24 June 2024

Podcast: Supporting Christians navigating same-sex attraction – with Simon Byrne

This article is part of the Affinity Talks Gospel Podcast series.

On this episode of Affinity Talks Gospel, we’re joined by Simon Byrne from True Freedom Trust who discusses his personal journey as someone same-sex attracted and the support the church should provide to Christians in similar situations.

Affinity Talks Gospel Podcast hosts, Graham Nicholls and Lizzie Harewood are joined by Simon Byrne, the Teaching & Outreach Manager at True Freedom Trust (TFT). Simon shares his personal journey of being same-sex attracted and how TFT supports Christians with similar experiences. He discusses the charity’s focus on providing pastoral support, community, and resources for individuals navigating same-sex attraction within a Christian context. Simon highlights the importance of creating safe spaces within churches for open conversations about sexuality without fear of rejection or discrimination.

We speak about the challenges individuals face when disclosing their sexuality, the significance of maintaining a welcoming and inclusive church environment, and the need for ongoing support and understanding within Christian communities. Simon addresses the evolving conversations around sexuality, including newer concepts like queer theory, and emphasises the importance of engaging with these complex issues from a place of patience, understanding, and character.

We discuss the broader societal and philosophical implications of current discussions on sexuality, urging for a balanced and compassionate approach in addressing these topics within and outside the church. We highlight the biblical perspective on sexuality, the importance of upholding God’s design for relationships, and the need for churches to actively include and support individuals regardless of their relationship status or orientation.

In conclusion, Simon shares how individuals can engage in meaningful conversations around sexuality, and strive for inclusivity and understanding within their communities. The episode concludes with a call for prayer for TFT’s ministry, individuals navigating same-sex attraction, and the ongoing challenges and opportunities surrounding conversations on sexuality within Christian contexts.

Find out more about True Freedom Trust on their website: ⁠https://truefreedomtrust.co.uk/

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Topics addressed in this Podcast:

  • Who is True Freedom Trust?
  • Importance of support and disclosure
  • The value of celibate singleness
  • Gay’ or ‘same-sex attracted’?
  • Significance of biblical teaching and foundation for moral reasoning
  • Navigating complexities of sexuality
  • Engaging with changing cultural narratives
  • Embracing inclusivity in the church family
  • Overcoming inactivity for inclusivity and finding fellowship in everyday activities
  • Conclusion and prayer requests for True Freedom Trust


[0:10] Hi, I’m Lizzie Harewood, and this is the Affinity Talks Gospel Podcast, and I’m joined today by Graham Nicholls. Hi, Graham. Hi, I am Graham, and we have a special guest, Simon Byrne, who we’re very glad is with us. And tell us a little bit about yourself, Simon. Any background details? Yes, well, thank you. Thank you for having me. I know, Graham, we’ve worked together a little bit before. It’s nice to have an invite to the podcast. But yes, my name’s Simon. I work for a Christian charity and an agency partner of Affinity called True Freedom Trust. That charity’s been kicking around since 1977 and mainly exists to support Christians who experience same-sex attraction but want to live in accordance with the sort of historic Christian understanding that sex and marriage is only rightly between one man and one woman. Tell us a little bit about your own story.

[1:07] Yeah, sure. So I live in Lancashire, just outside of Preston at the moment. I was born in Preston, lived there all of my life. Didn’t come from a Christian background. For me, that’s something that happened a little bit later on in life. It was actually off the back of a really persistent friend of mine in sixth form who kept inviting me to church, and I kept saying no. And then he sort of got me into the church via stealth almost. He invited me to his baptism, and I thought wanting to be a good and supportive friend, that wasn’t really something I could say no to. But it ended up, that was on a Saturday, stayed at his house, went to church the following day, and then I just kept going to church week in, week out. Friends of mine from college were there. I was treating it as a bit of a social club. And the sort of short version is eventually we went on a youth weekend away in the Lake District. And it was the pastor of our church that was speaking. And I reckon it must have been the first time that I’d really listened to him or paid attention to anything he had to say. Because for about two weeks after that, I had this sort of niggling sensation in the back of my mind that what I’d heard was true. And it was something that I needed to respond to.

