Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

A confused ‘Revoice’

Sexuality | A recent conference for lesbians and gays and those with same-sex attraction in the church proves words matter
by Kiley Crossland & Marvin Olasky
Posted 8/03/18, 03:18 pm

Reactions to last weekend’s Revoice conference hosted by Memorial Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in St. Louis range from praise to condemnation. The 400 attendees heard from speakers who self-identify as both Christian and gay, lesbian, or same-sex attracted. The topics discussed included the loneliness of lifelong celibacy, the nature of “mixed-orientation marriages,” and church ministry with and for lesbians and gays.

One reason the conference was controversial: Its use of fuzzy pro-gay terminology such as “sexual minority” and “queer culture.” One breakout session on redeeming “queer culture” spoke of the “virtues of queer culture” and asked, “What queer treasure, honor, and glory will be brought into the New Jerusalem at the end of time?”

One keynote speaker, author and seminary professor Wesley Hill, said Jesus did not support “trimming God’s standard down to fit whatever chaos is true of our lives. … Jesus was not out to undermine God’s holy will for our lives. If anything, Jesus ratcheted up the standard of sexual purity and sexual holiness.” Others also spoke about how churches could support the same-sex attracted who stood firmly against physical sin.

But conference organizer Nate Collins spoke of a larger gay role in churches.

“Is it possible that gay people today are being sent by God like Jeremiah to find God’s words for the church to eat them and make them our own; to shed light on contemporary false teachings and even idolatries—not just the false teaching of the progressive sexual ethic, but other, more subtle forms of false teaching?” he asked attendees. “Is it possible that gender and sexual minorities who live lives of costly obedience are themselves a prophetic call to the church to abandon idolatrous attitudes toward the nuclear family, toward sexual pleasure? If so, then we are prophets.”

In a series of tweets, Tom Buck, who pastors First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, criticized Collins’ implication that “those who oppose the ‘Gay Christian Prophets’ are like the bad shepherds in Jeremiah who act unjustly towards them.” Buck asked whether “we are to believe that the ones God has sent to save the church from His created order in Genesis are those who are disordered in their attractions as described in Romans 1?”

Revoice was clearly an emotional event for many participants. Ethan McCarthy, an editor at InterVarsity Press, wrote, “After the final session ended on Saturday night, I lingered for a while, sitting alone in my pew. I watched the joyful faces all around me, the hugs, the happy circles of conversation. I didn’t want to leave; I don’t think anyone did.”

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD News Group board member, offered thoughtful considerations about Revoice. “We should lament the brokenness and understand the many failings of the Christian church toward those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community,” Mohler wrote. But he also criticized the conference for trying to “build a halfway house between LGBTQ+ culture and evangelical Christianity.” He called the conference “a house built on the sand” and “not the voice of faithful Christianity.”

Kevin DeYoung, who pastors a PCA church near Charlotte, N.C., took issue with conference language, especially the use of “sexual minority,” a term seeming to imply that “sexual orientation is a constituent part of one’s identity.” He called his denomination to pay more attention to language: “In short, words matter. It’s not alarmism to point out that indifference to words and definitions has often been one of the first steps to theological liberalism.”

Denny Burk, a professor at Boyce College, wrote that while many at Revoice embraced a Biblical view of marriage, they professed an unbiblical view of human identity. “We are not arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin,” he told Baptist Press. “We are addressing real-life, serious questions. I don’t think the proponents of Revoice are providing faithful answers.”

Christians who are same-sex attracted do face real-life, serious questions. Here’s an analogy—flawed as all analogies are, but perhaps useful. One of our best WORLD Magazine interviews has been with poet Armando Valladares, who spent more than two decades in Fidel Castro’s prisons in Cuba because he refused to swear allegiance to Communism. After an international campaign led to the release of Valladares in 1982, he wrote about another political prisoner, Fernando López Toro, who once told him that what hurt most about prison torments “was to think that our sacrifice was useless. Fernando was not broken by the pain but by the futility of the pain.”

Christians who are same-sex attracted but refuse to give in often face pain. They are making a sacrifice as, by God’s grace, they follow a Biblical path. To stay the course they need support, not praise for “queer treasure, honor, and glory.”

What happens to those bravely refusing to act on same-sex desire if church leaders offer mixed messages rather than faithful answers?

Flickr/RL GNZLZ Flickr/RL GNZLZ A 2017 Chevy Cruze

Paper woman

A Canadian man recently locked in savings of nearly $1,000 a year on his auto insurance by legally becoming a woman. The 23-year-old from Alberta, identified only as David, was disgruntled when he found out his insurance company planned to charge him a much higher rate to insure the new Chevy Cruze he was eyeing than it would if he were female.

The man decided to take advantage of what he called a “loophole.” He considers himself male but requested a doctor’s note saying he’d like to identify as a woman, sent it to the provincial government, and a few weeks later received his amended birth certificate. In June, Alberta scrapped the doctor’s note requirement for adults, so now any adult can simply declare themselves M, F, or “X,” for people who say they are neither.

“I’m a man, 100 percent,” David told CBC News, adding that he didn’t do it to ridicule transgender or LGBT people. “Legally, I’m a woman. I did it for cheaper car insurance.” An Insurance Bureau of Canada spokesman said he had heard of such cases, but making an untruthful claim was “fraud.”

The European Union’s highest court in 2011 banned as discriminatory the practice of charging different rates for men and women for auto, life, or medical insurance. —K.C.

Associated Press/Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA (file) Associated Press/Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA (file) Tini Owens arriving at court for her divorce proceedings in London in February, 2017

Dirtless divorce for Brits?

