Podcast episode 020: “Is God Anti-Gay?” with Sam Allberry

by | Oct 4, 2018

Is God anti-gay? cover

When Sam Allberry wrote his best-selling little book Is God Anti-Gay? back in 2013, it was one of the few good books available on the subject.

Five years down the track, it remains an excellent short primer to the main questions that both Christians and non-Christians have about God and homosexuality. In this episode, we talk with Sam about the main message of his book, about the way that the landscape has continued to evolve over the past five years, and about the challenge of presenting the message of the Bible about homosexuality not only as true, but as good.

The strength of Sam’s book (and this conversation) is that he approaches the whole subject from the starting point of the gospel:

The message of Jesus on sex has been countercultural and challenging to every single culture. And is challenging to every single person. So it is not the case that Jesus comes up and says, “To all heterosexual people, you know, well done, good job, keep it up! As you were.” You know. “Bless you.” And then he says to everybody else, “Oh dearie me, we’ve got a problem.” Jesus says to all of us, we have a huge problem.

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Sam Allberry: So my rule of thumb is don’t say to someone what you can’t say to everyone. So my starting point is not what the Bible says about homosexuality; my starting point is that what Jesus teaches on sex and marriage is deeply challenging and deeply humbling for all of us. Every single one of us.

Tony Payne: That’s Sam Allberry, author of an excellent little book that was published back in 2013 called Is God anti-gay?. And on this week’s episode, we’ll be talking to Sam about his book, about its message and about what’s changed in the five years since it was published. That’s our theme on episode 20 of the Centre for Christian Living podcast.

[Music]

TP:Hello, I’m Tony Payne, and welcome to the Centre for Christian Living podcast, coming to you from Moore College in Sydney, Australia. Now, the podcasts I listen to at the moment all seem to be having live shows, where the participants in the podcast get together and put on some event in some theatre, and sell tickets. Well, of course, at CCL, we’ve been doing that for ages: we have live events four times a year. And the next of our live events is coming up soon: it’s on October 24th and it’s featuring Paul Williamson, talking about hell and the afterlife, and the difference that our beliefs about hell and the afterlife make to our lives now—to our lives as Christians—to our witness as Christians. Paul is an Old Testament lecturer here at Moore College and a Northern Irishman. In fact, here’s a clip of him that I found preaching about hell:

Audio clip:“Flee! Flee! From the wrath to come!” Why does he utter such words with such zeal and such fire and such passion? I’ll tell you why! Because he knew that hell was a real place.

TP:Well, that, in fact, was not Paul Williamson, but Ian Paisley, the famous Northern Irish preacher and politician. The old joke, of course, about Ian Paisley’s preaching was that once, when preaching on the subject of hell with—with great passion and fire and brimstone, he declared that in that place “there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth!” And an elderly lady put up her hand in the crowd and said, “But sir, I—I don’t have any teeth!” To which Paisley replied, “Madam! Teeth will be provided.”

Now, that’s funny, of course, but hell is not really that funny a subject. In fact, that we can joke about it is, perhaps, a symptom of the problem we have with hell, because in the modern world, we find it hard to take hell seriously. And I’m looking forward to Paul teaching and explaining this to us—to explaining what the Bible actually says about hell and the afterlife and what the implications of that are for us—for our lives, for our attitudes, for our witness, for what we say to our friends.

The event’s on October 24th. It will be here at Moore College, 7:30pm, and you can get your tickets or sign up to the livestream at our website, which isccl.moore.edu.au.

But let’s get to our guest for today’s episode.

Sam Allberry: I’m Sam Allberry. I am working with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and also with The Gospel Coalition. I’m an ordained Anglican pastor from the UK—been in pastoral ministry for about 15 years.

TP: Sam, you’re very well known—certainly in our circles here—for your book on homosexuality, Is God Anti-Gay? And there’s so much written, of course, on this subject. What were you distinctively trying to say or do in that book?

