Sexuality and Gender

Sam Allberry’s Advice for Conversations about Sexual Identity

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 07/19/2018

Desiring God has an interview with Sam Allberry on “How to Navigate Conversations about Sexual Identity,” and I thought this point was particularly helpful:

One of the things I want to try and show, as far as possible, is that Jesus treats us all the same. The gospel puts us in the same boat. So a principle I’ve taken from that is not to say to someone what I can’t say to everyone.

I can think of an event I was at recently where a young lady came up to me afterward and said, “Well, I’m a lesbian, so what do you think of that?” My response to her was to say, “Well actually, Jesus has some really interesting things to say about sexuality to all of us.” She said, “Why? What does he say?”

I talked to her a little bit about how Jesus shows that there’s a brokenness, there’s a skewedness, to all of us that plays out even in our sexuality, for every single one of us. I wanted to see how far I could go in the conversation without saying anything that is specific to her lesbianism.

I found that actually, we can have a very, very fruitful and long conversation without me having to touch on her specifics. I think that’s important because she’s not going to properly hear what Jesus thinks of her specific situation unless she’s heard what Jesus says to all of us....

Again, I’m not going to say to someone what I can’t say to everyone. I’m trying to show them the gospel isn’t unfair. It has the same humbling, challenging message to all of us that will work its way out in slightly different ways. But I wanted them to know that actually, the ground around the cross is level ground.

(You can see more of what that approach looks like here.)

Allberry also noted something that surprised me, although it shouldn’t have:

[W]e think everyone is an activist and is out to jump up and down on us. But one of the things that was a bit of a revelation to me was that actually a lot of these students, particularly in the LGBT societies on campus, were more fearful of me than I was of them.

Something very primal happens when someone tells us we’ve sinned and we suspect they’re right. It’s terrifying. Recently, while I was feeling convicted about a sin (warning: when you ask God to reveal your sin to you, He will!), I read the story of Paul’s trial before Governor Felix in Acts 24, and I felt the force of verses 24–25 for the first time:

But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.”

Righteousness and judgment are terrifying without the gospel. We catch glimpses of this in our own lives from time to time in those moments after conviction of sin before we flee to the safety of the gospel, reminding ourselves of its truth. But what if you didn’t have the gospel? Don’t ever forget what your listeners are hearing and feeling when you speak of “righteousness and the judgment to come.” Have compassion, and never leave out the gospel.

Read the rest of Sam Allberry’s interview here.