[2:14] But it’s been quite an interesting journey because from when I was a child, I knew that I myself was same-sex attracted. Attracted um or experience same-sex attraction something i’ve known about since i was probably eight or nine years old um which i think some people think oh that sounds really young but it’s not kind of um uncommon um for children of that age to kind of be aware of a a sense of feeling different or be aware of those attractions um and i guess when i was a teenager of being aware of those attractions and and and kind of being in a school environment where if you were if you were gay if you were same-sex attracted you didn’t want to tell your peers because it just felt like I was already skinny, pale, nerdy, had a lot of reasons that people used to pick on me anyway. I didn’t want to say anything else that would kind of draw that kind of negative attention to me, so I hid it. And that was something that sort of continued into when I was a Christian, really, was aware when I became a Christian that it didn’t feel like the Bible spoke too favourably of same-sex relationships. And so I just sort of continued to hide it. And that was something I kept doing really until I joined TFT as a member, which is why I work with them now. I was a member before I was a staff member.

[3:23] So could you tell us a little bit more about tft true freedom trust the kind of um the vision and uh its remit what what do you do and who do you work yeah so i guess there’s there’s probably i would say three main arms to our ministry and what we do so one is very much that that pastoral support i’m um not intending to replace the the good work that’s that’s done by churches across across the UK and Ireland, which is where we work by any means, but really wanting to just provide a place where people who experience same-sex attraction can come together in community and support one another and pray together and just be around people who understand kind of what it feels like to carry that particular cost to their discipleship. And one of the ways we do that, probably one of the main ways we do that, is we have some support groups scattered across, mainly in England, but there are some elsewhere and there’s some online as well that give people that chance to get together in community.

[4:22] My particular role is we have a speaking and a teaching ministry. So we’ve got a team of about nine or 10 volunteers that go out across churches, Bible colleges, Christian conferences, podcasts, and just aim to share something of their own stories, their own walks with same-sex attraction and how God has ministered to them and what that journey’s looked but like just alongside the kind of biblical truth as well, that we believe actually regardless of what your sexual orientation is, the gospel is good news for you. And very similarly, the third arm of the ministry would be we produce some resources ourselves. So we’ve got a website, truefreedomtrust.co.uk, and we’ve got a magazine and we’ve got our own podcast, all kind of trying to do that same thing and share that we believe the Bible is good news in this area.

[5:11] Why do you think support is necessary or, I suppose, connected with that? Is there a danger that you end up saying, this is not my identity, but you do end up identifying yourself as same-sex attracted?

[5:28] In the process of supporting, you’re saying, we are a special group that have a special set of challenges.

[5:35] How do you sort of weigh that up? Do you think that makes sense as a question? Yeah, I think probably our pastoral support, the reason it’s been needed in the church has probably evolved a little bit in the time that we’ve been active. I think, you know, way back, as I said, we started in 1977, and that was really a time where people didn’t really talk about sexuality in churches. It was all a little bit underground. People didn’t want to disclose that those attractions were something that they were experiencing. Influencing, and I think TFT, to kind of use a phrase that we might hear in the news quite a lot, sort of provided a bit of a safe space for people to be able to come and talk to others about those attractions rather than feeling like they needed to share it with their church leadership or the people they were in contact with on an everyday basis, because I think there still was a very real feel that, oh, is this going to affect my relationships? Are people going to reject me? Am I going to be kicked out of the church, etc.? Thankfully, I think the church has moved on an awful long way since then um i think we’re still a little bit dealing with the legacy of of perhaps not great pastoral care or not great teaching in in decades gone by um there is still a sense i think where where people struggle um to disclose that those attractions is something that they themselves experience and tft is still often um we’re often still really um amazing we’re often the first people that that people tell about their attractions and so there is that and i think as well, the thing for me about TFT actually has been.

[7:05] Because I, as somebody who experiences same-sex attraction, I can’t then, according to what I believe the Bible says, have a romantic or a sexual partner of my own choosing. I think people for me at TFT really understand that sense of being made part of God’s family to a greater extent than I’ve experienced in some of the churches I’ve been part of in the past, and that sense of real siblingship and actually being brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ being the most important relationships that we can have with other people. That’s the, that siblingship, that’s the relationship we can have with others. It’s going to last into an eternity. So for me, that’s been a really valuable part of TFT and a big area of difference.

