Thursday, August 31, 2017

Reflections on Reflections on the Nashville Statement

On Tuesday, some conservative Christian leaders released a statement on sexuality. My Facebook feed was soon filled with progressives decrying the document as an expression of bigotry against homosexuals and transgender people.

Ironically, on the exact same day the Nashville Statement was released, a group of professors from Yale, Harvard, and Princeton released a joint letter with the following advice for incoming students:
At many colleges and universities what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” does more than merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views on moral, political, and other types of questions. It leads them to suppose that dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them.
Since no one wants to be, or be thought of as, a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies.
Don’t do that. Think for yourself.
... Open-mindedness, critical thinking, and debate are essential to discovering the truth. Moreover, they are our best antidotes to bigotry.
Merriam-Webster’s first definition of the word “bigot” is a person “who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” The only people who need fear open-minded inquiry and robust debate are the actual bigots, including those on campuses or in the broader society who seek to protect the hegemony of their opinions by claiming that to question those opinions is itself bigotry.
At a later date I might post my reflections on the actual content of the Nashville Statement (which, by the way, I did not sign). For now, however, I would simply urge my friends to avoid the "lazy" accusation of bigotry.

1 comment:

Jon Beck said...

Agreed. Like, really, I don't find that helpful at all. Calling someone a bigot does nothing but shut down constructive dialogue. Plus, of course we Christians will disagree with each other, but we need not get overly angry, accusatory or hurtful. I don't think that such attidues el anyone any favors in the long run.