The U.K. Supreme Court last week told a 68-year-old woman she didn’t have enough dirt on her husband to divorce him. On Wednesday, the court ruled that Tini Owens must remain married to her husband of 40 years, 80-year-old Hugh Owens. She claimed he was moody, argumentative, and disparaging, but the fault-based divorce law in England and Wales stipulates that unless both parties agree, a spouse must prove unreasonable behavior, adultery, desertion, or a separation of five years.

The unanimous ruling could prompt Parliament to update the divorce law, untouched since the enactment of the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973, and enact no-fault divorce, likely leading to a sharp increase in the practice. In the United States, California enacted no-fault divorce in 1969, with nearly every state following soon after. The change led to a surge in divorce: From 1960 to 1980, divorce rates more than doubled, from 9.2 divorces per 1,000 married women to 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women, according to University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox. —K.C.

Model of a modern major census

A group of Democratic U.S. senators this week introduced a bill requiring the U.S. Census Bureau to ask directly about sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2030 census. The bureau announced earlier this year that the 2020 census questionnaires will include “same-sex” and “opposite-sex” as relationship options for couples living together. The new measure would also require that the census include sexual orientation questions for those not in a relationship, and provide gender options for those who do not identify as their biological sex. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

Read more from this writer
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

Read more from this writer


You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  • Bonnie Jean
    Posted: Sat, 08/04/2018 12:14 am

    No census in any year needs to know anyone's sexual orientation if they aren't in a relationship. Who's brillant idea was this? It is absolutely no one's business. 

  • Rudy49
    Posted: Sun, 08/05/2018 02:34 pm

    Yesterday I heard an example of how no-fault divorce has affected our thinking about marriage. While discussing the need to move on after experiencing failure, one conference attendee said this, "It is like marriage. You try it, it fails, and then try again.until it works." I wept inside for this woman.

  • JerryM
    Posted: Sun, 08/05/2018 07:30 pm

    I could not agree more that words matter, but also extend this to punctuation.  This is why I would ask World to reconsider its editorial decsion not to use quotations around marriage when referring to same-sex "marriage".  There is only one kind of marriage we recognise.  Failing to use quotations like this only serves to validate this expanded and false conception of marriage.  We become enablers rather than truth tellers.

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Mon, 08/06/2018 05:35 am

    "Christians who are same-sex attracted but refuse to give in often face pain."

    The phrase "same-sex attracted" is illegitimate.  There is no such thing.  Bank robbers may be "piles of cash attracted".  Paul Manafort may be "fancy suit attracted".  But those terms are not legitimate.  Anyone who sins is attracted to that sin, but it is not a new kind of person.  Rather it is an old kind of person attracted to an old kind of sin.  Christians should stop using the language of a fallen world.

  • Janet S
    Posted: Mon, 08/06/2018 09:13 am

    Xion, I take that as just naming the temption that is being faced, not creating a new kind of person. And I say temptation because it is not sin until one acts upon it (gives in to the temptation).  We are all sinners (rebellous) by nature, but it helps to actually name our temptations and sin in order to be completely honest before God, with ourselvs and with brothers and sisters in Christ who walk beside us and through our struggles.  

     Words definitely matter and it is more troubling to me that those who hold a Biblical view are being called false prophets and that there Satan has so decieved some to think there can be "queer" treasure, honor and glory in God kingdom.

  • brightnsalty
    Posted: Mon, 08/06/2018 01:27 pm

    So anyone identifying as an alcoholic or a porn addict is in the wrong for calling it as such? That is an ignorant view at best, and is creating a problem where there doesn't need to be one.

  •  Soapbxn's picture
    Posted: Mon, 08/06/2018 11:11 pm

    Xion, I kind of see where you are coming from, but indeed bank robbers are "piles of cash attracted" - that is why they rob.  Manfort, altough I do not know him, may be "fancy suit attracted" hence he likely wears.....fancy suits?   The terms would then be legitimate but not necessarily indicate sin.  Sin is a heart issue  and sin is sin.  Wearing fancy suits in itself is not a sin, but idolizing fancy suits would be.  Same sex attracted could defintely describe a heart issue and sin.  The Bible is pretty clear on sex being between one woman and one man.  Biology supports this as well.  Same-sex attracted from a Biblical perspective is sin and not God's design.  I think that is the point you are making.

  • RC
    Posted: Mon, 08/06/2018 03:16 pm

    “The European Union’s highest court in 2011 banned as discriminatory the practice of charging different rates for men and women for auto, life, or medical insurance.”

    The rate differences are not unjustly discriminatory.  We tried this on auto rates in the USA and women’s auto rates went up so they backed off on that demand. The idea that all discrimination is bad is just foolish and wrong.

    I wonder what the penality for fraud is in Canada?  I bet David will find out soon. 


  •  Soapbxn's picture
    Posted: Mon, 08/06/2018 11:18 pm

    OK, stupid politcal correctness aside, insurance rates for males are higher than for females simply because males have a greater tendency to drive like testerone driven idiots than females.  Although I find David's achievement humorous and creative, it does illustrate the proverbial "can of worms" the ridiculous "identifying" movement has opened.  Just think, today, I am identifying as a "native American" in the indiginous sense, hence I should be entitled to the Bureau of Indian Affairs health benefits. Oh, racial quota for entry into my college of choice?  No problem!  I recently have identified as a  Botswanian legal immigrant, aspiring to a bachelor degree at your institution!  Problem solved!   Much couuld be done with the new politically correct "identity"  insanity!