SA: Thank you. It—well, it was 2013 that the book came out, and actually, at that point, there wasn’t a huge amount being written on the issue. So there’s—there’s some wonderful books out there now that weren’t there when I was writing. What I was trying to do was to write a—a primer on the issue that would be accessible to anyone and didn’t assume any prior beliefs or opinions on the issue. And the book is—is—the—the two features, I guess, are that it’s short: it’s under 100 pages, and it’s structured around frequently asked questions. So I just really wanted to try to cover what I heard ex—experienced as being the main qu—questions a lot of churches had around this issue. So trying to cover what the Bible says, what this means in terms of our engagement with wider culture, how we help pastorally on this—all those sorts of things. So it was—it was trying to give people a starting point to think about the issue.

TP: What would you say was the, kind of, chief point you were wanting to make in the book about how we think about homosexuality, given that it’s such a—a strong cultural issue and that there’s so many sort of currents and cross-currents of thought? What were you essentially wanting to say to the Christian community about it?

SA: Yeah, I think, my—the key thing and still ongoingly is—I want—I was wanting to put the issue back into a—a gospel framework. I think sometimes we get an issue like this and we kind of abstract it out of how we normally think in gospel terms. And then we get confused about what to do with it—what it means and all the rest of it. So I was really trying to put it back into our—a normal gospel framework and say, “Well, the gospel calls us to repentance and faith; what does that mean applies to this issue?” And in that sense—in one sense, to normalise it theologically and to say, well, it’s one example of what is the case for all of us. We’re all sinful, we’re all broken—twisted—distorted—fallen—and so let’s take this and do with it what we normally do with our sinfulness and not try to change it—either in one way or the other.

Yeah, I really wanted people to—to realise that this issue doesn’t disqualify them from God’s grace, and also just to help the church, I guess, not freak out about the whole thing. I think—a key moment for me was in my own church, a few years ago now, one of the couples who often is on the front door of the church, greeting people as they come in and handing them bulletins and things, suddenly came up to me before a church service one Sunday in a bit of a panic and said, “Sam! Sam! There’s—there’s a gay couple who’ve just come in the church! What do we do? What do we do?” And I was tempted to say, “Well, you distract them. I’ll call the police.” And I was—I was so discouraged by that, because I was thinking, “What do you mean, what do you do? What do you do when anyone walks into the church? You—you welcome them, you say hello, you get them a service sheet, you show them to a seat.” And the fact that they suddenly didn’t know what to do because it was this issue made me realise that actually, again, we—we just need to return this to gospel common sense. I think it’s just one type of what is the case for everyone. So let’s not treat this as a kind of an entirely different species of sin or person and then suddenly be confused about what we do with it.

TP: You’re saying that you wrote that in 2013, and I can hardly believe that it’s five years since the book came out. Seems like yesterday. What do you think’s changed? Have—have things changed? Or has the landscape changed in the time since, do you think?

SA: It has. I mean, it has. Five years ago now feels like a long time ago. And I remember the sort of—some of the most pressing issues then really have changed, and I think some of the—some of the—the questions that come up have changed. I think two particular things: one is we … most of our Western countries have now settled the issue of gay marriage legally, so that’s now a legal reality. I can’t remember if that had happened in 2013 in the UK or not, but it was certainly—it’s more the case now than it certainly was then in—in most places. And the other thing that—sorry, and off the back of that, that has then meant that transgenderism has become the next big issue. So that is a much more pressing issue than it was five years ago.

The other thing that has changed is I think the secular focus now has shifted from one of supposed equality to one of harm. And so, the most common language I hear now is the traditional Christian sexual ethic isn’t just unequal or old-fashioned or unwelcome; it’s harmful and it’s causing psychological harm to young people, and therefore it just needs to be shut down. That kind of rhetoric I wasn’t hearing five years ago, but hear it all the time now. So that—in that sense, the landscape has changed, culture has moved further in this direction, and the Christian message on it is less welcome in the public square than even it was in 2013.

