Thoughts on the Revoice Conference

There are lots of places a reader can go to get information on the Revoice Conference, to be held in St. Louis at a PCA church in late July. The conference website is available here. Rick Phillips’s opinion, Denny Burk’s opinion, Kevin DeYoung’s opinion, Al Baker’s opinion, Greg Johnson’s response to Al Baker, Chuck Williams’s opinion, Robert Gagnon’s opinion, and and a lengthy PB thread including more links to more articles should give readers a basic perspective on what’s happening.

I want to point out a couple of things, mostly in summary of things that have already been said. As Rick Phillips pointed out, there is no need to get hysterical over the conference. I have no doubt that many good and helpful things will be said. I also have no doubt that the intention of the conference is to promote biblical understandings of sexuality. They have said that their purpose is to uphold an orthodox Christian biblical ethic of sexuality. We should believe that.

However, questions remain, most especially about terms and phrases. I have grave concerns over some of the descriptions of some of the workshops, concerns that overlap with what has been said by others. I agree with Kevin DeYoung, for instance, that the phrase “sexual minority” implies something that is not very helpful. Robert Gagnon unpacks that a good bit in his post: by putting homosexuality in the same category as racial minorities, the term can leverage the same amount of emotional reaction against opponents of the LGBTQ agenda as it can against those who are deemed racist, whereas racism and LGTBQ are not even the same kind of issue. What race someone is born into is a genetic and providential thing controlled by God, having precisely zero moral agency involved with the person in question. Homosexual desires are not genetic, and are the result of choice and lifestyle. I agree with Rick Phillips that the desire for same-sex relationship is in itself sinful, not just the acting out of those desires. Therefore, since words can convey identity, I agree that this is an identity issue, and that some of these terms are being used in ways that make those of us versed in the biblical narratives and commandments very uncomfortable. They are being used in ways that incorporate LGBTQ in the very identity of the person. For Christians, this is not an option.

As several of the authors have noted, identifying oneself as gay or lesbian has serious consequences. Rather than saying, for instance, that a person is a Christian struggling with same-sex attraction (which is my preferred way for such people to describe themselves, acknowledging that it is a war against ungodly desires), to say that a person is a gay Christian is to affirm that their gay identity is just as important to them as their Christianity is, or that it is just as irrevocable as their Christianity is. This is just as problematic as saying that a person is a Christian adulterer, or a Christian pedophile, or a Christian rapist. It implies compatibility between Christianity and sin. It implies that Christianity and sin can work together to accomplish some great treasure that will last for all eternity. The simple answer is no, and whether people believe it or not, that is actually the most loving thing a Christian can say to the LGBTQ community. How can we encourage people along a path that is so self-destructive?

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9 Comments

  1. Steve Drake said,

    June 8, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Homosexual desires are not genetic, and are the result of choice and lifestyle. I agree with Rick Phillips that the desire for same-sex relationship is in itself sinful, not just the acting out of those desires. Therefore, since words can convey identity, I agree that this is an identity issue…

    If definable sin by and within a particular generation could be given, I believe that this issue particularly defines those currently in their 20’s and 30’s of this generation. They are confused about their sexual identity.

    Our millennial kids within the Church are not hearing in our homes and from our lips, and from the pulpit, often enough about God’s will and intent for relationship. What is God’s will and intent? Why woman? Why man? Why not something else? Why did God create ‘the’ man, and ‘the’ woman? What was the purpose of that, and why is anything else not God’s will and intent and therefore sin?

    We are failing them brothers and sisters. Satan has got these kids so confused. “Its loving…It feels right…I’m not hurting anyone…I can be in a committed relationship with someone of the same sex and be a Christian too…” I’m sure you’ve heard all of it.

    Pastors, be bold in going back to God’s will and intent. Yes, you must preach on the doctrine of creation. Yes, that takes you back to Genesis 1. Yes, that might raise other questions which you need to study and understand. Yes, you might have to study some science. Have a working knowledge of the geologic column. Be bold and courageous and help these kids understand the foundation from which marriage between one man and one woman comes.

  2. JBlue88 said,

    June 11, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    “Homosexual desires are not genetic, and are the result of choice and lifestyle.”

    There is one element I would add or nuance about this. True, it is no more genetic than the compulsion to steal is genetic. True, lifestyle and rebellion are an avenue that homosexuality frequently appears on. However, did we choose how original sin would touch our lives? Obviously, this does not negate or permit the sin of homosexuality both in desire and action.

    Nevertheless, there are some who did not seek, invite, or choose these attractions, yet battle the unwanted SSA and seek to mortify it every day.

  3. Steve Drake said,

    June 12, 2018 at 7:51 am

    @ JBlue88 #2,

    A heartfelt amen to your post above sister or brother. I think we need to be careful in conveying the idea that SSA is in a special class above any other sin or sinful attraction that befalls us; a special category of sinful attraction that is harder to mortify and therefore of special consideration to those who suffer from it. I realize this might not be what you are saying.

