John Piper has defended the controversial Nashville Statement on sexuality and warned that the "day is long gone in America where it is possible to be publicly faithful as a Christian to the truth of God and not be excoriated."
During a podcast posted on the desiringGod.com website, Piper addressed some of the criticisms the statement - which reinforces the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and that approval of "homosexual immorality" is sinful - has received.
The theologian contended that the world will always "see all the statements, all the articles, all the preaching about human sexuality today as politically motivated," even when that's not the case.
"There will always be people who twist what you say to have connotations and implications that you don't want them to have, and you didn't intend," he said, explaining that in the New Testament, critics continually twisted the preaching of both Jesus and Paul.
"If someone thinks that there's a way to preach and write and make statements and do anything else in public that presents the pearls of biblical truth without encountering in social media and other ways a thousand angry critics, they're just naïve. It cannot be done."
"Let me say this as strongly as I know how," he continued. "The day is long gone in America where it is possible to be publicly faithful as a Christian to the truth of God and not be excoriated."
Piper also addressed whether the Nashville Statement divides conservatives and their "liberal, unbelieving neighbors" even further, contending that "nothing has been added to what separates Bible-believing people from non-Bible-believing people.
"I will just appeal (this is really a personal appeal, so take it for what it's worth, and I hope folks who are resistant to the Nashville Statement for various reasons will at least listen carefully) to those whose method of evangelism - or 'being missional' as we say today - includes the effort to conceal offensive biblical things about the pearl of the Christian life," he said. "Those folks may not only be missing golden opportunities for biblical witness, precisely because offensive things are out in the public, but they may also be abandoning the way Jesus and the Apostles did their public ministry."
Piper urged supporters of the Nashville Statement to "insightfully and creatively and courageously" engage with those "fuming" against the statement and point them to the truth.
"The real challenge is not to make Jesus look beautiful by hiding some of His cherished convictions. The real challenge is to trace all His views, including His most offensive ones, back to the beautiful root of this person and up to the beautiful flower of His glory and His purpose is for all of mankind. That's the challenge we may be missing by huffing and puffing about how controversial things are," he wrote.
Piper is among a number of influential pastors and leaders who signed the statement, including Southern Baptist pastor Jack Graham, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Russell Moore, and dozens of others.
Each of the Nashville Statement's 14 beliefs - covering a range of issues from sex outside of marriage to gender identity - include one sentiment the signers affirm and one they deny. Six of beliefs specifically mention the words or phrases "homosexual," "transgender" or "sexual attraction for the same sex."
For example, it affirms that "homosexual immorality or transgenderism" is a "departure from Christian faithfulness" and it is not an issue which "otherwise faithful Christian should agree to disagree."
Additionally, it denies that "God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship" and that "marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God."