TP: So if you were issuing a revised edition of the book at some point, and I hope that perhaps you do, what would you want to add on that question? How do we respond as Christians to our—our message not just being seen as a bit outdated and irrelevant, and you need to get over this, you Christians, but that your position is a position of hate—

SA: Yeah.

TP: —which is the other “h” word that—

SA: Yeah.

TP: —we certainly hear in our context? Yeah, it’s one of hate and of harm.

SA: Yeah. Which—which means that our approach just needs to—to take that into account. About two years ago, I—I—I noticed that, and you’ll tell me why this is the case and how publishing works—I noticed there were three or four blank pages at the end of the book. I guess because of how you paginate things or something.

TP: Normally ’cause when you print a book, it comes in—it’s printed in sections that are bound together, and the sections are usually eight or 16 pages, and so you find that nearly all books have a denomination of—a denominator of eight or 16 pages.

SA: Okay. Well, anyway, I noticed that there are a couple of blank pages at the end, so I said to the publisher, “Can I just add a couple of questions and shove them in?” And so, I did a couple of years ago, and one of the—one of the questions I did put in is something like, “Is the Christian view of sexuality damaging and harmful and dangerous?” just to try and update that aspect of the discussion. So we—we need to be aware of that as we engage in the issue that that is one of the primary concerns, and—and therefore to try to show not just the truth of what the Bible says, but the goodness of it. And I think I—I see in a lot of churches, and it worries me that there are a number of people who, if you like, are biblically convinced on this issue, but they’re not emotionally convinced. And so I think, actually, it’s very important—particularly for those who are pastoring and teaching in churches—people are not going to care if it’s true if they don’t think it’s good. So we need to show not just what the Bible says on this, but why the Bible says it and why that’s better of—why that is part of the goodness of God to us—that the better narrative that the whole Bible is giving us. Otherwise it sounds like God is just being mean and arbitrary in saying, “I don’t like certain relationships.”

TP: And we don’t like that stance so much, but look, it’s in the Bible, so I guess we’re stuck with it. You know, that feeling.

SA: Exactly! And there’s—

TP: We’re almost apologetic about—

SA:Yeah.

TP:—“Oh, I wish we didn’t have to say this, but look, we have to say to say this. Sorry.”

SA: Yeah, “The Bible kind of stinks on this.”

TP: “But what—what can you do?” Yeah, it’s that.

SA: Exactly. And, you know, the—the outworking of that is we don’t really think the gospel’s going to be good news for certain types of people.

TP: How would you make that argument? So if you were—if you were going to explain just in a couple of minutes, “Here’s why the teaching of the Bible about homosexual practice is actually a good that is for human flourishing and that it’s actually is part of the good life”, how would you make that argument briefly?

SA: I think what I’d try to do is—is to go upstream with the issue, so that the principle is whenever the Bible gives us a negative, what is the bigger positive that negative is now working off? And in this instance, the positive is the Bible gives us a vision of marriage that is meant to be picture of the big thing God is doing in the universe of—of drawing a people to his Son Jesus Christ. A God who makes lavish, unconditional promises to us—to love us unconditionally, to accept us, he betroths himself to us, and he’s—he’s embedded within humanity a—a picture of that in human marriage. And so, this—this impacts on—on a number of aspects of—of marriage—not just on the issue of marriage being heterosexual, but the fact that we’re—we’re meant to be—these promises are meant to be lifelong; they’re not—it’s—it’s a covenant; it’s not just a contract. It’s not just “I’ll be there for you as long as you’re making me feel good about it”. And so, actually, when you—when you look at marriage in the light of that, it’s a really good thing, because it’s—it’s a—it’s a wonderful picture and reminder of the ultimate marriage that all of us can enjoy, which is a relationship with Jesus as his people.

