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Dutch Authorities Threaten Criminal Charges for Pastors Who Signed Biblical Marriage Statement

What happens when a nation abandons God and replaces Him with full-throated secularism? In the Netherlands, it has meant the unleashing of a torrent of hostility toward religion in general and biblical Christianity in particular as the keepers of the nation's secular ethos seeks to marginalize those who would speak openly about biblical truth. Case in point, the overweening reaction to a group of pastors signing a simple statement of faith about marriage and gender. Authorities in the Netherlands are reportedly investigating whether the 250 evangelical pastors who signed the Nashville Statement on biblical sexuality have violated the law after objections were raised by so-called "equality organizations."

The Nashville Statement, which was released in the U.S. in 2017 in response to the rising tide of secularism and the erosion of the Christian consensus on the issues of gender, marriage, and sexuality, affirms what the Christian church has accepted throughout its 2000+ years of existence — namely that marriage is between one man and one woman and that humans, made in the image of God, were created male or female with divinely ordained differences. Not intended to be a political treatise, the Nashville Statement was intended to be an instructive document for the church and Christian ministries.

Signatories in the U.S. include prominent Christian leaders John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Denny Burk, James Dobson, John Piper, D.A. Carson, the late R.C. Sproul, and thousands of others. As of the date of publication, there are 22,000 Christians who have signed the document.

Last month a group of 250 pastors in the Netherlands signed a translation of the Nashville Statement, affirming their agreement with the biblical definitions of marriage and gender put forth in the document. Denny Burk, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and an original signer of the Nashville Statement, told PJM that the leaders of the effort published a website with the Dutch translation of the statement, along with the names of the signatories. "Those signatures have since been removed, but they were there long enough for the press to get a hold of them," said Burk.

That decision to publish the website ignited a firestorm in the largely secular nation, prompting liberal churches to condemn the pastors. Many proclaimed their solidarity with the sexual revolutionaries by flying rainbow flags on their buildings. The Hague also joined the fray, flying a rainbow flag of their own in response to the pastors' decision.

Dutch News reported this week that the prosecution service is "examining whether the Nashville Statement on marriage and sexuality breaches the law after a recent Dutch translation was condemned by equality organisations." The article goes on to say that the document was signed by "hardline Protestant ministers," an apparent pejorative reference to "biblically faithful" Christians. A spokesman for the public prosecution service told Dutch News that they were "examining the statement to see if there was any basis for a criminal investigation" but did not indicate how long the investigation might take.

"The Netherlands is one of the most socially progressive countries in the world," Burk said. "They were the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage back in 2001, and it is no surprise that biblical morality is unpopular with the secular mindset that predominates in the Netherlands."

Indeed, a majority of the population states that they do not belong to any religious group and fewer than half identify as religious. The country is also known for its permissive views of sexuality with a large majority of the population approving of same-sex marriage. Wikipedia details the pervasiveness of sexual depravity in Dutch culture:

The Netherlands has become one of the most culturally liberal countries in the world, with recent polls indicating that more than 90% of Dutch people support same-sex marriage. Amsterdam has frequently been named one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world,  famous for its many accommodations specifically pertaining to the LGBT community, including its many gay bars, bathhouses, hotels, and venues as well as Pink Point, which provides LGBT-friendly information and souvenirs, and the national Homomonument, which was completed in 1987 and was the first monument in the world to commemorate homosexuals who were persecuted and killed during World War II

Article 1 in the Dutch constitution states that "discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted," which activists apparently believe gives them a right to silence Christian speech.

Opera singer Francis van Broekhuizen filed a formal police complaint against one of the signatories, MP Kees van der Staaij, leader of the SGP party, which has two seats in parliament. According to Dutch News, the party "draws most of its support from the Dutch bible belt."

Van der Staaij called the threat of public prosecution a "shame" and a weakness. He expressed astonishment that "classical Christian notions are seen as something particularly criminal."

"The whole pamphlet is a call to renew discrimination against LHBTI people," Van Broekhuizen, a gay rights activist, argued to NPO Radio 4. "I feel really hurt and very sad."

Others called the statement "dangerous" and said it's "step back in time" that could put "LHBTIs back in the closet.’‘

Reverend Maarten Klaassen, pastor of Reformed Congregation in Arnemuiden and one of the original Dutch signatories, told NPO Radio One that the statement is not meant to be anti-gay. Klaassen "only wants to stand up for the classical Christian position of man and woman," according to the report.

Klaassen said that discussions of sexuality have been largely unilateral in recent years. "That's because of the huge influence of the gay lobby on society and we want to make a different sound, namely what the church has always stood for," he said, noting that there has been a "fairly aggressive campaign," against the pastors, which includes the display of rainbow flags in cities and villages.

The purpose of the Nashville Statement, he said, was to create "clarity" on the issue of biblical sexuality.

Denny Burk appeared on Nieuwsuur, a Dutch news show, to defend the statement and explain that the document is intended to provide guidance on sexuality issues to churches and ministries (beginning at 2:42):

"The Nashville Statement is not an anti-gay pamphlet," Burk insisted to PJM. "It’s simply a Christian confession concerning sexuality. It has nothing innovative in it. The Nashville Statement affirms what Christians in every time and place have affirmed for the last 2,000 years—that God has created us in his image as male and female and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman."

Burk wrote on his blog Wednesday that the interviewer’s line of questioning "reflects the general hostility that these pastors have been experiencing." He said the Dutch signatories of the Nashville Statement that he's spoken to "did not anticipate this kind of opposition to what is essentially a confessional statement."

"But now they are being called to stand in the face of severe headwinds from the wider culture" and they may very well face a criminal investigation from the Dutch prosecution service," he said. "Hopefully, this effort to criminalize Christian teaching will come to nothing, but we should nevertheless pray for these pastors until it does."

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that the pushback the pastors have encountered "reveals opposition to historic Christianity. Sadly, I fear that this is a sign of things to come.”

"The difference between 2001 and 2015 is only 14 years. Consider that an ominous warning as you consider this headline news story from the Netherlands," he said.

Follow me on Twitter @pbolyard