There’s a simple call for all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus: Love others.
But when it comes to LGBTQ+ people, we can let fear and misunderstanding get in the way of that call.
Do you feel clear about what the Bible says about homosexuality? What does discipleship look like for Christians who experience same-sex orientation? What are we calling them to?
Today we talk with Dr. Preston Sprinkle, a biblical scholar and NY Times best-selling author with a ministry centered on faith, sexuality, and gender. He tells us 83% of LGBTQ people were raised in the Christian Church and 51% leave by the time they turn 18. Why? They were alone and scared. Bad church experiences can push LGBTQ people out of churches. We can change that with love and kindness and grace.
Everyone deserves dignity because they’re made in the image and likeness of God.
That truth holds true for every LGBTQ+ person.
Jesus came with grace and truth, and He surprised us all with how astonishingly kind he was…even when facing death. Will we follow?
Join us for this important conversation.
Dr. Preston Sprinkle is a biblical scholar, an international speaker, and a New York Times bestselling author. He earned a Ph.D. in New Testament from Aberdeen University in Scotland (2007), and he’s been a professor of theology at Cedarville University (OH), has taught at Nottingham University (England), and Eternity Bible College (CA and ID).
We should be able to dignify the humanity of another person and be kind to them while holding true to our convictions, holding onto the Bible
83% of LGBTQ people were raised in the Christian church. 51% leave by the time they turn 18.
By avoiding the conversation, doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t happening
“People to be Loved: Why Homosexuality is Not Just an Issue” by Dr. Preston Sprinkle
“Us versus Us: The Untold Story of Religion and the LGBT Community” by Andrew Marin
Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. -Mark 10:29-30
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
Today on our podcast, we’re going to talk to Dr. Preston sprinkle. I’m eager to talk to him because we’re gonna we’re gonna dive into what how we can as Christians relate better with our gay friends and neighbors. Dr. Sprinkle is not only not only only perspective on this, but as I’ve read and listened to him, I found that he is biblically sound when it comes to understanding sexual morality. But he’s also relationally involved and engaged with LGBT plus people, including those who disagree with him. So I think he’s a unique voice in our culture, and one that’s worth listening to his book people to be loved, why homosexuality is not just an issue is a compelling read. And we’re gonna dive into some of those topics today. So press the maybe you could start by just answering for us, how did you get into talking about thinking about matters of LGBTQ plus issues when it relates to the church? Like, I don’t think this is where you started? So share with our listeners a little bit about how this all came to the forefront for you.
Preston Sprinkle 1:16
Yeah, definitely wasn’t where I started, I started as just a Bible college professor was teaching Bible Bible classes at a Christian university and at a Bible college after that. And, you know, I guess, as a professor, I’ve always loved the theological side of different debates and doctrines and issues that people are wrestling with, but always want to address the, you know, those issues in a way that is very relevant for the average person in the Pew, you know, I never want to kind of talk over people’s heads, but I wanted to actually, you know, look at issues that people are wrestling with. So, I mean, long story short, I was, I was encouraged by some friends of mine, to explore the topic of what does the Bible say about homosexuality? And, you know, they kind of said, well, you seem to like controversial issues. You know, once you tackle this one, I think we need some more help with it. And, you know, I started out just doing research from an academic perspective, I got my commentaries out was doing, you know, Greek and Hebrew word studies, and was just really kind of dissecting the Bible. But then I, early on in my journey, I realized that I knew hardly any LGBT people. And if I felt convicted about that, I was like, man, if I’m going to talk about this topic in a way that’s personal and relevant to, you know, the average person, it might be good for me to actually get to know some LGBT people. And so when I did that,
I was just really sad. You just go to a coffee shop and say, Hey, any LGBT people? Yeah.
