Outside of the world of ministry to LGBTQ people, Revoice may not be something most Christians have heard of. Despite its inception just a couple of years ago, it has gained traction and criticism among the Christian community. For those unfamiliar, Revoice’s stated purpose 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.” Basically, they believe that sex should be between a man and a woman in the context of marriage and they want to be a place for those whose sexual orientation differs from the norm (or those who are simply non-straight) to receive care, support, and encouragement in their walk with Jesus.
Much of the criticism seems to stem from their use of the term “gay Christian” and whether or not it is helpful, beneficial, or even biblical to use such a phrase. I’m not writing to say why one should or shouldn’t identify this way, but more to say why I support Revoice and find it to be a place where I feel “at home” - not just in connection with my ministry but for me personally as well. I appreciate that with Revoice, one is not pressured to label or de-label themselves, but is instead given space to ask Jesus what might be right for them at this time in their life. If you’re interested in a conversation regarding Christians using “gay” versus “same sex attracted”, you can find a great dialogue between two amazing individuals HERE.
Having given a workshop last year (and will again this year) at their annual conference on intimacy and shame, I feel honored to be among such courageous, thoughtful, Jesus-loving people. These are not just peers in ministry, these are friends I trust with my life and my heart. They are people that have proven to be able to handle the messiness of my life, including my sexuality, when I doubted that others in the church could. These are people that, even though we might only see each other once a year, we can pick up where we left off and laugh until our faces hurt. They are people that can laugh at the intense frustration we sometimes feel with the church at large that continues to refuse to lean into really caring for LGBTQ & same sex attracted people, both inside and outside the church. They are the same people that just a few minutes later will cry with you because of the hurt you’ve received from people in your local church and will encourage you to stay the course.
But I don’t just support Revoice because we’re all good friends. I support Revoice because their heart for the LGBTQ community is similar to that of mine and Walls Down in that we are not satisfied with the way the church has loved (and failed to love) LGBTQ people in decades past. We’re not satisfied with a church that often only wants to create policies, procedures, and position statements surrounding a group of people they don’t have relationship with or trying to change people’s sexual orientations through therapies that LGBTQ people ultimately & frequently feel dishonored by. When I think of Revoice, I see brothers and sisters that are wanting to do the hard work of leaning in and creating care models for LGBTQ people where they feel honored and are given space to walk with Jesus in our churches without heavy-handed human demands to change their life in order to belong. I see in Revoice (and ministries like it) a way forward in loving LGBTQ people that restores the dignity that has been stolen by religious mindsets of the past. I see a way of stewarding my sexuality well, being a witness for Christ, and engaging non-churched, de-churched, or unsure LGBTQ people that doesn’t paint them as my enemy but allows for mutual disagreement AND respect.
I’m writing so that as ministries like Revoice gain traction and a space within the Christian world, you might be able to sift through all that is said and judge well rather than only hearing soundbites that could sometimes also be labeled as slander, gossip, & fear mongering. Some have asked why I would be associated with such controversy when this issue is controversial enough. The answer is simple – because I believe in the heart of what they are saying and believe that in the things they (and we) might be wrong about, Jesus will be kind enough to convict and shape our hearts to be more in line with his as we walk with him. Do I believe Revoice is right on all things pertaining to faith and sexuality? Of course not! They are in process much like I am. I have no need to agree with people on everything in order to be closely associated with them and to journey well together.
And if you are so inclined or curious, I would encourage you to attend their annual conference. I’m confident you’ll find a group of people that love Jesus, are seeking him with their whole hearts, and humbly acknowledge their dependence on him. I’m positive you won’t find people who know all the answers, but I’m equally positive you’ll find people that have been given some space to breathe as they seek to honor Christ with their sexuality and gender – something the church often fails to do. As the Christian church seeks to love LGBTQ people, I’m excited to be part of a larger community of people that, although holding to a traditional teaching on sexuality and gender, are also helping shift and shape a posture that looks much more like Jesus to this community that He loves so intensely.