Sam Allberry on Sexual Ethics & Moral Intuition

I spent last week in Southern California for the Calvary Global Network (CGN) international conference. There was a great line up speakers, including Ray OrtlandJared C. Wilson, Mark Sayers, and Sam Allberry.

All the messages from the conference are available online here.

Sam’s message, “Gospel Confidence in a Sexually Shifting Culture” (video below) was particularly helpful.

Image result for sam allberrySam is a pastor from Maidenhead, England, who also works with Ravi Zacharias International Ministry (RZIM), Cedarville University, and writes for The Gospel Coalition.

He recently wrote a short and helpful book about Christian sexual ethics, in which he also talks about his own experience of same-sex attraction, titled “Is God anti-gay?”.

 

Key Points from Sam’s Message

In the West, we live in a place where people’s “moral intuitions” have shifted. People are not morally relative, nor are they amoral. Rather, their “intuition” of what defines morality has changed. People now base their determination of morality on these questions:

  1. Is it fair, or does it discriminate?
  2. Is it freeing, or is it oppressive?
  3. Is it harmful, or benign?

Anything seen as limiting freedom is seen as creating an existential conflict.

As a result, whereas biblical sexual ethics in the 1950’s-1980’s, for example, were considered prudish, they are now considered immoral.

What is needed is for us to learn to listen well, show people the goodness of God and provide a true and better narrative.

It’s worth listening to Sam’s entire message. Here is the video of it, as well as a follow-up interview he did afterward.

The Gospel Comes With a House Key: Hospitality & the Gospel

person handing keys

Home as a Hospital & Incubator

As a member of the lesbian community in Syracuse, New York, Rosaria Butterfield learned what it meant to use her home as a hospital and an incubator, which reflected her values to others. Members of the lesbian community in Syracuse made sure that everyone in their community had keys to each others houses; they looked out for one another and cared for each other. They viewed their homes as oases in a harsh world, and yet they sought to win over their neighbors by being the best neighbors on the block.

These lessons—learned far outside the walls of the church—are instructive for Christians, she says.

It was through the hospitality of a Christian couple in her neighborhood, that Rosaria changed her mind about Christianity. At the time, she was a celebrated professor at Syracuse University. Raised in an atheist home, Rosaria had always assumed Christians to be hateful, judgmental people, who considered people like her enemies. In fact, her interest in spending time with Christians came as a result of her intent to write a book about how Christianity fuels toxic masculinity. As a result, she sought out a Christian couple in her neighborhood, but her interactions with them surprised her and challenged her preconceived notions about Christians, so much so that she began to consider what they had to say about Jesus and the Bible. Ultimately, she embraced the gospel and forsook her lesbian lifestyle. She is now married to a pastor and they have adopted several children. They seek to use their home as a hospital and an incubator for the goal of making disciples of Jesus.

Ground Zero of the Christian Life

In her book, The Gospel Comes with a House KeyRosaria Butterfield describes what she calls “radically ordinary hospitality”, which she argues is “ground zero of the Christian life.”

Rosaria makes a convincing argument for this, pointing to passages like Matthew 25:35–36, in which Jesus talks about hospitality as the litmus test for real faith on judgment day. She also points out Mark 10:28–31, in which Jesus talks about how those who receive the gospel may very well lose a lot in the process of conversion, in order to gain the promises of God’s Kingdom, but that along with eternal life they can also expect to receive a new community. Inclusion in this new community, characterized by radical ordinary hospitality, is what Rosaria equates with receiving a “house key” when one receives the gospel.

Because Christian conversion always comes in exchange for the life you once loved, not in addition to it, people have much to lose in coming to Christ—and some people have more to lose than others.

A Resource for Evangelism

Hospitality, Rosaria explains, is an often under-utilized resource for evangelism as well. Those who live out radically ordinary hospitality, she says, see their homes not as theirs at all but as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of his kingdom.

The purpose of radically ordinary hospitality is to take the hand of a stranger and put it in the hand of the Savior, to bridge hostile worlds, and to add to the family of God.

She goes on to tell stories of how she and her husband intentionally live below their means, so they will be available and able to use their means to help others on a whim, as needs arise.

God promises to put the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6), and he intends to use your house as living proof.

A Sign to the World

Rosaria describes “radically ordinary hospitality” as: “using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.”

