An Evangelical theologian responds to Fr. James Martin, S.J.

A consideration of Fr. Martin’s “seven ways” of responding to the Nashville Statement underscore the truncated gospel (or even anti-gospel) with which Martin operates.


It is not surprising that Pope Francis’s communication adviser, Jesuit priest James Martin, has decided to attack the Nashville Statement, an evangelical declaration that affirms “that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness” (Article 10). It is even less surprising that the hard-left Washington Post, a zealous propaganda outlet for the promotion of homosexualism and transgenderism, has published his tweets about it (“Seven simple ways to respond to the Nashville Statement on sexuality,” Aug. 30, 2017). What is surprising is that Fr. Martin still has his job as a Vatican communications consultant.

Martin’s tweets confirm the by-now widely held perception, reinforced repeatedly by Martin himself, that his raison d’etre involves undermining the Catholic Church’s upholding of Jesus’ teaching on a male-female foundation for sexual ethics, upon which Jesus’ teaching about the binary character of marriage (twoness) is based.

A consideration of Martin’s “seven ways” of responding to the Nashville Statement underscore the truncated gospel (or even anti-gospel) with which Martin operates. We’ll skip over the fact that the “seven ways” are repetitious, as (for instance) the overlap of one and seven (God the Father loves all LGBT people) and three and six (Jesus doesn’t want us to judge LGBT people).

Contrary to Martin’s repeated claims, the Nashville Statement does not deny God’s love for persons who gratify sinful same-sex desires or sinful denials of one’s birth sex. Rather, consistent with the witness of Jesus and Scripture generally, it manifests love by calling such persons away from intrinsically self-dishonoring and God-abhorring desires to an authentic self in keeping with their creation in God’s image.

Again contrary to Martin’s claims, Jesus’ statement about not judging (Matt 7:1) was never intended by Jesus to be a denial of all judgment, particularly since a third to a half of all of Jesus’ sayings are accompanied by some motif of warning about a coming judgment. Matthew 7 itself (the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount) closes with a triplicate of warnings about cataclysmic judgment for those who merely hear, but don’t do, what Jesus says (7:13-27). It also contains a warning not to “cast your pearls before swine” (7:6), surely a judgment of some as “swine.” Martin himself makes judgments about those who signed off on the Nashville Statement, though he appears to be unaware of the inconsistency. Presumably even Martin holds the line on some moral standards (Incest? Polyamory? Abortion? Racism?), which means that he himself doesn’t construe Jesus’ “don’t judge” statement absolutely.

Indeed, in the context of Jesus’ ministry the injunction “don’t judge” has to do with not majoring in minors, with not being introspective about one’s own sins, and not reaching out in love to reclaim the lost by leading them gently out of sin (Matt 7:2-5; Luke 15). According to both Luke 17:3-4 and Matt 18:15-20 Jesus urged rebuke of those engaged in egregious sin, with communal discipline of those who fail to repent. Matthew situates the warning about cutting off offending members that could get one thrown into hell (5:29-30) in the midst of warnings about the importance of sexual purity.

Jesus clearly based his view of marital monogamy and longevity on God’s creation of two and only two complementary sexes, “male and female,” as established in Gen 1:27; reiterated in Gen 2:24 as the foundation for marital joining of two halves into a single sexual whole (Mark 10:5-9; Matt 19:4-6). This is a “judgment” made by our own Lord: an inviolate standard that the Church must hold at all costs. Our Lord’s words on divorce and remarriage are predicated on the even more essential two-sexes foundation for all sexual ethics, where the creation of two (and only two) complementary sexes implies a limitation of two persons to a sexual union.

Like many who seek to promote homosexual unions and gender identity confusion, Martin wants to make the “don’t judge” statement a canon within the canon, falsely treating it as an absolute injunction while applying it selectively.

Contrary to Martin’s contention, Jesus did graciously challenge and warn persons who were engaged in egregious sin, not just in his group teachings but also in individual encounters. When Jesus encountered the woman caught in adultery he did tell her to “no longer be sinning” with the inference that otherwise something worse would happen to her, not merely a capital sentence in this life but loss of eternal life (compare John 8:11 with 5:14).

Yes, “all of us are in need of conversion” but Martin doesn’t want to convert people out of a homosexual or transgender life. He wants the Church to affirm the sin or at least to cease to take a stand against it.

Martin complains about the Nashville Statement singling out “LGBT people.” Yet the issue here is the attempt in the broader culture and in sectors of the church from people like Martin to single out homosexual and transgender behavior for exemption from the commands of God. Martin is not truly welcoming the sinner but rather affirming the sin. He wants the lost son to remain lost in the deepest sense, for one is “found” only when one returns in repentance (Luke 15:24).

