Revoice claims to uphold Christian orthodoxy while arguing that being gay is bad, a result of the fall, not designed by God, and yet, they also argue that being gay is good. But neither the Bible nor the Reformed tradition knows anything of the “good” results of the fall, nor the “good” of original sin. Good gifts come from God alone, by His design, not from the fall or sinful man (James 1:16-17).
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is currently embroiled in a controversy over the doctrines presented by Revoice. This is the beginning of a multi-part series responding to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) of Revoice . I wrote my dissertation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary arguing that Revoice theology is neither biblical nor Reformed . I hope this series of articles helps readers understand Revoice theology and provides a way forward for the PCA and Revoice. Please share these articles with your elders, deacons, teachers, and churches.
Revoice’s mission is “to support and encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted Christians—as well as those who love them—so that all in the Church might be empowered to live in gospel unity while observing the historic Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”  The latter part of this statement about gospel unity, like their FAQ, sounds like something faithful Christians can affirm; however, if we look closer at the language they use and compare it with the writings of their leaders, we will see that their theology is neither biblical nor Reformed.
Revoice’s Frequently Asked Questions
In their Frequently Asked Questions, Revoice writes,
Does Revoice Promote a Gay Identity?
The heart of our identity as human beings is that we have been created, male and female, in the image of God, to be in fellowship with God and to glorify and enjoy Him forever as fruitful and faithful vice-regents exercising dominion over His creation. The heart of our identity as believers is our union with Christ. Nothing defines our ultimate reality more than that He has taken all our sin and shame upon Himself, while giving us His righteousness; and that we have been buried with Him in baptism, raised with Him, have our life hidden with Him as He sits in the heavenly places, and will appear with Him in glory. It is these realities, not our fallen experience of sexuality, that serve as the defining and foundational truths of who we are.
That being said, many other facts about our circumstances and experiences as human beings impact our understanding of ourselves and our lives. And as human beings living in the aftermath of the Fall, there are facts about our experience of temptation and sin that impact our understanding of ourselves and our lives. These facts can be important for us to bear in mind and to share with others.
Most of those in Revoice’s leadership and most of its speakers openly describe themselves as being predominantly attracted to their own sex, whether they use words like “gay” or “ same-sex attracted” to do so. We believe there are many good and God-glorifying reasons for doing so, especially in our present cultural context.
First and foremost is the importance of being able to share our burdens with others, and receive support, encouragement, and accountability from them. Being open about our experience of same-sex attraction can also help with evangelism, not only to those attracted to their own sex, who may be surprised to know that someone like them can be faithfully Christian, but also to others as well, as the surprising discovery of a gay person living by a Christian sexual ethic is often intriguing and opens a door to further conversation. It helps other gay/same-sex attracted Christians to know that they are not alone in their fight, providing a vision for them of what faithful and obedient life looks like. It can also help other Christians find them as a helpful resource for learning about this experience. Finally, being open about our experience of same-sex attraction can help encourage the church as a whole to resist attitudes in the world outside the Church that claim that the Christian vision for sexuality is toxic and cruel to gay people. We believe it is good for Christians to see same-sex attracted people in their midst striving for holiness and testifying to God’s goodness to them.
At the same time, we recognize that there are ways we can think about our same-sex sexual attractions as they relate to our personhood that can be destructive and un-Christian, and that in our present cultural moment we are often tempted to look at our attractions in these ways. We think the concern about “identity” should focus on these problems, rather than on the language one uses, or the mere fact that one speaks openly about their attractions. These include: believing that our sexual attractions must somehow be followed or embraced in order to live a good life; believing our sexual attractions to be essential to who we are, such that we could not lose them without ceasing to be ourselves; believing that our sexual attractions are part of God’s design for us.
Some have wondered whether homosexual attraction might be a sinful twisting of something that is itself innocent and good. We recognize this as a possibility but believe it is unhelpful to dwell too much on such speculations. It is imperative for our spiritual well-being that we separate what is good and ought to be cultivated in our relationships with others from what is sinful and ought to be mortified. Grouping both of those under the label “gay” seems more likely to hinder than help that task [all emphasis is mine].
