With others, right now I’m following the Washington, D. C., conference of The Reformation Project. Not protesting it or Twitter-crashing it–just following it.
This is not a new argument. Like Vines’s work more broadly, this is an argument made over the years by authors like James Brownson. This quotation, if accurate, does show that the movement seeking to normalize homosexual identity and behavior as biblically acceptable is also, at the same time, making the case for egalitarianism afresh in our time. (For a biblical response, see God and the Gay Christian?, edited by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.)
This is noteworthy. It suggests that there is exegetical momentum that accrues to embracing egalitarianism. Not every egalitarian approves of same-sex attraction. But there are a growing number of young, self-identified evangelicals who do. They embrace “equal roles” and they embrace “gay rights.” Vines’s book God and the Gay Christian makes this clear. He also approves of transgender identity, and tonight’s keynote address will feature a transgender speaker named Allyson Robinson. This may not be the first time a self-identified evangelical conference has put forward a transgender speaker, but this is likely the most high-profile address by a transgender person.
None of these developments surprises me. If we reject Scripture’s word on manhood and womanhood, we will be sorely tempted to reject its word on other subjects. There is serious momentum in self-identified evangelical circles toward the normalization of transgender identity, egalitarian gender roles, and homosexual identity and behavior. These things are increasingly of a piece; they certainly are for spokespeople like Matthew Vines and Rachel Held Evans, two of the most prominent young voices for egalitarianism.
I have said this before: I am intrigued by what effect these young, “gay rights” approving egalitarians will have on the broader egalitarian movement. These figures, after all, are not outliers within those circles and within evangelicalism more generally. Rachel Held Evans was featured in Christianity Today as a young evangelical leader. She was on the cover of the “50 Women to Watch” issue, though her views on “gay rights” do not seem to line up with CT’s editors (at least from what I, a CT subscriber, have read).
What does the future hold for evangelical identity and doctrine? I don’t know. I do know this: I and many others are watching events like this. More than this, though, I am praying for Vines, Evans, and the attendees of TRP. I want good for them, eternal good. I want them to flourish in Christ. I want them to experience the joy of repentance. I wish them no ill will; I want their good. They are human beings just like me, created in the image of God, possessing many gifts. They have infinite potential, and infinite hope, in the grace of God which leads to repentance.
It is not sin that leads to flourishing, after all. It is what Paul calls “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). This is true freedom. This is true liberation. Doing God’s will, and leaving sin behind, abandoned by the roadside, is the Reformation that everyone desperately needs.