Saying that same-sex sexual attraction is sinful means that LGBT individuals are “more like the rest of us” not less so, according to a conservative evangelical leader.
Denny Burk, professor at Boyce College and president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, gave a lecture last week on the debate over whether having same-sex attraction was itself sinful.
Speaking before an audience on Mar. 7 at the Chapel Banquet Hall at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Kansas City, Missouri, Burk analyzed how the Bible approached defining sin when it came to desires and temptation.
“Insofar as same-sex orientation designates the experience of sexual desire for a person of the same sex, yes, it is sinful. Insofar as same-sex orientation indicates emotional attractions that brim with erotic possibility, yes, those attractions too are sinful,” concluded Burk.
“Insofar as sexual orientation designates an identity, yes that identity too is a sinful fiction that contradicts God’s design for His creation. All of it is sinful.”
When examining how this applied to the debate over LGBT acceptance in the church, Burk stated that “to call same-sex attraction sinful does not make gay people less like the rest of us. On the contrary, it makes them more like the rest of us.”
“We are not singling out gay people as if their experience is somehow more repugnant than everybody else’s,” said Burk. “All of us bear the marks of our connection to Adam.”
“All of us are crooked deep down. All of us have thoughts and inclinations and attitudes that are deeply antithetical to God’s intentions for us. All of us need renewal from the inside out and that can only come from the grace of Christ.”
Burk added that he was not arguing that “all sin has the same consequence,” but he was stating that “all sins have the same source and that source is in every single one of us.”
“The odd thing about what you see in debates among the Christians about this is that we’re seeing some people wanting to treat same-sex sin as different from all other kinds of sins,” continued Burk.
“People are usually okay saying ‘if you desire something sinful that’s a bad desire, you should repent of it,’ except when it comes for this. What I am saying is that we are in this predicament together.”
Burk also took issue with the claim of some, including Matthew Vines in his book God and the Gay Christian, that the Bible does not address sexual orientation.
“These concepts of attraction and desire and orientation are altogether in the literature,” argued Burk, noting that the Bible has much to say about desire and attraction. “In fact, orientation is defined by those terms.”
“So this is the common way that the terms are used. Sexual orientation is defined by the direction of one’s sexual desire over time. Sexual attraction and sexual desire are essentially the same thing.”
Last year, Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri hosted the Revoice conference, a gathering of a few hundred LGBT individuals in churches who adhere to biblical standards of sexual ethics.
Revoice garnered controversy over claims that the conference was pushing pro-LGBT ideology into conservative churches. Critics included Michael Brown, host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program.
In a column published last year by The Christian Post, Brown noted that at certain times "the terminology used by Revoice speakers and presenters affirms LGBTQ+ talking points in unhelpful and even dangerous ways."
Brown cited one of the workshops being titled "Redeeming Queer Culture: An Adventure," arguing that a Christian should never self-identify as "queer."
"Even the concept of LGBTQ+ individuals as being part of a 'sexual minority' raises all kinds of red flags, as if sinful temptations and disordered desires grant someone a 'minority' status," he added.
Greg Johnson, lead pastor of Memorial Presbyterian, defended Revoice in an interview with CP last year, noting that “gays are part of our mission field.”
“They are broken people just like us who need Jesus just like us. Jesus didn't come to call the righteous but sinners,” said Johnson.
“The reality is that the Gospel has power, and Jesus saves sinners. Straight sinners and gay sinners and rich sinners and poor sinners. He saves them and calls them to a life of self-sacrificial discipleship.”
For his part, Burk has been critical of Revoice, arguing that the 2018 conference failed to add any tangibly new content to the debate on celibate gay Christianity.
“I don't think anything new has been added to our knowledge about the celibate gay identity movement that we didn't already know,” wrote Burk in a column last year.
“In short, the conference was of a piece with what has come before in books and articles and other conferences. Perhaps the only new wrinkle is the involvement of a PCA church and the questions that raises for that denomination.”
Last month, around 300 people attended “God's Voice,” a conference organized in response to Revoice that was held at Fairview Baptist Church of Edmond, Oklahoma.
“Our desire is to bring the clarity of the Word of God,” explained Stephen Black, executive director with First Stone Ministries and part of the God’s Voice Committee in an earlier interview with CP.
“God’s Word promises God’s grace which has the power to bring souls to a sincere, born again experience and to God’s transforming power.”