[7:47] And do you think it’s important that people who are same-sex attracted actually do declare that? Or is there a case for somebody not saying it? They’re a christian they believe what the bible teaches they don’t want to practice uh homosexual sex or relationships um is there a case for them being quiet or is it always good for them to actually declare it and and get that kind of network of support yeah i suspect that will that will vary um for each individual and the needs they have in the community that’s around them I think for me, I mentioned I was kind of aware of the biblical teaching when I first became a Christian.

[8:37] I was in the church and I didn’t tell anybody for all of that time because I was just ignoring it and pushing it to the back of my mind. And but I ended up kind of in a place where I remember thinking specifically, actually, I feel like I’m the only Christian in the world that’s wrestling with this. But the only Christian in the world that has these attractions wants to worship and please the Lord in the way I believe I should in the Bible. You kind of I remember feeling like a walking contradiction. Almost. I’ve got these two sets of desires that are seemingly incompatible within me, and I’ve not really got anybody that I feel I can talk to about it. So for me, there was value in sort of disclosing that that was something I was feeling. so that I could access that support. For others, the church may not be the place that they want to do that. They might have good Christian friends that they can turn to for support. Certainly, I’m not saying everybody needs to come to TFT. We would love to have them, but we would much rather actually people were supported on the ground in their own Christian community. Simon, I’ve got a question about language and about words. I was wondering, something we hear in the Christian community a lot, being same-sex attracted. Is there a reason that we use that phrase rather than we say, I’m gay? And I also would love to know your thoughts on that.

[9:55] On what it means perhaps to reject the idea that as humans we have to have a sexuality.

[10:06] Because I know I heard something a while ago and it says the Bible never frames us as having a sexuality.

[10:15] But about sexual acts that are separate, obviously are done in the body, but are not part of our kind of um our being and i’m just wondering if you could perhaps give your thoughts on on on those topics yes you might have to remind me the second question in a minute i’ll do the language one first um so this is a really interesting question i remember having a conversation with it was actually one of the first people i spoke to when i joined tft and we met up for a coffee a few years later and this was after we’d done the census a few years ago in the uk and they they included a question about sexual identity or gender identity this time around and this chap he’s a couple of decades older than me is in his 50s and he really strongly opposed the idea of labeling himself as gay in the census and we were having a conversation about it i think what i discovered is just the word gay means something very different to him compared to what it might mean to somebody of my age or somebody that’s 10 years younger um for him calling himself gay sort of connected him to almost a sort of a package or a lifestyle um that that was kind of synonymous with in in the 70s where things were perhaps underground and being gay was associated with being promiscuous etc um and where he’s obviously

[11:38] not those things so he didn’t want.

[11:39] To label himself gay because he doesn’t want to associate with that package um but if you speak to somebody like me my generation somebody that’s younger they’re really only using that language to describe their enduring sort of pattern of attractions um i think it’s it’s often good actually if you’re kind of struggling to work out where somebody’s coming from somebody cups comes comes up to you in the church for example and says oh i think i might be gay just asking them kind of what they mean by that terminology. Is it something that they’re really strongly identifying with, or is it just a word that they’re using as a shortcut to describe a particular thing that they’re experiencing? So I do think I often kind of use the terms interchangeably. I often use different language, actually, depending on who I’m speaking to. In a lot of churches, you’ll hear me say that I experience same-sex attraction just because that’s a bit gentler for certain audiences, and it’s quite clear what I mean by that. But if I was going out, talking to friends, etc., I would quite happily use the word gay.

[12:37] Sure. And I guess my second question was very much linked to that in the way that we kind of, you know, whether we say I’m gay, it’s almost like it’s a part of us that is integral, that cannot be separated. And I understand that that’s a contentious issue and we could talk about that for a long time. But I remember hearing a talk, and I’d love to know what your thoughts are, that basically said the Bible never sort of imputes that into our identity. It’s the act.

[13:10] I’m just wondering, yeah, how that marries with our kind of understanding or your understanding and your experience of talking to many people who feel unwanted same-sex attraction. Is it something that is integral to your kind of being and your identity whether you want it to be or not yeah you’re absolutely right i mean this this concept of sexual orientation if you like is quite a quite a new concept in terms of what is your um predominant experience of attraction um is it towards people of the same sex the opposite sex um etc whereas the bible never talks about sort of sexual orientation it does talk about sexual acts and it’s always wherever we see homosexuality talked about in the bible those sort of five or six or so sometimes hear them being referred to as clobber passages wherever the bible talks about those it is just talking about acts and that’s actually one of the sort of unhelpful areas of teaching in the past that we’ve had to push back against a little bit it’s you know the bible isn’t condemning you for having a particular sexual orientation. It can’t be because the Bible doesn’t have a concept of sexual orientation. It’s condemning specific sexual acts. But the Bible is kind of very clear as well that we are created as sexual beings.