Moreover, Scripture does treat homosexual practice as a particularly grave sexual offense precisely because of its intrinsically unnatural character and violation of God’s starting point for marriage as a union between “male and female” or “man” being “joined” to a “woman.” It is not the “chief” of sins but it is a grave sexual offense nonetheless (see “Is Homosexual Practice No Worse Than Any Other Sin?”).

Infant baptism does not inoculate an individual against the judgment of God for failing to lead a transformed life. There is no sin transfer to Christ without self-transfer; no living without dying to self and denying oneself (Mark 8:34-37). Paul’s warning regarding the Corinthian community’s tolerance of an adult-consensual union between a man and his stepmother is a case in point. “Is it not those inside the church that you are to judge?” (1 Cor 5:12), Paul asked rhetorically. The answer to that question is not “no” (as Martin seems to think) but “yes.”

The Nashville Statement does not claim that persons who engage in homosexual practice can never act in a holy manner. We all compartmentalize our lives. But the areas we are good in do not validate the areas we are bad in. From the standpoint of Jesus and the writers of Scripture, engaging in behavior abhorrent to God contests any claim to holiness.

The bottom line is this: Fr. Martin is using—or even abusing—his office to undermine what for Jesus was a foundational standard for sexual ethics.

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About Robert A. J. Gagnon 4 Articles
Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon is the author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice and professor of Bible at Houston Christian University. He holds a BA from Dartmouth, an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, and a PhD from the Princeton Theological Seminary.


  1. People accuse Catholics of not knowing their Bible.

    In this instance Martin V Gagnon, I must say that there is a truth in that. The sad thing being that Martin is a priest who should have known better. The laity can be excused for not know their Bible but a priest? Horror!

    What is also clearly on display in this article is the clarity of thought. One that Catholics generally excel in (think Aquinas, Chesterton, Kreeft). But alas, Martin the Catholic is shown to be missing a few marbles by the incisive defense from Gagnon.

    • Fr. Martin and clerics who support him know well the Bible and the Magisterium. They ignore it and deny it in order to justify themselves and their own same sex attraction rather than to bring the iniquity to Jesus for healing

      • As a Roman Catholic priest who has been upbraided for speaking God’s truth on human sexuality, I give thanks for the Nashville Statement. It is correct. Fr. Martin and church leaders who support him on homosexuality are wrong. Many of our priests and bishops suffer same sex attraction and do what they can to avoid conversion offered by Jesus Christ to all who come to Him. They use the church to affirm their iniquities and sins. They give Him part of their lives, but not this part. Our Catholic church documents say that the fullness of faith subsists in the Catholic church and that elements of truth exist in non Catholic Christians. Yet it is the non Catholic Christians in this statement who are speaking the fullness of truth and some Catholic leaders who are lying while those in Rome responsible for their discipline remain silent and let the errors of evil infect the souls of believers.

  2. Gagnon writes: What is surprising is that Fr. Martin still has his job as a Vatican communications consultant.

    And that is as damning about the current hierarchy as it can get.

    Perhaps it is not at all surprising because the Vatican believes what Martin believes.

    • “What is surprising is that Fr. Martin still has his job as Vatican communications consultant.”

      I must disagree – I don’t find that surprising at all.

    • That is absolutely correct. The bishop of Rome has no quarrel with Father Martin.
      The very opposite is what is true. And anyone who can think knows it.

    • No doubt, when you deny the Sanctity of the marital act, you deny that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Is The Author of Love, of Life, and of Marriage, and thus you deny Salvational Love, God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy.

      It is Loving and Merciful to desire that we desire to overcome our disordered inclinations toward sin, so that we are not led into temptation, but become transformed, through Salvational Love, God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy.

  3. Nashville group restates Christian doctrine.
    Father James Martin goes nuts and objects.
    Do we see a problem here?
    Someone is a priest who should not be a priest.

  4. Obviously, James Martin = Pope Francis.

    Just as Walter Kasper = Pope Francis.

    This is the cult of “Jez-Kirk.” Post-Catholic and post-Christian, a dead-fish floating downstream with the Zeitgeist.

  5. Thank you for expressing this argument succintly and with absolute clarity of expression. I want to print this out and carry it with me because as a Catholic I believe this wholeheartedly, and it is how I wish to respond to the issue. Now you have given me the words. Again, thank you.

