the text does it say that Deborah was raised up because no man would “step up.” In fact, that is no where in Scripture at all. Not. there.

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