How the Sovereign Grace Ministry Child Sex Abuse Scandal Makes the Nashville Statement Worthless

A look at the Nashville Statement and how it was made worthless by the Sovereign Grace Ministries child sex abuse scandal. This looks at the Nashville Statement briefly and asks the question, how could C.J. Mahaney sign such a statement? So being gay or certain forms of sexual activity is sin; yet the alleged cover-up of the rape of a child is fine? Plus the timing of the statement was really awful considering Hurricane Harvey and the Neo-Nazi riot in Charlottesville, Virginia

“The way I approach the character isn’t about being gay or straight. It’s just about who you love. Gender has very little to do with it.”

Mia Kirshner

“If someone is gay and he searches for the lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Pope Francis 

All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

   John 3:20-21 NLT 

C.J. Mahaney who recently signed the Nashville Statement

Amidst all the other problems in evangelicalism comes the latest circus. Its timing was awful, its message is divisive and the problems it created were repetitive of the ongoing issues in evangelicalism. Since we are looking at the Nashville Statement, I included several clips from Robin William’s Mrs. Doubtfire. The issues with the Nashville Statement are multiple but before I continue let’s look at the statement. 


What is the Nashville Statement? 

On Tuesday August 29, 2017 a new statement was rolled out by many evangelicals but especially a number of Neo-Calvinists. The statement laid out the beliefs on human sexuality and to re-affirm that marriage was only between a man and woman. In the process it also rejects marriage in the role of polygamy, polyamorous and same sex. The statement itself has fourteen sections to it. The statement also states that sexual activity is only to take place in the bounds of marriage and that any activity outside is immoral. It continues to state that God made both Adam and Eve unique in his image and equal before God as male and female. Actually the differences between men and women are to reflect God’s original design. In the controversially worded statement it dives into the trans-gendered issue. For example section six deals with eunuchs, seven states that trans-gendered self-conception is in denial of what the Lord meant. Article ten states that homosexual activity or transgender-ism is immoral. The statement winds down by speaking about God’s grace in dealing with sexual sin. 

The Nashville Statement is the brainchild of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. In other words this is John Piper’s baby, and that is near and dear to him. The statement came out of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission annual conference, The goal was to have a statement that would not only follow previous ones like the Danvers Statement, but also historic ones like the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon. One of the driving forces in this statement is that of Denny Burk who is the current president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The statement was controversial from the start with the mayor of Nashville challenging it. As did many other Christians who raised concerns. Here are some articles that look at the issue from differing points of view. 

  1. Scott McNight “Response to the Nashville Statement” 
  2. Scott McNight “The Nashville Statement: A Pastoral Approach” 
  3. Scott McNight “The Nashville Statement, Yet Again: A Pastor’s Take
  4. Matthew Lee Anderson “Why I Won’t Sign the Nashville Statement” 
  5. Nadia Bolz Weber “The Denver Statement” 
  6. Mark Yarhouse “On the Nashville Statement” 
  7. Ian Paul “Evangelical responses to ‘Nashville Statement
  8. Warren Throckmorton “A Real Life Reason to Reject the Nashville Statement” 
  9. Warren Throckmorton “The Nashville Statement and Same Sex Attraction” 

For mainstream press reporting you can read more in the Washington Post, USA Today, Tennessean, New York Times, Huffington Post, and the American Conservative.


Child Sex Abuse Scandal in Sovereign Grace Ministries 

For all the emphasis of sexual morality in the Nashville Statement there is one glaring omission that in this writers perspective makes the Nashville Statement worthless. The statement says nothing about child sex abuse. It decries gay people, the trans-gendered issue, sexual activity between gays and more. For all that the statement harangues its doesn’t say anything  about child sexual abuse. It would be laughable had it not been so bad. And the most prominent factor that keeps dragging on is that of the alleged child sexual abuse issue with Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) “family of churches.” Child sex abuse is hemorrhaging out of so many Sovereign Grace churches. From Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland to Sovereign Grace Fairfax in Virginia. The issue goes to a number of other churches across the network. To read some of the stories out of SGM you can do so in “What Matt Larson, Anthem Thousand Oaks, Anthem Ventura, and Anthem Camarillo can Learn from Taylor, Noel and Sovereign Grace Fairfax/SGM “Family of Churches” Also there is a Washingtonian article that explores how child sex abuse became an issue in the denomination. You can read that in “The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch.”

Seriously, C.J. Mahaney a Signer? HA! 

I noticed when I looked at the Nashville Statement that it was signed by C.J. Mahaney. Really? As they say in the Marine Corps, “Whiskey”,”Tango”,”Foxtrot!”  How can this be? How can someone like C.J. sign such a document knowing how deeply he allegedly was involved in the cover up of child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace? What the hell? I almost choked when I saw it and it made me ask, how could this be? How could he sign such a declaration and then act like noting is wrong?  Is C.J. a sociopath? Is he mentally ill? Is he someone just addicted to being in the spotlight? How could he attach his name to such a document and then act serious about sexual morality given the lawsuit, and the allegations that continue to do his organization? How can this be the case? I ask this out loud and if someone can answer, please let me know below. 