  6. There are plenty of Catholic priests who know the Bible quite well. Unfortunately too many are painfully silent on the issue of deviate sexual behavior primarily due to a Pontificate that has engineered a doctrine of mitigation and accommodation. I read Dr Gagnon’s treatise Is Homosexual Practice No Worse Than Any Other Sin? He is perfectly correct in identifying a hierarchy of serious sin Homosexuality among the more severe offenses. St Thomas Aquinas calls Deviate sexual behavior an “abomination” because it defies the Natural Law. Every aspect of human sexuality and the transmission of life is sacred to God who created us in His own image, not in the distorted image of deviates who now have a prominent voice at the Vatican. Would that it were possible to replace Fr Martin with Dr Gagnon. Our Bishops could do something worthwhile and extend speaking invitations Gagnon.

    • Fathet, it is important to note that a pontificate that ” has engineered a doctrine of mitigation and accomodation” in regards to sin, would expose itself to be anti Christ. If it were true that it is Merciful and Loving to desire that we remain in our sins and not desire to overcome our disordered inclinations toward sin, so that we are not led into temptation, we would not need Our Savior, Jesus The Christ.

  7. I’d be more concerned if Martin were a Catholic. Happily he is merely a Jesuit who has only the loosest of ties with Catholicism.

  8. Though I typically don’t trust men who wear bowties, Dr. Gagnon has clearly identified the two major issues here. First, he’s identified that Fr. James Martin is what some folks might call “rigid” or “fundamentalist” in his LGBTQWERTY crusade. Second, as MarcAlan mentions, this dunce still has the backing of the Vatican, at least implicitly.

    Frankly, I’m tired of hearing from Fr. James Martin, but it won’t stop anytime soon because he’s a media darling for his steadfast commitment to publicly undermining thousands of years of moral teaching. What’s not to love?

    • The greater evil is that Rome seems to sees him as a darling…”get behind us then, satan” the Gospel councils and instructs for this Lord’s Day….

  9. While the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre has “disinvited” Father Martin after originally inviting him to be the keynote speaker at their annual banquet in New York, Cardinal Dolan and his schools superintendent Timothy McNiff have invited Martin to give the keynote speech for all archdiocesan principles and teachers at ceremonies opening the new school year.

  10. What we have in Father James Martin is “market positioning.” There is always a niche market for someone to be the smiling, friendly dissenter from Catholic orthodoxy, who for secular folks who exalt choice, presents an appealing contrast to the big, bad meanies in Rome who always say “No!” This role need not be played by a priest, but if so, what a bonus! Father Martin will never want for plenty of attention and interviews.

    Does this mean Father Martin isn’t sincere? Not necessarily. It’s amazing the things people can talk themselves into.

  11. Cardinal Wuerl specifically and personally invited and hosted homosexualist Jesuit Fr. James Martin on Good Friday at the Cathedral of St. Matthew to deliver an hour-long sermon on the Seven Last Words of Christ at the liturgy commemorating the Passion, Crucifixion, and Death of Our Savior Jesus Christ :

    The time has come and in fact is long overdue to call for the deposition and removal of promoters of homosexuality like Cardinal Wuerl and Fr. James Martin. That applies by extension to Pope Bergoglio who is conspicuously and notoriously silent and invisible as these horrendous scandals are inflicted continuously on the Catholic faithful.

  12. Jesus’ way:I love you, go and sin no more.Repent and believe the Good News! This is the freedom He offers us.
    Rationalization does not release us from our sins, but leaves us enslaved, deceived and blinded, and unfortunately liable to mislead others…The bridge we need between us is our common recognition of ourselves as sinners in need of forgiveness and beloved children of God…this is

  13. Oh, by the way. One of Father James Martin’s good friends has just revealed she is a witch.

    Sally Quinn was the editor at the Washington Post. She ran the “On Faith” section, which was pretty much devoted to destroying religion. It was a weird mish mash of Liberal progressive Episcopalianism, atheism, New Age ideas, etc etc. She was an atheist for most of her life. Then, as a young reporter, she met Ben Bradlee, the infamous head of the Washington Post. They had an affair, (he was married with kids) She eventually became the mistress, then the next wife.

    In her “On Faith” section, they would talk about things such as how wonderful it is, if your husband happens to be dying, for a woman to go out and have affairs to relieve the stress.

    Sally Quinn has just published a book where she reveals that for quite some time, she has practiced magic and voodoo. Apparently she is a witch. She says she has used curses to harm people she does not like. She has been bombarded with requests to place a curse on Trump, because she is known in her circle for being good at doing curses.

    Father James Martin wrote a blurb for the back cover of her book. He says ““Sally Quinn’s memoir is, like her, utterly unique: a glorious, rollicking, captivating ride through the worlds of journalism, politics, and culture that takes us across the globe but finally leads us to the most important destination of all: the heart.”

    This man should not be a priest.

    • Yes, indeed.
      And neither should the head of the Jesuit order.
      Perhaps, also, their boss. The one who tolerates, if not encourages, both of these men. Hmmmm.

