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The Manhattan Declaration

A number of leaders today–from evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions–unveiled a new statement (4,000+ words; six pages) called The Manhattan Declaration. It was drafted by Chuck Colson, Robert P. George, and Timothy George. Signers of the statement include J.I. Packer, Tim Keller, Albert Mohler, and over 100 others. You can add your name here.

It’s a statement affirming, and calling upon society to defend, the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Here’s a taste of the document’s flavor and content, treating the necessity of love and compassion for those with homosexual inclinations:

We acknowledge that there are those who are disposed towards homosexual and polyamorous conduct and relationships, just as there are those who are disposed towards other forms of immoral conduct. We have compassion for those so disposed; we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity; and we pay tribute to the men and women who strive, often with little assistance, to resist the temptation to yield to desires that they, no less than we, regard as wayward. We stand with them, even when they falter. We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God's intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God's patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality, and at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it. Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners. For every sinner, regardless of the sin, is loved by God, who seeks not our destruction but rather the conversion of our hearts. Jesus calls all who wander from the path of virtue to "a more excellent way." As his disciples we will reach out in love to assist all who hear the call and wish to answer it.

They go on to provide a natural law definition of marriage:

We further acknowledge that there are sincere people who disagree with us, and with the teaching of the Bible and Christian tradition, on questions of sexual morality and the nature of marriage. Some who enter into samesex and polyamorous relationships no doubt regard their unions as truly marital. They fail to understand, however, that marriage is made possible by the sexual complementarity of man and woman, and that the comprehensive, multi-level sharing of life that marriage is includes bodily unity of the sort that unites husband and wife biologically as a reproductive unit. This is because the body is no mere extrinsic instrument of the human person, but truly part of the personal reality of the human being. Human beings are not merely centers of consciousness or emotion, or minds, or spirits, inhabiting non-personal bodies. The human person is a dynamic unity of body, mind, and spirit. Marriage is what one man and one woman establish when, forsaking all others and pledging lifelong commitment, they found a sharing of life at every level of being--the biological, the emotional, the dispositional, the rational, the spiritual--on a commitment that is sealed, completed and actualized by loving sexual intercourse in which the spouses become one flesh, not in some merely metaphorical sense, but by fulfilling together the behavioral conditions of procreation. That is why in the Christian tradition, and historically in Western law, consummated marriages are not dissoluble or annullable on the ground of infertility, even though the nature of the marital relationship is shaped and structured by its intrinsic orientation to the great good of procreation.

It’s a careful, thoughtful statement, worthy of study and acceptance. I encourage you to read it and sign it.

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16 thoughts on “The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience”

  1. Tom says:

    Romanists and “Orthodox” are idolaters according to the standards set forth in Scripture. Any so-called “Christian” who signs a common statement of faith with them has sinned greatly and has betrayed the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Chirst.

    1. Tim says:

      According to the standards set forth in Scripture, we are all sinners. Any so-called “Christian” who thinks that signing a “statement of faith” affirming the sanctity of life along with “Romanists” amounts to idolatry and a betrayal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has a VERY poor understanding of that very Gospel!

      Having the right soteriology does not save anyone from anything.

      1. Tom says:

        Having the wrong soteriology will send one straight to hell.

  2. Dan Phillips says:

    Not a chance.

    Here’s enough to lose me, period, no need to read further:

    “We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians… We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences….”

    I still affirm the necessity of the Reformation, and its recovery of central Biblical truths. I don’t see Roman Catholicism or Orthoborgism as variations on a theme. I could never associate myself with something that gives that false impression. The Gospel is not an “Oh, yes, well, that” issue.

    1. Reg Schofield says:

      I agree 100 percent . When you blur the line of the gospel and regardless what one says , when evangelicals consent with Catholics and Orthodox it gives their man made system credence.

  3. Tim Webb says:

    Justin, I agree with the sanctity of life, which is an issue of life & death to the most defenseless among us, who have no voice to defend themselves. Amen. I agree that God designed marriage as the union of one male and female. However, in the United States at least, there is nothing in the atheistic or agnostic at best U.S. Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman. What is the point of trying to force the latter on people? Thanks, Tim

    1. The Constitution says nothing about pedophilia either.

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  5. Good statement! I agree. Why is taking a stand publicly reduced to “fear-mongering?” See here.

  6. Aaron says:

    Wow. Just because we can agree and affirm a statement on pro life/marriage, etc. . . does not mean that we think the Reformation is over or that we are co-“idolaters” with those who sign it. With all due respect, you guys need to relax a bit. No issue of theological doctrine is compromised with this statement.


    1. Tom says:

      I’ll “relax” at such a thing about as much as Paul “relaxed” against the Judaizers at Galatia.

  7. Richard says:

    I struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction, have engaged in homosexual behavior in the past and must be on guard against the temptation. More often than not I have wanted to die to end this pull towards sin. I am a Christian called out of immorality to live a single, celibate life. I am a brother in Christ.

    Regarding those disposed toward immoral conduct, the Church has responded, as a call to war, with condemnation rather than compassion.

    It’s time for the words and actions of Christians to be so obvious the homosexual community, and all other sinners, cannot deny that we love them and care for them. They must come to know that “God showed how much he loved us by sending His only Son into the world that we might have eternal life though Him (1 John 4:9); and “God did not send the Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17).

    Perhaps rather than “read it’ or “sign it,” we should first live out our trust and love for Jesus, giving the whole world evidence of God’s mercy and grace towards all sinners, regardless of how far we have fallen from being His glorious creations. Perhaps we should remember it is “the kindness of God which leads to repentance,” as we preach a Gospel of compassion not condemnation.

  8. chris says:

    How about a nice, pointed one on Islam? Draw a line on that one. Let’s hear it.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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