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. All right, now let's jump into it. Proverbs 18 and 13 says that if you give an answer before you hear, it is folly and shame. I can say things that are true that might not be wise.
And the more I listen to someone, the more I begin to get a sense of, OK, now I'm beginning to think about what might be a wise thing to say to this person. 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. Well, as we step into the month of June and it's Pride Month in our country, a lot of questions.
How do we navigate this? Especially as Christ followers, you know, do we embrace this? Do we reject this? Do we celebrate that? What do we do?
Do we talk to our kids about it when the kids at school are talking about it? So we decided let's give help. Let's dive in. To all of us, including ourselves. And we've got two men in the studio today, I think, that can help us. We've got Sam Albury back in the studio. Welcome back, Sam.
Good to be with you again. And we've got Rob Hudson in as well. And Rob, many of you don't know, but he's on Family Life staff and works in this area.
Rob, welcome. Have you ever been on Family Life Today? No, this is my first time. Are you nervous? Very. You should be. I've done this before. You should be. Thank you, Sam. That was very comforting. Rob, share with our listeners what you do at Family Life.
Sure. I help train our staff about how to navigate LGBT questions in ministry and then also help develop resources for parents with LGBT or same-sex distracted kids. And this is a new position, right? I mean, you haven't done this very long. So I just transitioned to this role in January, but the Lord has been preparing me to be in a role like this for the last 12 years.
And so it's a joy to finally get to be here. Yeah, now answer this. Why this position?
There obviously had to have been some desire to say we need this on our staff. As we've listened to parents and families from around, not just the U.S., but overseas as well, the question we keep hearing over and over again is how are we going to talk with our kids about gender and sexuality? How do we do this? This is so different than it used to be when I was a kid. I didn't even have to think about these things. And so this is one of the key questions that parents are asking, and we want to be able to come alongside them as trusted friends and say, look, first off, don't panic. It's okay that you don't know everything. We want to journey with you in this. And why you, Rob? Like, is this something that has resonated with you? Is this important to you?
Deeply, deeply important. So what's unique is as a straight man, I wouldn't think of myself as the right person for this. But the Lord captured my heart back in college when a very, very close friend of mine was trying to figure out their sexuality. And at the time, if you were gay, there's some very specific reasons for why you were gay.
You know, you had an overprotective mother, an absent father, you had experienced sexual abuse. We've all heard that. Right, absolutely. And you think it's the absolute truth. And until then, I had no reason to question that. But I knew this person's story, and I knew that wasn't true. They had a loving mom and dad who adored each other, a secure home. They were taken through Family Life's Passport to Purity. They had everything going for them that said this should be a heterosexual Christian male. And yet, this was their story.
The same week I found out about that, our campus was hosting their annual Spring Out Fest. And there was a table that said, question a queer. And the Lord said, if you are going to walk with your friend, you must go and learn how to talk about this.
And so I walked up to the table, and I'll fast forward a little bit. The next night, I found myself at their weekly meeting where they were going to be sharing their coming out stories. And I heard story after story of story of hurt, of rejection, of pain, where welcome was found in the arms of the LGBT community, and rejection was at the hands of those claiming the name of Jesus. And I felt the Lord say that your job is to be a bridge between the LGBT community and Jesus. And so that's how my journey started about 12 years ago. And the Lord has had a lot of things that have happened along the way ever since then that's just kept this community near and dear to my heart. Well, you know, as you say that, I'm thinking, Sam, you know, we talked yesterday about your story.
Have you experienced that? I mean, I wanted to ask you this yesterday, and I was saving it for today. When you decided to tell publicly, I am same-sex attracted, that's a big, courageous decision. Oh, yeah. How did you decide to do that, and how was it received, and how has it been received? Yeah, initially, I had no intention of ever doing that. It was going to just be your— Yeah, I told a few friends, I thought the people in my life who need to know, no, I'm done talking about this now, that's it. And a friend of mine even said, hey, do you think you'll ever speak about this publicly, or do you minister on it? I said, no way, I don't want to be that guy.
This was around 2010, 2011, 2012. As I saw the cultural shifts happening around us, I just had this burden from the Lord to speak into this issue as someone from the inside of it, and say, hey, God's word to people in my situation is a good word. I just wanted people to know the goodness of Jesus. So, I talked it through with my church leadership, and we all thought it was the right time and the right thing to do. Talking about my own sexuality is not what gets me out of bed in the morning, but talking about Jesus is.