Radically ordinary hospitality shows this skeptical, post-Christian world what authentic Christianity looks like.

Love and/or Approval?

She points out how important it is to reflect Jesus in our relationships. Jesus wasn’t embarrassed to relate to people who were different than him. He understood the difference between love and approval.

She mentions that Christians often ask her, “How can I love my neighbor without misleading them into thinking I approve of what they do?” She advises that we first remember that no one approves of everything that others do. Parents, for example, love their children even at times when they hate the things their children are doing.

Rosaria responds to a question people sometimes ask: “If my neighbors who identify as _________ are in sin, then why are they the nicest people on the block?” To this she responds: “If our Christian worldview cannot account for that, it can survive only in the echo chamber of imaginary theology.” To answer this question, we must understand a few very basic theological principles: 1) all people are recipients of “common grace” to varying degrees, and 2) our problem as human beings is not a lack of “niceness” but a debt of sin before a just and holy God. To put it in simple terms: “Nice people” need Jesus just as much as “not nice people”, because only through Jesus can anyone be redeemed.

Conclusion

Rosaria encourages Christians to be courageously loving rather than fearfully cautious. I was challenged, encouraged, and inspired by The Gospel Comes with a House Key, and I recommend you check it out.

Christians and the Gay Debate

Perhaps the biggest issue facing how people view Christians and Christianity in our society has been and will continue to be homosexuality.

An ever increasing percentage of the population – including many Christians – believe that homosexuals should be allowed to legally marry, and it seems that it is only a matter of time before gay marriage is legalized in every state. Yesterday Montana became the latest state to legalize it. Other countries have already done it. This brings up a lot of questions for churches and private parties who rent out facilities for weddings and for ministers who officiate weddings as to what will happen if they refuse to participate in gay weddings out of moral obligation.

Needless to say, there is increasing pressure for Christians to change the view held by Christians for 2000 years regarding homosexual practice.

This article is one of the best informed and best thought-out pieces on this topic that I have come across. It’s worth the read:

Tragedy, Tradition and Opportunity in the Homosexual Debate

 

 

David and Jonathan: Man Love

Tomorrow at White Fields I will be teaching 1 Samuel 18 – which begins with David and Jonathan’s friendship. The text says that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (18:1).

This epic friendship between Jonathan and David includes Jonathan giving up his right to the throne in order to allow David to take the place given to him by God. Later on Jonathan helps protect David from Jonathan’s father, King Saul, who is determined to kill David.

After Jonathan’s death at the end of 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel begins with David’s mourning over the loss of his friend, which includes this statement: “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26).

This statement of David’s has led some to believe that David and Jonathan were more than just friends, that they were actually lovers.

The word “love” in the Greek Septuagint is the word “agape” – as opposed to “eros” (erotic, sensual love) – so it is quite clear that David is not talking about “making love” with Jonathan, but about a deep bond between these two men which was deeper, richer and more profound than any romantic relationship.

And therein is an important point that is being made in the text here: that the deepest bonds between people are not based on physical intimacy, but on sharing the same heart and desires and by being in the trenches together through hard times and good – such an important principle to keep in mind in regard to marriage as well. Marriage can’t only be built on a physical romantic relationship – it has to be built on a spiritual bond and a friendship as well. This is part of the reason why the Bible tells Christians not to be unequally yoked: because the spiritual bond, the same heart for God is an important building block for a solid marriage relationship.

 

 

Phil Robertson Suspended From “Duck Dynasty” for Sharing His Opinion

Phil Robertson Suspended From “Duck Dynasty” for Sharing His Opinion

This article gives all the details about what Phil Robertson, an outspoken Christian, said to GQ magazine regarding his opinions about homosexuality. Those opinions got him indefinitely suspended from the hit A&E show “Duck Dynasty”.

For the past several years pastors in North America and Western Europe have been wondering when the time will come when teaching biblical passages which label homosexual activity as sin will be constituted as “hate speech” and be punishable by law. I’ve heard that such laws are already in place in France and Canada. It is a slippery slope we are on. One of the reasons why the founding fathers of the United States wanted the separation of church and state was to protect the integrity of the church from government involvement. This isn’t quite that bad, A&E is a private company dealing with an employee, but as a pastor, I can’t help but see this as a sign of what is to come.