Does The Gospel Coalition Believe in the Heinousness of Homosexuality?

The promotion of Sam Allberry by The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is disconcerting.

It is disconcerting because of what Allbery teaches. And an investigation into those public teachings in turn brings up an important question about TGC’s promotion of this man: does The Gospel Coalition believe in the heinousness of homosexuality?

Allberry’s book, Is God Anti-Gay, was published in 2013. The book was warmly reviewed at TGC’s website and promoted far and wide with glowing endorsements from other respectable Reformed leaders. Allberry is an editor at TCG. Meanwhile, Allberry’s speaking engagements spread and his 2017 video clip came across my facebook feed:

“I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life. By that I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions to people of the same sex. I choose to describe myself this way because sexuality is not a matter of identity for me, and that has become good news.”

Such a detailed admission is shocking. I decided to investigate the backstory of the aforementioned video. Allberry, a minister in the Anglican church, signed a public letter, in conjunction with several other pastors, to the College and House of Bishops with respect to the issue he addressed in the 2017 video clip:

“We are committed to building a church that is genuinely welcoming to all people, irrespective of the pattern of sexual attraction which they experience. We would welcome initiatives to help local churches do so in a way that is affirming of and consistent with Scripture and would hope to support suggestions you might wish to bring to Synod to that effect.”

To that end they urged the Bishops not to contradict the “Issues in Human Sexuality” and the Lambeth Resolution 1.10. That resolution declares the same goal:

“We call upon the Church and all its members to work to end any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and to oppose homophobia.”

The resolution gives further explanation of their (and Allberry’s) views on sexuality:

“Those who understand themselves as homosexuals, no more and no less than those who do not, are liable to false understandings based on personal or family histories, emotional dispositions, social settings and solidarities formed by common experiences or ambitions. Our sexual affections can no more define who we are than our class race or nationality. At the deepest ontological level, therefore, there is no such thing as ‘a’ homosexual or ‘a’ hetrosexual [sic]; therefore there are human beings, male and female, called to redeemed humainty [sic] in Christ, endowed with a complex variety of emotional potentialities and threatened by a complex variety of forms of alienation.”

So Adam and Eve were not heterosexual? How were they to fulfill the creation mandate? Were they just abstract human beings without sexual identity? Is heterosexuality merely a fiction created to procreate for otherwise asexual humans? What do these words even mean?

If the affections and activities of sexuality are not part of the human make up, then is homosexual attraction even a sin?

In making a safe space for celibate homosexual-attracted people, the resolution has cut the throat of sexual godliness.

I investigated further.

The Lambeth Resolution 1.10 is also endorsed by the three founding members of Living Out, an organization designed to help Christians who struggle with homosexuality. Allberry is one of those founders.

Living Out is promoted by TCG. Two of the three founders are writers at TCG (Allberry and Ed Shaw). And those founders’ books are favorably reviewed by TGC.

Living Out’s stated goal is “[to help] to build more biblically faithful and compassionate churches where all are encouraged to be more Christ-like regardless of their sexuality and where homophobia is not tolerated.”

But that is not the only goal of Living Out:

“To help the wider world hear and understand that there is more than just one viable script for those who are same-sex attracted. So we’ve shared our stories at public events, on-line and via the media to communicate that many same-sex attracted Christians are both happy with their sexuality and the bible’s teaching on same-sex sexual relationships.”

Let me quote that again: “that many same-sex attracted Christians are both happy with their sexuality and the bible’s teaching on same-sex sexual relationships.”

Is this a typo? A misstatement? Maybe happy means satisfied or acceptable. Surely they do not mean what they wrote.

But who would use the word happy to describe someone who struggles with child-attraction? Has the social normalization of homosexuality dulled our discernment? Has our theology morphed to blend in with our pagan environment?

That Living Out’s stated goal includes being happy with same-sex attraction and the bible’s teaching on marriage makes sense, if same-sex attraction as such is not sinful. And Allberry asserts as much:

“I want to hold a couple of things in tension. James 1 helps me because it reminds me that when I experience any form of temptation, that is not something I can pin on somebody else. Those come from my own desires. That comes from within, that temptation. So, I do need to take ownership of it, but at the same time it is not as if I have chosen to experience that form of temptation. So, I would be uncomfortable with saying same-sex attraction is sin. It is form of temptation. The temptation comes from within my heart and therefore I am to resist the temptation, but I think we as Christians need to make a distinction between temptation and sin.” (White Horse Inn interview, 2015, emphasis added)

Given the desensitizing of Christians to the sexual sins of our age, I must highlight how astounding Allberry’s claim is. Just replace “same-sex attraction” with “child attraction” or “animal attraction.” Remember, by “attraction” Allberry means “sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions.”

