When organizers announced the program for the first Revoice conference in 2018, the controversy surrounding the meeting was sharp and protracted. It was a conference appealing to so-called Side-B “gay Christians,” and it was founded in part as a repudiation of the Nashville Statement. Indeed, founder Nate Collins told Religion News Service in 2018 that he viewed the Nashville Statement as “pastorally insensitive” and as a form of “spiritual abuse.”
If the organizers of Revoice were trying to repudiate the Nashville Statement, they did a good job of it from the very beginning. The part of the Nashville Statement that seemed to offend so many of them was Article 7, which says, “WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.” Article 7 was trying to communicate that followers of Christ must not construct an identity for themselves that contradicts God’s design in creation. And yet, forging and expressing LGBTQ+ identities seems to be a central focus of Revoice.
A lot has changed in America and even among evangelicals since that first Revoice conference. Since 2018, Bible-believing Christians have been put on notice about the dangers of Critical Theory and its offshoots in queer theory and third wave feminism. In 2020, Carl Trueman published a watershed book explaining how people in the West have come to think of maleness and femaleness as social constructs—malleable concepts that individuals can shape and adjust by an act of the will. We have all been witnessing radical gender theory trickle down from the ivory tower to main street as countless public schools and HR departments are force-feeding this ideology to their charges. There has been as much as a 4,000% increase in adolescent girls identifying as transgender—many of them still minor children and undergoing destructive “medical” interventions, including double mastectomies and puberty suppression.
In this context, one would think that Revoice might retreat from radical gender ideology and its denial of the male-female binary. And yet, WORLD magazine reports that the most recent Revoice conference—held a couple weeks ago in Plano, TX—has launched headlong into this error. The report says that Revoice has changed, but not for the better:
Revoice has changed, too. Speakers have always emphasized homosexuality as an identity, not just a behavior. But this year, such assertions from the dais seemed more insistent, with speakers assiduously using civil-rights language to present radical change as settled truth. That identity rhetoric extended to transgender ideology. Speakers frequently referred to “sexual and gender minorities” and used preferred pronouns, along with terms such as women “assigned female at birth.” The group’s reach and influence are growing, but leaders now emphasize parachurch activities. Speakers frequently referenced ongoing rejection within the church and encouraged attendees to form their own spiritual communities in local Revoice chapters.
This doesn’t sound like a retreat from radical gender theory, but a doubling-down on it. The report goes on:
On the conference’s first night, attendees formed lines at registration tables. Organizers handed out name tags and instructed them to select a circular sticker letting others know their preferred pronouns.
You read that correctly. According to WORLD, Revoice encouraged conference attendees to use preferred pronouns. Not only that, they also had a speaker who was introduced with preferred pronouns:
One virtual presenter… was introduced using “they/them” pronouns and wore a black T-shirt with the inscription, “Imago Dei” in transgender flag colors. During the presentation, Hudson-Reynolds spoke with a therapist about the ways churches and pastors cause trauma by the way they handle LGBTQ people.
The use of preferred pronouns—founded in radical gender theory—undermines what the Bible teaches about God’s special, distinct design of male and female image-bearers (Gen. 1:27; Matt. 19:4). Yet this was how conference-goers were encouraged to address one another.
According to WORLD, this year’s conference encouraged attendees to leave churches that do not affirm their orientation/gender identity and to form LGBTQ “affinity” groups in their local setting:
[Pastor Greg] Johnson encouraged conference-goers to seek out family-like bonds within a local church but urged them to find a church that “support[s] your orientation as a sibling”…
Several Revoice speakers told conference-goers that if their local church does not support sexual and gender minorities, they should consider finding a new one or even moving to a different city. To provide opportunities for connection, Revoice organizers announced the formation of new local chapters.
“It’s like youth group for gay adults,” quipped director of care Art Pereira, drawing a laugh. So far, Revoice has eight chapters. Pereira said leaders expect to have 22 by next year, and eventually, one in every state.
Revoice doesn’t aim merely at being a conference. Its organizers aim at being a movement that spreads in churches throughout the country. And if your church doesn’t agree with Revoice teachings about affirming LGBTQ+ identities, then people should leave your church and find one that does.
And then there was this eye-popping paragraph, which reads like a break-out session from freshman orientation at a secular university:
During the conference’s two-hour lunch breaks, Revoice offered “affinity groups,” broken into various categories: gender minorities, family/loved ones of LGBTQ+, bisexuals/pansexuals, asexuals/aromantics, women “assigned female at birth,” mixed-orientation heterosexual marriages where one spouse remains same-sex attracted, and celibate partnerships where those who are same-sex attracted but celibate live together. In Side B circles, those are called “spiritual friendships.” Other affinity groups were categorized by race: BIPOC for black or indigenous people of color and AAPI for Asian American or Pacific Islanders.
I’m at a loss for commentary at this point. I would hope that the problems would be evident to any Bible-believing Christian. This kind of radical gender ideology is completely at odds with following Christ, and yet it is the very structure of a conference that is flying under the banner “Christian.”
Believe it or not, I am sympathetic to some of the stated aims of the founders of Revoice. To the degree that churches have mishandled people struggling with homosexual sin, I want to see correction and reform too. Certainly, we can all be better at loving the strugglers and sufferers among us well. But that reform cannot and must not include any concession to radical gender theory. Such concessions will only be a stumbling block to those who otherwise might wish to follow Christ.
I agree with Carl Trueman’s sober assessment:
One thing is now clear: to stay with Revoice is not merely to legitimate more than subtle distinctions about sexual identity. In truth, it is to lend support to the anthropological chaos currently gripping American society.
Trueman is correct. If earlier debates regarding Revoice were too esoteric for the ordinary believer, this report won’t be. It’s very clear that Revoice has chosen a path, but what this report describes is not the path to Christian faithfulness. Not by a long shot.
I guess it’s clear at this point that my differences with Revoice are significant and longstanding. Having said that, I am certain that I have some brothers and sisters in Christ there. I love them. I want the best for them. I want them to know Christ, to find a home among God’s people, and to be conformed to the image of Christ even as they walk a very difficult road. I don’t want this division between us to go on indefinitely. I want to cheer them on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). I’m praying for the Lord to bring clarity and unity in the truth. Perhaps if we all pray that way, it can happen sooner than we think.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.