[14:26] And perhaps we’ll come on to this shortly, but God has ordered sex for a very particular purpose within his kingdom, which is for the advancement of his kingdom, which we see right back in Genesis. So we’re sexual beings and that is a wonderful thing but there’s kind of only two ways you can express being a sexual being that sort of contributes towards furthering god’s purposes and one of those is is in heterosexual marriage and the other one is in celibate singleness so the kind of instructions no matter what your sexual orientation is the instructions for you are the same.

[15:01] That’s really helpful. Why do you think the biblical teaching is important? We probably haven’t got time to go through what that is and all the nuances and so forth, but just for a moment to assume that the Bible condemns all sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman, including homosexual activity. Let’s just assume that for a moment. Why do you think it’s important to both teach that emphasize that and live by that yeah you know one of the things i love is one of the prohibition passages um concerning same-sex sexual acts is in leviticus 18 um and there’s a particular way if you look at that chapter the first four verses of that chapter how that starts and it sort of says well look you know the egyptians are going to follow the egyptian statutes the canaanites are going to follow the canaanite statutes god’s people are going to follow God’s statutes, because we are citizens of a different kingdom.

[15:56] And you sort of think about how 21st century Britain thinks about sex, and it’s about pleasure, it’s about creating intimacy with another person. In God’s kingdom, that’s not what sex is for. It’s actually very much linked to God’s purposes for us. And particularly in the Old Testament, you see this the first thing you see is the procreative instruction um in genesis that is how the the sort of kingdom of god spread uh through male and female procreating and that’s that’s how the kingdom grew and you sort of continue to see and others arguments within the church debates within the church about sort of the extent of complementarianism and male female roles etc and that’s probably beyond the purview of what we’re talking about here but you kind of get the the sense right the way through scripture in different areas that sexual difference is really important for various reasons, not just because of procreation, because that’s the physical way that God’s kingdom expands, but because there’s something about men and women and how they sort of reflect the particular role of Christ and church in sort of day-to-day life and in church life as well. Yeah.

[17:03] That’s great. And that kind of, yeah, that’s a really helpful foundation to build on, isn’t it? That you can kind of then use as you minister to people. I wonder if there’s anything practically then that you can advise our listeners to do. So, you know, if I’ve got someone in the church who, you know, I’ve got a friendship with and they approach me, me I mean I don’t know that there may be same-sex attracted people in our church and I would love for them if they felt they needed to to be open and honest how would you advise that a Christian responds to to those who might open up to them yeah um I think the first thing is always just to say thank you and express appreciation and that that person has shared with you I mean I remember the the first person who I shared my own story with I was 24 um when I first told one of my Christian friends. And I experienced this sort of like a physical locking of my throat. It was so difficult and so painful just to get the words out. It does take quite a lot of courage and probably the person’s been building up to having that conversation with you for quite a long time if you are the first person that they shared with. So I would always want to kind of acknowledge that and thank them and just acknowledge that it might be something quite difficult that they’ve told you. I guess then just ask questions and be willing to listen to the person’s story. I guess.

[18:30] Particularly if it feels like a bit of an awkward gear change in the conversation that they’ve shared or disclosed their sexuality to you. Why is it that they’ve told you? Why is it they told you in that specific moment? Is there a reason? Is there something that they’re struggling with?

[18:45] Is it that they’re particularly attracted to somebody of the same sex and they just want help navigating that kind of emotional side of that relationship with that person? Person so probably just asking questions um and i think as well probably the main thing is just not allowing the fact that they’ve told you that to kind of change the the way that you see that person not seeing them through a different lens because they’ve disclosed that to you um you don’t want to keep laboring it you don’t want to every time you see them be like oh you know how are you doing with that because then it it feels like you know well i feel like that’s the only thing that they see about me now there’s so much more to me than my sexual attractions um but also not ignoring it as well um and you know i think some people value those little check-in points those little perhaps um a bit of accountability that.

