|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
Editor's Note: Rev. Dan Greenfield, Executive Secretary of the American Council of Christian Churches, attended the Revoice Conference promoting so-called "Gay Christianity" as an observer on behalf of those who oppose such evils. The conference, which included both Roman Catholic and self-described evangelical speakers, was hosted by a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in St. Louis, Missouri. Pastor Greenfield's report on the conference, and the issues surrounding it, follows below.
As the Holy Spirit declared through Jude, "certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ...as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh" (Jude verses 4 and 7).
It is sad that we live in a time when these evils must even be mentioned, but the Lord God who has called us to holiness commands us thus: "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:17). - Dr. Paul Elliott
Rev. Dan Greenfield
Executive Secretary, American Council of Christian Churches
A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who believes, obeys, and bears fruit for Christ. Scripture details both the content of what is believed for salvation and the character of fruit that genuine disciples of Christ bear. The New Testament relates the spread of the Gospel and how lives were gloriously changed and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
This process is still happening today. As the same Gospel goes forth and the Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment, sinners turn to Christ for salvation. Their lives are glorious trophies of his amazing saving and sanctifying grace.
As Christ warned, however, Satan and his emissaries have always sowed tares among the wheat, disguising themselves as angels of light to deceive many. Their appeal is always to the senses, cravings, desires, and longings of the flesh, thus corrupting and perverting the Gospel. Satan, true to his nature as a roaming, roaring lion continually seeks to beguile the church by soul-damning doctrine camouflaged as true Christianity. Satan's latest version of his false gospel is the gay Christianity movement.
"Gay Christianity" is an umbrella expression for SSA/LGBTQIA+ people who also profess saving faith in Christ. "SSA" is same-sex attracted.
"Lesbian and gay" are representative terms for same-sex attracted women and men. "Bi-sexual" is one attracted to both genders.
"Transgender" is one who identifies with a gender different from his/her biological sex. "Queer" is a general term, one who shows both masculine and feminine qualities (or neither). "Intersex" is one who does not self-identify with any sexual orientation, or it can refer to one who is physically born with both biological sex characteristics. "Asexual" (also "ace") is one with no sexual attraction. Last, the "+ -" signs represent everything yet undescribed.
The Rise of SSA and LGBTQIA+ in Society and Evangelicalism
A recent Gallup poll reported that in 1989 13% of Americans believed that being gay or lesbian was by nature; by 1996 that increased to 31%, by 2001 to 40%, and by 2018, 50%.
Gallup also reported on Americans' support of same sex marriage. In 1996 26% supported same-sex marriage; by 2006 that increased to 37%, by 2012 to 53%, and by 2018, 67%.
On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court declared that states must recognize same-sex marriages as legal, not based on the knowledge of God but on the changing whim of "personal rights."
Brad Harper, professor of theology and religious history at the evangelical Multnomah University in Portland, OR, said, "Millennials are looking at the issue of gay marriage, and more and more they are saying, 'OK, we know the Bible talks about this, but we just don't see this as an essential of the faith.'"
Azusa Pacific University recently lifted its ban on LGBTQ relationships, stating "We thought it was unfair to single out queer folks in same-sex romantic relationships while it is impossible to enforce or monitor...Queer students are just as able to have romanticized relationships that abide by APU's rules." Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan also "accepts and affirms LGBT students on their campus."
Sam Allberry is the founding editor of Living Out, a ministry for those struggling with same-sex attraction, an editor for The Gospel Coalition, and a speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. In an article for The Gospel Coalition's website titled, "May SSA Christians Have Non-Sexual Romantic Relationships?" Allberry assumes the legitimacy of SSA Christians.
The Revoice Conference
For some years a growing movement of gay Christians manifested itself through social media and occasional meetings and conferences. This movement gained significant traction in 2018 at the first conference of Revoice in St. Louis, MO. The host church was the historic Memorial Presbyterian Church, started by proto-fundamentalist Presbyterian pastor Rev. James H. Brookes (1830-1897), and currently affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).
