Hey, Shelby Abbott here. Just want to give a heads up before you listen to this next program. Today's conversation on Family Life Today covers some sensitive but important subjects that might not be suitable for younger ears. So please use discretion when listening to this next broadcast. Alright, now let's jump into it.
the rest of it and are saying well in one sense but would you rather have a starring role in a story that means nothing and goes nowhere where you get to do everything you want but it doesn't have any meaning and it doesn't count for anything or would you rather have a smaller role in a story that is profoundly beautiful that gives your life dignity and purpose and meaning and significance. Welcome to Family Life Today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So today is June 1 and it's the first day of Pride Month. And I'm hoping that we can serve and really help listeners walk into this month with a perspective of love, of grace, and of wisdom.
And Jesus. Yeah, and I think a lot of us, me included, are like how do I understand this? How do I approach this?
How do I love people? How do I talk to our kids about this? Yeah, and it isn't just the month of June. This is a conversation that every family, especially Christian family, is going to need to have.
And should have. Year long. And so I can't think of a better person to come in and help us think through this than Sam Albury who's sitting right here in Family Life Today studios with a smile on his face. Sam, we love having you with us. I love being with you. When you started saying that I was kind of mentally looking behind me to see if there's someone else here that is going to give us all the answers we need to this. Honestly, I can't think of a better person that I would want to have in the studio right now. Not just because of your book that came out 10 years ago now, right?
Is God Anti-Gay? And it's been re-released on like a 10-year anniversary. We'll talk about your story, but why has it been re-released?
Well, I never read my own books once I've written them because it's like listening to your own voice or something. A reason I needed to thumb through it recently, and I was thumbing through it thinking, okay, this feels like it's 10 years old. So much has changed in 10 years. That book came out in 2013.
Same-sex marriage wasn't a legal thing in the UK or the US. That immediately feels like decades and decades ago. The conversations have moved on, the questions have moved on, some of the language has moved on. So I realized, okay, I want to kind of go through the book, do some rewrites, add in some things now that are being asked now that weren't being asked then, and really reflect where the thing is at right now. And one other factor is I wrote the book originally primarily for Christians, and I've heard so many people who've used the book evangelistically. I thought, okay, if I'm going to do a rewrite, let's try and make it as accessible and as I can for someone who's not a believer. Even the foreword from Tim Keller, he mentions the same thing that, you know, in 2003 or 2013, when he wrote a book, Reasons for God, and you asked people on the street that were outsiders to church what their opposition or their, you know, resistance to church and Christians' sexuality wasn't mentioned. And now that's going to be one of the top three or four things.
And so, man, it needed to be redone. If you haven't already read a lot of Sam's other books, he's a pastor, he's an apologist, he's an author, he's a speaker, he's just a good man. Some of your books include What God Has to Say About Our Bodies, Why Does God Care About Who I Sleep With, and you've also started writing some children's books, even on marriage, of why God instituted marriage. So, let's start with your story. I mean, page one in your introduction, I first began to properly understand something of my sexuality around the same time that I began to understand Jesus Christ. So, take us back.
Yeah. So, I was around 17 years old. That's when I first started to hear the gospel. And that was around the same time I was beginning to acknowledge to myself that I was attracted to guys, not attracted to girls. This was in the early 90s, so very different world to the one we live in now. I didn't have anywhere externally to process that.
People weren't talking about those things in the way that we are now. So, it was just me in my own head, which is never a good start. So, yes, I was just beginning to think, okay, I think I'm gay. And I was then beginning to think through what to do about that. And I remember saying to myself, well, when I go to university, I was looking to universities in different places than where I've grown up. And I remember thinking maybe when I go there, I can start to explore my sexuality and then no one at home would ever need to know.
That was my plan. And then I heard the gospel and became a Christian, which hadn't been part of my plan. Had you ever heard the gospel before? Not really.
I mean, I'd sort of grown up in sort of Southern England. So, you hear bits and pieces about Christianity in the Bible, but I'd never really heard the message of God's grace. I'd heard the sort of the ethics of Jesus and by implication, this is the ethical way to live. And I never quite understood how his death fitted into anything because if it's go and be a good person, I don't know why someone then has to hang on a cross. So, I heard the gospel clearly for the first time when I was 17.