Critique of Other Notable Signers

There is a lot of other signers that just baffle me. This is a brief run down of other signers of the Nashville Statement and a critique of them. 

  1. Al Mohler signed the Nashville Statement. Remember Al? He was the one who introduced C.J. at the last T4G and joked about all the stuff he could find about C.J on the internet? In the process he mocked the victims and laughed. So child sex abuse is not a crime, nor is it a sin in Al Mohler’s world. But being gay or trans-gendered is. That is something that I can not understand. 
  2. John MacArthur is a signer. Did you see one of my latest posts about the scandal in John MacArthur’s school? You can read that inThe Tragic Story of a Rape Victim from the Masters College as Led by John MacArthur Who was Allegedly Ordered to Repent to her Rapist for Inciting her Sexual Assault for being a Woman.Enough said. 
  3. John Piper has signed this statement as well. This is the one who cuddles up to C.J. Mahaney. If every tornado and bridge collapse is God’s will. Is the fact that John Piper coddles C.J. in his corruption also God’s will? 
  4. Then there is James Dobson. This is the guy who is all into the culture wars. Remember he called Donald Trump a baby Christian if I remember correctly. How many baby Christians do you know who grab another person’s pussy? So James Dobson is all about sexual morality unless that guy has a chance of getting into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and overturning Roe vs. Wade. Then the sexuality morality is negotiable. 
  5. D.A. Carson has also signed. Again this blog commences Festivus every December 21, in honor of D.A. Carson. I have written plenty on him to include this open letter. Then there is this post called “From D.A. Carson to Steve Estes the Following Question Must be Asked: Is the Evangelical Free Church of America a Safe Place for Sexual Assault Victims?” Sexual morality is of deep importance. The exception is when its a rape victim who writes about it at SGM Survivors. Then D.A. Carson will attack a rape victim. But that is fine. But why care about rape? The real issue is 2 gay atheists getting married in Queens, New York. 
  6. Then there is Wayne Grudem. Remember how Wayne flip flopped on Donald Trump, before writing a post that endorsed him? Grabbing someone’s pussy is fine, but 2 gay atheists getting married in Seattle is the real problem. Maybe we should draft a Grudem statement and ask if he can explain his changing views on sexual ethics. For me Wayne Grudem is a guy that I do not understand. Why people think he is respected. Can someone answer that one please? 
  7. Then we have Mark Dever. Poor Mark….he let C.J. Mahaney hide behind his rear end when he fled Covenant Life Church. So he signs a statement on sexual ethics while being one of Mahaney’s biggest supporters. What alleged cover up of child sex abuse at SGM? 
  8. Jeff Purswell, Mark Prater, and Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace. Need I say more?  
  9. Kevin DeYoung…remember this bastardized statement that defended C.J. Mahaney? Again does child sexual abuse count as a sin in Kevin DeYoung’s world. 

I could go on, but I think I made my point. 


The Timing of the Statement was Awful Considering Hurricane Harvey and Charlottesville

There is another aspect to the Nashville Statement that I find troubling. And that is the timing of the statement. The statement was released in the middle of Hurricane Harvey which lasted from August 25 until September 3, 2017. Why did the timing have to be so bad? It also happened right after the incident with Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. Of all the times to release such a controversial statement why during those situations? Does it show that all many evangelicals can be remembered for is what they are opposed to? Does it reveal that for many evangelicals all many do is want to fight, wage war and have an “us” vs. “them” attitude? To constantly make mistakes after mistake and year after year really takes pure talent when you think about it. Can evangelicals of this theological stripe show empathy and compassion? Or will they always be known for how they condescend and hate others? These are just some thoughts. That is it for the day guys, know that I love you. 

13 thoughts on “How the Sovereign Grace Ministry Child Sex Abuse Scandal Makes the Nashville Statement Worthless

  1. “Is C.J. a sociopath? Is he mentally ill? Is he someone just addicted to being in the spotlight?”

    Yes, yes and yes!

    Of course that is merely my unprofessional opinion, but it is obvious the man has problems. There is no way he should be the pastor of a small run-away church plant meeting in a hotel in Louisville, much less a signatory to a Christian document that purports to make a serious statement.


  2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot indeed! With all the statements, scandals, affairs, sexual abuse cases, and so much more that are connected directly to these camps, why does it blatantly appear that these folks are so much more obsessed with sex than the rest of us? Could it be that all the time spent talking about sex, sexually abusing others, having illicit affairs, etc. is the root of the problem in the first place? I wouldn’t think about sex nearly as much if it weren’t for these guys. Also, the answer to all your questions about C.J. in this post is YES!!!