Revoice's purpose is "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 conference's objectives are to redeem cultural expressions, create a safe space for attendees, rethink relationships in light of the gospel, and to help one another flourish as "gay Christians."
Four characteristics [i.e., assertions - ed.] mark Revoice: (1) There are SSA/LGBTQIA+ individuals who are also Christians; (2) gay sex is always wrong; (3) the Bible says that marriage should only be between a man and a woman; and (4) because of their commitment to "biblical marriage," gay Christians should be celibate.
Revoice Conference Speakers
Editor's Note: In this section Pastor Greenfield is stating the positions of the speakers at the Revoice conference (which are either patently un-Biblical or at best a clever mixture of truth and error), not advocating them.
Ron Belgau is a leading voice in the celibate, gay Christian movement, and is also a practicing Roman Catholic. Belgau promotes the concept of spiritual friendship (gays committed to celibacy), noting that while marriages last until death, covenant friendships are more binding. A key biblical example of this is the covenant between Jonathan and David. Jesus himself had close, same-sex relationships with the disciples, and a particularly close relationship with John, who laid on Jesus' breast and to whom Jesus entrusted his mother. Belgau emphasized that not all love is sexual and romantic and should not be reduced to such.
Matthew Lee Anderson is an evangelical and has written for The Gospel Coalition. In his session he maintained that chaste gay Christians must reorient, not extinguish, that which fires their sexual passion. Gay Christians carry a "double burden" of their own desires and pervasive skepticism. Jonathan and David exemplify same-sex spiritual friendship. Because of their same-sex orientation, gay Christians actually know themselves better than straight Christians. Gay Christians can help the church see what it should be.
Johanna Finegan is a same-sex attracted wife and mother and a member of a PCA church. She said that one's sexual orientation does not change. Gay Christian men aren't effeminate because they won't marry women; rather, they don't marry because they recognize their inability to love a wife as Christ loves the church. It may be that in eternal glory people may be gay; "now we are broken homosexuals; then we may be unbroken homosexuals. After all, marriage won't be present in the new heavens and new earth."
Brother Joseph Trout is a Roman Catholic Dominican brother, a male "nun." He equated gay Christians with Moses, saying they must be faithful to the people of God rather than leave them, just as Moses was also called to do.
Eve Tushnet is a lesbian Catholic author and conference speaker. She said that Scripture uses same-sex love (Jonathan and David, Ruth and Naomi, John and Jesus) so God's love can be known. She maintained that while the church has upheld love in marriage, it has caused the church to ignore same-sex love. Tushnet loves the ecumenism of Revoice as it is a diverse community of gay Christians united by their orientation and the sacrifices they make.
Preston Sprinkle is an evangelical author and speaker. His session "Can Christians be Allies? How to be a Straight Ally" noted that Jesus never spoke negatively of same-sex relationships. He taught that to be a straight ally you must (1) listen to understand, not to find out what is wrong; (2) be sensitive in the language you use (e.g. use the same pronouns transgenders use to refer to themselves); (3) do not change your theology - being gospel-centered must be the main thing, not the LGBT issue; (4) do not be hypocritical by attacking gay sins but not "straight" sins; (5) be eager to apologize ("we the church have sinned against LGBT people"); and (6) take risks in standing up for SSA/LGBT people.
Sprinkle instructed his hearers that conservative churches must be moved along slowly. The way to do this is to start with Scripture, emphasizing its divine quality and character, and then share a story. Sharing experiences creates a personal connection with people, making the struggles gay Christians face "real," moving the hearers toward acceptance and advocacy.
