On November 21st, Tom Ascol of Founders Ministry, wrote a piece encouraging either Karen Swallow Prior to “reconsider her endorsement of Revoice and withdraw it or that Danny Akin will reconsider this hire and retract it.” Though I’m not sure how viable that first option is for her because Ascol also framed the discussion this way:
…one of our seminaries just hired a professor who doesn’t have enough discernment to recognize a false religion for what it is. Is this who you want teaching your students? Is this how you want your Cooperative Program dollars to be spent?
I’m hesitant to enter the fray. Though I have great hope in the Spirit’s ability to change hearts and lead us into truth, I’ve witnessed far too many times when words are twisted and reputations are destroyed. I know what men can do with words and as one who tends to stay out of this stuff it gives me a bit of trepidation to enter. However, I feel that Karen Swallow Prior (KSP) is not being accurately represented. There is another side to this story which needs to be told.
Before I begin, let me say I do believe there is a legitimate discussion to be had about the nature of same-sex attraction and Christian obedience. I don’t know that I would completely agree with KSP on every point as this discussion would play out. For me personally, I tend to agree with those who do not adopt the moniker “gay Christian”. But this is a relatively difficult discussion and one in which I think good Christians can disagree upon. Though, I think there are views on either side which could be dangerous and unhelpful. I say all of this to say that I tend to agree with Rosaria Butterfield, Owen Strachan, and Al Mohler on this particular issue.
So why am I not in agreement with Ascol’s post? Why would I not also call for Akin to reconsider this hire?
Because I do not believe that Karen Swallow Prior is being accurately represented. For now, I’ll just note one glaring misrepresentation. Notice in the article Ascol’s representation of what KSP said to address her endorsement:
The reason why I supported the Revoice conference is because the people I know who organized it are people who believe in the Biblical sexual ethic.…I want to support those who are struggling with same-sex attraction in their desire to live up to a traditional Biblical sexual ethic….I still support its mission of helping Christians live faithfully regardless of what their sexual struggles are.
Notice the ellipsis. One might want to ask what’s missing here. What didn’t Ascol see fit to quote? I’ll help you:
My understanding was that that was the goal of the Revoice conference, I believe it continues to be the goal of the Revoice conference. I certainly did not agree with everyone who presented there or everyone who is affiliated with it but I still believe the church needs to support our brothers and sisters who want to live faithfully. With that said I do understand why the Revoice conference is problematic, I do understand why especially after the fact after it took place. My statement about it was offered before the first conference as a lead up to it. Because I disagreed with some of what happened there, I declined an invitation to continue to further affiliate with it but I still support it’s mission of helping Christian’s live faithfully regardless of what their sexual struggles are.
Why would he have left all that out? Because it provides a bit of nuance here. All he needs to further his article is a statement of her saying “I still support its mission of helping Christians live faithfully regardless of what their sexual struggles are”. Because this helps him then shackle KSP with the entirety of what Revoice believes and teaches. He can then bring out Butterfield, Strachan, and Mohler and juxtapose them to what KSP supposedly believes.
But ALL she is saying and ALL her endorsement has said is that she desires to help those who struggle with same-sex attraction live out a biblically faithful sexual ethic. And she continues to faithfully support that particular mission. She is not and has not said she supports every aspect of Revoice. In fact it’s the opposite. In fact her disagreements with the conference were strong enough that she declined additional affiliation.
At the end of the day there might be some strategic differences between KSP and Butterfield, Strachan, and Mohler. But she has signed, without hesitation or reservation, every important conservative document on biblical sexuality. Why would we be so quick to call those into question?
Ascol closes by asking “Are we willing to have faculty in our seminaries who endorse “gay Christianity” as a legitimate identity for those who claim to have been recreated in Christ Jesus?” Can you point me to the place where KSP has endorsed the phrase “gay Christianity”? Do you know if she does endorse that? You really don’t. But again that’s lost by the way Ascol framed this article.
What I also find interesting is that KSP actually responded to these accusations back in October and Tom Ascol did not see fit to publish them. Here are her words:
My statement about ReVoice was made in advance of the first conference. At that time, I thought that this conference would prove to be an important contribution to the overall conversation about God’s will for celibate, same-sex attracted. I ended up disagreeing with many of the speakers and many of the views expressed there. I believe some of them were wrong and unbiblical. However, I didn’t expect to agree with everything. (I have been part of many conferences and never expect to agree with everything.) My disagreements were strong enough that I declined a later invitation for additional affiliation, though I continue to pray for and encourage these brothers and sisters as they strive to adhere to the biblical sexual ethic. The thorns in their sides is harder than any I could imagine—including getting hit by a bus! I do appreciate how ReVoice has responded charitably to constructive criticism and made some changes as a result. We are all learning.
There you have it. As Danny Akin has tweeted and KSP retweeted, “She does not have any further connection with Revoice”.
So maybe there should be peace?