So human marriage is meant to point beyond itself to the Great Marriage—to what it is to know Christ—and therefore that the gift of human sexuality that God has created us with is—is meant to speak to us of a deeper longing, of a deeper appetite, and of a great consummation, and therefore that makes sense, I think, of some of the—the kind of biblical prohibitions about certain sexual behaviours and that kind of thing. That means we’re not just missing out on something; we’re actually getting something even better. And so, in my case, as a—as a single person, it doesn’t matter that I’m not married, because I have the ultimate thing that marriage is pointing to. It doesn’t matter that I’m not experiencing sexual fulfillment, because I have the anticipation of what that sexual fulfillment points to in Christ.

So ultimately, I think, it is only the—the gospel itself that makes sense of the Bible’s teaching on this. And the great thing is if—if I use the Bible’s vision for marriage to explain our sexual ethics, I’m in gospel territory, because I’m talking about Jesus—I’m talking about his love for us, the promises he makes to us, and that’s—that’s a good place to be in. That’s where I want to be in—in conversations.

That—that’s not going to convince every non-Christian friend of mine the first time ’round. But at least it says to them, “You’re not going to make complete sense of what I believe on this unless you understand who Jesus is to me. And so to understand me, you’ve got to understand Christ. And our conviction is that once you understand Christ, you realise we actually have something far far better than what culture’s offering us. There’s more to life than this.”

TP: It strikes me from what you just said that—that marriage as a—as a physical bodily, in a sense, worldly creaturely phenomenon and experience, it’s—it’s not just a symbol—it’s not just an arbitrary symbol that points beyond itself; in its reality—in its—in its goodness as a created order of the way things are, our enjoyment of it and the—the goodness of it as a thing—as a—as a relationship and as an order of the creation—that very goodness points to the greater goodness.

SA: Absolutely! Yeah, it’s—it’s like an appetiser. It’s—it’s—it’s something that we taste and enjoy in order that we will increase our appetite for the—for the greater feast that is to come.

So yeah, and actually, if you’re single, you’re not missing out on that, because you are—you—you’re getting the same experience in a slightly different way, because if—if marriage points to the gospel in terms of showing us those—those promises—those covenants being lived out and kind of enacted in an earthly human context, singleness points to the gospel, I think, in a—in a complementary way by showing us now something of how we will live then. Because in the age to come, we won’t have marriage, because we will have the reality marriage points to, and living the single life now is a way of saying, “That future state is so real and so good, I can live according to it even now.” And so, I—I like to—to sort of think of it that if—if marriage shows us the shape of the gospel, singleness shows us its sufficiency—that actually if I have Christ, marriage is a good gift, but it’s not an essential gift that I have to have in order to really live now.

[Music]

TP:Well, we’ll be back to Sam Allberry in just a moment. But first, I want to tell you about our book specials this month that we’ve put together in conjunction with our friends over at Matthias Media. There are two books to tell you about this month: the first in relation to our theme is What Some of You Were. This book, which won the Australian Christian Book of the Year Award back in the early 2000s, is the story of gay people whose lives were turned around by the gospel. It’s a very powerful book. It’s a book full of stories. And it’s particularly powerful at present in light of the controversy that surrounds gay conversion therapy, as it’s often portrayed, which is often portrayed as an—an evil extreme cruel form of psychological treatment that somehow tries to—to change people’s sexual orientation or preference through some form of extreme treatment. The stories in What Some of You Were are just so different from that, because they tell the story of how the gospel of Christ comes to have a powerful transforming effect in the lives of everyday people—of everyday people, men and women, whose sexual preference and orientation is towards those of the same sex.

And some of the people in these stories tell of how the gospel and the transforming effect of Christ changed their sexual preferences and orientation over time. But for some, it didn’t, or didn’t yet. But all of them speak of the powerful transforming work of God in Christ through his Spirit in their lives. It’s an inspiring and really enjoyable read that you will not only benefit from yourself, but be able to hand around to your friends.

The second book I want to tell you about is just at the point of being published. By the time you hear this, it will be arriving in the Matthias Media warehouse, I gather. It’s called Is God Green? and it’s written by Lionel Windsor. Here’s the flavour of what the book is about from the back cover text:

Is the future of our world at stake? Do we need to save the planet? How would you answer those questions? Maybe you’re an environmental warrior, or maybe you’re sceptical that there’s anything to worry about at all. But have you wondered where God stands on this issue? Does he care about the world and what we do with it? Is God green?

