Another UK Evangelical “Comes Out” … for Jesus

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Following on from Vaughan Roberts’ brave and groundbreaking statement late last year, another evangelical in the Church of England, Sam Allberry (author of Lifted: Experiencing the Resurrection Life and Connected: Living in the Light of the Trinity) has made a similar announcement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were having lunch together and I was praying like mad. My friend had been in a committed same-sex relationship for about 15 years. He was interested in Jesus; attracted to his teaching and message. But he wanted to know what implications becoming a Christian might have on his practicing gay lifestyle.

I had explained, as carefully and graciously as I could, that Jesus upheld and expanded the wider biblical stance on sexuality: that the only context for sexual activity was heterosexual marriage. Following Jesus would mean seeking to live under his word, in this area as in any other.

He had been quiet for a moment, and then looked me in the eye and asked the billion-dollar question: ‘What could possibly be worth giving up my partner for?’

But I wanted him to know that following Jesus is more than worth it, even with all it entails for gay people. And I also wanted to tell him that I had come to know this not just from studying the Bible and listening to others, but from my own personal experience.

Homosexuality is an issue I have battled with my entire Christian life. It took a long time to admit to myself, longer to admit to others, and even longer to see something of God’s good purposes through it all. There have been all sorts of ups and downs. But this battle is not devoid of blessings, as Paul discovered with his own unyielding thorn in the flesh. Struggling with sexuality has been an opportunity to experience more of God’s grace, rather than less.

It is only in recent months I have felt compelled to be more open on this issue. For many years I had no intention of being public about it – it is, of course, very much a personal matter. I am conscious that raising it here may lead to any number of responses – some welcome, some perhaps less so. But over the last couple of years I have felt increasingly concerned that, when it comes to our gay friends and family members, many of us Bible-believing Christians are losing confidence in the gospel. We are not always convinced it really is good news for gay people. We are not always sure we can really expect them to live by what the Bible says.

There is a huge amount to say on this issue, but the main point is this: the moment you think following Jesus will be a poor deal for someone, you call Jesus a liar. Discipleship is not always easy. Leaving anything cherished behind is profoundly hard. But Jesus is always worth it.

Don’t forget the context here. This is in response to an increasing push by liberals in the Church of England on the homosexual question. Well done to Sam on being prepared to stand up and reinforce the all-sufficiency of Jesus against the liberal agenda of blanket acceptance of sin rather than repentance. We need to keep hearing that more than ever whether homosexual or not. As Sam points out, the liberal push in this area is not just about sexuality, it’s about the saving and sustaining power of Jesus Himself.

Read it all.

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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Martin Kemp

    Brilliant. Hopefully we can expect some more, including some from those not in full-time ministry. I think a book of such stories would be a handy resource.

  2. Glenn Farrell

    Martin, if anyone in Sydney Diocese expresses this sort of opinion I expect they will be ostracised and pushed out of ministry. It’s how they have dealt with disability already.

    1. David Ould

      Glenn, I’m not sure that’s entirely fair. I would expect such a stance by a Sydney minister to be commended.
      However, probably worth noting a couple of things,

      1. homosexual desire is not a disability in the same way that a physical or psychological impairment is
      2. if we don’t deal well with people that have disabilities then that certainly needs to be addressed – but it’s a seperate issue, albeit one that I know you’re right to be concerned about
      1. coastalrevell

        Hi David, Thnaks for your comment. You’re right that its a kind of apples and oranges comparison and I didn’t mean to suggest inadvertently that homosexuality is a disability. I guess I was thinking more analogously: people with “secret” disabilities are in ministry in this diocese. When they are “outed” they are treated appallingly. And no, I’m not speaking of one individual cause célèbre. So my point was along the lines of, if in this great evangelical bastion of grace we cannot deal with people’s disabilities, secret or known, then I doubt we can take the even greater leap of dealing with a clergyman in Sydney Diocese “coming out” like this. Furthermore, too, I was an unmarried straight (and engaged) clergyman who encountered suspicion about be sexuality simply because of lack of spouse. So if an unmarried, straight (and engaged) clergyman had to “prove” he was not same-sex attracted in 2003, I very much doubt that in 2013 those same authorities could cope with a genuinely same-sex attracted clergyman living a godly chaste life.

        1. Please allow me to add, too, I’m not on a crusade (sorry to misuse that word) against Sydney. I am still 0.5 more a Calvinist than the prevailing temperature, still a conservative right wing redneck evangelical (I am being ironic in the use of our critics’ language). I am not trying to shoot my father. But even before my own negative experience of convenience over justice I was prepared to call out our flaws, not to be critical for critism’s sake, but that we might grow.

          I truly hope we have matured (and repented) to a point where we might respond appropriately.

