Revoice and Its Self-Destructing Core
From Orthodoxy to Heterodoxy
As Francis Schaeffer remarked, the historical path of Christianity has been orthodoxy, followed by dead orthodoxy, followed by heterodoxy. In other words, when Biblical Christian orthodoxy loses its lifeblood--its spiritual base and interconnectedness to Jesus, the life-giver--it is rendered dead. And the response to its death isn't to revive it by means of true spirituality, it is to create a new system, contradictory to the old system--and nearly always to the beat of secular culture's drum. These happenings generate fiery revivals, explosive in nature, and along with them comes a flood of apparent life, though we shouldn't be deceived; calling a thing "Christian" and gaining rapid success among those who most vehemently opposed Christianity yesterday, should be warily seen as God's hand of blessing.
A new dissident kid on the block plans to make his appearance this July, 2018, at a conference called "Revoice." Backed heavily by the Evangelical Covenant Church, Revoice comes with a bold message for Christians everywhere to "radically embrace the LGBTQ community" (1). The kicker is this: Revoice aims to bring homosexual identities under the authoritative umbrella of historic Christian sexuality. That is, they are denouncing gay sex but encouraging gays to embrace their identities nonetheless. Homosexual celibacy is the result.
Don't think the conference reflects a minority mindset, either. While the LGBT community reflects only a fraction of the population, the heterosexual community is significantly more tolerant of those who identify in this way. This is true also of those who identify as "Christian". According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, more than half of protestant millennials support the homosexual lifestyle and wish it would be accepted as an equally valuable alternative (2).
A Self-Contradictory Heterodoxy
God made man--and his solution to man's loneliness was woman. The complementarity of a woman to a man is fundamentally a biological one, ordained by God in the setting he called "very good." These natural orientations can be distorted, however, if one or the other learns to associate the same sex with complementarity. In other words, if a man thinks the thing he's lacking is a man, he'll seek after a man to find what he thinks he's missing.
The Revoice conference in its basic ideology suggests the embrace of homosexual orientation in Christendom, expressed relationally, not sexually. The idea is promoted that one may maintain a homosexual identity--openly and proudly--while practicing a life of celibacy for the cause of Christ.
The rejection of sexual fulfillment and the reconnaissance of the Bible's plain word on the matter is good, but the general position is oddly contradictory. How can a man wear his homosexual identity proudly, while admitting that its ultimately fulfillment would be to divorce himself from Biblical precedent? What they've done is drawn their line in the sand just far enough back to sever the act of sex, and there they've taken a stand, proudly defending the orientation they don't plan to fulfill, admitting that if they kept down the path long enough it would end disastrously.
Note this: No path of the Divine has a dead end. If the good God is happy with a direction you're taking, you ought to be able to see it through to the natural finish. Something is greatly wrong if the path ahead leads to thorns and a thousand foot cliff. This is a sign--you're on the wrong path.
Revoice participants object, though. To them, being gay is an identity deeply more involved than the physical act (3). No objection there. But when a man's or woman's identity leaves them in some form or fashion predisposed to a particular wickedness, the problem runs deeper than any manifestation of the desire. The problem is not resolved when the person decides simply not to do the thing they want so badly--especially if they embrace the whole identity around the problem. Jesus made the point plain when he said, "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person" (Matthew 15:11). Accordingly, whatever a man speaks (or does), this he spoke only after its cultivation in the heart.
Something deeply flawed in the human psyche directs them to express their entire sexuality toward the same sex. Simply choosing celibacy isn't the solution. It's part of the solution, indeed, but not the whole thing. Celibacy is the admittance to the wrongness of an action, but it's only a symptomatic resolve, for the root of it all--the heart--needs a total makeover.
An Identity Crisis
Take the following absurd illustration for example: One man has chosen to identity as a school age girl, spending his mornings eating pop tarts and combing the hair of his Barbie doll collection.
His so-called "identity" manifests itself in the rejection of manhood so far in the opposite direction that the notions of working hard to provide for a family, rising in the night to defend the family, and loving his wife are impossible. The man of whom I'm speaking had to reject not only his God-given identity but his entire responsibility to the family in order to pursue it.
Nobody thinks abandoning family is good; nobody thinks rejecting adult responsibilities is admirable; so, what if the guy chose to go back to his family? And with suitcase in hand, at the door to his old home, he knocked and said, "Hi, I'm Stefonknee, and I'm seven years old; I'd like to come in to your home to provide for you and protect you--because that's what God wills for me. I threw away all of my Barbie dolls, and I'm committing myself to lifelong abstinence from Toys-R-Us."
He's done away with dolls and the irresponsibilities of being a seven-year-old girl, but he's hanging onto the identity as though it's a good thing. How is this good?
The Revoice ideology would object here again, though, for, to them, their identity is and was chosen for them--by God. Greg Coles, one of the workshop presenters at Revoice, said in his book,
"Is it too dangerous, too unorthodox, to believe that I am uniquely designed to reflect the glory of God? That my orientation, before the fall, was meant to be a gift in appreciating the beauty of my own sex as I celebrated the friendship of the opposite sex? ... What if the calling to gay Christian celibacy is more than just a failure of straightness? What if God dreamed it for me, wove it into the fabric of my being as he knit me together and sang life into me" (4).
In Coles' estimation, his embrace of homosexuality is not the rejection of some otherwise ideal orientation willed by God; he's embracing the identity he believes God willed for him--for the glory of God.
The problem is an exegetical one: "he who created them from the beginning made them male and female," said Jesus, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Matthew 19:4-5).
When Adam looked about in the pre-Eve garden, he saw each animal with its opposite sex counterpart, and there was none for him, so the Lord made from his body a "helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18). The woman, according to the Word from Almighty God, is "suitable" for the man. In other words, when God makes men, he makes them to be appropriately suited by women. This is complementarity. The entity that "fits" most perfectly and appropriately with a man is a woman (the implications are both physical and mean much more). This is a Biblical, biological, anthropological, and metaphysical reality. Men are for women and women are for men.
God did not, in his perfect creation, will that some men would find other men to be sexually attractive. Nor did he will that women would find women to be sexually attractive. The apostle Paul says this all happens after God gives them up to do what ought not be done (Romans 1:26). The judgment pronounced by Paul involves more than mere sexual contact--it more broadly concerns how same-sex persons were "consumed with passion for one another" (Romans 1:27).
If somehow the complementary order of things gets mixed up, it's not the hopeless end, for among the members of the Corinthian church were those who formerly practiced homosexuality. Paul says, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 6:11). They key tense is "were" (Greek imperfect), implying the cessation of the identity or practice.
Jesus told all of us to die to whatever thing we, at this very moment, call "self". Paul called for us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. So what Jesus has in mind for the disciple is not that he proudly esteem his current self, marred as it is by sin, but that he die.
Identities run very deep--much deeper than sexuality--and yet Jesus can make a new man when the old man is properly crucified.
(1) See http://revoice.us
(2) Murphy, Caryle. “Most U.S. Christian Groups Grow More Accepting of Homosexuality.” Pew Research Center. 18 Dec. 2015
(3) Hill, Wesley. "Is Being Gay Sanctifiable?" Spiritual Friendship, 26 Feb. 2014.
(4) Coles, Gregory. Single, Gay, Christian: a Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity. IVP Books, an Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2017.