And talking about sexuality is a wonderful way of talking about the goodness and sufficiency of Jesus. Sam, what about as you decided to share your story, that means your parents are hearing your story, and had they heard it before that time? They had. I'd been open with them before then. And what was their response? They just wanted me to know that they loved me, and I always knew that was the case anyway, but it's always good to see that. Stress tested and still true.
They've been very kind. Sam and Rob, both of you guys are ministering to people who are living contrary to God's design for their sexuality. There's a tendency for us to think that all people in that path are the same. They're the exact same. They all think the same.
Their relationships are the same. Help us understand, how do we navigate? How do we understand and be a Christ follower, be the light of Jesus in the world, especially in this world? I think maybe a helpful way to do that is to talk through kind of three personas of what it can look like to be an LGBT or same-sex attractive person. And maybe the easiest way to do this would be just about a month ago, I was on a drive to meet up with a group of believers who either identify as LGBT or same-sex attracted and are all pursuing celibacy. They get together once a month for brunch to fellowship with one another, to pray for each other, to talk about what does it look like to follow Jesus in my life in a place where I'm too conservative to be welcomed into the gay community because I'm not pursuing same-sex relationships. But I'm way too gay to be welcomed into the church. They have to create their own place of belonging because they don't feel welcome to their churches.
So that's persona A. Persona B would be on that same drive. I called a friend of mine who I've been walking with with them for about eight years, and they identify as gay. They hold an affirming position, meaning they would say that God is okay with loving monogamous same-sex relationships. But I'm still a Christian.
I'm following Jesus. So that's persona 2. So this is someone that says they're a believer but has a very different perspective of what the Bible says. And then potentially persona 3 would be my neighbors, the gay couple that my wife and I have been getting to know coming over to our house for dinner. So already right there, there's this huge swath of people that are involved in this that identify as LGBT, and you really don't know when you meet one. And this person is always not out there. This is someone that's in your church, in your home.
And maybe this is your story, and you may be married to someone of the opposite sex, but this is something that you experience too. I would just add to that, because of that, the Bible is so full of the repeated command to be people who listen well. So when someone introduces themselves to me and says they're gay, one of the first things I want to say is, what does that mean to you?
I don't want to assume I know what they mean by that. I think Proverbs 18 and 13 says that if you give an answer before you hear, it is folly and shame. I can say things that are true that might not be wise. And the more I listen to someone, the more I begin to get a sense of, okay, now I'm beginning to think about what might be a wise thing to say to this person.
Can you give us an example, Sam? Yeah, I think of a dear friend back in England who, not a Christian, gay man, started coming to church a bit, wanted to think about Jesus. This is how I got to know him. And I remember the first time he and I went out for lunch, he was nervous of meeting a pastor. And I'd say, I'd just love to hear your story. I've got no other agenda than that today. If you're comfortable sharing it, I'd love to hear it.
It would be an honor to hear it. And this is a guy who, he was 10, 15 years older than me. He'd been out and gay in the eighties before there was any kind of cultural cachet to being so.
He got beaten up for being gay. He was a hurt man, a wounded man. And again, that just gave me a sense of, okay, this is a vulnerable man here. You know, he said to me at one point, if you can't affirm me, I'm not sure we're going to be able to be friends. And I thought, given what he's been through, I can see why he says that. And I said to him, I can't affirm you, but I can give you this promise. I will never demean you. And I would always want to protect you.
If that's good enough for you, I would love to be your friend. How did he respond to that? We became good friends. He was willing to trust me on that. So actually it was quite funny because he was writing a gay romance novel at the time and I was writing his God Ante Gay.
Wow. Did you have writing parties together? No, no, but he said to me, would you be willing to read my book because a lot of my story's in it.
I said, okay, yeah. Do you want to read mine? So we both read each other's books as we were writing them and kind of compared notes and took them through. I mean, somebody that says, will you read my book before it's out? Trust you. You know, I'm an author. You don't let anybody see unless there's a level of trust. So you loved him in such a way.
He felt like you were a friend. And you know, when you said that, both of you guys, I thought, and maybe it's just me. You tell me if I'm right or wrong, probably wrong. I don't think we as Christians do a very good job of listening. We are all about telling people, judging people. They start to tell their story and we stop them and we tell them what they said and how they lived.
Am I right? I think we can do, I can do so much better. I was on a Zoom Bible study during COVID with these guys that my first time ever in this group.
Hey, Dave, will you be a part of this? And toward the end, they were like, you know, when you go out on the streets and you want to share Christ and people are antagonistic and they don't want to hear what you say, how do we get our message out? And I just sat there and listened, you know, because you'll be much wiser when you're the last guy to speak. So I just listened.