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  3. “How can someone like C.J. sign such a document knowing how deeply he allegedly was involved in the cover up of child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace. What the hell? I almost choked when I saw it and it made me ask, how could this be? How could he sign such a declaration and then act like noting is wrong. Is C.J. a sociopath? Is he mentally ill? Is he someone just addicted to being in the spotlight? How could he attach his name to such a document and then act serious about sexual morality given the lawsuit, and the allegations that continue to do his organization? How can this be the case?”

    My best guess is cognitive dissonance. What’s important to him is the church, and his status in it. When it comes to actual harm he did do to real people, he just goes back to defending his church and his status in it, because those things are more important to him. He can’t admit to himself that what he did was wrong, because then he’d have to admit to himself that he’s not the righteous person he pretends to be. So he redefines what a good person is so he can convince himself that he is one. (The Nashville Statement is a really good example of this redefinition.) Sociopath? Maybe. But lots of people do this on a smaller scale all the time. I recommend the book “Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me” by Carol Tavris for a really good discussion of what people do to maintain their own self-image.

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  4. You can tell a lot about the Nashville Statement signers and initial promoters by what they left out–a discussion of consent. This goes in four directions:

    * First, obviously, the NS won’t admit to consent because if two adults can consent to sexual activity, or God forbid, even marriage. Because consent doesn’t enter anywhere into their framing of the discussion. It’s only what they think marriage and sexual relations are about, and they have rules. Oddly, though, those rules don’t include consent.

    * Now here’s where things get sticky. The NS says that marriage is only between a man and a woman, but nowhere does it talk about consent. Let me be clear–what I’m about to say probably doesn’t apply to some of the NS signers. But there are a lot of signers who no doubt believe that the only consent for sex needed was at the time of the marriage vows. And yes, there are some people out there who really think that when one spouse wants sex, the other spouse has to give it up whether s/he likes it or not. The NS doesn’t talk about the possibility of non-consent in marriage, or, as the law calls it, marital rape. It would not surprise me at all to find out that some of the NS signers and promoters don’t believe it’s possible for one spouse to rape another in marriage.

    * So now we get down to areas where the law says a person cannot consent to sex. If you’re drugged or intoxicated, you can’t consent. As we learned from the “Jane” incident involving “The Master’s University,” it doesn’t seem to matter to the powers that be that “Jane” was sexually assaulted and that consent was not forthcoming–there was still “sin” on Jane’s part. Apparently some of the people involved in the “Jane” scandal do not believe that intoxication or drugging obviate consent and there was still some fault or sin on the part of “Jane.” (Of course Jane’s real sin was going to the police and not consenting to cover up what the man did to her.)

    * Lastly, we get to legal consent. We’ve made a decision, as a society, that persons below a certain age cannot consent to sex. This is a bright-line test–is the victim under X age? Then the charge is something like “sexual assault of a minor” or “sexual assault of a minor under the age of 12”. We have had some scandals where judges (!) have let off offenders with next to nothing in sentences because “she” (a 15 YO girl) “led him on.” Well no, that’s not what the law says. The law says that a person under X age cannot consent to sex. But what gets nasty is what happened within Sovereign Grace where little kids, toddlers, preschoolers, were sexually assaulted by teenagers and then were brought in to apologize to the person who assaulted them!

    The point about going into so much detail regarding consent is that you didn’t see ANY discussion of consent in the NS. Not personal consent between two adults (whether opposite or same sex) or legal consent. It’s as if consent and its legal exceptions simply doesn’t exist in the NS world.

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  6. Eagle,

    While I certainly do not disagree with most of your depictions of the people involved, it doesn’t make the Nashville Statement “worthless”. You’re engaging in the ad hominem fallacy here. I could be a total doofus and say, “2 + 2 = 4”. The fact that I’m a doofus doesn’t mean that two plus two does not equal four.

    There are a few issues — theological & otherwise — with the Nashville Statement, to be sure. But not for the reasons you’re giving here. You’re simply attacking the messengers. Granted, most of them deserve it, for the reasons you give, but please don’t conflate the failed messengers with the message.

    Unfortunately, many of the responses to the Nashville statement that I’ve encountered have consisted of essentially, “I don’t agree with it” or “I don’t agree with what the bible says there”. That’s all well & good, however, it also means that one is worshiping a “god” of one’s own choosing, making up a “god” that one wants “god” to be, rather than worshiping who God actually is, and what He says.

    This is a particularly difficult topic these days, and one that hits close to home for me personally. We do need to love, and love sincerely & unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean that sin isn’t sin either.

    Which is why we all need the Gospel, and we all need to leave the judgment part to God & trust Him to work it out.


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