In a major and heartening announcement, Covenant Theological Seminary President Mark Dalbey just announced that no faculty members would participate in the 2019 Revoice Conference. This event, which promotes that idea that one can be a “gay Christian,” caused considerable uproar in 2018 when held in St. Louis.
In his five-minute video, Dalbey says the following: “Homosexual desire is a result of the fall; it’s a sinful desire that is to be mortified and resisted and in no way dignified. … Covenant Seminary does not teach that a person should identify as a “gay Christian.” Covenant Seminary will not have any of our faculty speaking at the 2019 Revoice Conference.”
This is a significant development in the ongoing conversation surrounding “gay Christianity” and Revoice. To be sure, there are men and women who love the Lord and believe they are being faithful to the Word in promoting celibate gay Christianity. Further, where such individuals have broken with homosexual behavior in accordance with the Word of God, we give praise to God. But we must not miss that the Bible not only forbids such behavior, but also any taking of a sinful identity. The key passage here is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9–11).In the Greek, the opening to verse 11 reads simply kai tauta tines hete—“Such were some of you,” as we could translate it, or even sharper still, “This is what you used to be.” (On this translation see, for example, Anthony Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 453.) This language of personal identity is crucial to the conversation over “gay Christianity.” Paul does not merely say here to the Corinthians, “You used to practice these things.” He tells them that they formerly were this. This was the identity of the once-lost but now-redeemed Corinthians. They followed the flesh in many ways, and they were far from the grace of God and the newness of the new birth. Now, however, this people was washed by the blood of Jesus.
It is not unloving to teach these things. It is unloving to not teach these things and make them clear. Here is hoping that we will see continuing clarity in the evangelical community on these matters. We wish to love sinners, after all, according to the standard of biblical love. Biblical love is not affirmative of our sin; biblical love transforms us from a sinner to a saint. This is true of sexuality, idolatry, and too many ungodly identities and behaviors to count.
(For more on these matters, check out my coauthored book The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them. Gavin Peacock and I cover these issues in a concise and readable way.)