While they say they’re committed to not having gay sex, some Revoice leaders argue there are good things about homosexual desire itself, such as bestowing a greater capacity for friendship and for appreciating beauty. That belief has raised alarms that Revoice proponents with same-sex attraction see themselves as part of the larger gay community to a degree that throws whole-hearted commitment to Christian orthodoxy on sex and marriage into question.
A movement to endorse gay identity has sparked controversy among one of the country’s last remaining influential conservative Protestant denominations.
These believers are discussing homosexual desires and whether it’s okay to call oneself gay or queer as long as you regard gay sex as sinful. Approving same-sex relationships is off the table—at least for now. But plenty of congregation members worry the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) could eventually go the way of mainline denominations and approve gay sex and other behaviors along the LGBT spectrum.
Formed in the early 1970s, the conservative PCA is quite distinct from the liberal mainline Presbyterian Church (USA), but in recent years has seen growing contention between conservatives and progressives on a range of issues. The debate in the PCA about gay identity isn’t new, but is now in conflict because of a conference set to be held at a PCA church in St. Louis, Missouri, at the end of July.
Called Revoice, the conference is billed as a forum for “supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historical, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.” Because keynote speakers and presenters come not only from the PCA, but also from other Christian groups, the conference has attracted attention far beyond denominational circles.
Queering the Church? How About Churching the Queer
More evangelicals are leaning toward fully embracing homosexuality, including same-sex relationships. Even within the PCA, 49 percent of members say homosexuality should be accepted and 40 percent say they are in favor of same-sex marriage, according to the Pew Research Center. However, denominational leaders in mid-June took steps to shore up commitment to traditional marriage in their Book of Church Order.
The Revoice conference website is soaked in secular LGBT language, including talk of “sexual minorities,” “homophobia,” and “straight allies.” A description of a workshop called “Redeeming Queer Culture: An Adventure” says:
Christians have often discarded the virtues of queer culture along with the vices, which leaves culturally connected Christian sexual minorities torn between two cultures, two histories, and two communities. So questions that have until now been largely unanswered remain: what does queer culture (and specifically, queer literature and theory) have to offer us who follow Christ? What queer treasure, honor, and glory will be brought into the New Jerusalem at the end of time?
A workshop titled “How To Be A Straight Ally” will include discussion on “learning how to own the weight of the straight white evangelical tradition and its sins against gender and sexual minorities.”