After listening to an interview of Nate Collins at Sheologians, and reading another at Christianity Today, I intended to write a response to the overall program set forth by Collins. However, R. Albert Mohler, Jr. responded to the CT interview with Collins and the Revoice Conference in a rather decisive fashion today with his article, “Torn Between Two Cultures? Revoice, LGBT Identity, and Biblical Christianity.”
Mohler helpfully hits upon several points that were (to my limited knowledge) ignored up until now, especially concerning language and the meaning of ‘orientation.’ Regarding language, Mohler writes:
And the issue of language arises again and again and again. In his main address to the conference, Nate Collins lamented: “I’m tired. I’m tired of people saying I’m using the wrong words. I’m tired of people saying I’m not using enough of the right words.”
In his interview with Christianity Today, Collins conceded that some of the language used on the website for the conference was seen as revealing a “slippery slope ethically,” but he defended even the language by saying: “Right now the conversation on LGBT issues and gender, sexuality, and evangelicalism is fragmented. There’s a lot of groups of people that use language in very specific ways that makes sense to them but doesn’t make sense to people outside of their tribe.”
Later, Collins said: “We’re just trying to make space for people for whom the language they use is meaningful, in terms of how they are trying to reconcile their gender and sexuality with their faith.”
At one very strange level, that is an open admission that the self-expressive language of many in the Revoice community reflects a movement in flux and in motion, even in language.
Regarding ‘orientation,’ Mohler writes:
In the interview with Christianity Today just prior to the conference, Nate Collins attempted to respond to criticisms by insisting, as he does in his book, that sexual orientation and same-sex attraction are not always erotic, but can be celebrated as aesthetic and relational. He affirms that same-sex sexual attraction is sinful, but he argues that sexual orientation is actually not necessarily erotic, but centered in “the perception and admiration of personal beauty.” In his book he refers to this as an “aesthetic orientation,” a term he concedes is his own.
Wesley Hill, another speaker at Revoice, is a major proponent of “spiritual friendships” within LBGT identity. He has written: “Being gay is, for me, as much a sensibility as anything else: a heightened sensitivity to and passion for same-sex beauty . . . .”
Same-sex attraction is not limited to sexual attraction, but it strains all credibility to argue that this “aesthetic orientation” can be non-sexual. Considered more closely, the “aesthetic orientation” actually appears to be even more deeply rooted in a sinful impulse. Aesthetic attractions are as corrupted by sin as the sexual passions. To put the matter bluntly, are we to affirm that an “aesthetic orientation” towards the same sex is pure and blameless and non-sexual? This would be severe pastoral malpractice.
Speakers at Revoice pointed to Ruth and Naomi and David and Jonathan as biblical examples, but in both cases the relationship was clearly and definitively neither erotic or aesthetic and references to them in this light are deliberately misleading.
More can be said regarding these two points and others like them, but for now, this article is the best one available regarding the many problems in the views espoused by Collins and his conference. I am overjoyed Mohler responded in his usual gracious, truthful, and timely manner, especially since Collins was both a student of and taught at Southern Seminary.
Readers will recall this earlier post at Choosing Hats, where Cross Politic (a group I admittedly know nothing about), interviewed Greg Johnson, pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church, regarding the (at the time, upcoming) conference. If I were a Baptist, I’d be ‘concerned’ about the unbiblical views Johnson revealed during the course of that interview (as well as the emotionally laden genetic fallacy he used to dismiss serious challenges to those views). I might even, as Mohler did with respect to Collins, write a blog about them. But if I were a Presbyterian, I would put some ‘feet’ on those ‘concerns’ through the Missouri Presbytery and/or Presbyterian Church in America.
The Revoice Conference and views of its leaders are flawed on a deep level and to a dangerous extent.