Is God Anti-Gay? Sam Allberry & Rob Hudson
Is God anti-gay? FamilyLife LGBTQ+ Specialist Rob Hudson and Sam Allberry, a pastor and bestselling author who's experienced same-sex attraction, offer perspectives on how to respond to gay friends and loved ones.
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Is God anti-gay? LGBTQ+ Specialist Rob Hudson and bestselling author Sam Allberry offer perspectives on how to respond to gay friends and loved ones.
Is God Anti-Gay? Sam Allberry & Rob Hudson
Shelby: Hey, Shelby Abbott here. Just want to give a heads up before you listen to this next program. Today’s conversation on FamilyLife Today covers some sensitive but important subjects that might not be suitable for younger ears. So please use discretion when listening to this next broadcast. Alright, now let’s jump into it.
Sam: Proverbs 18:13 says that if you give an answer before you hear, it is folly and shame. I can say things that are true but might not be wise, and the more I listen to someone, the more I begin to get a sense of, “Okay, now I’m beginning to think about what might be a wise thing to say to this person.”
Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife
Well, as we step into the month of June, and it’s Pride Month in our country, a lot of questions.
Ann: How do we navigate this?
Dave: Especially as Christ followers. Do we embrace this? Do we reject this? Do we celebrate? What do we do?
Ann: Do we talk to our kids about it when the kids at school are talking about it?
Dave: So we decided, let’s give help—
Ann: Let’s dive in.
Dave: --to all of us, including ourselves. We have two men in the studio today, I think that can help us. We have Sam Allberry back in the studio. Welcome back, Sam.
Sam: Good to be with you again.
Dave: And we have Rob Hudson in as well. Rob, many of you don’t know, but he’s on FamilyLife staff, and works in this area. Rob, welcome. Have you ever been on FamilyLife Today?
Rob: No, this is my first time.
Dave: Are you nervous?
Rob: Very. [Laughter]
Sam: You should be. I’ve done this before. You should be.
Rob: Thank you, Sam. That was very comforting. [Laughter]
Ann: Rob, share with our listeners what you do at FamilyLife.
Rob: Sure. I help train our staff about how to navigate LGBT questions in ministry, and then also help develop resources for parents with LGBT or same-sex attracted kids.
Dave: And this is a new position, right? You haven’t done this very long.
Rob: I just transitioned to this role in January, but the Lord has been preparing me to be in a role like this for the last 12 years, so it’s a joy to finally get to be here.
Dave: Now, answer this. Why this position? There obviously had to have been some desire to say, “We need this on our staff.”
Rob: As we’ve listened to parents and families from around, not just the US, but overseas as well, the question we keep hearing over and over again is, “How are we going to talk with our kids about gender and sexuality?”
Rob: “How do we do this? This is so different than it used to be when I was a kid. I didn’t even have to think about these things.” So, this is one of the key questions that parents are asking, and we want to be able to come alongside them as trusted friends and say, “Look, first off, don’t panic. It’s okay that you don’t know everything. We want to journey with you in this.”
Ann: Why you, Rob? Is this something that has resonated with you? Is this important to you?
Rob: Deeply. Deeply important. What’s unique is, as a straight man, I wouldn’t think of myself as the right person for this. But the Lord captured my heart back in college when a very, very close friend of mine was trying to figure out their sexuality. At the time, if you were gay, there were some very specific reasons for why you were gay. You had an over-protective mother, an absent father, you had experienced sexual abuse.
Dave: We’ve all heard that.
Rob: Right, absolutely.
Dave: And you think it’s the absolute truth.
Rob: And until then I’d had no reason to question that, but I knew this person’s story, and I knew that wasn’t true. They had a loving mom and dad who adored each other, a secure home. They were taken through FamilyLife’s Passport to Purity®, they had everything going for them that said, “This should be a heterosexual Christian male,” and yet this was their story.
The same week I found out about that, our campus was hosting their annual Spring-Out Fest, and there was a table that said, “Question a Queer.” The Lord said, “If you’re going to walk with your friend, you must go and learn how to talk about this.” So, I walked up to the table, and—I’ll fast forward a little bit—the next night I found myself at their weekly meeting, where they were going to be sharing their coming out stories.
