Revisiting Revoice: Same-Sex Attraction in Sanctification
This article is part 5 of a 5-part series entitled Revisiting Revoice
No Rest Remains
The end of Revoice theology is the belief that what is wrong with same-sex attraction is not that it is sinful, but that others are sinfully opposed to it. If Adam experienced the desire to sin prior to the Fall, and Christ experienced the desire to sin after it, we must not expect anyone else to be capable of mortifying the desire to sin, whether in this life or the life to come. Thus the same-sex attracted individual will remain such for all eternity. This is why SSA is associated with suffering, and costly obedience, and a struggle, and a push for positive rights for ‘sexual minorities.’ Nobody can help SSA. Not even Christ. So Revoice theology points us toward a Christianity with no rest from SSA, which is perfectly consistent with the suggestion that good gifts of explicitly gay culture will find their way into the New Creation. The most egregious portions of the Revoice Conference are fixed in its foundations regarding whether we understand SSA as morally culpable sin to be repented of, or an indelible gift from God. There can be no neutrality between these two parties, where one believes SSA is morally culpable sin, while the other believes the aforementioned belief is morally culpable sin.
Same-Sex Attraction and Sanctification
But what if someone with Revoice does consider SSA sinful, and does not bother with any of the arguments detailed in previous posts here. Is it nevertheless fine for him or her to embrace a SSA conception of the self in sanctification? No. Whether we conquer our temptations to sin in this life or not, we fight against our sins, not according to secular sociological schemes, but according to the gospel.
Yes, we will still sin. Yes, we will still be cognizant of our sin. We are simul iustus et peccator. As 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” However, our spiritual reality and existential reckoning in sanctification consists in the mortification of our sinful desires. Having been buried and raised with Christ, we are dead to our sins, such as SSA, and alive to God and his righteousness. The way forward in the journey of sanctification is not a selfish focus on sinful desire, but a freeing focus on the fatal wound dealt to our sin in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
When it comes to sanctification, the issue with Revoice is not merely semantic, but substantive in terms of self-conception. The apostle Paul mixes the metaphysical reality of union with Christ with an epistemology of mortification in Romans 6:8-11 when he writes, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Thus the word of God, on the basis of our death and life in Christ, commands us to consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Thus Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Once again, the believers in Corinth, as in Rome, regardless of their backgrounds and past sins, were to consider themselves dead to those sins, such that they could speak of themselves as those types of sinners only in the past tense. Some of you…were given to homosexuality. You are not now. Not in Christ. Oh, you may struggle against SSA, sure, but no longer will it reign in your mortal body. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. This counsel differs not one iota from that offered to any believer wrestling with any temptation to sin. No reason exists for singling out homosexuality, except that Revoice has sought, through theological innovation contingent upon extra-biblical sociological theories, to redefine what is meant by terms that traditionally referred to sexual sins. But this redefinition will not work for the reasons previously given. The argument here is narrower than whether or not someone should ‘identify’ as SSA, in order to sidestep various issues of modernity and sociological categories. Rather, the argument here is that one should not conceive of oneself in terms of one’s temptations and sins, and other Christians should not think of one another that way either, since the inspired writer, Paul, did not think of the Corinthians that way.
These musings on SSA in creation, fall, redemption, restoration, and sanctification should put us in a much better position to understand what the Nashville Statement might mean in its Article 7, which reads:
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.
The arguments of these posts serve to fill out this affirmation and denial, both of which clearly stand in contradiction to the fundamental, systematic theology which undergirds the Revoice Conference. One cannot sign onto the Nashville Statement while continuing to endorse Revoice, because Revoice does not define self-conception as male and female by way of God’s “purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture,” but does adopt a SSA self-conception for its conference and theology that conflicts with creation order, redemption, and a biblical approach to sanctification.
One cannot remain neutral with regard to whether SSA is morally culpable sin or a gift from God. Far too much is at stake. Christians desire to help those who struggle with SSA. To that end, a good measure of grace must be supplied in figuring out how to work through the theology and language of Christian self-conception, especially for those who are not formally trained in theology. Were this narrow ministerial approach all there is to the Revoice Conference, the objections to it would be few and far between. However, Revoice goes much further. Revoice does not work with a biblically faithful sexual ethic, as seen from the assumptions and implications of its most basic underlying theology. And, even if this post is unpersuasive in establishing that claim, it represents one of many such arguments that push the antithesis between ‘gay’ and biblical Christianity. Should the SBC choose to deny this distinction, it will deny those who adhere to a traditional biblical sexual ethic along with it.
This article is part 5 of a 5-part series entitled Revisiting Revoice
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