Bill Henson is the founder and president of Posture Shift, whose mission is "to enhance church inclusion, increase family acceptance, protect against victimization, and nourish faith identity in LGBT+ lives."8 Henson's 2018 session was on "Building Justice Bridges." He taught that in order to minister effectively to gay people we must understand them and their culture. In this generation we must eliminate family rejection of gay youth. The church must seek justice for LGBT+ youth, especially those who are homeless. We must maximize LGBTQ+ inclusion in family and church, by telling the stories of transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary, intersex, pansexual, and questioning. We must lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Churches must not tolerate bullying and discipline those who do. Churches should not make turning away from homosexuality a prerequisite for membership. "We got over the issue of being gay, the issue of it being a choice (vs. being born), now we must get over the issue of the time required for 'change.'" Churches must create themselves to be safe places for LGBTQI people.
Grant Hartley gave the most anticipated controversial workshop, "Redeeming Queer Culture: An Adventure." Hartley defined "queer" as a catch-all category for their experience and not so much a reference to sex. People are made in the image of God and culture is created by common grace; thus Christians must respond to culture in "a nuanced way." Hartley identified three fundamental assumptions: (1) sexual minorities have unique needs and gifts; (2) sexual minorities produce culture, it is not predominately about sexual activity; and (3) queer culture is a mix of good and bad aspects that need to be sifted through. His conclusion of these assumptions was that in the New Jerusalem the good aspects of queer culture will be present.
Greg Johnson serves as pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church, the host of the Revoice conference (he recently "came out" as gay in a Christianity Today post). In his workshop "Making Church a Haven for Sexual Minorities" he emphasized the importance of first beginning with a story (as Sprinkle and Henson also advised). Highlight the stories of single people and sexual minorities in Christ. Tell stories where sexual minorities are the Christ figure. Focus on the family of God more than on the families of God. Everyone's experiences are different. People have different callings - leukemia, gender dysphoria, etc. are all holy callings of God.
Observations and Assessments of This Reporter
1. God unequivocally and in every day and age has condemned homosexuality as sin, never making a difference between "being" homosexual and the act (Gen 18:20-21; 19:4-5, 24-25; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:10; 2 Pet 2:6-10; Jude 6-7; Rev 21:8; 22:15). Despite the efforts at verbal juggling, homosexuality is known for and by perverse sexual activity.
2. Biblically and theologically, the SSA/LGBTQI+ movement is the result of rejecting the true God and turning to a man-made God (Rom 1:21, 23). Homosexuality is God's judgment on unbelief. This reality is the reason for the rise of the SSA/LGBTQIA+ movement. This reality runs contrary to Revoice and gay Christianity's assertions that view SSA/LGBTQIA+ as a blessing. Note these Scriptures: "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their hearts..." (Rom 1:24). "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another..." (Rom 1:26-27). They "not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Rom 1:32).
3. The only God-created and blessed "sexual orientation" is heterosexuality, experienced and expressed between a husband and a wife in marriage (Gen 2:18-25; Matt 19:4-6; 1 Cor 7:1-5, 9).
4. This movement redefines sin by stating that one's state/disposition is not sinful. Believing that only the homosexual act is sinful rejects God's truth that sinfulness is attributed to one's state/ disposition (Jer 17:9), thoughts (Gen 6:5; Matt 5:27-28; Acts 8:22), feelings, affections, and desires (Col 3:8). Recognizing sin as righteousness is corrupt and apostate.
5. There is no real end to the perversions that will follow from this acceptance of what the Bible defines as sin. If the category of gay Christianity is biblical, then such must also be extended to all other sins of the sin nature, no matter how seemingly abhorrent and abominable. SSA and LGBTQIA+ are sins to be repented of, not orientations to be accepted. The concept of a "gay Christian" is unbiblical. Why not "homosexual Christian"? Their reason for using "gay" as opposed to "homosexual" is the latter is said to refer to the sexual act, whereas the former allegedly does not have to include that. The fact, however, is that such attempts are as ludicrous as saying, "I don't swear, cuss, or blaspheme, but I'm definitely oriented toward that culture." What if the same practice was applied to other "sinful orientations"? Then we would have oppositional defiance disorder Christians (disobedience); erotic Christians (lust); icon Christians (idolatry); acquisitive Christians (covetousness); passionate Christians (wrath and anger); colorful metaphor Christians (blasphemy, filthy language); or whopper Christians (lying). Christians should not identify themselves by sin (1 Cor 6:9-11; Eph 5:3-8).