And basically the narrative was, you need to be stronger. You need to tell them why they're wrong and da, da, da. And then finally at the end, they go, hey, Dave, you have any thoughts? And I was the older guy and I was a 30-year pastor, so I knew they were turning to me like, well, you might have done this before.
You have any thoughts? And all I said was, I think we should go up to those people and listen. Ask them what their story is. They've got a story. And I bet they've heard everything we're going to tell them. Just ask a question and don't say anything. Just listen. And they all went, oh, it was like a novel thought. And it's just what you said.
I mean, especially in this area, right? They have a story that maybe the church has been a place they've never felt heard or seen. And you're saying, no, be that person of Christ that says, I see you and I hear you and I want to hear your story. I love that question, Sam. What does that mean to you? Even with our kids, if they come and they identify as something other than we would expect, to ask that question, what does that mean to you, hun? Like, it may not even mean what we're thinking, you know?
So I think I love that question. Well, and I think a really important distinction is that we can acknowledge without affirming. So often what parents are concerned about is how do I love my kid without affirming that what they think or that I think of what they're doing is or thinking and they're so nervous about there's so much fear.
And think of it like this. My six-year-old a few weeks ago came to me one evening and he said, Daddy, oh, my tummy hurts, I'm sick, I can't go to school tomorrow. Well, it would be unloving for me to just say, you're not sick, you're going to school tomorrow.
It's like, what parent does that? But I also don't have to affirm the path that he's laying out for me of because I feel this, therefore this and this. But I can acknowledge that the experience that he's having of his tummy hurting.
You can pull him on your lap. Absolutely. And I can be there and empathize, but I also, I can see the candy wrappers in the trash can.
Or more realistically right now, I also know that the school anxiety that he's having because he's in kindergarten and he's getting used to school, he's doing all this writing. And so I can enter into that in a very, very different place. So I think it's helpful for us to think about acknowledging is not necessarily affirming.
Let's go back to that persona number one and talk about that a little bit and get into that a little deeper, which remind us of the first persona. Here's what's fascinating. There was a 2015 study done that was one of the largest studies that's ever been done of LGBT people. And in this study, they found that 83 percent of LGBT people were raised in the church. 83 percent.
83 percent. And so for us to think about LGBT people as them, as out there, as away from us is just wrong. And remind our listeners when we say persona number one.
Yes. So this would be the believer who identifies as LGBT plus or same sex attracted, but is in full agreement with the biblical sexual ethic and they're pursuing celibacy. And, you know, I got to be honest. I've had people tell me that person can't be a believer. If you're same sex attracted, you're not a believer. Have you ever heard that?
Yeah, I've had people say that to me. Sam, where do you think that's coming from? In those who I think are trying to be good faith, I think it is someone trying to reconcile how can you continue to have an ongoing experience of a temptation of something that they would say is so wrong and so perverted if you have the Spirit of Christ in you. Which makes sense as a question.
I can see where that comes from. But I think I just want to say, well, which sins are you saying Christians can struggle with and which sins are you saying Christians can't struggle with and do you have a biblical basis for that? Because every New Testament reference to same sex relationships is in the context of a list of all kinds of sins, like greed or slander. So I just think we want to be biblically consistent in how we talk about temptation and sin. And if you're saying, well, actually that's a temptation a Christian, no Christian will ever continue to experience, you need to have some scriptures to back that up. And the biblical expectation seems to be that we will experience temptation in this life. So Sam, for the person that's sitting there going, well, what about the passage in 1 Corinthians that says, and such were some of you?
What would be your response to that? My response would be that the very fact that Paul says do not be deceived in the verses immediately before that, such people will not inherit the kingdom of God, implies there's still a temptation to go back to these things. Such were some of you, it's no longer who you are. It may have defined you, it may have been a sin that was in authority over you, but in Christ our relationship to sin has changed fundamentally. I still experience temptation, the old self is still around and hasn't left the building yet, but I'm not under the authority of sin in the way that I once was.
And so I don't have to sin. Who I am now is a new creation in Christ and I'm more defined by my future than I am by my past. So when sin says to me, come on, this is who you are, this is what we do, my response is, no, that's who I was.
It's not who I am now. I still feel the temptations to sin, but actually I'm never being more true to myself as a Christian than when I'm pursuing holiness in Christ. Sam, when I meet with my friends down in West Palm, I am astounded by the people who've counted the cost of following Jesus and said that Jesus is worthy when I haven't done that in some areas of my life. But because I'm straight, married, got kids, my life isn't under as much inspection as theirs is.