I heard story after story after story of hurt, of rejection, of pain, where welcome was found in the arms of the LGBT community, and rejection was at the hands of those claiming the name of Jesus. I felt the Lord say that “Your job is to be a bridge between the LGBT community and Jesus.” So that’s how my journey started about 12 years ago, and the Lord has had a lot of things that have happened along the way ever since then, that’s just kept this community near and dear to my heart.
Dave: As you say that, I’m thinking, Sam, we talked yesterday about your story. Have you experienced that? I wanted to ask you this yesterday, and I was saving it for today. When you decided to tell publicly, “I am same-sex attracted,” that’s a big, courageous decision.
Ann: Oh, yes.
Dave: How did you decide to do that, and how was it received, and how has it been received?
Sam: Initially I had no intention of ever doing that.
Dave: It was going to just be your—
Sam: Yes. I told a few friends. I thought, “The people in my life who need to know, know. I’m done talking about this now. That’s it.” I had a friend of mine who even said, “Hey, do you think you’ll ever speak about this publicly, or to your minister?” I said, “No way. I’m never going to be that guy.” This was around 2010, 2011, 2012. As I saw the cultural shifts happening around us, I just had this burden from the Lord to speak into this issue as someone from the inside of it, and say, “Hey, God’s Word to people in my situation is a good word.”
I just wanted people to know the good news of Jesus. I talked it through with my church leadership, and we all thought it was the right time and the right thing to do. Talking about my own sexuality is not what gets me out of bed in the morning, but talking about Jesus is. Talking about sexuality is a wonderful way of talking about the goodness and sufficiency of Jesus.
Dave: Sam and Rob, both of you are ministering to people who are living contrary to God’s design for their sexuality. There’s a tendency for us to think that all people in that path are the same. They are the exact same, they all think the same, their relationships are the same. Help us understand: how do we navigate, how do we understand and be a Christ follower, be the light of Jesus in the world, especially in this world?
Rob: I think maybe a helpful way to do that is to talk through three personas of what it can look like to be a LGBT or same-sex attracted person. Maybe the easiest way to do this would be just about a month ago, I was on a drive to meet up with a group of believers who either identify as LGBT or same-sex attracted, and are all pursuing celibacy.
They get together once a month for brunch to fellowship with one another, to pray for each other, to talk about “What does it look like to follow Jesus in my life, in a place where I’m too conservative to be welcomed into the gay community, because I’m not pursuing same-sex relationships, but I’m way too gay to be welcomed into the church?” They have to create their own place of belonging, because they don’t feel welcome in the churches. So that’s Persona A [One].
Persona B would be—on that same drive, I called a friend of mine who I’ve been walking with for about eight years, and they identify as gay, they hold an affirming position, meaning they would say that God is okay with loving, monogamous, same-sex relationships, but “I’m still a Christian; I’m following Jesus.” So that’s Persona Two [B], someone who says they’re a believer, but has a very different perspective of what the Bible says.
Then potentially Persona Three  would be my neighbors, the gay couple that my wife and I have been getting to know, coming over to our house for dinner. Already right there is a huge swath of people that are involved in this, that identify as LGBT, and you really don’t know when you meet one. This person is not always “out there.” This is someone that’s in your church, in your home, and maybe this is your story and you may be married to someone of the opposite sex, but this is something that you experience too.
Sam: I would just add to that, because of that the Bible is so full of the repeated command to be people who listen well, so when someone introduces themselves to me and says they’re gay, one of the first things I want to say is, “What does that mean to you?” I don’t want to assume I know what they mean by that. Proverbs 18:13 says that “if you give an answer before you hear, it is folly and shame.”
I can say things that are true but might not be wise, and the more I listen to someone, the more I begin to get a sense of, “Okay, now I’m beginning to think about what might be a wise thing to say to this person.”
Ann: Can you give us an example, Sam?
