More than 400 LGBTQ Christians gathered in St. Louis to discuss a topic that makes them a pariah in the culture wars: their shared commitment to living celibate lives as a matter of faithfulness.
Over three days, presenters at the first-ever Revoice Conference talked about sexual minorities in the church, how straight people can be allies and intersectionality between race and sexuality, among other topics.
According to the website, Revoice aimed at “supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBTQ Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”
That last part — “while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality” — puts Revoice in the middle of massive cultural and theological divides that are shaking up Christian communities.
Amid greater acceptance of LGBTQ identity and same-sex marriage in the U.S., Revoice hopes to help LGBTQ Christians find a way to flourish while abiding by traditional Christian teaching.
This is a lonely road to walk. On one hand, organizers readily use language of identity common within the broader LGBTQ community.
They believe churches have generally done a poor job of serving that community. Many recall with dismay the “ex-gay” movement of the 1980s and ’90s that promoted conversion therapy (the notion that one could, with enough effort and prayer, change one’s sexual orientation) and touted spiritual techniques to “heal” gay attraction.
Revoice leaders reject such approaches because they’re prone to do more psychological and spiritual harm than good.
On the other hand, they also believe Christian doctrine forbids sex outside of heterosexual marriage. Many Revoice leaders are celibate or in mixed-orientation marriages (a male-female marriage in which one spouse has same-sex attraction or identifies as LGBTQ).
This differentiates Revoice from the Q Christian Fellowship and the Reformation Project, which advance full inclusion and affirmation of LGBTQ sexual relationships and marriage.
Revoice was denounced before even starting, from both sides of the culture wars.