Marriage as Moral Orthodoxy


As evangelicals watch megachurches and other institutions wobble in their convictions about marriage, we have sought to buttress support by elevating the traditional view of the doctrine to a matter of orthodoxy. Always up for a good statement — or even a mediocre one — evangelicals in 2017 attempted to codify their views on marriage and sexuality in The Nashville Statement. Controversy, as they say, ensued.

Despite the organizer’s plea several weeks after the statement was released that it was “never our aim to make signing the Statement a test of orthodoxy,” those same organizers celebrated when churches and universities adopted it as a litmus test for employment. Indeed, the Statement’s initial press release suggests the organizers were more comfortable equating it with orthodoxy than their later protestations would indicate. “I am signing The Nashville Statement,” Rosaria Butterfield announced, “because I stand with biblical orthodoxy, the only witness for hope and peace and God’s blessing.” Her modest endorsement even claimed the mantle of Martin Luther: “By God through the merit and power of Jesus Christ, here I stand.”

There is much we could say about the valence of appealing to “orthodoxy” while evangelicals’ social capital erodes and confidence in our institutions evaporates.