Sam: Yes. I think of a dear friend back in England who, not a Christian, gay man, started coming to church a bit, wanted to think about Jesus. That is how I got to know him. I remember the first time he and I went out for lunch. He was nervous of meeting a pastor, but I said, “I’d just love to hear your story. I have no other agenda than that today. If you’re comfortable sharing it, I’d love to hear it. It would be an honor to hear it.” And this is a guy who was 10 or 15 years older than me.
He had been out and gay in the 80s, before there was any kind of cultural cachet to being so. He got beaten up for being gay. He was a hurt man, a wounded man, and again that just gave me a sense of, “Okay, this is a vulnerable man here.” He said to me at one point, “If you can’t affirm me, I’m not sure we’re going to be able to be friends.” I thought, “Given what he’s been through, I can see why he says that.”
Sam: I said to him, “I can’t affirm you, but I can give you this promise: I will never demean you, and I will always want to protect you. If that’s good enough for you, I would love to be your friend.”
Dave: How did he respond to that?
Sam: We became good friends, so he was willing to trust me on that. So actually it was quite funny, because he was writing a gay romance novel at the time, and I was writing Is God Anti-Gay? at the time. [Laughter]
Rob: Did you have writing parties together? [Laughter]
Sam: No, but he said to me, “Would you be willing to read my book, because a lot of my story is in it?”
Sam: I said, “Okay. Yes. Do you want to read mine?” So we both read each other’s books as we were writing them, and kind of compared notes.
Dave: Somebody that says, “Will you read my book before it’s out?” trusts you. You know I’m an author—we’re authors. You don’t let anybody see unless there’s a level of trust, so you loved him in such a way he felt like you were a friend. When you said that, both you guys, I thought—and maybe it’s just me. You tell me if I’m right or wrong—probably wrong. I don’t think we as Christians do a very good job of listening. We are all about telling people, judging people.
They start to tell their story and we stop them, and we tell them why what they said and how they live—am I right? I think I can do so much better. I was on a zoom Bible study during Covid with these guys, my first time ever in this group. “Hey, Dave. Will you be a part of this?” Toward the end, they said, “When you go out on the streets and you want to share Christ and people are antagonistic, and they don’t want to hear what you say, how do we get our message out?”
I just sat there and listened, because you’ll be much wiser when you’re the last guy to speak, so I just listened. Basically the narrative was, “You need to be stronger. You need to tell them why they’re wrong.” Finally at the end they said, “Hey, Dave. Do you have any thoughts?” I was the older guy, and I was a 30-year pastor so I knew they were turning to me like, “Well, you might have done this before. Do you have any thoughts?”
All I said was, “I think we should go up to those people and listen. Ask them what their story is. They have a story. I bet they’ve heard everything we’re going to tell them. Just ask a question, and don’t say anything. Just listen.” They all went, “Oh.” It was a novel thought, and it’s just what you said. Especially in this area, they have a story that maybe the church has been a place they have never felt heard or seen, and you’re saying, “No, be that person of Christ that says, ‘I see you, and I hear you, and I want to hear your story.’”
Ann: I love that question, Sam, “What does that mean to you?” Even with our kids, if they come and they identify as something other than we would expect, to ask that question, “What does that mean to you, hon?”
Ann: It might not even mean what we’re thinking, so I love that question.
Rob: I think a really important distinction is that we can acknowledge without affirming. So often what parents are concerned about is, “How do I love my kid without affirming what they think or I think of what they’re doing or thinking?” and they’re so nervous, there’s so much fear. Think of it like this: My six-year-old a few weeks ago came to me one evening, and he said, “Daddy, oh my tummy hurts. I’m sick. I can’t go to school tomorrow.”
Well it would be unloving for me to just say, “You’re not sick. You’re going to school tomorrow.” What parent does that? But I also don’t have to affirm the path that he’s laying out for me, of “Because I feel this, therefore this and this.” But I can acknowledge that the experience that he’s having of his tummy hurting—
Ann: You can pull him on your lap.