First, with a cursory read, this sounds biblical. However, if you’ve read Revoice speakers and the works of their advisory council, you’ll notice that they separate same-sex sexual attraction from same-sex attraction. They only reject same-sex sexual attraction, not the “good” of same-sex attraction or homosexual orientation, as the bold/underlined words show. In the sentence in “bold,” they reject that same-sex sexual attraction is essential to who they are; however, they do not reject that same-sex attraction is essential to who they are. That’s partly why they refer to themselves as “gay Christians.” Even though they argue that homosexuality is a result of the fall, and is not designed by God, they do not believe one has to repent entirely of homosexuality. In order to be a faithful “gay Christian,” according to Revoice, one only needs to repent of same-sex sexual attraction, not same-sex attraction. This is not a biblical or Reformed understanding of sin. Can you imagine making a similar claim about adultery, incest, pedophilia, voyeurism, fetishism, pride, greed, etc. or any other sin? Of course not.
Second, in the final paragraph, they double-speak. They begin by saying that homosexual attraction is possibly the “sinful twisting of something that is itself innocent and good.” This, again, is not a biblical or Reformed view of sin, and therefore, is not a possibility. Homosexual attraction cannot be reduced to something “innocent and good.” In order to argue that homosexual attraction has as its foundation something innocent and good, Revoice has to argue that the foundation of homosexual attraction is God’s design. And if God’s design, good, turns into something sinful, evil, then God’s design leads to sin (Gen 3:1-6; James 1:13-15). Yet, the apostle Paul argued that the pagans, though they knew God, turned true worship upside down by worshipping the creature rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:21-23). Pagan worship is not the twisting of worshipping the true God but is rather an entire rejection of the true God. Likewise, pagans turned sexuality upside down by having homosexual desires and actions (Rom. 1:24-27). Homosexual attraction is not the twisting of God’s design but an entire rejection of God’s design. It is “unnatural,” not something that starts out as natural and becomes unnatural; just as pagan worship does not start out as true worship. Homosexual attraction is unnatural from beginning to end. Its source is entirely the fall and original sin, a complete rebellion against God’s design.
Third, they also double-speak by arguing that calling good aspects of their relationships “gay” blurs the line between sin and holiness. Yet, Nate Collins, the Founder and President of Revoice , and Wesley Hill and Matthew Lee Anderson, members of the Revoice Advisory Council, all argue that there are aspects of being gay that are good and holy.
Before I present quotations from Collins, Hill, and Anderson, consider how the confessional documents of the PCA, the Westminster Standards, define sin and holiness.
The Westminster Confession (1646)
Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1647)
The Westminster Standards are made up of “The Westminster Confession of Faith” and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. In “The Westminster Confession of Faith,” concerning original sin remaining in Christians, they stated, “This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated (1 John 1:8, 10; Rom. 7:14, 17–18, 23; James 3:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20); and although it be, through Christ, pardoned and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin (Rom. 7:5, 7–8, 25; Gal. 5:17).”  The 135 Westminster divines confessed that all motions from original sin in believers are sin.  Furthermore, the “Westminster Shorter Catechism” in Question 72 said the seventh commandment forbade “all unchaste thoughts.”  Additionally, again in question 81, it taught that all inordinate motions and affections for one’s neighbor’s possessions was forbidden by God. 
Similarly, the “Larger Catechism” in Question 99, explained which rules to follow in order to properly understand the Ten Commandments:
- That the law is perfect, and bindeth every one to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience for ever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin (Ps. 19:7; James 2:10; Matt. 5:21–22).
- That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures (Rom. 7:14; Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37–39; 5:21–22, 27–28, 33–34, 37–39, 43–44).
- That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden (Isa. 58:13; Deut. 6:13; Matt. 4:9–10; 15:4–6); and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded (Matt. 5:21–25; Eph. 4:28): so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included (Ex. 20:12; Prov. 30:17); and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included (Jer. 18:7–8; Ex. 20:7; Ps. 15:1, 4–5; 24:4–5).