[19:28] Might be why the person has disclosed to you in the first place there’s something they’re struggling with that they just want you to check in with them on um so yeah the lens thing is quite important i think it’s a bit like i know it’s not the same because it’s not a bereavement but it is has some similarities so if someone tells you or have been someone has been through a bereavement it’s a very careful balance between acknowledging it and and talking to them about it and following up talking to them about it but not not defining them as a bereaved person who you will forever treat as a sad person who who just needs sort of mollycoddling or something so i think there are some similarities with that simon have you um maybe it’s not very good for you to talk about your experience but But do your members experience discrimination in churches?

[20:18] Not in a classic sort of secular sense of thinking about it, but the sense that they’re being treated differently in an unchristian way.

[20:26] How could we do that either inadvertently or overtly? There’s not a word at all, but anyway, whatever the opposite is. Consciously, willingly. How can I treat you wrongly? Leave aside the lack of support, but positively, How could I treat you wrongly when you’ve made this disclosure to me? Yeah, great question. And there are some horror stories within the sort of TFT membership of people that have been, you know, rejected from positions of church leadership and church, etc. But those things tend to be quite rare.

[20:58] Probably more common is a lot of people within TFT who experience these attractions will choose to remain single and celibate in the light of what they believe the Bible teaches. Churches um and i think sometimes sort of being single within the church can be something that’s quite tricky to navigate um often church leaders are are married um i sometimes chuckle to myself when i look at different church websites and i look at the leadership team etc and it’s always like you see the pastor and the pastor’s wife together and every single picture is like that and um yeah sometimes i think oh am i represented here um you know you don’t want every sermon analogy for example to be about family life you want to hear things about singleness as well um so i think just being mindful actually of what some of the things that might just seem commonplace in our churches what some of the things might be communicating um to people who you know aren’t married uh be that for be that for any reason um yeah several things to look out for that’s really helpful i think married to a church leader who often uses kind of anecdotes of our.

[22:02] Family life I think that’s something that’s really helpful actually to perhaps just remind him that um this might not represent and it’s not just you know if you’re if you’re single you may not be single because of your your choosing to be settled but it may be that you just not found you know the right the right person to to marry or to share your life with and so I’m I was wondering I’ve got um I know quite a few people who who are same-sex attracted um who who are quite open about Some of them have gone on to get married to, um.

[22:33] People of the opposite sex you know christians and some of those marriages have been really positive and fruitful and a love has grown and i know one or two people who have actually sadly ended up finishing those marriages they’ve ended in divorce do you think that that’s a dangerous path to go on kind of forcing yourself into this relationship because you feel that it’s better than being alone i mean i’m not saying i know the motivation but is that a wise thing to do can it can it work out positively yeah lots of stories within the tft membership again about about people who have entered marriages sometimes you hear them called mixed orientation marriages i think that might be an american term moms call them um but lots of stories like that within the tft membership as well and i think people want to enter into those sorts of relationships for all kinds of different reasons. Sometimes it is that they do find that one person that they have feelings for of the opposite sex, and they feel like they can make that marriage work. Sometimes there’s a real sense of, actually, I want to have a biological family of my own, and maybe there’ll be a pull into marriage for that reason. These things are always a judgment call. I think one of the key things that I would want to stress to anybody sort of thinking about that who does experience same-sex attraction. It’s just kind of realistically setting the expectations.

[23:59] I wouldn’t want to end up suggesting that, oh yeah, if you enter a marriage to a person of the opposite sex, that’s going to make your feelings of same-sex attraction go away. Chances are resisting those feelings is still going to be an ongoing cost of your discipleship. So I just want to be very careful to prod people on that. But I think there is an article on that written by somebody in a marriage on the TFT website. I can’t remember what it’s called, but if you type marriage into our search bar, it is probably the first thing that comes up. And that’s got some of the considerations he was thinking through before he decided to get married. We’re always struggling for the right balance for this, but the idolatry of the family is a real problem within churches.