Would the typical Christian shrug their shoulders over such claims? Of course same-sex attraction is a sin! It is forbidden by God’s Word as much as child attraction or animal attraction. James 1:14 warns us that such temptation arises because the sinful attraction is already in our flesh—the flesh which theologians dub original sin.

This apparent downplaying of the culpability of inherent corruption (Romans 7:14ff.) is a key problem for this organization. And it explains a number of otherwise troubling assertions I discovered.

Consider the following from “How Should I Respond if My Child Comes Out to Me”:

“the assumption that being ‘straight’ is the normal sexuality which they are deviating from – whereas, as I have just pointed out, ‘straight’ sexuality is equally fallen from God’s good original created purposes.”

“They are still themselves. Whilst their sexuality is an important part of them that you must accept and not deny, it is not the whole of who they are.”

Having homosexual desires is “an important part of them” and you, dear reader, must accept that. This makes sense if so-called same-sex attraction is not a sin.

Consider also the assertions from “Does Living Out Support Gay ‘Cure’ or ‘Conversion Therapy’?“:

“Our belief is that all of us have fallen sexual desires (whether heterosexual or homosexual), and that what we need isn’t more heterosexuality or less homosexuality, but the holiness found in Jesus Christ.”

“The focus on changing a person’s sexual desires in order ultimately to change their sexual identity is the wrong way round. We believe it is essential to help people accept themselves as they are, just as God accepts us as we are. This will include accepting our sexual orientation, although it will also include accepting our God-given sexual identity as female or male.”

“If gay or same-sex attracted people do need counselling or psychotherapy, it isn’t because they are gay or same-sex attracted ( original emphasis).”

The author claims that the holiness of God precludes heterosexuality. The baseline for sexual attraction, affection and action is not heterosexuality according to Living Out. This is astounding!

Equally astounding is the rationale offered: “We believe it is essential to help people accept themselves as they are, just as God accepts us as we are.” How is this reasoning different than any other liberal argument in the last fifty years? Christians should not accept the sin that readily abides in them. That is the whole point of Romans 7.

Lastly, Allberry recently tweeted a strange sentiment: “Scripture has a theology of marriage, not of homosexuality.”

Given the evidence thus far, such a view makes more sense. Another Living Out article (“Why Not Say You are Gay”) fleshes out the thought behind the Allberry quote:

“The Bible knows nothing of the concept of ‘sexual orientation’ – so no-one is ever referred to in the Bible as being gay, lesbian, straight, or bisexual. God’s word speaks only of sexual practices, i.e., those which are pleasing to God (sex within marriage, which is between one man and one woman) and those which are not (all other sex, whatever the context).”

The Bible speaks only of sexual practices? What about sexual thoughts? Or sexual attraction? Is Proverbs no longer part of their bible?

Any one of these quotes is enough for a second read. Collected together they spell warning. Taken with Allberry’s outright denial of the culpability of homosexual attraction—that spells trouble.

Did TGC read the stated goals of Living Out?
Did TGC read the Lambeth Resolution endorsed by Living Out?
Did TGC fully vet Allberry and the organization he represents?

Can anything written by Living Out authors be taken as conservatively biblical?

The promotion of Sam Allberry by The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is disconcerting.  It is disconcerting enough to ask: does The Gospel Coalition believe in the heinousness of homosexuality?

[This is part of a multi-part series investigating the subtle changes in conservative views on homosexuality. Series here.]

[My twitter handle: shawnmathis1972 ]

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25 thoughts on “Does The Gospel Coalition Believe in the Heinousness of Homosexuality?

  • June 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm
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    Pastor, are you the only one standing, one man contra mundum, against the world? Thanks for your research, insights, and courage.

    The slippery slope, the line of demarcation, moving heinous sin from right to left: Homosexuality today, pedophilia, polygamy, orgies, bestiality, infanticide, euthanasia, and human sacrifice tomorrow. At least fallen angels once knew and experienced the holiness of God–not so of fallen man. We will not stop until we become more demonic than the demons.