- That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto (Matt. 5:21–22, 27–28; 15:4–6; Heb. 10:24–25; 1 Thess. 5:22; Jude 23; Gal. 5:26; Col. 3:21). 
The Westminster theologians confessed that the entire human person is commanded by God’s law to conform perfectly. God’s requirement is not mere outward obedience, but inward obedience as well. Moreover, they contended that the Ten Commandments not only forbid certain sinful actions but also the “causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.” Those words are all-encompassing. There is no possibility left for nuance. Everything under the sun that leads to sin is sin because the smallest opposition to the law of God is sin. Again, as those great Reformers before them, the Westminster theologians taught that the law, not man’s will, determined what is sin. Additionally, sinful desire is said to be sin in answers to questions 138, 139, 147, 148, and 149 in the “Larger Catechism”  and question 71 in the “Shorter Catechism.” 
Now that we see how the Westminster Standards define sin, let’s see how Revoice leaders, Hill, Collins, and Anderson, define homosexual sin and homosexual holiness.
First, consider Wesley Hill. He is an Anglican priest and teaches at Trinity College of Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. The school’s confession is the “39 Articles” of the Evangelical Church of England. At the 66th Annual Meeting (2014) of the Evangelical Theological Society, Hill presented a paper titled, “Is Being Gay Sanctifiable: Scripture and the Great Tradition on Same-sex Love and Christian Friendship.” Hill takes an interesting position in his paper. He breaks same-sex attraction into two distinct realities: same-sex sexual attraction and same-sex attraction:
It seems to be important to make some kind of distinction between an inclination to have sex with persons of the same-sex and a broader sensitivity or sensibility that is part of what modern Psychology refers to when it uses the language of homosexual orientation. Furthermore, it seems important to me to stress that much of what falls under that latter rubric, so not the homosexual inclination but the homosexual orientation, may be not actively sinful but rather the fruit of a Christian ascetic effort to reorder one’s homosexual inclinations. 
Same-sex sexual attraction refers to the homosexual inclination to have sex with persons of the same-sex, and same-sex attraction refers to “homosexual orientation” or broader same-sex desire. To Hill, same-sex sexual attraction is sinful and must be mortified. However, the non-sexual aspects of homosexual orientation are not sinful and can be sanctified. In this paper, he argues that Paul condemned same-sex sexual desire and actions in Romans 1:24, 27, but not “homosexual orientation” or same-sex attraction.  He does not believe that same-sex attraction can be reduced to “lust” or “sin” because it cannot be reduced to sexual desire. 
 Revoice, “Our Mission and Vision,” Revoice, Accessed August 8, 2019, https://revoice.us/about/our-mission-and-vision/ .
 “The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646),” in 1600- 1693, vol. 4 of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation , ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 242.
 Dennison, Jr., introduction to “The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646),” 232.
 “Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647),” in 1600-1693, vol. 4 of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation , ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 363.
 “Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647),” 364.
 “Westminster Larger Catechism (1647),” in 1600-1693, vol. 4 of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation , ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 320-21.
 “Westminster Larger Catechism (1647),” 333-34, 337-38.
 “Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647),” 363.
 Wesley Hill, “Is Being Gay Sanctifiable: Scripture and the Great Tradition On Same-Sex Love and Christian Friendship” (Mp3 of lecture, 66th Annual Meeting (2014) of the Evangelical Theological Society, San Diego, November 19, 2014), http://www.wordmp3.com/details.aspx?id=17313 , (21:00) – (21:38).
 Hill, “Is Being Gay Sanctifiable,” (00:00) – (26:30).
 Wesley Hill, “On Disagreeing About ‘Homosexuality’: A Thought Experiment,” Spiritual Friendship, December 17, 2014, https://spiritualfriendship.org/2014/12/17/on-disagreeing-about-homosexuality-a-thought-experiment .