[24:40] The balance is that, of course, families are good and wholesome and helpful and build society. And so we want to affirm family life, but we don’t want to idolize family life and that’s a careful balance to strike um and we don’t want to idolize a particular version of family life either um yeah just as a little throwback uh the the the one biblical question that is worth answering because i get asked it on the media quite a bit which is the kind of shrimp question the old testament question how do you deal with that one as in you you’re condemning gay sex but you’re not condemning eating shellfish, Yeah, absolutely. And this is really where we’re looking for, what are some of the things that are consistent through scripture, right? So this sort of prohibition against eating shellfish or mixed fiber clothing, etc. Those were kind of laws to do with cleanliness. They were ritualistic laws that were for quite a specific time in a specific place. Space and we see Jesus kind of in the New Testament explicitly talk about well actually what makes you unclean is what’s coming out of your heart it’s not about what you’re consuming or about any of the things that go in into you and also we look at some of the New Testament prohibition passages we see some of these vice lists things like 1 Corinthians 6 Romans 1 etc Paul gives us vice lists containing all different kinds of sin and we see this sort of porneia term.

[26:02] That’s used to describe all kinds of sexual immorality are still included in that list. So those are the sort of more moral laws that are carried over very clearly into the New Testament. So we need to continue to follow them and uphold God’s will. Yeah. And how should we speak about this, do you think, outside the church? Do you think we should be slightly embarrassed about this and say, well, I don’t want to answer questions about that. It’s not part of my evangelistic message. message i might mention it if someone becomes a christian but i don’t want to mention it because it might put somebody off you know how would you how would you approach that yeah i mean in terms of an individual conversation with somebody that’s not yet a christian i always think it’s important that our character speaks as much as what we’re saying so if i for example somebody walks into my church for the first time on a sunday one of the first questions they ask me is simon what do you think about same-sex sexuality in the Bible, I’m probably not necessarily going to want to go in with a full answer there and then, because that person doesn’t know me. They don’t know where I’m coming from, they don’t understand the heart that I have for, So I would probably say it’s a great question. I want to answer that question, but maybe, you know, let’s go and have a coffee. Let’s spend a little bit of time getting to know each other’s stories a little bit more first so that they can kind of understand my character and the heart behind it and not just hear the words that I’m saying without knowing anything else.

[27:26] So that’s, I think, a really good tactic. It’s a little bit harder to do if you’re sort of doing some of the things that you do, Graham, in the media in a more public setting. And of course, we don’t want to be shying away from anything that the Bible says, but we can do things with our posture and articulate things in a certain way that doesn’t get people’s backs up, first of all, and that actually speaks to some of the things that they are concerned about.

[27:50] So Glyn Harrison, A Better Story, I get invited to loads of churches where they call the series on sexuality, A Better Story, because of his book. Book and actually i find one of the most helpful chapters of that one one of the early ones um sorry glenn if you’re if you’re listening um i think it’s chapter two or chapter three maybe and he talks about these sort of foundations for moral reasoning and they’re sort of like the the values that underpin sort of people’s politics or some of the decisions they make or some of the ethical decisions that they make in life and people tend to be concerned about well i don’t want to oppress anybody with what I believe. I don’t want to be unfair in any way in the things that I believe. And these are some valid moral concerns people have about the Bible’s teaching. They believe that what the Bible says is oppressive. They believe that it is unfair. They believe it’s harmful in some way. So we want to get better at presenting a more rounded gospel that addresses some of those concerns and doesn’t just talk about justification, which we’re really good at talking about in Western Christianity. And it’s a great thing to talk about, and it’s an important part of the gospel. I hear fewer people talk about how, you know, God led people in Exodus into freedom, or fewer stories about sort of, you know, the Jubilee in Leviticus, where God is about freeing captives as an economic reset. So just getting better at talking about the whole Bible and the whole gospel narrative rather than just the bits where we’ve gotten quite good at.

[29:18] Sam do you think um and Graham as well I think it’d be great to kind of reflect on perhaps um some of the more uh the different the difficult sort of spirals that our culture has gone down now when it comes to sexuality now I spend a lot of my time having been a secondary school teacher and um supporting um teachers working in in schools I spend a lot of time hearing about sexual identity about queer theory about um queer identity and it feels now that actually we’re not just answering a kind of homosexuality heterosexuality kind of um uh debate we’re thinking about sexuality in a completely new way in a way that perhaps mean means that our young people and children are going to be ever more confused about what it means to be a sexual person to have um you know a good understanding well now can we begin to unpick this when you know when my child is being told that they could be pansexual or asexual or whatever else it’s um it’s a hard it’s a hard one have you got any reflections on those complexities complexities.

