Ex-Gay Ministry Evolves Yet Stays The Same: The Curious Case of RHN’s Battle Against Revoice

As I wrote about before, there is a surreal micro-hullabaloo between legalistic RHN (Restored Hope Network) leaders verbally tearing into the Revoice .Us organization and conference. Since then I have been increasingly concerned because not only are the hardline RHN leaders still openly verbally abusing LGBT+ people without any sense of personal responsibility for harm or humility, I am also concerned that some may fall for the ruse that somehow Revoice is actually inclusive of LGBT+ people for who we really are and not what they think we should be.

In my informed by 23 years of experience opinion, Revoice is yet another manifestation of exgay/conversion ministry ideology. They are what Exodus wanted to be after we closed it five years ago. Meaning we intended to start an organization exactly like what they are doing but couldn’t pull it together in the midst of all that happened during and after the shutdown of Exodus. The Revoice packaging looks shinier, the marketing is much more clever, but the program within it is the exact same unhealthy views of LGBT+ people.

I know many of the RHN and Revoice leaders from my past work with them. Now that my eyes are open to the truth, that you can be LGBT+ and loved by God for how he created us as such, it is bewildering to me that RHN and Revoice don’t seem to realize they are cut from the same cloth. Revoice is exactly like RHN in all the ways that ultimately matter to LGBT+ people trying to live out who we are and what that means in the context of being a Christ follower.

Some Examples…

I could go on with links and quotes for days but you get the point.

Neither affirm that LGBT+ sexual and romantic relationships are honoring to our partners, life-giving to our families, and blessed by our Creator. Neither will ever affirm that a LGBT+ marriage is just as healthy, and holy, of a covenant as opposite sex marriage and celibacy. Neither organization will fully accept the fact that “historic Christianity” is replete with error and abuse toward LGBT+ people to the point that the beliefs that underlie that terrible history must be abandoned, not rebranded with misleading use of LGBT+ affirming language.

LGBT+ people are deserving of the same resources and opportunities as straight people and couples, not cloistered away in some never-ending theological isolation chamber of “other than” status in the conservative church. Those of us who are LGBT+ people of faith will continue to go about our daily lives in personal observance or our faith. We will continue to be about genuinely loving our neighbors, and seeking to serve the greater good while seeking the best for our lives and families.

It is my hope that the tide will continue to shift as more and more people avoid both RHN and Revoice’s efforts to redefine our lives and experience to force fit us into their brand of exgay ideology.

2 thoughts on “Ex-Gay Ministry Evolves Yet Stays The Same: The Curious Case of RHN’s Battle Against Revoice”

  1. For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think you are accurately characterizing at least a number of the people I know at that conference. I am in a gay sexual, romantic relationship and fully affirm gay people, gay sex, and gay relationships as equally capable of being drenched in divine goodness as straight ones. But I know people at that conference who don’t have my view of sex, but who are actually more comfortable with their sexuality and sexual identity than I am, and who are perfectly great with same-gender romantic partnerships or even call them marriages if you want. My point is that your criticism lacks nuance in my reading of it. For whatever that’s worth, there it is.

    1. Your opinion is worth a lot so thanks for offering it. I don’t agree with you, but I genuinely appreciate your thoughts. The point of this post wasn’t to express opinions of “a number of people” at the conference. It was to clearly show that I believe Revoice is Exodus International reincarnated (who I used to be the VP of) and repackaged with LGBT+ vocabulary. Unlike Exodus, they are minus the hardliners (RHN). Yet, just like Exodus in the final days, they still believe the exact same core theology regarding sexuality and identity that the hardliners do. Nuance (shades of meaning) was not my goal. Clarity on what I believe is the bottom line, is where I was headed.

      That being, Revoice is repackaged exgay theology. Nate Collins also proves this in his CT interview where he clearly states:

      “Revoice is an organization putting on a conference, and the idea behind the conference is to provide a place for conservative LGBT Christians, people who are non-straight and perhaps experienced gender dysphoria of some kind, to gather and to be supported and loved in their attempt to live a long and costly obedience. We all believe that the Bible teaches a traditional, historic understanding of sexuality in marriage, and so we are not attempting in any way to redefine any of those doctrines. We’re trying to live within the bounds of historic Christian teaching about sexuality and gender.”

      Live a “long and costly” obedience is code for you can’t have sex with people of the same sex and either must marry the opposite sex and have sex with them or stay celibate. That is the exact same ex-gay goal I tried to live for 23 years. It is a legalistic and unnecessary burden to place on LGBT+ people. Plus, why can’t Nate acknowledge Queer (non-straight) and Trans people (outside of hurtful outdated terminology of “gender dysphoria”)? Because neither of those blessed group of people fit within “historic Christian teaching.” And…

      “You clearly state your views on sexual activity outside of marriage, but some are confused about your views about illicit sexual desire. Is that sinful as well?

      Sexual desire for someone of the same sex is sinful and something that I should repent from. But in this regard, some people are being too Freudian. They are basically saying that orientation can be boiled down to a desire for sex. And I don’t think that’s a biblical anthropology. I think a biblical anthropology should reflect something that’s more basic to the human experience, like God created us.

      Soooo… pretty clear. No different than previous manifestations of ex-gay theolgy. Orientation is broadbased and covers a lot of ground. Sexual orientation is pretty darn specific and should not be dismissed as being boiling down orientation into something “Freudian.” And , “God Created us…” LGBT+ to live, love, and marry the people we are attracted to (in every way including sexual.) He’s the one saying we “boil that down” but we don’t. We already do reflect what is basic to our experience and not reductively living out a “sexual orientation” centric life. We are living out our God-given-blessed-created “anthropology.”

      I find nothing new about Revoice except the attempt to redefine ex-gay theology with LGBT+ affirming language. It sounds great that they are acknowledging some of the hurt, estrangement, and pain that the LGBT+ community experience. It sounds nice that they say they want conservative LGBT’s to feel safe. But at the end of the day, they are preaching stigmatized theology and conforming to traditional/historic teachings about us; teachings and behavioral modification that in the end is shaming, hurtful, and deny us the full benefit of who we are and our relationships.

      I am all for people finding their own way and respect everyone’s journey. So you won’t see me protesting outside of Revoice or trying to convince a single person or even “a number of people” that they are wrong. However, I also believe that speaking up about what is clearly obvious to me is important. Especially for those wanting various informed opinions of how that world operates.

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