          Sadly I expect suggest that we’re the clergyman “high profile”, things would be handled differently from one they could just wipe off the books 1984 style.

          Just sayin’

          1. David Ould

            thanks Glenn,

            Yes, you’re absolutely right – we’re by no means perfect and there’s a great number of areas where we need to keep working hard at reforming ourselves not just in doctrine but in the practical outworking of that doctrine.

            But I trust that people who sit on boards and trusts and committees will continue to speak up where necessary. I know that I certainly have and I suspect will continue to in the future if given the opportunity. There’s too much at stake, isn’t there?

        2. Ron J.

          Did you somehow miss the fact that while you were writing these posts, Vaughan Roberts was actually in Sydney at the invitation of the Church Missionary Society and the Diocese of Sydney?

          Vaughan was leading studies in Daniel before three thousand (plus) Sydney Anglicans at the Annual CMS Summer School in Katoomba.

          1. David Ould

            hi Ron, no – didn’t “miss the fact” (unless you’re responding to what Glenn wrote).
            Are you concerned that by “missing the fact” some important information has been withheld?

          2. Glenn Farrell

            David, I suggest Ron was responding to me. And of course I did not miss that fact: I was in the auditorium at Katoomba listening intently to all of Mr Roberts’s fine talks. But reading back through the comments I see I may have been too subtle.

            Ron, that is exactly my point I’ve been striving to make. But apparently I have a disability that makes my communication difficult to understand. That’s why they kicked me out. Ironically it hasn’t stopped the archbishop from insisting I stop publicly communicating the facts of my circumstance lest I damage the brand (his words), so apparently I can communicate clearly enough to annoy head office but not clearly enough to retain a rectorship.

            Part of my stream of comments has been, apparently all too subtly, that the Diocese of Sydney will celebrate people such as Mr Roberts–a friend from another place–but persecute their own. They celebrate people like him because he testifies to the power of the gospel, to which I shout hooray in agreement. But I believe they only celebrate high profile ‘friends’ in circumstances where ‘ditching’ them would obviously make them look bad.

            I have numerous reasons to state this, some of which I cannot publish, but by way of analogy (and in no way suggesting anything about sexuality): Their fear of single clergymen, notwithstanding our public love for Chappo, Stott, Lucas and Roberts is a classic example. (I was one, once, being single after ordination which is most unusual in Sydney, and they truly feared single men. Tragically what they feared, sexual misconduct with either adults or children, was more commonly committed by the married clergy in the diocese. They were brutal with me in ordination reviews etc. Other single clergy candidates were asked if they liked wearing women’s underwear, others asked about women’s clothing. I never copped anything that overt but the fear was in their eyes. And questions.)

            Thus when I wrote ‘sadly I expect suggest [sic] that we’re [sic, stupid autocorrect] the clergyman “high profile”, things would be handled differently from one they could wipe off the books 1984 style.” etc I was suggesting that someone of Mr Roberts’s stature is ‘acceptable’. I guess it’s hard to demonise a famous friend. But I know all too well how ‘unknown’, ‘backwater’ clergy doing an honest day’s work have been demonised for a mild disability and for the sake off short term organisational health the diocese has wiped them off the face of the earth. Not that I’m saying unwanted homosexual feelings is a disability, but I am drawing analogous lines. And I’m not just talking from one case here. It is a systemic problem.

          3. RevRon

            Hi David – yes I was responding to Glenn, because I thought it was an enormous breakthrough for Sydney to endorse Vaughan Roberts at CMS Summer School.

            Hi Glenn – I know what you are saying and agree that there have been injustices aplenty over the years.
            On the other hand there have also been many wonderful efforts made by many wonderful people to address some of the difficult areas of life and ministries.
            I have seen both sides at work and prayed for the hard-nosed ones and thanked God for the examples of godliness in others.

            (I actually don’t know how I missed these posts seven months ago, or how they arrived at my computer today!)
            Anyway thanks for the great blog David; and Glenn for your brave posts which publicly reveal your pain

  3. abidingthroughgrace

    Interesting article. I do think the is topic needs more openness and more discussion. It makes me wonder how many pastors are really struggling with in this area and how many are in sin. Keep the good stuff coming.

    1. David Ould

      hi Keller,

      Yes, I suspect there are a few and, sadly, some are not convinced that Jesus is enough either.
      As you and I have discovered in another discussion elsewhere one of the problems in this area is an assumption that repentance brings “healing”. The near sinless-perfectionism of some who approach this topic gives no middle ground between giving way to sin and being completely “cured” of it. Vaughan Roberts and now Sam – 2 men I am pleased to say I know in various contexts – have shown us a godly response.

      If we say we are without sin…

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