And that's when I thought, okay, this is what this is all about. It's God being kind to lost and bad people, rather than as I'd assumed growing up, Christianity being about God congratulating good people. So, when I began to hear grace taught, I was like, oh, this makes sense of not just what Jesus says, but of what Jesus did. So, he wooed you to himself.
He did. And I remember thinking very early on as I began to process the gospel, I remember realizing I need this. My heart is not right with God. I remember having this overwhelming conviction that Jesus had died for me, that I needed forgiveness through his death and that I could trust him. I didn't know what following him would involve. I had no idea what discipleship looked like. I didn't know what Jesus said about any of the kinds of things we're talking about today. But I knew that he loved me, whatever he did say would be okay because it's Jesus. Who shared the gospel with you?
The very first time I heard it was I was invited to a youth ministry at my local church, a couple of friends who were in that youth group. And it was an older guy from the church. In my mind, he was ancient, but when I was 17, so he may have just been 40.
He was an older guy. And he just explained how Jesus came, how the Bible's not about good people for us to copy, but bad people to whom God was good. And showed how Jesus is the one exception. Jesus was a good person. And yet he took our punishment for us. And I remember thinking, okay, this Jesus is way more compelling than the kind of vanilla Jesus I had grown up imagining, the kind of looks like one of the Bee Gees, sounds a bit like Gandhi kind of image I had of him.
Just go off and be ethical. Which is a kind of a bland Jesus, but this Jesus was far more compelling to me that he would give himself for me. I just remember thinking, this is someone I can build my life on. Now, as you come to Christ as a 17-year-old and you're thinking through your sexuality, was that primary? And as you decide I'm going to follow Christ, I want answers on this or I need to know how to live? Because I know for me, I came to Christ my junior year in college, I'm 20 years old.
I'm attracted to women. And my first question to my discipler was about what does God say? What's the Bible say about sex before marriage? Because I had heard rumors and it's all I, and I was like, I want to honor God, what's he say? Was that an important question for you or did that come later? It was an important question for me. And again, I hadn't been planning on acting on anything yet, partly because feelings of shame about it.
So, I didn't already have skin in the game in the sense of I hadn't already started down the path of having a same-sex relationship. But it was important because I wanted to know where things would stand with Jesus on this. But again, I knew I wanted to follow him, so I knew I was prepared to follow him whatever he did end up saying.
I just didn't know what he did say. And looking back on it now, it was the week I turned 18 that I kind of consciously gave my life to Christ and the timing of the Lord was perfect. It was late in life enough that I can still remember what it feels like to be an unbelieving 17, 18-year-old. But it was early enough that I hadn't done a lot of stuff that I would now grieve over.
So, I'm very thankful that he broke in before I'd had the opportunity to act on a lot of these things. It's interesting because I had those same thoughts I gave my life to Jesus when I was 16. I have a lot of baggage in my past from there's a lot of porn in my home that I viewed and saw growing up through other people.
I have sexual abuse in my background. And because of that, probably I was incredibly promiscuous at a very young age. And when I gave my life to Jesus, that was one of my first questions too. Like, God, what do you say about sex?
I had no idea. And I'm thinking the three of us had those thoughts. And I'm thinking about the parent listening.
Like, our kids want to know the answer to that. What does he say? Sam, I love your view of Jesus like so gracious, so loving, so kind.
I felt like that too. Like, oh, I want to follow him. If he loves me like that, I want to follow him. Wherever he goes, that's okay.
Yes. And no matter what he says, I may not do it perfectly, but I want to do what he says. And I didn't know at that point what he did say. I had no idea what his views on sexuality was.
I just knew that I was going to follow him. And whatever his views were would be okay because it's him. So God gave me that kind of faith very early on, which I'm grateful for because when I eventually did come to understand what he teaches, and it's obviously very challenging, I didn't question the goodness of it because I already knew that Jesus was good. I didn't necessarily like everything he said, but I liked the guy who was saying it.