  14. Jesus said, “you brood of vipers, you white-washed sepelcures, twice as fit for hell” he also forgave only one of the two men on the crosses next to him! When we confess Jesus “will come again to judge the living and the dead,” this is an extension of what he began on earth! The Nashville statement ought to be nailed on the Vatican doors and may we petition our Lord together for another reformation with theology at its core!

  15. I encourage all faithful Catholics to go to Fr. Martins facebook page and everytime he posts something about homosexuality or his book building bridges that you post the following in the comments section of that post:

    “Homosexual acts: this means any kind of sexual activity between a man and another man or a woman and another woman. Even those who experience normal sexual attraction towards the opposite sex experience sexual disorders. They feel tempted to commit acts of adultery, fornication, etc temptations to adultery and fornication are not sins. Feeling is not the same as consent. Because of original sin everyone has to struggle to master unhealthy sexual desires. However in the case of those who feel same sex attraction, the struggle presents an additional difficulty. If you experience sexual attraction to those of the same sex, remember that even though the feeling is not in itself a sin, it is a disorder. It can be corrected, but it will take effort to live chastity – over and above the usual effort others have to make, especially in our permissive society. People with disorders usually do not see their condition as a disorder. After experiencing strong feelings of same sex attraction for years, the attraction can feel as if it were normal. If you have it, you will only be able to correct it by being humble enough to admit that feelings of same sex attraction go against nature – even when they feel natural to you. The disorder is easier to correct if you speak to someone who can help you to live chastity before the disorder gets worse by engaging in homosexual acts.” This is a quote fr. Fr. Babendreier.

    And if someone posts a comment replying to this post, then you can post the follow up response:

    “Live in accord with the spirit and you will not yield to the cravings of the flesh. The flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed. That is why you do not do what your will intends.” The inerrant word of God, Galatians, St. Paul.

    Search your heart, you know what Jesus is asking you to do.
    “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Go and sin no more.” “There will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. “

  16. Oh how we live to throw like an area rug “God abhorred sin.” Let me tell you what’s abhorrent: when our prejudice is justified by a misunderstanding both of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Really? Homosexuality is so abhorrent to God but not the atrocities in the world?
    Spend all your energy and time on those issues, then I will consider that your position on homosexuality is reasonable.

    • All atrocities are connected. Sexual perversion is connected to devaluing the human individual. Do you think there are no sexual components to the atrocities of war and conquest? Do you think it is accidental that 98+ percent of homosexuals are pro-abortion?

  17. Dear Robert Gagnon
    I am a Catholic and totally agree with your comments. You have spoken clearly and unambiguously about a man who has betrayed his own Church. Fr Martin is not representative of what the Catholic Church stands for though o must admit far too many of the Catholic hierarchy are somewhat tentative in their responses to his heterodoxy -unlike your good self.

    We live in difficult times for the Catholic Church. I stand by what it teaches as revealed in the Catholic catechism but I am rapidly losing faith in the clergy. With some notable exceptions, the clergy lacks courage and is offering lamentable leadership to its confused and debilitated followers. I am utterly fed up. Sadly, for me, there is nowhere else to go. My problem is not with Church teaching I it is with the weak leadership offered by those who should know better.

    • Never lose hope and never stop praying for priests. There are many fine, young priests coming out of the seminaries today and they need your support and prayers.

    • Robert, I realize you are losing faith in the leadership. However, keep your eyes on Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the angels and saints. This will help to keep your eyes on your goal – eternal salvation. I too get discouraged, but I remember to keep going to mass and receiving the sacraments and not listening to all of the scandalous stuff that is going on. I told Jesus this in a prayer before the Blessed Sacrament after I came back after a long time of not going to mass (I said I will never leave you again). Keep the faith Brother, it’s worth it!

  18. When we read the Word of God, it is an opportunity for a moment of conversion but the flesh is very weak and the lures of the world cloud our judgement. Sins of sexuality are often sins of wanting love, desiring to be loved by another. However, this love never satisfies completely, only God’s love does. Sadly, those who struggle with same-sex attraction and act on it are in for a brutal life lesson. Why doesn’t the social science community speak up and show the data on the outcomes for these types of relationship? Prayer and generosity are really important but fasting may well be a path, in this land of overindulgence, to consider in this battle. We also must consider the role of contraception in all of this as it has created a world or irresponsibility when it comes to the gift and purpose of human sexuality. With God’s abundant grace we can all be healed. This is what Our Lord does best, he heals us if we allow it and it is a journey, a pilgrimage if you will. There will be setbacks along the way. Keep fighting by God’s grace and generosity. This article says it better than I can.

5 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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