* to encourage a reasoned awareness of how our beliefs impact the way we interact with the world around us
* to foster intelligent and open dialogue
* to inspire a sense of spirituality that has real meaning in day-to-day life

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Nashville Statement (corrected for rational people)

This past week, a bunch of evangelical Christians spent their time creating a document that proclaimed just why they think that they have the authority to determine and restrict people's sexuality and gender identity. To be fair, they assert that their imaginary deity welcomes everybody no matter what their sexuality and gender identity may be, they just have to change themselves or pretend to be something they're not in order to gain approval and acceptance. This seemed like bullshit to an awful lot of people, including a number of vocal Christians and the mayor of Nashville, but I was trapped at home with flooded roads thanks to Harvey, so I decided to fix their document for them. Here's what I came up with, largely just based on reversing their language around, but sometimes with an important correction to their version of how the world is supposed to work.

The Nashville Statement (Corrected)
One’s body is inviolate,
subject to one’s own will alone.
Rational human beings at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-religious, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer relies on superstition and mythology to define human life. Yet, many stubbornly assert that a god created human beings for his glory, and that his narcissistic purposes for us include our personal and physical iterations as male and female. It is reasonable to think that sexuality and gender identity are not part of a deity’s plan, but are, rather, expressions of an individual’s autonomous sense of self. For a fading but vocal minority, however, the pathway to full and lasting joy through recognizing their own personal responsibility as human beings is subverted by the path of ignorant religious adherence that, sooner or later, ruins human life.
This religious subculture of our age presents a great challenge to reasonable society. Will reasonable society lose its conviction, clarity, and courage, and tolerate the ignorance of religious assertions? Or will it hold fast to the testament of the whole of human experience, draw courage from rationality, and unashamedly proclaim honest appreciation of nature as the way of life? Will it maintain its clear, life-affirming witness to a dying subculture that seems bent on controlling as many lives as it can?
We are persuaded that dedication in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it — particularly as products of natural processes. A rational understanding of the universe demonstrates that there are no gods, and that natural processes alone are responsible for creating all that is. To natural existence alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of honoring humanity, but of knowing ourselves. To forget that we are natural beings is to forget who we are, for nature made us without demand. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing that we are responsible for who we become. We did not make ourselves, but we can guide who we become. While we are not entirely our own, for we are responsible to the other human beings around us, it is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves into something that it is not authentic for us to be, merely for the appeasement of ignorant minds.
We believe that living authentically, with integrity to oneself, brings people the greatest well-being. Responding honestly to nature provides us with the greatest freedom. Therefore, in the hope of serving humanity and witnessing publicly to the good purposes for human sexuality revealed in nature, we offer the following affirmations and denials.
WE AFFIRM that it is natural for some marriages to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationships. We also affirm that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before any gods.
WE DENY that any god has designed marriage, that marriage must be a lifelong union, and that it is restricted to one man and one woman. While some may view marriage as signifying a covenant love between a deity and people, such an imaginary deity must surely be unbound by trivialities such as gender or monogamy.
WE AFFIRM that human beings experience affections, desires, or commitments that may prompt sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; these in and of themselves are not any form of sexual immorality.
WE DENY that any god has revealed anything about chastity or fidelity in human relationships.
WE AFFIRM that the natural differences between various genders have no bearing on inherent human worth and dignity.
WE DENY that any god created the first human beings, in his own image, although we recognize that this can be a useful metaphor if applied in a such a way as to promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
WE AFFIRM that natural differences between various genders reflect the bounty of nature and are useful for contributing to human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of “sinfulness” or are a tragedy to be overcome.
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to the propagation of the human species.
WE DENY that there is a necessary congruence between biological sex and gender identity.
WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development have inherent worth and dignity as human beings.
WE DENY that any person should be forced to embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known, or that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful and happy life.
WE AFFIRM that embracing one’s identity as homosexual or transgender is consistent with well-being and living fully into a vision of a best possible version of oneself.
WE DENY that one’s gender identity should be defined by any ancient or modern text or any person apart from one’s own self.
WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life as part of the natural goodness of humanity.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is something that should be oppressed or shamed by any church or public institution.
WE AFFIRM that “sexual immorality” is a subjective term that, in the absence of inflicting harm on another, is more a matter of preference than an contraindication of human well-being.
WE DENY that one’s sexual desires are innately sinful, regardless of how others may judge or perceive them.
WE AFFIRM that the approval of homosexuality and transgenderism is a matter of moral care for the well-being of individuals and society.
WE DENY that it is appropriate to pronounce judgment and shame on  homosexuality or transgenderism and that such condemnation constitutes an essential departure from human well-being.
WE AFFIRM our responsibility to speak honestly, directly, and respectfully at all times, including when we speak to or about matters of gender identity.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor the inherent worth and dignity of any person.
WE AFFIRM sexuality and gender identity as matters of personal identity that can be healthily embraced to contribute to greater well-being
WE DENY that any person needs the forgiveness of a deity or a church for their identity, or that any ecclesiastical body has the right to judge or shame any individual for matters of personal identity.
WE AFFIRM that individuals are the most capable and expert determiners of their own sexuality and gender identity
WE DENY that any person should be coerced or forced into denying their authentic sexuality or gender identity for the comfort or zeal of others, especially those who claim that their fervor is divinely inspired.
WE AFFIRM that human beings, having inherent worth and dignity, have no need for divine salvation or redemption, but may benefit from forgiveness from other human beings should they have committed some act of harm.  
WE DENY that any person’s authentic sexuality or gender identity brings harm to another individual, recognizing that personal offense is self-caused harm.