Rob: Absolutely, and I can be there and empathize, but I also can see the candy wrappers in the trash can. [Laughter] Or more realistically right now, I also know the school anxiety that he’s having, because he’s a kindergartener and he’s getting used to school, he’s doing all this writing, so I can enter into that in a very, very different place. I think it’s helpful for us to think about acknowledging is not necessarily affirming.
Ann: Let’s go back to that Persona number one, and talk about that a little bit, and get into that a little deeper. Remind us of the first persona.
Rob: Here’s what’s fascinating. There’s a 2015 study done that was one of the largest studies that’s ever been done of LGBT people. In this study they found that 83 percent of LGBT people were raised in the church.
Rob: So, for us to think about LGBT people as “them,” as “out there,” as “away from us,” is just wrong.
Ann: And remind our listeners, when we say Persona One—
Rob: Yes. This would be the believer who identifies as LGBT+ or same-sex attracted, but is in full agreement with the biblical sexual ethic and they are pursuing celibacy.
Dave: I have to be honest. I’ve had people tell me that a person can’t be a believer; if you’re same-sex attracted you’re not a believer. Have you ever heard that?
Sam: Yes. I’ve had people say that to me.
Rob: Sam, where do you think that’s coming from?
Sam: With those who I think are trying to be good faith, I think it is someone trying to reconcile how you can continue to have an ongoing experience of a temptation of something that they would say is so wrong and so perverted if you have the Spirit of Christ in you. Which makes sense as a question; I can see where that comes from.
But I think I just want to say, “Well, which sins are you saying Christians can struggle with, and which sins do you think Christians can’t struggle with, and do you have a biblical basis for that? Because every New Testament reference to same-sex relationships is in the context of a list of all kinds of sins, like greed.
Sam: Or slander. We just want to be biblically consistent in how we talk about temptation and sin.
Sam: And if you say, “Well, actually that’s a temptation no Christian will ever continue to experience,” you need to have some Scriptures to back that up. The biblical expectation seems to be that we will experience temptation in this life.
Rob: So Sam, for the person that’s sitting there thinking, “Well, what about the passage in 1 Corinthians that says, ‘and such were some of you?’” What would be your response to that?
Sam: My response would be that the very fact that Paul says, “Do not be deceived,” in the verses immediately before that, “Such people will not inherit the kingdom of God,” implies there is still a temptation to go back to these things. “Such were some of you.” It’s no longer who you are. It may have defined you. It may have been a sin that was in authority over you, but in Christ, our relationship to sin has changed fundamentally.
I still experience temptation, the old self is still around and hasn’t left the building yet, but I’m not under the authority of sin in the way that I once was, so I don’t have to sin. Who I am now is a new creation in Christ, and I’m more defined by my future than I am by my past. So when sin says to me, “Come on. This is who you are. This is what we do,” my response is, “You know that’s who I was. It’s not who I am now.”
I still feel the temptations to sin, but actually I’ve never been more true to myself as a Christian than when I’m pursuing holiness in Christ.
Rob: Sam, when I meet with my friends down in West Palm, I am astounded by the people who have counted the cost to following Jesus, and said that Jesus is worthy when I haven’t done that in some areas of my life. But because I’m straight, married, ggot kids, my life isn’t under as much inspection as theirs is, so I haven’t had to count the cost, because the cost is not nearly as high for me.
In this world that’s telling my kids that whatever they want is what’s good for them, my LGBT friends give a testimony that Jesus is better than what their feelings tell them. That message is going to be more compellingly heard from Josh, from Christian, and from Sam than it will be from me.
I need men like Sam; I need men like Josh and Christian to help me raise my son, because there comes an age where kids look at their parents like, “Oh, you’re idiots. But this guy, who said the same thing that you said, he knows what’s up.” I need men like Sam in my life to help my sons see this is what it looks like to follow Jesus, and that Jesus is worth it.
Dave: Sam, how do you respond when you hear that?
Sam: I’m going to push back on that a little bit, because I need to learn that from my friends. I think that’s part of how God has designed the church, is we all learn that from each other. I learn that from my heterosexual married friend who I know is denying himself in the way he’s being a husband, in a way that makes me think, “I guess sometimes it’s easier for me to be me than it is for him to be him.” So we are all wonderfully incarnating the gospel to each other.