[30:38] Yeah. And the sort of conversation has moved, even in the space of five years, the conversation, the things we’re encountering when we’re going out speaking and teaching have changed hugely. Five years ago, we did get the sorts of questions that Graham has just asked me about the shellfish and the sort of, well, what does the Bible actually say type questions. And now we are getting questions that are quite questioning the morality of the Bible or are sort of connected more broadly to philosophy and psychology, etc.

[31:11] And the tricky thing is, and this is why we don’t want to shy away from talking about these things in our churches, because if our children aren’t hearing the good news of the gospel and that sexuality means something different in God’s kingdom, if they’re not hearing that in our churches and in our family homes, they’re not going to hear that elsewhere. And, you know, teachers with the best will in the world don’t have the time to sit down and do all of the research and learn all of the arguments that we’re engaging with in our churches. So we need to be the ones doing it.

[31:44] It’s tricky. I think there’s definitely a few things we probably shouldn’t be doing that I see that I see done quite, quite a lot. I see some people sort of trying to look like repay insults with insults almost. Most um we’re we’re accused of being oppressive because we hold to historic christian understanding of what the bible teaches and you know i i see people kind of in our camp sort of firing back and saying well you’re trying to shut us down you’re trying to cancel us you’re trying to oppress us and deny our ability to speak um and those things are true and they are valid arguments but they’re probably not the best things that we can be saying um again we need to be appealing to actually what’s underpinning these sort of narratives that we’re hearing in our surrounding culture. Why is the Bible not harmful in what it’s teaching? Why does God care about who we sleep with? And again, character is really important as well. I always think of Galatians 5, where we get the fruit of the Spirit, and we get this list of, here’s what it looks like to walk in the ways of the flesh. And then Paul contrasts that with, here’s what it looks like to walk in the way of the Spirit and by the fruit of the Spirit. I think you can pick something out for each of the nine things he lists there that’s really helpful, actually, for how we engage in this area.

[32:59] I mean, just peace is one of them. Our role is to just be kind of faithful gospel seed sowers. Um, and we can keep doing that, but there does probably come a point in our conversations where we wonder, we want to change to actually, how do I maintain peace in this relationship? This person now, I know they know what I think. I know they understand it. Um, how can I maintain peace in this relationship so that if they do have any questions in the future, maybe when God’s done some work growing those seeds,

[33:28] so they’ll come back to me and know that I’m a safe person to kind of ask those questions of. Of um i’m saying with patience as well just being aware that that people are on a journey um we can share the gospel with people but we don’t expect to see change overnight again that’s a process between them and god so just kind of being patient with that process and not expecting like the amazon prime the result’s going to be instant i think on the bigger question as well i totally affirm what you’re saying simon about our character and and so forth i think there is a sense in which the philosophy is kind of collapsing under its own weight. So I think all the pushback to do with trans issues recently is terrible, but it’s good in the sense that, the logical conclusion of decoupling completely from God’s plan for what it is to be a man, what it is to be a woman, and where sexual relationships are supposed to take place.

[34:26] Once you decouple from that anything’s possible and so now everything has become impossible and realized and everyone’s kind of thinking this is not this is not either sustainable or good um so uh yeah i think i think it is part of a bigger picture so uh you’re right that the the sort of binary question is gay sex wrong is asked less and uh it’s more sort of bigger questions about identity and what freedom really means. Um, and, and, well, you know, arguments about the self and so on. Um, and I, and I think, We do need to engage with some of those.

[35:09] It’s hard when you’re asked the very straight question, you know, is gay sex wrong? So not answer with the correct answer. But I think as much as we can, we need to give people the bigger picture. And I think Christians need to be confident that God’s plan is good. And if, as in Simon’s case at the moment, at least you are celibate single, that is good. It’s not bad. God hasn’t placed some arbitrary sort of clobber onto Simon, which means his life will be a misery compared to mine, and that God’s prohibitions line up with how he’s made the world to work. They’re not just arbitrary. There is a goodness to them, and there are goodness to them if it works out in heterosexual relationships, and there’s a goodness to them if it works out in being celibate.

[36:03] I know in the midst of sort of suffering the pain of not being able to experience the same as heterosexual people, that’s hard to see. But I don’t think you can avoid saying that. I don’t think you should avoid

[36:16] saying that, but without being patronizing about it. I think what’s really important, and this is what I’ve kind of garnered through reading lots, but also through the fellowship of single people in our churches that, as you said earlier, Simon, that relationship and that true sense of church family, you know, being alongside one another, one anothering, that’s one of the things, the terms we use in our church, becomes so much more crucial because actually friendships and family relationships in the church should be so distinct that they are a light to the world that they they can be just as I know that they have a very different nature but they can be fulfilling and they can be beautiful and they can be sacrificial and I just think that is something that perhaps as someone who’s heterosexual who’s married I don’t I don’t get the benefit of but I I also don’t bless other people in the same way because I don’t necessarily have that opportunity, but I should be seeking that out, perhaps.