    There are those who suffer the attraction of pride, of always trying to promote themselves, their accomplishments, and fight the continual urge to self-aggrandize. Self is more important than others.They seek to mortify this sin daily.

    There are women who struggle mightily with the lust of the eyes for new clothes, new shoes, the newest dress, or fashion accessory. They also seek to mortify it daily.

    There are men who struggle mightily with the lust of the eyes for other women, thus committing adultery in their hearts (Matt. 5:28). They also seek to mortify it daily.

    There are some who struggle mightily with not thinking that everyone else is an idiot. Only ‘they’ are right, and everyone else is a fool (Matt. 5:22). You can see it in their attitudes, comments, and body language when speaking with them. They struggle mightily with this sin and seek daily to mortify it.

    The list could go on.

    Same-sex attraction, and its classification as sin against God’s will and intent for relationship, is not in a special category above these others. It is sin, and as Christians we are called to ‘put it to death’ in the same manner as all other sins to which we are afflicted.

  4. Reed Here said,

    June 13, 2018 at 10:05 am

    JJBlue88: you are spot on. That is why neither a knee jerk reaction to Revoice, nor an acceptance of the gay-identity premise is sufficient.

    It is true, from the perspective of the Fall, that ssa folks are born that way, even if all that we mean is there is a stronger inclination for them toward this sin than for another.

    It is not true that this aspect of their fall identity is morally neutral, and only becomes sinful when it is acted upon.

    To deny the first is to run the danger of ignoring how hard the fight is for the ssa. To deny the second is to run the danger of sending the ssa into battle with a fatal compromise already made.

    Instead the Bible affirms the Fall for the origin of ssa. The Bible also includes whatever fall-defined identity (orientation, etc.) under the old life (old man, old identity, etc.) in that which was put to death with Christ on the cross.

    The way to equip the ssa with the best and the surest of weapons for the very real struggle against their remaining flesh is to acknowledge both the reality of their old life (identity) sold into slavery under sin and the reality of their new life (identity) in Christ. This is the Bible’s way of fighting the very real battle the ssa suffer, and winning it too!

  5. greenbaggins said,

    June 14, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Good stuff, Reed.

  6. MKT said,

    June 14, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    I recall Phillips getting quite hysterical over the Federal Vision, but not over a conference that asks “What queer treasure, honor, and glory will be brought into the New Jerusalem at the end of time”? Really?

    It’s not hard, guys. Other denominations have tried this “let them identify as LGBTalphabet soup and live as lifelong soulmate partners…as long as they’re celibate” approach. It didn’t take any time until they gave in and accepted the homosexual lifestyle.

    As one former PCA pastor said “Our pastoral practice of demanding life-long ‘celibacy,’ by which we meant that for the rest of your life you would not engage your sexual orientation in any way, was causing obvious harm and has not led to human flourishing…We will no longer discriminate based on sexual orientation and demand lifelong celibacy as a precondition for joining.”
    http://baylyblog.com/blog/2015/03/city-church-pastor-fred-harrell-man-pca-refused-discipline

  7. Ron said,

    June 17, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    I don’t believe anyone is born that way. Just like I don’t believe any are born with a propensity toward bestiality. Indeed, people are born with a bent toward sin. Which sins, however, is matter of providence as it relates to the will.

    At the very least, we may not say that all our born that way. After all, some have been given over to such vile affections because they refused to glorify God, took pleasure in turning revealed truth about God into lie, and even worshipped the creation rather than the Creator. Yet in all of that there’s no revealed hint that this turning over was only possible because of some latent propensity toward ssa.

  8. Ron said,

    June 17, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    “Nevertheless, there are some who did not seek, invite, or choose these attractions, yet battle the unwanted SSA and seek to mortify it every day.”

    JB88,

    First off, you can’t know that. Secondly, seeking, inviting and choosing all have different meanings. In any case, and by way of example, the desire to break into one’s house and steal is not a chosen desire. Yet the desire can be conceived through preceding sinful choices to take addicting drugs (bringing about a physical dependence etc). Accordingly, saying that a sinful desire isn’t chosen is both misleading and irrelevant since unchosen sinful desires are often the direct result of previous choices.

    Misty Irons obfuscates similarly, which I touched on here. http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2008/05/more-muddled-musings.html?m=1

  9. MKT said,

    June 18, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    This podcast on Revoice is informative. Some well-known ex-gays and others planned to attend (not to disrupt the conference–simply to hear the presentations) and were disinvited. The presenters seem to be behaving more like aggressive, agenda-driven LGBTQ activists than humble Christians starting a conversation.
    https://afr.net/podcasts/janet-mefferd-live/2018/june/peter-labarbera-joins-to-discuss-his-being-dis-invited-to-revoice/


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