Missouri Presbytery Revoice Report: a close reading (1)
NOTE: Missouri Presbytery (PCA) is the ecclesiastical authority over Pastor Greg Johnson and the elders of Memorial Presbyterian Church. Pastor Johnson and Memorial hosted the first Revoice conference one year ago in St. Louis. The second Revoice will be held June 5-8, again in St. Louis.
Revoice’s promotion of the gay identity and effeminacy was so scandalous, nationally, that the presbytery was forced to respond. They put together an investigatory committee and this past week this committee issued their Report.
Coming in at one-hundred and forty-three pages and sixty-seven thousand words, the committee’s report is typical of the unloving responses of church leaders conniving at the homosexualist movement and those dogged by the sexual perversions of sodomy and effeminacy. It seems good, then, to take this occasion to bring more light to Revoice, those who created it, and those now conniving at it.
Our response will take two forms. First, we will work our way through the Committee’s Report, page by page, and this is the first in that series. Second, we will write short pieces addressing specific aspects of the Report, and the first in that series is forthcoming.
This is first in a series of close readings. For all Warhorn articles on Missouri Presbytery’s Revoice Report, see here. Report text is indented. We pick up where we left off last time.
NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all footnotes are from Missouri Presbytery’s Report.
Missouri Presbytery Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate Memorial Presbyterian
Church for Hosting the Revoice 18 Conference in July 2018
Presented to the Missouri Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America
at its called meeting on May 18, 2019.
A. A Letter from the Committee
In I John we are told that, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” In the modern church, there may not be a topic that stokes more fear than that of homosexuality. Even many well-intentioned pastors won’t talk about it out of fear of offending their congregations. In this report we have been tasked with talking about it in a narrow sense, in connection with Memorial Presbyterian Church. However, by being tasked with assessing Revoice as a phenomenon, we have been tasked with talking about it in a wider sense, as we suspect that many in the wider church may be interested in this report as well.
Homosexualists have always charged those opposing them with being fearful. It’s what their label “homophobic” is all about. A phobia is an irrational fear, so when someone calls another person “homophobic,” he is smearing that person with the charge that he has an irrational fear of homosex.
All through this very long report, it will be important to replace homosex with other sexual sins Scripture condemns right next to homosex—sins such as bestiality, adultery, incest, and pedophilia. This will help us test the arguments these presbyters are making. So here, for instance, where the Committee comes out of the gate accusing the church of wrongful fear of homosex, let’s put them to the test.
Had the Committee been responding to a Revoice for adulterers, zoophiles or pedophiles, would they have said the same? If there had been a conference for men and women who identified themselves publicly and in Christ’s Church as preferring sex with animals or children (as opposed to sex with a spouse of the opposite sex); if these men and women identified as “zoophile Christians” or “pedophile Christians” while assuring their pastors and elders they were celibate; would this Missouri Presbytery Committee have started their report with the same condescending talk of fear? Would they have started a report on Revoice for zoophiles by saying “there may not be a topic that stokes more fear than that of bestiality?” A Revoice for pedophiles, “there may not be a topic that stokes more fear than that of adults having sex with little children?”
Of course not. Our culture is awash and the Church is succumbing to precious talk about homosex, not yet bestiality or pedophilia.
The Committee continues with this theme of fear, for a moment stopping to speak reassuringly.
First, there is the fear many of us have about the influence of the sexual revolution on our nation. Who would have believed even twenty years ago that almost every TV show would have gay characters, that children as young as seven would be encouraged to embrace a transgendered identity and march in Pride parades, or that Christians could be facing jail time for refusing to participate in gay weddings? Many of the people we have read and spoke to who are critical of Revoice expressed this type of fear. These brothers and sisters are wondering if Revoice is proof that the very same ideas from the sexual revolution that have led to so much sexual confusion in our nation are finding their way into our churches and seminaries—the very places that should be helping people see just how ungodly the sexual revolution truly is.
Note how the Committee weaves back and forth between homosex and the sexual revolution. Note also how they quickly return to the accusation: “many… critical of Revoice expressed this type of fear.”
Second, there is the fear felt by our brothers and sisters in Christ (and often shared by their families and close friends) who know firsthand what it means to experience same-sex attractions. They know the fear of wondering what might happen to them if their churches discovered their sexuality. They, along with their family and friends, are looking on, anxious that if the PCA rejects Revoice it will be a confirmation of their fear that the church really wants to reject them—and ultimately that there is no place for them in conservative denominations like ours.