    “Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!” (Moby Dick).

    When the decadent say happy, they mean happy. Happy, cheerful, gay…whatever.

    “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” (Augustine)

    Keep hammering the truth, batter down these gates of hell, and relegate these doctrines of demons to Gehenna where they belong. Hopefully the tide will change. One day it will.

    Reply
    • June 16, 2017 at 10:07 am
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      Thank you brother. There are many more men against this and the world. They are just busy putting out other fires (just follow the PCA news!).

      Please pass these articles on to any Christian you know.

      Peace.

      Reply
  • June 25, 2017 at 2:24 pm
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    I understand your primary concern is to highlight that the modern church has become too comfortable with the statement: it is ok to be gay, as long as you do not practice it, because that would be a sin.
    This statement would not have been acceptable to most ‘conservative’ Christians even 20 years ago. I get that and I agree that this is not good, same sex attraction, even unfulfilled, is still a product of human depravity.
    However, I think you are trying to ignore a good deal of nuance that the other side has been fleshing out for the purpose of helping those who struggle with SSA, that though they are sinful, that sin is not unforgivable, and there is a place for even them at the Lord’s table, next to all of us other heinous wretches. Yes, sexual perversion is a gross sin, more so than being a thief or liar. Yes, we are becoming more comfortable with the worlds definitions of human sexuality, and that too is a horrible sin. What disgusting fools we are, how offensive we must be to a Holy God, why doesn’t he just smite us all and be done with it?
    Christ died for sinners: for liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, homosexuals, pedophiles and rapists. You can be thought to be saying that He only died for those sins that are in our past, that for the elect the only atonement we need in our futures is for ‘lighter’, less heinous sins. While I pray in hope everyday for more sanctification, I would be a foolish man to believe that I am just not suseptable to slipping into something a little more egregious. I put no confidence in my flesh, and am fervently thankful that His grip on me is tighter than my grip on Him!
    You do not want a church member to identify as a gay Christian; well neither does Sam. You have pointed out several concerning statements, and I do wish the language was better, but I have heard him speak about this. He denounces his sinful nature, he aknowledges Gods good creation does not include SSA. He longs for the removal of all sin and the final death whine of his putrid old self, as I am sure you do as well. You seem to think that he should not even have the temptation towards homosexuality anymore(if he is really a Christian), that he should certainly keep his mouth shut about it at any rate, and that he is unquestionably unqualified to preach the gospel to believing sinners as long as he possesses that particular weakness. You underplay his resistance to that temptation, as if it were no small matter to resist sin (can the reprobate even do that?) You seem to think we should agree with you, that we would actually if we were dealing with a man who struggles with temptation to lust after children, or even the lovely ladies of the church (all of them). I don’t think you have thought that fully through. After all, have not quite a few ministers over the years have been exposed for indulging in BOTH of those heinous sins? Those were just the ones who gave in and got caught? I am sure that you can concede that maybe (at the very least one) of them were also actually counted among the elect. You don’t think there are more; who are graciously able to resist, and (eventually) even put those desires to death? Maybe someone should do a study on why so many men called to ministry seem to suffer from these specific sins. Sometimes, the sin will prevent a man from serving the church in that capacity, but necessarily so, every single time? I do not think so. Personally, I find the man who is intensely aware of just how much he has been forgiven of makes the better pastor than the ‘good’ boy who knew he wanted to be a pastor from a young age and never participated in the gross enticements proffered by the world, the flesh,and the devil. Thankfully, the Lord is pleased to show his grace to all kinds of sinners, and to use them as He desires.
    Yes, Sam never would have ‘come out’ a few decades ago. But he did now, at a time when the world, and the church, are very publicly dealing with these things. And even though the world would have loved him and celebrated his courage to stand up and say ‘this is how God made me, and I am awesome’, he actually denounced his sinful self and gave glory to God for graciously accepting such a horrible sinner, only because of Christ. That is no small thing.

    Reply
    • July 1, 2017 at 3:10 pm
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      This argument does not move me because Sam has a leadership responsibility, and therefore it is incumbent upon him to avoid any impropriety or any, obscure and/or subtle even, temptation for his flock, and particularly for the weak and young. The subject, as it affects him, should not be mentioned in public. If he wants to discuss it with a close confidant – maybe. Frankly, I think he should drop the subject, the idea, and the discussion of it.