And that was enough. I highlighted even last night, early in your book, you say, God's word, I'm quoting here, God's word to me on this issue at times feels confusing and difficult, but it is nevertheless deeply and profoundly good. The gospel of Jesus is wonderful news for someone who experiences same-sex attraction.
Walk that out a little bit. I mean, that is a beautiful statement that I think some people say, oh, no, it's not good news. And you're saying, no, it's profoundly good news.
Why do you say that? Well, it's not good news if your main reference point is how much stuff do I get to do that I want. It's really bad news if that's your outlook, but it's bad news for everyone if that's your outlook.
It's profoundly good news because of the story he's inviting you into. I was just talking with someone this week who was kind of complaining about the Christian sexual ethic and saying, you know, it's all hardship and denial and all the rest of it. And I was saying, well, in one sense, but would you rather have a starring role in a story that means nothing and goes nowhere where you get to do everything you want, but it doesn't have any meaning and it doesn't count for anything? Or would you rather have a smaller role in a story that is profoundly beautiful that gives your life dignity and purpose and meaning and significance? So just purely on the metric of do I get to do what I want sexually? Yeah, Christianity can feel like bad news. But if we raise the metric to do I want my life to count for something?
Do I want my life to mean something? Because if you take the secular sexual ethic, you have to take the secular story too. You can't say, well, I'm going to do whatever I want sexually without also taking the fact that if that's the case, your life doesn't mean anything. Whereas Jesus is inviting us into discipleship. He's inviting us into denial. He's so upfront about that. But he's inviting us into a story where we get to be part of something so profoundly beautiful, which actually then far eclipses, you know, our desires for sexual satisfaction anyway.
Okay, sexual satisfaction turns out wasn't that big a deal. But what Jesus is inviting us into really is. I love that it's so beautiful. And the way you paint the picture of it is so beautiful. I think as we think about marriage or sexuality or our desires that will bring us fulfillment, now that I'm older, I can say those things are nothing in comparison to the beauty of the gospel and knowing Jesus. That's because she's married to me.
That's probably what I just heard. We have a great marriage. You're amazing. But still, nothing compares to. I agree a thousand percent. But when you're younger, you don't really get that. And a lot of people don't have that good view of God, that he's good. And I think part of where we haven't always helped ourselves in the wider Christian communities, we've sometimes just given people the negatives without any of that sense of here's how we taste the goodness of God. We've given a list of thou shalt nots, which are true and they're there, but they're there in the context of a much more compelling story. So, we need to give that wider context to this is why a good God would say these things about sexuality. Now, help us understand because, you know, the narrative seems to be if I follow Christ and I live out God's design for my sexuality, if I'm same-sex attracted, he's asking me to deny my identity. This is who I am. And I know you write about this. So, I think your perspective is so needed.
How do you separate that? Because I don't sense any of that in your perspective, but I often hear that as the narrative is this is who I am. This is not what I should do then. God's asked me not to be who I am. DS Yeah, it's one of those assumptions that that is often subconscious. People aren't always even aware it's happening, but we've imbibed this idea that your sexual feelings, particularly if you would say you're not straight, that your sexual feelings are who you are. They are your identity. That's part of the cultural narrative that we've received in the Western world in our time that this is who you are. You are your sexuality. And therefore, when someone says, well, you can't act out on those feelings, that's being heard as you can't be true to yourself. You can't be who you really are.
And that sounds so psychologically harmful and you're repressing your real self. But the question is, who told us this is who we are? And have we ever examined that claim? Does that stand up? Is that really compelling?
We just assume it. So for me, I just think there is so much more to who we are than our sexual feelings. Those things are often feel very significant. They touch on so many areas of life.
They're deeply personal. But actually the Bible gives us a far more rounded, richer, deeper view of what it means to be a human being than simply our sexual feelings. I think it actually shrinks someone to say they are their sexuality.
It just doesn't deserve star billing. Describe who are they in the fullness of God's creation. Exactly. So I've got a very dear friend who's not a Christian, is gay, young guy. And sometimes we talk about this whole issue of identity, but I find that actually I just try to treat him as someone who is more than his sexuality. So I'm asking about all the things that are part of his life. I'm showing him there's more to him than just, is he dating someone?