In this short book, Lionel Windsor takes us through what the Bible says about the environment. You’ll discover what God has to say about why the world is in a mess, where the world is headed and what we should do about it in the here and now.

And Lionel Windsor, it says here, was formerly involved in the solar energy industry, but is now an ordained Anglican minister, and lectures here, of course, at Moore College in the New Testament Department.

I’m really looking forward to reading this little book. You can get it over at matthiasmedia.com.au/ccl. That’s where this month’s book specials are located. Is God Green? and What Some of You Were.

But back to our conversation with Sam Allberry. I next asked Sam how he approached speaking about the issue of homosexuality in a non-Christian context—that is, in seeking to preach the gospel in relation to the homosexual issue.

SA: It’s—I—the—the opportunities I’ve had to do this, I have—I mean, they’ve been quite daunting. They’ve been really thrilling. So my—my general approach is I don’t think—my starting point is not going to be, “Hey, the Bible says same-sex sexual behaviour is wrong”. I think there is so many things oth—someone needs to understand before they get to that point to make sense of it. So my—my initial starting point is to—to try to show at every step of the way how the gospel levels the playing field, because that the main perception people have other than that we hate them is that—that we are discriminatory, that we’re unfair, that we have one set of rules for one group and a different set of rules for another group, that we’re excluding some people from this and—and all the rest of it. So I think the starting point tends to be, for me, trying to show how the gospel levels the playing field and puts us in the same boat always. So there is no presumed superiority or looking down on someone else, or condemnation—that kind of thing.

So my rule of thumb is don’t say to someone what you can’t say to everyone. So my starting point is not what the Bible says about homosexuality; my starting point is that what Jesus teaches on sex and marriage is deeply challenging and deeply humbling for all of us. Every single one of us.

TP: And con—and condemns all of us as a sent—in a sense as sinners.

SA: Exactly, yeah. And so, actually, we’re—we’re all in this together. And therefore, the message of Jesus on this issue has been countercultural and challenging to every single culture. And is challenging to every single person. So it is not the case that Jesus comes up and says, “To all heterosexual people, you know, well done, good job, keep it up! As you were.” You know. “Bless you.” And then he says to everybody else, “Oh dearie me, we’ve got a problem.” Jesus says to all of us, we have a huge problem. We are all disordered in our sexual desires. We’re all skewed in them.

And so, that is my starting point so that—actually share—actually, there’s—there’s something here that puts us all on the same footing. All of us are going to have to do some deep repenting when it comes to this issue. All of us are going to find that following Jesus is going to be costly. All of us are going to find that following Jesus means saying “No” to certain sexual desires.

So I want that to be the starting point, because I think it’s only when people see that—that framework and that cost applying across the board that they’ll be ready to hear what it might look like for them, because then it’s not sounding unfair. Whereas I think the perception people have is that we’re—we’re actually letting some people off scot-free and then only being challenging to some people, and sometimes the church has done that. Sometimes we are—are far more casual with heterosexual sin than we are with homosexual sin. So, again, I’m—I’m trying to show that, no, this is—this is really challenging for all of us.

So that—that’s one starting point. Another is, I think, to try to show how—to go slightly upstream with the issue and try and show how the Bible gives us a different understanding of both human identity and intimacy, and to try and show how our—our contemporary culture conceives of each of those things in quite unhealthy ways, and to—to show the sort of—the limitations of that. So one of the things I’ll—I’ll try and say is if—if as our culture says, “You are your sexuality”—if that is the kind of—your core identity, then it’s basically saying you cannot really be you unless you’re sexually fulfilled. And then when we talk about harm, I want to say, “That message is saying to people by implication that a life without sexual fulfillment isn’t really worth living.” Now that is harmful. And that kind of reasoning actually does have a death toll. So actually one of the—one of the ways in which the message of—of Jesus is so good and healthy on this issue is that it dethrones sexual fulfillment. It is not the be all and end all of life. And that’s quite liberating to know, whether you’re feeling sexually fulfilled or not. That’s good news!