6. "Gay Christianity" redefines biblical truth by smooth, deceptive words (Rom 16:18). Personal experiences and "stories" drive gay Christianity's interpretation of the Gospel and biblical truth. Instead of biblical truth interpreting human experience, their practice is the converse.
7. Only by changing the Christian faith can gay Christianity be viewed as legitimate. Modernism in the late 1800s and early 1900s sought to bring the Christian faith "up to date" with "modern" times and contemporary experience. So also, the gay Christian movement revises beliefs in light of feelings and experiences. Biblical truth is further maligned by appealing to Jonathan and David, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and the disciples as examples of same-sex spiritual friendships. The plain meaning of Scripture is twisted like a wax nose to provide a biblical model of "gay Christianity." Experience and feeling wrongly direct the interpretation of Scripture instead of Scripture assessing and directing experience and feelings.
8. Seeing culture as neutral (particularly gay culture) and then going to the Bible for substantiation is a grave error. Culture is the outworking of human beings, and humanity is fundamentally sinful and depraved. When the church must "learn from gay culture" what it should be like its spiritual death is very near.
9. The Christian faith is maligned, obscured, and perverted when associating, aligning, fellowshipping in ministry, and granting Christian recognition to homosexuals and Roman Catholics. God's will for his church is repudiation of and separation from unbelievers, heretics, and apostates, not ministry fellowship with them (Rom 16:17; 2 Cor 6:14ff). By partnering with SSA/LGBTQI+, Roman Catholics, and Protestant liberals the true Gospel is compromised and corrupted. Never was works-righteousness condemned at the conference. The basis of unity was not "thus saith the Lord," but "shared experience," the shared experiences of sin (sinful passions, lusts, desires, orientation). The true church is thus told to conform and adapt to sin and apostasy. This result is of the devil himself.
10. Beware of how gay Christianity's spokespersons seek to infiltrate churches. While giving lip service to Scripture, their fundamental appeal is to personal experiences and individual stories to direct people by feelings and a false sense of compassion. This approach is not the path of biblical Christianity, which looks to Scripture alone for faith and practice.
11. Biblical compassion is thus twisted and perverted. Biblical compassion does not require changing Scripture, theology, the Gospel, church membership, faithful Gospel ministry, church unity, etc. Rather, true biblical compassion will only be truly seen and expressed by maintaining those biblical standards.
12. Gay Christianity denies biblical salvation and sanctification. When God saves a sinner, he gives a new nature (2 Pet 1:4), the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:5-14), and new desires (2 Cor 5:17). Biblical sanctification is evidenced as the saint grows more like Christ and less like his sin nature and this world (2 Cor 7:1; 1 Pet 1:14-16). Gay Christianity denies this not only by saying their SSA/LGBTQIA+ nature remains, but that they will have the same nature in the New Jerusalem!
What Should Biblical Christians Do?
Preach the good news, the real good news! It works - sinners are saved from their sin and when truly saved will show the fruits of being truly converted. While we should welcome sinners to our public services, we must only recognize those to be Christian brothers and sisters who adhere to Christian truth and a clearly Christ-like life. Pray for the Word to spread powerfully and effectively. Strive for personal sanctification (Col 3:5ff). Grow in your faith - the better you know your Bible, the more you will be mature in the faith and protected from error. Stick to the Scriptures - do not be hoodwinked by smooth talk, stories, or calls to adapt to sinful culture. The church must resist and expose all attempts to change and corrupt the Christian faith. Practice and uphold ecclesiastical separation. Separation is God's means of protecting the Christian faith and church. Truth must be the basis of unity, ministry, and fellowship, not shared experiences.
5. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/education/learning/christian-colleges-lgbtq-social-justice.html; https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/march/azusa-pacific-university-apu-reversal-gay-relationships.html
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