And if so, how's it going? That's one part of his life. I'm always interested to know how he's doing, but I'm trying to show him that I see more to him than just that. Because I think it sounds compelling to hear you are your sexuality. That kind of feels like it could be true. But what it, what it ends up implying is you can't really expect to have a full life without sexual fulfillment. If that's who you are, then that has to be going well for your life to be going well, which then makes it a very, very high stakes part of life.
And little wonder then in our current times, these things become the occasion for all kinds of mental health issues, for anxiety and, and even more serious things than that, because we're being told this is the key part of life. And it's very easy to hear you are your sexuality and to begin to believe that a life without fulfilling my sexuality isn't really any life at all. Sam, have people asked you that, like, don't you feel like you're missing out?
Oh yeah. They have. Well, and more than that, they've, they've not just said, don't you feel like you're missing out? They said, you are the reason that LGBT teenagers are committing suicide. Oh.
Because you're making them miss out. I had a pastor just last week reach out to me and say, are you really telling me my, my message to the young people in my church who are same sex attracted is that they won't have romantic fulfillment? This is a pastor? This is a pastor.
I remember thinking, there's an assumption behind that question, which is you have to have romantic fulfillment to really do it. That's not a Christian insight. That's not part of the Christian story, but he's so imbibed that cultural narrative from the world around us.
And it, you know, it misunderstands so much about what we're truly made for. And part of me wanted to say, well, actually we, we do have romantic fulfillment when we collapse into the arms of Jesus, not in a kind of icky, weird way, but in that Jesus is a bridegroom. And so deeper than my romantic feelings are, are the yearnings I have to know and be loved by my creator as the deer pants for the water. So my soul longs for you, my Lord. It's that kind of thing.
You know, I was joking with someone recently that when I was 17, 18, you know, the sex drive at that, that age for a young man is, is pretty full on. But, you know, one of the things you begin to realize in with, with Christ is that there's this much greater longing. There's this much deeper appetite. There's this much more compelling sense of fulfillment that we can have in Jesus that just displaces and eclipses everything else. I mean, as you say that, I'm thinking a heterosexual marriage, we find the same thing.
Yeah. We think sexual fulfillment in our marriage is going to be the, the ultimate, but you get to a point where you're like, this is a beautiful gift from God, but this isn't life. There's Jesus is life.
But you know, I gotta ask you. It's easy to say at our age, but you're right, Sam, when you're in your teens and hormones are raging, it's hard. It can feel like there's nothing else to life. And the culture sort of tells you that too.
And you're by the line and you're like, okay, I've been lied to. So anyone who's, who looks like they're going to restrict your capacities for sexual fulfillment, sounds like they're taking your life away. Yeah. And that's the narrative.
That is definitely the narrative we've all heard, but I got to ask, you've been asked this a thousand times and I guess we got to answer it. Is God anti-gay? It's the title of your book.
And some people are like, you've never even asked him that question yet. So here it is. If there is no hope for our gay friends, there's no hope for any of us. God is offering us full free life in Jesus. Every single one of us. He should be, you know, rushing to the other end of the galaxy to avoid us. Yet he's moving towards us in Christ to embrace us, to love us, to enfold us into his eternal love. And he's doing that for every single one of us.
So he's not anti any of us whilst he's opening his heart up to us. We have this amazing opportunity to collapse into the arms of Jesus. And there will be things that we learn along the way. Along the way, there are things Jesus has for us as part of that life that we wouldn't always include in our definition of what full life should involve. But one of the ironies, one of the paradoxes of the Christian life is as we do voluntarily constrain ourselves to be obedient to Jesus, we begin to discover, oh, actually he's giving us life. Doing so is life. John 10.
