PMW 2018-069 by Albert Mohler
One of the most surprisingly successful assaults on biblical Christianity, Christian morality, and Western cultural values has been the LBGT movement. In this article Christian theologian Albert Mohler provides an intelligent and important evaluation of Revoice conference, which is causing consternation among many evangelical Christians and may well bring down the Presbyterian Church in America.
For the Revoice conference’s relevance to the PCA, see: click
Torn Between Two Cultures? Revoice, LGBT Identity, and Biblical Christianity
By Albert Mohler
The chaos and confusion which are the inevitable products of the Sexual Revolution continue to expand and the challenges constantly proliferate. The LGBTQ+ revolution has long been the leading edge of the expanding chaos, and by now the genuinely revolutionary nature of the movement is fully apparent. The normalization of the behaviors and relationships and identities included (for now) in the LGBTQ+ spectrum will require nothing less than turning the world upside down.
This revolution requires a total redefinition of morality, cultural authority, personal identity, and more. The revolution requires a new vocabulary and a radically revised dictionary. Ultimately, the moral revolutionaries seek to redefine reality itself. And this revolution has no stopping point. The plus sign at the end of LGBTQ+ is a signal of more challenges sure to come.
Just a few days ago, a conference was held in St. Louis. The “Revoice” conference was advertised as “supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”
The name was no accident, as the organizers called for a “revoicing” of the evangelical message on issues of sexuality, sexual identity, and beyond.
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The organizers stated plainly that they “envision a future Christianity where LGBT people can be open and transparent in their faith communities about their orientation and/or experience of gender dysphoria without feeling inferior to their straight, cisgender brothers and sisters; where churches not only utilize but also celebrate the unique opportunities that life-long celibate LGBT people have to serve others; where Christian leaders boast about the faith of LGBT people who are living a sacrificial obedience for the sake of the Kingdom; and where LGBT people are welcomed into families so they, too, can experience the joys, challenges, and benefits of kinship.”
They also stated emphatically: “We believe that the Bible restricts sexual activity to the context of a marriage covenant, which is defined in the Bible as the emotional, spiritual, and physical union of a man and a woman that is ordered toward procreation.” And, “At the same time, we also believe that the Bible honors those who live out an extended commitment to celibacy, and that unmarried people should play a uniquely valuable role in the lives of local faith communities.”
They acknowledged that these convictions “constitute the ‘traditional sexual ethic’, because it represents the worldview that the Bible consistently teaches across both the Old and New Testaments and that Christians have historically believed for millennia.”
In other contexts, organizers have identified themselves with “great tradition Christianity,” a recognition of a constant pattern of Christian teaching faithful to Scripture. That theological tradition is the source of the “traditional sexual ethic” acknowledged by the organizers.
The language is important, as language always is. The mission statement and website of the conference refer over and over again to “LGBT people” and uses the language of “sexual minorities” and even “queer Christians.”
The principle organizer of the conference, Nate Collins, told Christianity Today: “We all believe that the Bible teaches a traditional, historic understanding of sexuality in marriage, and so we are not attempting in any way to redefine any of those doctrines. We’re trying to live within the bounds of historic Christian teaching about sexuality and gender. But we find difficulty doing that for a lot of reasons.”
Actually, the signals sent by many involved in the conference are a bit confusing, to say the least. In recent years, some in the evangelical world have urged references to “Side A” and “Side B” Christians who identify as LGBTQ. Side A refers to those who have abandoned the historic Christian teaching about sexuality and marriage and now affirm same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. The Side A advocates are more associated with liberal Protestant denominations that have long ago abandoned biblical orthodoxy and now preach the sexual revolution.
Side B refers to those who identify as both LGBTQ and Christian, and who affirm the traditional Christian ethic on sexuality and marriage. Revoice seems clearly to identify as Side B, but some of the main organizers and speakers gladly join in common efforts with Side A advocates. LGBTQ identity binds Side A and Side B advocates together.
We should also note that Revoice did not have much of a voice on transgender questions. It is not at all clear, for example, what in the leaders’ minds celibacy or a commitment to “the historic Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality” is supposed to mean for the “T” in LGBT. Even the use of “LGBT” in this context is impossible to square with “historic Christian teaching about sexuality and gender.”
Gregory Coles, author of Single, Gay, Christian, was worship leader for Revoice. In the book, Coles raises the scenario of two women who identify as Christians, one a lesbian married to a woman and the other a “straight” Christian who says she believes in the biblical ethic restricting sex to marriage between a man and a woman, but who is promiscuous in a series of heterosexual relationships. Coles then writes, “Theologically, I am more in agreement with the second friend. But whose life is most honoring to God? Who really loves Jesus more? Who am I more likely to see in heaven? I don’t know.”
Of course, that is a strange and forced scenario. The biblical answer would be that both women are living in sinful violation of Scripture.
Earlier in the book, Coles spoke of being in a room that included some who identify as Side A and some who identify as Side B (as Coles does). But his description of the predicament is telling. When asked to identify as Side A or Side B, Coles writes: “I didn’t want to be reduced to a simple yes or no. I wanted a new side, something further along the alphabet, something full of asterisks and footnotes and caveats. I’ve never been fluent in the language of binaries.”
Several issues press for immediate attention. One is the identification of people as “LGBT Christians” or “gay Christians.” This language implies that Christians can be identified in an ongoing manner with a sexual identity that is contrary to Scripture. Behind the language is the modern conception of identity theory that is, in the end, fundamentally unbiblical. The use of the language of “sexual minorities” is a further extension of identity theory and modern critical theory and analysis. In this context, “sexual minority” simultaneously implies permanent identity and a demand for recognition as a minority. As Kevin DeYoung rightly noted, the use of this language implies a political status.
The larger problem is the idea that any believer can claim identity with a pattern of sexual attraction that is itself sinful. The Apostle Paul answers this question definitively when he explains in 1 Corinthians 6:11, such were some of you. But, writes Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.”
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There have been Christian believers throughout the entire history of the church that have struggled with same-sex temptation and who have come to know that pattern of temptation as what we now understand as a sexual orientation. Whatever the language we choose to use, Christians do understand that some people come to know a pattern of temptation and sexual attraction that is directed toward others of the same sex. In his book, All But Invisible, Nate Collins argues that the most important element in same-sex orientation is its “givenness.” By that he means that it is an orientation or pattern of attraction that is not chosen but discovered.
But “givenness” in a fallen world does not mean that the orientation — the same-sex attraction itself — is not sinful. The Bible identifies internal temptation as sin. As Denny Burk and Heath Lambert argue, “same-sex attraction, not just homosexual behavior, is sinful.” We are called to repent both of sin and of any inner temptation to sin.
The issues here are bigger than sexuality. As Denny Burk and Rosaria Butterfield rightly explain . . .
To finish the article: click