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NEW PCA CONFERENCE EMPOWERS LGBTQ PEOPLE
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, there’s a conference coming up in a PCA church, Presbyterian Church in America, in St. Louis from July 26th through the 28th. The name of the conference is “Revoice”. Todd Pruitt wrote in an article, “The stated purpose of Revoice is supporting, encouraging and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex attracted and other LGBT Christians so they can experience the life-giving character of the historic Christian tradition.” Harry, anybody who knows anything about the Scriptures would have a large question mark hovering over the top of their head wondering, “Is this right?”
DR. REEDER: Hardly a day goes by without people asking me because I am a minister in a PCA church. When I am asked about it, I say, “Well, I have three issues with this conference.” Let me tell you what one of my issues is not. I do not have a problem with a church hosting a conference to define and discuss and propagate how you call sin “sin” and how do you minister effectively to sinners who are entangled in that sin. I find that commendable if that’s what’s being done.
However, if you frame the conference from a secular world and life view instead of a Biblical world and life view, then I have a problem. Now, let me also say this: I will suspend judgments on the speakers in the conference until I hear what they’ve got to say. I have spoken in situations where you had a rainbow behind my head promoting the LGBTQ, but I came there to speak the truth in love.
And so, I’ll suspend judgment on what people say who participate until I hear what they say but I can and should apply some analysis to the framing of the conference by what has already been said.
What has already been said about Revoice? Well, first of all, it is set up to minister to those — and I quote now from what you have said, which is a quote from the website — “This is a conference established to help LGBTQ Christians” — gay Christians and bisexual Christians — “and to accept and navigate the historic Christian ethic.”
WE DO NOT IDENTIFY OURSELVES BY OUR SIN
It is absolutely unacceptable, untenable and unbiblical to identify any Christian by sin, in general, or by one’s embedded sin or entangling sin. In other words, I minister to people who deal with the issue of sexual promiscuity but I do not identify them, nor do I encourage them to identify themselves as “fornicating Christians” or “promiscuous Christians” or “pornographic Christians.”
We do not take entangling and embedded sins in our life that we are fighting and dealing with as the adjectival modifier of our Christianity. In other words, we don’t modify ourselves as any kind of Christian other than Christ-trusting, Gospel-driven, Spirit-filled … Biblical adjectives can describe us.
Do Christians have entangling sins? Yes. Do Christians have embedded sins? Yes, but one of the great hopes of the Gospel is you are not only forgiven from the penalty and shame of those sins, but you are also liberated from the power of those sins. You may have sin living in you, but you do not live under its dominion and you will be and can be liberated from the practice and eradication of those sins in your life.
WE WILL NOT ATTAIN THE KINGDOM WHILE EMBROILED IN THESE SINS
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6 that, “No fornicator, no adulterer, no effeminate, no glutton, no murderer, no drunkard, no homosexual shalt enter the kingdom of God.” Anyone who has surrendered to the idolatry of sin in those listed and there’s nine of them. And, by the way, seven of them were active with great horror in my life prior to my conversion. Some of them, God allowed me to walk away from the day of my conversion and some of them I’ve had to fight my whole life.
However, that’s the point: I don’t surrender to that as my identity in my life because the text goes on to say, “And such were some of you but you’ve been washed.” You’re not only washed with the blood of Jesus, but you’re washed with the power of the Spirit and the Word of God so that you are free from its shame and guilt and condemnation and you are free from its power and increasingly free from its practice.
And to identify any Christian with any sin is absolutely untenable and unbiblical. They may be well-motivated in what they’re doing, but it is counterproductive, unbiblical and untenable to call anyone a “gay Christian” and also to declare that the church is made up of sexual minorities as if there are categories of sexual sin that are embraced as a status within the church. No. Do we minister to sinners saved by grace fighting sexual sins? Yes, but we do not categorize them as minority groups within the church.
SIN IS INTERNAL AND MUST NOT BE PRESENTED TO OUTSIDE TEMPTATION, BUT FLEE
Thirdly, here’s what the Bible says in the Book of James: “Sin is the product of temptation and sinful desires.” Internally, I have a sinful desire — I lust — which is rooted in the idolatry of self. All sin is rooted in the idolatry of self. I am born with sinful desires.
Sin is not a created reality; it is a reality of our fallen nature and, therefore, the sinful desire is internal, whether it’s manifested in thievery, or gluttony, or drunkenness, or sexual promiscuity or sexual perversion, that is the product of my sin nature and, the remnant of it that still resides in me, the Bible calls it “the old man.”
Then there is temptation outside. Now, when temptation outside gets married to sinful desires, its product is sin — that’s its child — so how do I not have the child “sin” in my life? I get rid of sin by fleeing temptation and killing “the old man.” Sinful desires are not syndromes to be managed; they are sins to be mortified — to be killed — every single day. Some of these are very powerful, addictive, entangling sins such as sexual perversion and such as sexual promiscuity, but we don’t manage them — we kill them.
THIS IS NOT A NEW PATH; IT IS UNCHANGEABLE BIBLICAL ETHICS
Finally, we are not trying to help people “navigate a historic Christian tradition.” These are Biblical ethics. Biblical ethics is that sex is a gift from God within marriage and marriage is one man and one woman. That is a Biblical ethic, not a Christian tradition to manage, to tolerate, to conform to. It is a Biblical ethic to embrace in our life because we love the Lord and we love His Law and His Law is a gift to us of love. We don’t love His Law to obey it to be saved, but we love His Law because the one who saved us from our sins has told us this is the way we love Him and we love our neighbor.
Instead of embracing the sinful desires, we kill them. Instead of resisting temptation, we flee it. And that is what is missing in the framing of this conference. Hopefully, some participant is going to raise the clarion call of the Gospel: You can be forgiven of these sins, and you can be liberated from these sins and we are here to help you kill the desires and flee temptation by fixing your eyes on Jesus.
The Christian life is an ethic to embrace out of love to Christ — not simply a ritual or tradition to conform to with a managed life, but with a transformed life — and that’s why the Bible says, “And such were some of you.”
STAY STRONG IN LOVING THE SINNER, BUT HATING THE SIN
I love what Dr. Schaffer said: “I need to identify drunkenness as a sin, I need to identify prostitution and sexual immorality as sin, but I always need to be willing to clean the vomit off up the floor of the drunk and to provide a bed for the prostitute that leads the prostitute to freedom in Christ.”
You do not have to accept the behavior of a sinner in order to love the sinner — that’s a myth that must be dispelled. Nor is it loving the sinner by helping them manage sin. Loving sinners is to send them to the Savior, Who will set them free from its shame, its guilt and its power.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.