So that—that’s one aspect. And also, just to show how the Bible gives us a very different way of thinking about intimacy. And I found ag—again this really resonates with a lot of people—that our culture has basically conflated intimacy with sex, and so we can’t really conceive of intimacy that isn’t actually ultimately sexual. Whereas in the Bible, you can have a lot of sex and not be having any intimacy. And we can think of biblical examples of that. And it also shows us you can have a lot of intimacy without having sex. And we see biblical examples of that—or at least Jesus himself and Paul, who both enjoyed a range of—of deep friendships and connections that were not sexual. And I find is—as—as I talk about that difference between sex and intimacy that a lot of people kind of half know that—half recognise that—but they just never really had it pointed out before. And it makes sense a lot of—of a lot of the sort of frustrations that many people find today.

So both those issues of identity and intimacy show that there is—there is wisdom and goodness and truth in the Christian message that we don’t find in our own culture. Which then makes the eventual call to restrict sexual behaviour to a heterosexual marriage, it then just seems to make more sense. It doesn’t seem quite as cruel as it might otherwise.

TP: Strikes me that in both of those instances, if you believe in a God who’s created everything and gives meaning and shape to everything—to a good world and a world that is going somewhere in Christ—then the various things we experience—the various aspects of our created life—makes sense within that whole. You can make sense of what intimacy is because it fits into a larger picture in which our experience of it makes sense.

SA: Yeah.

TP: And likewise, as you say, with sexual identity. So it’s not as if those things don’t exist or aren’t important.

SA: Yeah.

TP: But that you can have a richer picture of them. However, if—if you take God out of the picture, and you say, “How do I make sense of my life and grasp onto something that—that gives a meaning to the whole?”, the tendency in a sense is the idolatry tendency—

SA: Yeah.

TP: —which is to take one of them—to take something and to absolutise or disproportionately inflate that thing and grasp onto that as the meaning and the purpose—

SA: Yeah.

TP: —and the thing that’s going to make it all work.

SA: And it will never deliver.

TP: And it never does.

SA: No.

TP: It’s a distorted picture. You—you’re—you’re laying upon that thing a burden it was never meant to bear.

SA: Yeah. Which is why I think the—the encounter of—of Jesus with the Samaritan woman in John 4 is—is a great passage for our time, because you’ve got someone there who is … Jesus is talking about the—the kind of spiritual water that gives us true satisfaction, and it’s very clear from the way he interacts with this lady that she’s been looking for that in human relationships. And I love what she says at the end of that encounter when she goes back to her town and says, “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” And, again, there’s that sense that Jesus makes sense of who we are and what we’ve been doing, and what’s been driving our lives and why it hasn’t worked. And he over—offers us just a—a—a totally different paradigm of how to find that deeper satisfaction and meaning.

TP: We’ve been talking about how we interact with the world apologetically, evangelistically, in our discussions with people. But what about the Christian scene? In the UK, where you’re from, what’s the state of play there among Christians on this issue?

SA: There’s—there’s the usual mix that you would expect. So there—there are a number of voices that are calling for full inclusion of gay relationships and gay marriage within the—within the church. Some of those voices come from within the broader evangelical world. So that—that—and that’s not going away, and those voices are—are getting more and more strident.