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    • July 10, 2017 at 7:26 am
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      This is a very good response Brian.

      I think the allegations in the article are too far-fetched, though well intented. Tbh, such allegations are not grounded in deep theological analysis, not even from a hopeful biblical counselling perspective, although the article has been carefully worded, it is nonetheless still an accusation to a very prominent and Christ-centered organisation.

      The wisest way to affirming whatever your concerns are in the article, is to first get in touch with the TGC editorial team. Get a response, and write then write with relevant proof. You did not give them the benefit of the doubt to TGC, neither should we give you one.

      I urge all readers of this post to carefully examine all kinds of accusation/allegation thrown towards other bodies of Christ. I don’t think TGC is any less careful than you think they are. It needs clarity, if this a theological dispute or it is something to do with an organisation that has sinned.

      I hope you write to edify the body of Christ.

      Reply
  • June 25, 2017 at 8:51 pm
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    Thank you Pastor Mathis for voicing this observation. I have been picking up on this troubling lack of spiritual discernment concerning the discussions on homosexuality at TGC and with John Piper at Desiring God as well. Both organizations seem all in in promoting everything about Sam Allberry’s books and teaching. I expected more well-know leaders in high standing and regard within Evangelical circles to speak out but instead they seem to have joined in the promotion – even Mark Dever and Al Mohler have shared platforms with Allberry. I don’t understand the choices. I shall however continue to pray for them as I still hold them all in high regard, except perhaps in this. At any rate thank you for what I think is a sound observation. I hope you continue to write about this. – EAJ, Wyoming

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    • July 1, 2017 at 3:14 pm
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      I agree, and all of the adulation and attention he’s getting may well tempt him to drop his resistance to the temptation. Additionally, he’s attracting attention to himself by people who have like temptations and will prey on his weaknesses and patronize him, and anyone who has done any research at all on the homosexual community will know that for a fact. He needs to drop the subject like a hot potato.

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  • June 28, 2017 at 4:10 pm
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    “The Bible speaks only of sexual practices? What about sexual thoughts? Or sexual attraction? Is Proverbs no longer part of their bible?”
    I’m genuinely asking:
    Can you give some citations of where the Bible actually addresses “attraction” as sin?
    Or where it describes “attraction to sin” as sin itself?
    You said Proverbs… but I’m not certain which passage you’re assuming. Can you point me to it?

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    • June 29, 2017 at 7:30 am
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      Dear John,

      It all depends upon how the weasel word “attraction” is defined. This is how Allberry defines it: ““I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life. By that I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions to people of the same sex.”

      That should be self-evidently sinful. Simply transpose “children” with “same-sex”.

      Another way to look at this is to use the biblical language of “lust”. What Allberry discusses cannot be described any other way. Lust is condemned in Proverbs. The word “desire” may be used or “heart” such as in Proverbs 6:25 (NKJV): “Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.” (cp. Prov. 5, 7).

      Proverbs 7:25: “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths.”

      Reply
      • June 29, 2017 at 9:08 am
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        Thanks for the citation… you’re right to observe the difficulty is with the word attraction. That’s where I’m having difficulty in understanding this. For example: I’d never tell a man who is struggling with being honest that the desire he is warring against makes him somehow unredeemable until that temptation no longer afflicts him. Certainly the temptation towards hyperbole is not a sin in itself… though giving in to that temptation certainly is.
        I think I understand that you are saying that this man is arguing that his homosexual sexual desire is something to be embraced, but not acted on? Kind of saying, “I know I’m a compulsive liar at heart, and that’s not wrong… so long as I don’t actually speak the lies.” <- is that your understanding here? In which case the problem is more fundamental. It seems to Me that the problem in that case is a misunderstanding of what transformation is. The believer is one who is changed and to assert that we remain consistently enslaved to wicked desires is erroneous.
        Anyhow, thanks for the citations. If you have anymore citations that deal with attraction to sin, I'd appreciate it. Thanks

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        • June 30, 2017 at 6:15 pm
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          A careful reading of the quotes I offer shows that he denies sexual, romantic and deep feelings are a sin. In other words, Allberry is claiming to be a celibate gay Christian.