And so I haven't had to count the cost because the cost is not nearly as high for me. In this world that's telling my kids that whatever they want is what's good for them, my LGBT friends give a testimony that Jesus is better than what their feelings tell them. And that message is going to be more compellingly heard from Josh and from Christian and from Sam than it will be from me. I need men like Sam. I need men like Josh and Christian to help me raise my son.
Because there all comes an age when our kids look at their parents and they're like, ah, you're idiots. But this guy who said the same thing that you said, he knows what's up. I need men like Sam in my life to help my son see this is what it looks like to follow Jesus and that Jesus is worth it. I mean, Sam, how do you respond when you hear that? I want to push back on it a little bit because I need to learn that from my friends. I think that's part of how God has designed the church is we all learn that from each other. I learn that from my heterosexual married friend who I know is denying himself in the way he's being a husband in a way that makes me think, okay, sometimes it's easier for me to be me than it is for him to be him. So we are all wonderfully incarnating the gospel to each other and that the cost will land in slightly different places. It'll have different pinch points for each one of us, but each one of us is bearing the cost. And we all learn from seeing into each other's lives. If I was to get to spend more time with you, Rob, Lord willing, that would be a treat one day.
Lord willing. I would see so many areas where I see you going after Jesus in an area of life where I've barely flexed that spiritual muscle. So I think it's just part of God's economy that we all have that role in each other's lives as we pursue Christ. It is something to think of the beauty of what, Rob, you just said. We know what their struggle is because they've told us.
And so we say, wow, they're denying this area. But I think what, Sam, you're saying, and I think we all appreciate this. If you're following Christ with everything you got, everyone's denying some leaning towards sin that may be stronger than the next person in some area. And when you get close enough to their story, you're like, oh, my goodness, that's inspiring.
I didn't know you struggled with it to that level and you're winning this battle because Christ is more beautiful. That's inspiring. And part of me wants to get close enough to people to know their story well enough so that I can go, thank you for sharing that. And they will share because they feel loved by me. Such a privilege when someone shares their story like that and you get to see, okay, that's what's really going on in your life. Otherwise, we're comparing the inside of ourselves to the outside of someone else. And sometimes we have no idea what someone's going through. It's made you look easy and everything's just landed on a plate for them.
And you get to know them and realize, oh, man, they are really suffering for Jesus. I tell you, every conversation with Sam Alber is just rich. This was a great conversation that we had with Sam and then we brought Rob in. But I think it's easy as parents or grandparents to pull away from these conversations because we're not sure how to say things or we don't want to offend people. But these are conversations we have to have.
And that's why we had him on. It's like we want to help you, help us have these conversations in our homes and in our neighborhoods and in our churches. This is content that has to be shared. Because everyone I know is like, how do I talk about these sensitive issues?
And Sam, I can't think of anybody better. And let me say to those of you that support family life today and this ministry financially and prayerfully, thank you. I mean, you allow us to do this and get this into your hands, into other people's hands as well. And I know some of you are at a point right now that money is tight.
You're not in a position to be able to give. But there are others of you that maybe you're in a position or a stage of life where you can give. And it's people like you that can help us get this word out and get this ministry on the air and into people's hands. So, jump in and join our family. Be a partner with us. Let's change the world and we need you to do that. So, we're asking you to jump in.
Jump in now. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to David Ann Wilson with Sam Albury and Rob Hudson on Family Life Today. Sam has written a book called Is God Anti-Gay? It talks about all the things that we've been discussing today along with so much more to help Christians navigate these tricky waters in today's culture.
You can head over to familylifetoday.com and pick up your copy there. Now, are you a parent? If so, let's get real for a second, all right? Three years down the road, that preteen of yours, if you have a preteen, won't be a preteen anymore. This is scary to me because that's me.
I fall into this category. The issues are going to be harder and they're going to be just plain different than what you're dealing with now. If that's the case, take a weekend with your preteen to make great memories that connect the two of you and talk through some of those difficult topics. In fact, we can help you talk about things like dating, body changes, and peer pressure, issues that, though totally awkward, make or break teenagers and teens to be. You can start talking with Family Life's Passport to Purity. And the cool thing is that right now you can take 25% off using the code PASSPORT all the way through tomorrow. Head over to familylifetoday.com, scroll down, and look for Passport to Purity. You can learn more there, or you can pick up Sam's book by heading online, or you can give us a call at 800-F-As-In-Family, L-As-In-Life, and then the word TODAY. And feel free to drop us something in the mail.
Our address is Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. Now next week, Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be joined by Dean Insara. He's going to talk about why the Bible's plan for sexuality isn't outdated, irrelevant, or oppressive. You're not going to want to miss that next week. On behalf of Dave and Ann 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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