Revoice ’18 – Truth and Love

Posted on 07/30/2018 by Darren Casper

Many of you are aware of that I attended the Revoice conference here in St. Louis dealing with human sexuality, Biblical marriage and our LGBTQ neighbors.  I knew from the moment I registered that I would walk away from the conference affirming some things, rejecting other things, but learning along the way. That’s why I went.  I believe everybody matters and everybody needs Jesus. I wanted to learn. This is probably the most difficult piece I have ever written for two reasons. One being, that I absolutely love the Word of God.  God’s Word is the foundation of the church. God’s Word is truth and truth makes people free. It’s also a hard piece to write because of the amount of pain individuals and families have endured surrounding this issue.  That being said, it’s time for me to say something.

To My Friends and Critics of Revoice,

While much of this has come from an extreme fringe element, I am grieved by the attacks, criticism and basic lack of love and empathy from those who claim conservative Biblical faith. They are attacking profusely the likes of Al Mohler, Russell Moore and Beth Moore either because they have not condemned the conference organizers enough, or people like Karen Swallow Prior who has shown support for Revoice. Dr. Mohler has clearly voiced his opinions of the dangers of this conference which are certainly helpful.

I would voice my concerns about the dangers of harsh, mean-spirited voices cloaked in Christian conservatism. Christians will be known by their love, right? One study found that 40% of high school students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or questioning, meaning they are unsure of their orientation — were seriously considering suicide. Suicide is a national issue and a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that gay teens are three times more likely to attempt or consider suicide. The lack of love, empathy and compassion for a people who have known so much hurt in their lives is mind boggling and frankly I want nothing to do with it.

Let’s be clear about Revoice 18.  In this conference they have affirmed the truth of God’s Word.  They have clearly affirmed that human sex act is to be between a married husband and wife, man and woman. Yes, there have certainly been tweets of attendees worthy of rebuke and off handed comments by speakers in need of correction in view of God’s holiness.  But let’s be fair. There have also been tweets and comments by those who attend…say the SBC Annual Meeting or the Gospel Coalition Conference that miss the mark of Biblical truth and love. Does that mean that the entire conference should be condemned?

This is a very key point related to the matter at hand.  In response to the conference to the Baptist Press, Dr. Mohler said this, “There is no way that faithful Christians can celebrate an unbiblical sexual orientation and claim to be faithful to Scripture.”  I would agree with that.  However, and perhaps, I missed it, but I didn’t see the organizers of Revoice celebrating unbiblical sexual orientation.  I see them acknowledging unbiblical sexual orientation, thus promoting and choosing celibacy in honor of God’s Word and Biblical marriage.  There is a big difference between celebrating and acknowledging. But I want to be very clear on this point: If I would have seen conference organizers promoting the celebration of any disordered desire outside of God’s design including homosexuality, I wouldn’t have attended.

Conference organizers have affirmed Biblical marriage clearly as well as the position that the only choice for Bible affirming gay Christians is celibacy.  AND as a result they are being attacked by the LGBTQ community on the left, both religious and secular.

Has Revoice and the gay Christian who wants to uphold Biblical marriage been supported and encouraged by conservative Bible believing evangelicals? Some, but not so much.  For the most part, there is only silence or harsh attack. My tribe has a sorrowful history of keeping certain groups of people unwelcome from the church and not showing Christ’s love.  While I will not compromise the Word of God, I will not be silent as mean people attack others. There is truth and there is love. We can hold to both.

To The Revoice Organizers,

Do I agree with everything I’ve seen and heard about the Revoice conference? No. Like Dr. Mohler, I am concerned about the dangers of using terms like gay to describe our Christian identity. Along with some significant hermeneutical missteps from the teaching platform, this is an area where Revoice strongly misses the mark and is not helpful to those they want to help.   For all of us who claim Christ, our identity is found in Christ, not our desires or orientation. Our desires & orientation are not the source of truth- God’s Word is, and we are to conform to the truth. There were tweets and statements made during the conference by registrants that made me uncomfortable in light of God’s holiness and call to sexual purity.  However, isn’t it true that this happens in every conference or meeting, whether it be the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, Gospel Coalition conference, etc?  And isn’t it true that just because a conference attendee may tweet something out that is unbiblical or unloving, it shouldn’t necessarily discredit the conference itself or it’s organizers?

I am thankful that Revoice is there for people in the gay community and I am thankful for the leadership of Nate Collins and the ministry of those like Preston Sprinkle. With tears, I wish their leadership and the Revoice conference would have been around years ago when gay friends took their life in hopelessness and despair.

My friend and fellow conference attendee, Trey Herweck, said something like this that “Revoice is not committed to scripture because it benefits them, they are committed to scripture even though it costs them. That’s never something we should reject or vilify, but something to encourage and support.” The gay celibacy movement is made of imperfect leaders just like any Christian group. And when the time comes to reject and rebuke teachings contrary to historic orthodox Christian faith, by God’s grace, we must.  We must never forsake Biblical truth for the sake of some misguided attempt at love or unity. Truth wins. Again, for all who claim Christ, our identity is found in Christ, not our disordered desires or orientation. Our desires & orientation are not the source of truth – God’s Word is, and we are to conform to the truth. Encouraging any believer to identity themselves with any disordered desires rather than simply the person of Jesus Christ, is not helpful.

Like many of you, I’ve had gay friends and family who didn’t know that there was a community of people who loved Jesus, believed in a conservative view of God’s Word, affirmed Biblical marriage, grieved that they would never know the joys and intimacy of marriage and yet were committed to celibacy while enjoying spiritual friendships with men and women that honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  I remember them as I write this.