10. Yeah. I came, Jesus said, I came that you might have life and have it to the full.
Yeah. And so those constraints he puts around us can often feel like he's killing us at times, if we're honest. And he even uses that language to take up your cross. But as time goes on, we begin to realize as Christians, I know at the very moments where I thought he was taking life from me, he was actually giving life to me. I used to think early on in my Christian life, you obey God so that you can be blessed by God. I came to realize actually obeying God is the blessing. That what Jesus is inviting us into is a much richer life than we would have come up with ourselves by far. I know that before I came to Christ, you know, I'm in college and I'm living sort of the wild life, didn't even know that the Bible said the sins of your father will visit down into the third and fourth generation. Well, my dad was a womanizing alcoholic and I'm a man in my 20s saying, I'll never be like my dad.
And I'm literally becoming my dad. And if you would ask me then why not become a Christian? I said, here it is.
I had thought it through. There's no fun. There's no freedom. There's no fulfillment.
I had never seen a Christian that really enjoyed life and had fun and laughed. I always saw, you know, and there was no freedom. I couldn't do anything.
You know, they weren't allowed to do anything. And then there was no fulfillment. And then long story short, when I gave my life to Christ, a few years later, I'm like, real joy is in Christ.
You talk about fun. Real freedom is not being in bondage to something you think is going to set you free. It ends up, you know, you're addicted to. It's in Christ. Jesus even said, I'll make you free indeed. There's like this indeed part. It's like you don't even know freedom until you're in Christ and fulfillment.
The whole thing is what you're saying is it's only found in Christ, but you can't know that until you experience it. Absolutely. Yeah. So, help us understand as a Christian, we're stepping into the month of June. As a Christian family too. Yeah. How do we process this month?
Yeah. It's going to be complicated for us because we won't as Christians affirm a lot of the things that are being celebrated in Pride Month, but we do love our friends. So Pride Month, I do want my gay friends to know how much they mean to me.
I'm glad that people can be more open and more honest. I might not like all the ways in which that is expressed in things like Pride Month, but I really do want people to know that they are cherished, that my life is richer for knowing them. I'm not going to agree with a lot of the things people will be promoting in Pride Month, but I hope they feel loved by me. Basically, our challenge is we want to love people better than the culture loves them. So the culture will celebrate someone's gayness in Pride Month, but I want someone to know I'm celebrating something far deeper in them and I'm celebrating it in them year round. They are made in the image of God and loved by Him. And I'm guessing you have gay friends. Do they feel that from you?
You'd have to ask them. But that's my prayer. I just want to, in some limited way that I can, reflect something of the heart of Jesus to them. Because Jesus has come to all of us at our sinful worst and loved us. And I want people to step into the love of Christ as He's let me step into it. We'll hear more from Sam Albury in just a second, but we want to love people more than the culture loves them. What a profound thought. Because real love, as human beings, this is what Christ does with us. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Sam Albury on Family Life Today.
Sam has written a book called, Is God Anti-Gay? And this is a new release of a previous installment of this book that came out many years ago, now updated with new questions, new content, and you could find a copy by heading over to familylifetoday.com or giving us a call at 800-358-6329. So I don't know if you have kids like I do, but don't miss this tip as your kids begin to get older.
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Again, look for Passport to Purity or Passport to Identity at familylifetoday.com. All right, let's hear more from Sam Albury about how we can celebrate the image bearers of God instead of merely their choices. You know, our hope is that everyone that's living outside of the Word of God would feel that from the people of God. Yeah, so I think of one friend who had come from a Christian background, came out, sadly was kicked out by his family, which I struggled with that decision. Went to live with a secular family who were very, very kind of affirming of his sexuality. And he came out on Instagram, had all the plaudits and acclaim you would expect in our culture today. But over time, he began to realize people were only celebrating his gayness. And I was trying to say to him throughout, there's so much more to you than this. And he began to realize actually it was quite a superficial acceptance he was experiencing, that there was more to him than this.
And it actually began to lead him back towards Jesus is to think, I want to be loved for, you know, holy, not just based on whether I'm gay enough for our culture and that kind of thing. When someone tells you that they're gay, how should you respond? Fair question.
It's actually kind of a tough question too. Well, David A. Wilson are joined again tomorrow with Sam Albury, who will be back along with our very own Rob Hudson to help us answer that question with kindness and clarity. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David A. Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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