[37:29] So, yeah. Yeah, I mean, Simon’s visited our church and I think he’d comment on it, but I think we’re below average. We’re principled and there are people who are known openly, same-sex attracted and affirmed in seeking to honour God in that. and there are some other situations as well. And we’re principled in that we know what we’re supposed to do. I think we’re a bit below average on what we do do in terms of including all single people for whatever reason. And so we preach about it and we try and encourage people um are welcoming into families but that instinct i think we’re just a bit lazy sometimes to be honest you know if i’m going to you know a local national trust place with with you know my my children and grandchildren or whatever the instinct is more just to do the lazy thing and just go with them and and not invite someone who’s single from the church to come along with me uh and in principle i think that’d be a great idea um uh but it’s it’s just a laziness it’s just an inertia And I would encourage myself and my church, but also anyone listening, to just try and overcome that inertia. You probably totally agree with the principle. Church should be a family where everyone’s included. But in order to make that happen, in some cases, it’s harder than others. If you just had a baby and there are other people in the church who’ve had a baby, it’s pretty easy to strike up relationships and do things in common.

[38:56] If you’ve got someone who’s single in your church, for whatever reason, they could be bereaved or they could be divorced or they could be same-sex attracted. It’s just that bit more effort to walk across the room and invite them to the thing that you’re going to and to kind of make it work.

[39:11] And it’s, yeah, I want to, I want people to overcome that inertia and I want to overcome it myself some days. I think like, don’t overlook the mundane things in life either. Like if you are married, you do a lot of mundane things together, you know, you go out and you buy vacuum cleaners together, that sort of thing. And I think actually a little bit of a learning curve for me when I was, when I used to see friends, I was like, Oh, we have to have some grand plans. We have to have a walk plan. We have to be going on holiday, et cetera. I’ve kind of given up on that now, really. Actually, we have just as much enjoyable fellowship with each other if we do go and look at TVs together, which I did with a friend of mine recently. He wanted a new TV. So don’t overlook just those little things as well. It’s like,

[39:48] what am I already doing in my day that I can include you in? Which might seem a bit boring, but we’re doing it together as God’s people, right? Amen. I once had someone invite me to go and do the weekly shopping.

[40:02] Said she knew I was feeling a bit low she said do you want to come and do the supermarket shop with me and you know what it was great yeah um yeah I uh I spent an hour at lunchtime painting a shed uh so uh you could have come and help me paint my shed sign and if you were a bit closer because it took much longer than I wanted it to take because I had other stuff to do and it was really annoying me that I couldn’t finish one side of it no I think that’s taking advantage come on that’s just an extra labor come on yeah but it’s kind of friendship you know working together um where can we find out more about true freedom trust there’s obviously loads of resources on the website you can book up speakers as well and all that kind of thing so just give us the coordinates to find you and them yes uh so the website is truefreedomtrust.co.uk and we’re on facebook and twitter as well twitter is at true free trust i believe we’re supposed to Let’s call it X now, aren’t we? Oh, yeah. Twix, apparently, is the best name for it because it combines Twitter and X. I should do that.

[41:07] And how would we pray for you, for True Freedom Trust, for people same-sex attracted who are in our churches?

[41:15] Anything particularly you think, when we stop to pray, that we particularly think about that?

[41:21] Yeah, I mean, there’s always some standing sort of prayer requests. It would be great if we could get people to pray for.

[41:27] I saw pastoral inquiries. We usually receive three or four pastoral inquiries a week, which are new people coming forward, disclosing that they experience same-sex attraction or sometimes gender dysphoria as well, wanting support for that. So just pray that we continue to minister sensitively and graciously and biblically in those situations. And very much the same for our speaking team. The challenges in churches when we go out and speak are constantly evolving as well. And just pray that God would continue to bless us with the resources that we need to continue with that ministry and just speak wisely as wisely as we can into this area well simon it’s been really helpful thank you very much and god bless you.


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