          For further proof, a Church of England member was at the Synod where Allberry gave his short speech. See the Twitter conversation I had with him: https://twitter.com/rockbadger/status/880489508525019136

          Note how he differentiates between Allberry and “A small handful of synod would explicitly say that SSA people should be actively seeking reductions in those feelings.”

          If you read more from Living Out, you will find the whole point of “living out” [similar to “coming out”] is to help people who identify with gayness (eg. are actually gay) but do not want to act upon and want to affirm biblical marriage. I have more quotes. What I have in my essay should suffice. Do not let the round-about way of their talking detract from their fundamental point “Whilst their sexuality is an important part of them that you must accept and not deny, it is not the whole of who they are.”

          We should never accept their sexuality of “gayness.”

          Reply
        • June 30, 2017 at 6:16 pm
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          John, If you have Twitter, go and talk with him. He’s friendly enough.

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          • July 1, 2017 at 3:20 pm
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            Thanks! But I was seeking clarity on your statements… not his. I may ask for his perspective… but he is Anglican… so we’re not going to have much common ground anyway. thanks again for responding.

        • July 13, 2017 at 5:06 am
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          ” the believer is one who is changed, and to assert that we remain co sisterly enslaved to wicked desires is erroneous.”
          Thank- you! You have put into words what I have been trying to express regarding this issue!. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it!!

          Reply
    • July 1, 2017 at 3:16 pm
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      How about Matthew 5:28? I don’t think Christ leaves a shred of doubt.

      Reply
  • June 29, 2017 at 12:10 am
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    Thank you so much for this!

    I am a born again believer who used to be a homosexual! To see Sam, LivingOut, the Gospel Coalition, and many other conservative Christians (even in the reformed world) caving on this issue is one of most painful things I have experienced since I have been saved. They do not understand that they are doing something that is incredibly cruel. They are allowing people to be complacent in their fight against unnatural and abominable desires, while still allowing them the right hand of fellowship in the name of love and not wanting to burden people!

    The opposite of homosexuality is heterosexuality! Heterosexuality is godliness in that it is the only sexuality that can be sanctified in the marriage bed. Instead of offering hope to those who seek to repent of sodomy, this will cause people to remain “celibate gay Christians” without repentance from desires that are sinful by their very nature. There is hope for homosexuals in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel transforms lives, changes desires, allows one to live a holy life, and allows men to be men and women to be women (including in the fulfillment of their God given sexuality through the marriage covenant between one man and one woman)!

    I have been getting a lot of pushback from people about this, and it seems like this is going to cause some major upset.

    May God bless you, and may the Lord help us to stand true to His word in this great hour of attack upon the created order.

    Reply
    • June 29, 2017 at 7:31 am
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      Thank you.

      Living Out does NOT offer the home of changed desires (they use the weasel word “attraction”). And, I fear, TGC is helping them in this endeavor, wittingly or not.

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    • July 1, 2017 at 3:20 pm
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      May your faith comfort you, and the Holy Spirit keep you from temptation. You are a voice of reason and must stay strong in your conviction; opposing all who challenge you. You are, on this issue, in the vanguard for all intents and purposes. It will be difficult, and those of the perverse proclivities will assault you worse than the “straight” proponents. Isn’t it interesting that the gays call heterosexuals “straight”? What is the opposite of straight? Crooked?

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      • July 3, 2017 at 3:52 pm
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        “What is the opposite of straight? Crooked?” Well said.

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  • July 9, 2017 at 1:54 pm
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    Thank- you, for this! I have been trying to put to words my concern regarding the acceptance of Sam Alberrys teaching among evangelicals. You have helped me in that respect.
    I have searched the Internet fot 2 years trying to find someone opposing the ideas he is putting forth ( the Bible does not speak in terms of hetero or homo sexuality ) also that some people are born SSA and should not expect to change and we should accept this and let them serve in all capacitys in our churches ) I believe this is vastly different than someone who has come out of that life style sees it as sin and in the process of sanctification has the hope and power to change.
    And now is on staff at with Ravi ? How are they not seeing the danger? :/
    Our children do not need to hear the message that it’s okay to be gay as long as you don’t act out your desires… How cruel would God be to do that? Give desires and than say it would be a sin to act them out… Gods gives only good gifts….
    I would be I terested in anymore help in explaining exactly why this line of thought is dangerous and unbiblical.

    If you only knew how refreshing this article has been and how it has given me hope!

    Reply

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