A friend recently asked me why I thought the Revoice Conference had any traction at all in the conservative Reformed world, why it wasn’t dismissed out of hand, and sent packing. Why haven’t all the bigwig Reformed gate keepers issued straightforward condemnations? How could Bible-believing people possibly think that a conference with a workshop wondering what “queer treasure” will be in the New Jerusalem would be a good idea?
When my friend asked me, I said that I suspected that at least part of the answer lies in the fact that the conservative evangelical and Reformed world has been†embattled. But as I’ve thought about further, I think I need to revise that statement to: because we have cultivated deep feelings of being embattled. We have been (apparently) holding ground for a number of decades, specifically on the infallibility and authority of Scripture, with substantial forays in the Pro-life cause, but the enemies of God continue to amass in front of us and they are slowly but surely taking the field. And in recent years, their audacity has increased. To go from Bill Clinton signing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 to the Obergefell decision in 2015 demonstrates the dramatic sea change (at least out loud in public).
So conservatives feel very beleaguered, battered, tattered, and worn, and in the middle of the fray, some conservative reinforcements arrive explaining that they have struggled with “same-sex attraction” but they are fully committed to the historic, biblical sexual ethic. It’s easy to see how this could initially sound like the cavalry had arrived. Think about it: all the “born this way” rhetoric for years insisting and demanding that it is utter cruelty and hatred to deny LGBT+ the way they were created. And to suddenly have folks coming out of the woodwork saying that they too have felt the tug of that homosexual orientation but God has given them grace to deny those desires and live celibate lives of chastity. It sounds like just the thing to finally have an answer for the extreme leftist revolutionaries. Take that, you liberals: we have people with what you say you have, and they say they can submit to God’s Word. Seems like a silver bullet.
But when you’re tired of fighting, or at least tired of feeling like you’ve been fighting, you are susceptible to many things, including random wooden horses the size of a house showing up at your gates.
And beware of Revoice Greeks bearing gifts.
Now before I briefly explain why I think the Revoice Thang is a Trojan horse and not actually reinforcements for the battle, I would like to point out one startling exception to what I’m about to lay out, and that would be Rosaria Butterfield. I haven’t read or listened to everything she has put out in the last few years, but what I have seen and heard seems to me to actually be reinforcements to the cause. But this is because while she understands the draw and temptations resident in the homosexual movement, is truly sympathetic and compassionate toward that community, she has not minced words about the sinfulness of sin, the power of God’s grace, and the call to sexual fruitfulness.
But the Revoice & the Spiritual Friendship folks are a Trojan horse bringing enemies into the church under the guise of biblical fidelity. And you can tell this because they have immediately claimed mantles of prophetic authority.
As Nate Collins said at the Revoice Conference:
Is it possible that gay people today are being sent by God, like Jeremiah, to find Godís 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?
Douglas Wilson has pointed out over the years that there is a massive difference between evangelists and refugees. The Church should have open arms and a welcome sign for every refugee from the world. But if a refugee shows up and immediately wants to begin telling you how you aren’t doing this Church thing right, your pastoral vibe-o-meter should start sparking. The drug-refugee, the greed-refugee, and the sexual immoral refugee are welcome as refugees, truly seeking shelter and help. But they are not welcome to positions of authority the next week. They are not welcome as evangelists, apologists, or prophets. But this is precisely what the Revoice folks are asking for. They are not merely asking for shelter in the Church, they are asking for the right to speak authoritatively on the nature of sexual sin, purity, friendship, chastity, etc. This is not humility; this is blind arrogance masked with pious sounding phrases like “costly obedience.”
But the fact that this kind of evil has made it this far tells us that the conservative evangelical and reformed world is not nearly as embattled as we think. No, we talk like we have been fighting and killing giants and orcs, but turns out we haven’t been nearly so faithful. We are deeply compromised. We may have been running around in the woods near the giants and orcs. We might have even accidentally run into two or three on accident and shot a few arrows off, but we have not been straight up fighting them. You know this because you do not get to this point in the story under God’s blessing. How do you get swept from the field? How do you have conferences like this with nary a peep? You get to this point with deep rot all the way down in some of the very institutions and ministries that many of us look to for some semblance of biblical courage and fidelity.
And not incidentally, this the same problem Nate Collins and Revoice fans have. They have cultivated the feeling of being embattled as so-called “sexual minorities” and are so very tired of all that. But feeling tired of talking about fighting sin and temptations is not at all the same thing as actually fighting sin and temptation. And the former is a great setup for compromise. In other words, in a mess this big there is more than one Trojan horse at work. And so in this sense, the failure of Revoice is a great mirror for the evangelical and Reformed Church as a whole.
“How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?” (Deut. 32:30) We are not embattled; we are on the run. And this is because we have been sold.†We have hundreds of thousands, millions even, of confessional, Bible-believing Christians, and we have been chased by nine men in black robes for decades. We have been chased by a few men with money, by a few men with power. And they let up the pressure occasionally just long enough to give us the illusion that we are actually putting up a fight, just long enough for us to work up a few good feels of fatigue and battle weariness, just long enough for us to be mentally prepared to take the next offer of compromise.