Rebecca McLaughlin: Gospelizing Idolatry at TGC Part II

This article is the second in a series on Rebecca McLaughlin’s breakout session at a recent conference from The Gospel Coalition (TGC). (See Part 1 here.)

McLaughlin has recently published a book on apologetics which seeks to prove that the Christian faith has always bowed down to the most fashionable ideological idols of our day.

Her talk opened with her pronouncement that our non-Christian friends despise our religion because in it they see:

“A white-centered religion with a Bible that condones slavery and a history of racism; a homophobic religion that denigrates women, and a refusal to acknowledge that love is love.”

At the end of her talk, McLaughlin zeroes in on our homophobic black eye. To better understand the pleas she will make, we would do well to pause and reckon the historical stream in which she stands.

In 2014, Russell Moore, who is pictured above cozying up to Rebecca McLaughlin, did a novel thing at his Southern Baptist ERLC conference when he moderated a panel discussion titled Is it Okay to be Gay?

The panel consisted of 4 relatively unknown Evangelicals who claimed to be presently or formerly “Same Sex Attracted” (SSA): Rosaria Butterfield, Jackie Hill Perry, Chrisopher Yuan and Sam Alberry. These specialists offered expert opinion on how to create loving, safe spaces in our churches for SSA Christians or seekers. Along the way, they voiced the core tenets of what would become a movement.

The core tenets of the SSA Christian movement are:

  1. SSA does not stem from early trauma and is always unchosen, very possibly inborn;
  2. Conversion to Christianity does not necessarily remove this attraction, which may be lifelong;
  3. Same sex attractions are not sinful if not fleshed out;
  4. The church is historically guilty of deeply oppressing and alienating this group;
  5. All sins are equal, and same-sex sexual activity is a sin like any other.

Presenters relied almost exclusively on personal narratives to support their claims. Few scriptures were referenced. The net which ensnared many of us as we listened was this:

We heard these compassionate voices emphasizing their strong Biblical commitment to abstain from homosexual sex, but we failed to notice that a new, devilish sin was being defined. The finger was pointing straight at us: homophobia.

Over the next several years, such expert panels and interviews were repeated at so many Evangelical gatherings they’ve become almost cliche, as are their tenets in our churches.

2018 broke records for aggressive Evangelical conferences. This year brought us MLK50, another Russell Moore ERLC gathering where we learned to never underestimate our guilty past against marginalized minorities, and Revoice, the conference held in a PCA church “to promote LGBTQ flourishing in the church.”

Revoice was sexual minority oppressed Marxism 101 from the opening session wherein Nate Collins asserted gay Christians’ persecuted status qualifies them to be “modern Jeremiahs” calling straight folk to repent of our “family idolatry.” Weeks later, Tim Keller and Sam Alberry’s Living Out conference introduced an audit to codify and track forms of Evangelical oppression against sexual minorities in our churches.

The above background sets the stage on which Rebecca McLaughlin stands as she speaks out for the sexual minority oppressed.

“People say that the Bible condemns same-sex relationships. I beg to differ. The Bible commands same-sex relationships at a level of intimacy we as Christians seldom reach.”

What in the world is this sleight of hand?

“Indeed, Paul calls his friend Onesimus ‘his very heart’…If we are going to reclaim sexuality in the next generation we will need to reclaim fierce, abiding, non-erotic, non-romantic love.”

Here McLaughlin voices a recurring deception of this movement: the myth that intense same-sex friendships divert and satisfy homosexual desires. If the church capitulates to this one, our pews will soon be filled with unquestioned, long-term, committed “friendships.”

McLaughlin posits her own story, which is brief indeed:

“I’ve been romantically attracted to women since childhood, and if I were not a Christian I’d likely be married to a woman not a man.”

Note: This testimony has not a hint to sin, repentance, forgiveness or even an ongoing struggle. It is simply a nod to identity. McLaughlin proceeds to normalize her Christian, married SSA status:

“14% of women are attracted to other women (while 7% of men are same sex attracted) and of those only 1% are exclusively same-sex attracted, so if there are 100 women in your church you will probably know 13 women like me. Some of them will be married with children.”

Again, no biblical terms. No defining categories for this sin. When Rebecca McLaughlin does get around to hinting at Biblical obedience here are her words:

“We don’t chose our attractions but we do chose our actions…For some of us, choosing a God-honoring life-style will be intensely hard. It will mean denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Christ in the most profound way.”

Here is an oft-repeated Bible phrase out of context and emptied of it’s power. It makes a great martyr of the one not acting out their SSA urges and speaks nothing of the Holy One who calls and radically transforms his disciples. And still no mention of sin, repentance, forgiveness.

“For all of us, married or single, straight or otherwise, we are in the same boat, and if we’re going to reclaim sexuality in the next generation we need to throw out the them and us mentality.”

McLaughlin closes in with her marching orders:

“For too long we have let our siblings shiver in the dark, feeling that they are weird and unwanted and unloved. Our churches must become places where same-sex attracted Christians are embraced and encouraged in their discipleship. In fact, faithful, Christ-following, self-denying, SSA Christians in our churches are not an embarrassment. They are an asset. People are stopping their ears to the gospel because they think we’re homophobic bigots. Same-sex attracted Christians are our God-given SWAT team to burst through those defenses… We must repent of the way we have allowed racism to thrive in our churches. We must repent of the actual homophobia that has infected our thinking for years.”

Bigots… homophobes… “sibling shiverers”; faithful… Christ following… self-denying... the true villains and heroes couldn’t be more starkly portrayed.

Rebecca McLaughlin’s final word on this topic was in the Q&A section of her talk. When someone asked about elementary-aged children with gender transitioning friends, she counseled,

“We must teach children not to stigmatize people for the very real experience they have of gender dysphoria.”

After hearing Rebecca McLauglin’s message and the advancing SSA Christian movement for which she speaks, here is a question to ponder: What would cause more offense in your church: saying out loud that having vile affections is worse than other sins — and using biblical terms to describe it? Or saying someone is a “faithful SSA Christian”?

“Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).
“Save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained with flesh” (Jude 1:23).
“And such were some of you; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 6:11).