The cost will land in slightly different places; it will have different pinch points for each one of us, but each one of us is bearing the cost, and we all learn from seeing into each other’s lives. If I was to get to spend more time with you, Rob, I would see so many areas where I see you going off to Jesus in an area of life where I’ve barely flexed that spiritual muscle, so I think it’s just part of God’s economy that we all have that role in each other’s lives, as we pursue Christ.
Dave: It is something to think of the beauty of what Rob just said. We know what their struggle is because they’ve told us, so we say, “Wow. They’re denying this area.” But I think what Sam is saying and what we all appreciate is if you’re following Christ with everything you have, everyone’s denying some leaning toward sin that may be stronger than the next person in some area, and when you get close enough to their story, you’re like, “Oh, my goodness. That’s inspiring. I didn’t know you struggled with it to that level, and you’re winning this battle because Christ is more beautiful.”
That’s inspiring, and part of me wants to get close enough to people to know their story well enough so that I can say, “Thank you for sharing that.” - and they will share because they feel loved by me.
Sam: Yes. Such a privilege when someone shares their story like that. You get to see, “Okay, that’s what’s really going on in your life.” Otherwise we’re comparing the inside of ourselves to the outside of someone else, and sometimes we have no idea what someone’s going through. You get to know them and you realize, “Oh, man. They are really suffering for Jesus.”
Dave: I tell you, every conversation with Sam Allberry is just rich.
Ann: This was a great conversation that we had with Sam, and then we brought Rob in. But I think it’s easy as parents or grandparents to pull away from these conversations because we’re not sure how to say things, or we don’t want to offend people, but these are conversations we have to have.
Dave: That’s why we had them on. We want to help you and help us have these conversations in our homes and in our neighborhoods and in our churches. This is content that has to be shared, because everyone I know wonders, “How do I talk about these sensitive issues?” I can’t think of anybody better than Sam. Let me say to those of you that support FamilyLife Today and this ministry financially and prayerfully, thank you. You allow us to do this and get this into your hands and into other people’s hands as well.
Ann: I know that some of you are at a point right now that money is tight. You’re not in a position to be able to give, but there are others of you that maybe are in a position or a stage of life where you can give. It’s people like you that can help us get this word out and get this ministry on the air and into people’s hands.
Dave: So jump in and join our family. Be a partner with us. Let’s change the world and we need you to do that. So, we’re asking you to jump in. Jump in now.
Shelby: I’m Shelby Abbott and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Sam Allberry and Rob Hudson on FamilyLife Today. Sam has written a book called Is God Anti-Gay? It talks about all the things that we’ve been discussing today, along with so much more to help Christians navigate these tricky waters in today’s culture. You can head over to FamilyLifeToday.com and pick up your copy there.
Now, are you a parent? If so, let’s get real for a second, alright? Three years down the road, that preteen of yours, if you have a preteen, won’t be a preteen anymore. This is scary to me because that’s me. I fall into this category. The issues are going to be harder and they’re going to be just plain different than what you’re dealing with now. If that’s the case, take a weekend with your preteen to make great memories that connect the two of you, and talk through some of those difficult topics.
In fact, we can help you talk about things like dating, body changes, and peer pressure, issues that, though totally awkward, make or break teenagers and teens-to-be. You can start talking with FamilyLife’s Passport to Purity®. The cool thing is that right now you can take 25 percent off using the code “PASSPORT”, all the way through tomorrow. Head over to FamilyLifeToday.com, scroll down, and look for Passport to Purity.
You can learn more there, or you could pick up Sam’s book by heading online, or you could give us a call at 800- “F” as in Family, “L” as in life, and then the word “TODAY.” And feel free to drop us something in the mail. Our address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, Florida 32832.
Next week Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be joined by Dean Inserra. He’s going to talk about why the Bible’s plan for sexuality isn’t outdated, irrelevant or oppressive. You’re not going to want to miss that next week.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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