Watch the Committee closely when they speak to and about Revoicers themselves. Here, for instance, note their explanation of how gay and effeminate Revoicers have “fear wondering what might happen to them if their churches discovered their sexuality.”
Stop here and consider. What is the nature of this fear? Is it relational? Are Revoicers afraid they might be ostracized from the fellowship of the church? Might they even be afraid young mothers would hustle their children off to somewhere else when they started talking about their same-sex desires?
If so, is that mother a homophobe? Is her fear irrational? Could any among us bring ourselves to condemn or rebuke her? Is it not the father and mother’s calling from God to protect their children from sins that would bar them from the Kingdom of God, and does not 1Corinthians 6:9 explicitly warn us that men lying with men and effeminacy are such sins?
So why this solicitude, this tenderness toward those announcing to the world their desire for sex with same-sex partners? Why cultivate sympathy for their fear when they have decided LivingOUT loud, repudiating sodomy’s shame, is their right as Christians? Isn’t this precisely what Revoice was all about? Was (and is) it not an aggressive movement against the church for not approving of their shamelessness? Was (and is) it not a celebration of the very sins which accompany sodomy itself—especially effeminacy?
But maybe the fear isn’t relational. Maybe homosex Revoicers are afraid of church disciplines including exhortation, rebuke, admonition, censure, temporary or indefinite suspension from the Lord’s Supper, or excommunication? And if so, we should all say “wonderful!” It would be good to see discipline restored to the Church today for homosex and effeminacy as well as fornication, adultery, greed, theft, and pride.
Likely, homosex Revoicers have both fears. Likely they fear both relational and disciplinary responses to their out-and-about “sexuality” as the Committee names it above.
“What might happen to them” in response to their self-affirmation as homosex and effeminate is mothers ushering their children out of the room as they do their LivingOUT thing, then pastors and elders exhorting and admonishing them privately for their shamelessness and immodesty which scandalized those mothers and their children. Any sanctified mother in Israel would fear the influence such self-affirming gays and effeminates could have on her children. She isn’t wrong. She is to be commended.
We all have had gays and lesbians in our churches who have tried to seduce our children just as we have had non-gays and non-lesbians try to seduce our children. Godly fathers and mothers will not give in to fear of being called any kind of “phobes” or “meanies” as they take the steps urgently required to guard the souls of their sons and daughters.
Pastors, elders, and the older women of the church will be even more vigilant.
But we’re not yet done with fear.
And lastly, as a committee, we recognize our own fears. As we labor, we feel the eyes of not only our Presbytery and denomination, but of other Christian brothers and sisters within the evangelical world. We fear getting things wrong. And we fear not understanding accurately the perspectives of Revoice, Memorial, our brothers who sent letters of concern, and (by no means least) the many same-sex-attracted (SSA) Christians in our churches. There has been much fearful and alarmist rhetoric in these discussions already, and we fear adding to that cacophony instead of helping to cast out fear so that love may be perfected.
There it is again: “there has been much fearful and alarmist rhetoric” amounting to a “cacophony.”
Then, lest there remain any smallest doubt, the goal of the Committee’s rhetoric of fear is made clear: in dealing with out and loud homosex and effeminates of Revoice, the larger church must put away fear. It must be “cast out so that love may be perfected.”
We ask that all of our readers join us in the prayer and hope that the Holy Spirit would use this report to help us all know and better love one another in grace and truth. We hope that as we do, all those involved—our critics, Revoice, and Memorial, and our SSA brothers and sisters will know that we have tried diligently to understand their concerns and fears.
This is the Committee’s introduction to their report, and if you wish, you may stop reading now. It doesn’t get better.
The Missouri Presbytery Committee on Revoice wants to help us turn away from fear and embrace love. Among the naive, fear and love never embrace.
The Committee will try to deal gently with our fears. They’ll try to be understanding of our fears. They’ll even admit it might have been helpful for Pastor Greg Johnson, his Memorial Presbyterian Church Session, and all the Revoice Covenant Theological Seminary alumni to themselves respond to this cacophony at a much earlier date in a much more understanding way.
But make no mistake: fear of sodomitic sexual identity and effeminacy have no place among believers if they are committed to love. Simple Christians’ fear of breaking the Seventh Commandment and fear of God has no place in this report.
This is the first in a series of close readings. For all Warhorn articles on Missouri Presbytery’s Revoice Report, see here.