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.
We 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.