But on the other hand, I’m really encouraged, because I’m, you know, doing ministry on this issue in the UK, I’m seeing a really broad range of Christians coming together on this issue. It’s interesting doing teaching on this, everyone from, you know, I’ve been doing things with—with the leadership of Vineyard to more conservative Reformed churches—I really get a sense that it’s drawing quite a wide range of evangelicals together—that this is instinctively and intuitively, for a wide range of Christians, a gospel issue. And that people are kind of growling around it. So I’ve found, actually, it’s—this discussion has had quite a unifying effect, which has been wonderful to see. And it means that those who—within the so-called evangelical world who are pushing for the acceptance of gay marriage are looking less and less mainstream in the evangelical scene, because if you are outside the spectrum of, you know, say, Vineyard, all the way through to very conservative Presbyterians and Anglicans, you really are in the tall grass. And so the mainstream of evangelicalism, I think, is coming together on this. Which encourages me enormously, because we’re going to need each other.

So I—there are a lot of challenges. It’s getting harder in our secular context to—to hold our views. There are all kinds of tides and movements. I’m within the Church of England and I don’t know which way that’s going to go. But on the ground, so many churches want to be faithful. They want to be places of clarity—of compassion. They want to know how to serve both those in the church for whom this is a personal issue, but also how to reach out and engage with the gay community in a—in a very gospel-centred, gospel posture kind of way. So I’m really excited about that. I think it’s going to be a difficult few years for us and a fruitful few years for us.

TP: So you would say, I’m assuming, that—that those churches—evangelical churches included that have kind of taken a “Keep your head down and just don’t go near this issue”—that—that that approach is counterproductive?

SA: I think it is, because the—the fact is, if you don’t talk about and teach on this issue, people are only going to be taught by the culture around them. It’s not that they’re going to be untaught; they will just be discipled by culture instead. And quite apart—see, you’re failing in discipleship. You’re also failing in outreach. ’Cause if you’re not going near this issue, you’re not going near the people for whom this is, you know, the issue of their life. So it is—of course, it is very hard to—to speak publicly on this issue as a church. But at the end of the day, the Christ-like thing to do is to put ourselves in the firing line if, by doing so, some might be saved. And my fear is actually, if you avoid this issue, that risks being truly homophobic, ’cause you’re effectively saying, “We’re going to engage everyone with the gospel except this group of people, because we’re too scared of going near this issue”.

TP: “Phobic” in the sense of actually being afraid! [Laughter]

SA: Yeah! Exactly! [Laughter]

TP: Instead of how that word is normally used! But, yeah.

SA: So—and I keep coming back to Romans 1 and how, reading between the lines, they seemed to think Paul was maybe a bit reluctant to come to Rome. You know, his gospel shtick works out there in the—in the provinces, but this is Rome. So maybe Paul’s not come here for a reason, and Paul keeps labouring the point in the first few verses, “I—I don’t want you to be unaware of how often I’ve tried to come”. And he says, “You know, I’ve—I’ve even gone as far as booking tickets and—and, you know, all the rest of it.” And he says, “I’m—I’m eager to come because I—I’m expecting a harvest”. And the gospel is not going to be less powerful just because it’s Romans we’re dealing with.

And I think there’s a parallel here for—for this issue. A lot of Christians think, “Yeah, I know the gospel works with most people, but with our LGBT+ friends, ha. I’m not sure it’s got the—the power to do that.” And so, we need to take a leaf out of Paul’s book and think, “No, no, no. It’s the same gospel. It takes the same amount of power to save someone from the gay community as it does anybody else. And therefore we should expect and work towards seeing a harvest.”

[Music]

TP:Thanks for joining us today on the Centre for Christian Living podcast. And I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible as our next public event on October 24th here at Moore College with Paul Williamson, speaking about “A hell of a difference: Christians and the afterlife”. And you can be here in person, of course, or register for the livestream wherever you happen to be, and participate in that event as well.

Please get in touch with any questions you have about Christian living in this complex world we live in, and we’ll do our best to answer them. You can email us at ccl@moore.edu.au, and for details about our next public event and to register your tickets there, for more articles and information, for videos and archives from previous events, you can go, of course, to our website, which is ccl.moore.edu.au.

Thanks for being with us. I’m Tony Payne. ’Bye for now.

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Our next event:

“The elusive joy of Christian community” with Chase Kuhn and Tony Payne, Wednesday 27 February 2019 at Moore College.

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