Preston Sprinkle 2:50
Yeah, me. Somebody said, Hey, you look gay. Can I hear your story? I mean, I really I mean, I don’t know if I said those exact words, but pretty close. I mean, you know, I, you know, I’m a standard evangelical Christian and, and I was making a lot of mistakes, just how to go about it. But I, you know, it was a couple friends early on one guy who was actually an adjunct professor at the Bible college, I was teaching that, who I knew, I knew I didn’t know him that well, but I, you know, knew him a little bit. And once I started researching the topic, one of I think was our Dean who said, Well, you know, Brian’s gay, like, what? Because he’s married to a woman at three kids and everything. And I was like, wow, okay. So I started to talk to him, and just, he just blew me away with his story, you know, and then he says, Hey, I got a bunch of other friends, who are Christians who are, you know, walking with Jesus and their sexuality and, and, you know, I could introduce you to them. And so it was almost like one relationship led to another one led to another one. And, and the rest is history. But, you know, early on, I was just really blown away at hearing how many gay and lesbian people some who were still maybe walking with Jesus, others that had left the faith. But the common thread and all these stories was a really rough church experience, you know, and my heart was just torn to shreds. I’d hear about, you know, people who when they were teenagers, you know, desperately wanting to be attracted to the opposite sex, but had this unchosen, unwanted, you know, sexual attraction to the same sex and they would stay up all night trying to pray it away and wake up in the morning, memorizing verses and just, you know, going through just such really difficult you know, things as a as a young teenager, you know, by themselves and, and to hear them talk about, you know, how Christians weren’t ready to walk with them in this journey, as they were, you know, least early on are genuinely seeking to, you know, follow Jesus. What does this mean for my faith? What does this mean for my walk with Jesus And at least early on, you know, really wanting to submit to Christ but not finding people in the church that were willing to walk with them in that and that really just blew me away. I was like, Man, that’s it. Look, I I hold to a traditional view of marriage. And the more I study the Bible, the more clearly I see that like, I don’t think God has hidden that from us at all. Um, but if we’re not walking with people who are struggling with whatever, let alone something as significant as their sexuality, then then we’re just we’re not really living out a half truth. It’s not enough to say, Well, I believe in homosexuality is a sin or I believe in you know, traditional marriage. Okay, that’s a that’s 50% of it. But the other 50% is like, oh, how are we walking with those people who are who are wrestling with that, you know, who struggled might look different than the average Christians struggle. And other you know, another thing that I kept hearing was from those who had left the church, or maybe they were never even raised in a church, but you know, the most common thing I heard was, I’ve never met a Christian, that was kind to me, that really caught me too, because I’m like, it’s one thing to look, I think, Chris, we should have our convictions, and we should hold those strongly. And, and we should not be influenced by culture. And you know, and I know we’re in complete agreement on that. Man, if somebody says that this person is not even kind to me, like you, we should be able to dignify the humanity of another person, and be kind to them while holding, you know, true to our convictions holding on to the Bible. There’s there’s no reason why Christians should be labeled as unkind. And yet, that was the I mean, common, I would say, 99 95% of the LGBT people I talked to that was their first kind of reaction when they heard you know, from me, a Christian just and I, you know, I would get to know them and say, Hey, I just want to hear your story. I’m just, I’m a Christian, I just want to understand this this topic, you know, better. And, you know, they were shocked that I would even be willing to just listen to their story because they hadn’t met a Christian who wanted to do that. So long story short, yeah. We’re I don’t eat up all the time. But I became convicted about two things. Number one, the theological truth that God created marriage to be between a man and a woman and all sexual relationships belong within that covenant bond. That’s a passion of mine. Because I believe the Bible teaches it. And another passion of mine is I think the church needs to do a much, much better job embodying the the radical scandal is grace that we received from Jesus. And, you know, the Christ who shed his blood for not just straight people, but for gay people as well.
So let’s let’s dive in, there is so good. I appreciate you saying that. So just one story that comes to mind I share this kind of confession, it, it grieves me that that, that this is where I where I was, but when my kids were young, my oldest is 16. But ever when they were young hearing about and not at their schools, but just kind of hearing and Christian airwaves about how there’s the LGBT movement was trying to indoctrinate our kids and, and, and, and one of the avenues into schools was anti bullying content. And I remember thinking like, Okay, keep my eyes open for anti bullying stuff, because that’s, you know, just a guise for for a religion for you know, this, this other agenda. It wasn’t until they got older than I realized. I mean, so maybe even just, you know, five, six years ago, I was like, wait a minute, wait a second. Now, this thing about this in your time, I, like, gay people not meet anybody who’s kind to them. I thought, and I’m working in this ministry, I’m walking with men and women who are this has been a part of their lives. But I was like, wait a minute, like Christians above? Everybody else ought to be the ones who are leading the charge on anti bullying initiatives in the public school like, what what am I What was I thinking like, we should be doing that better than anybody else. Because everybody no matter what they’re struggling with, no matter what their background is, everyone deserves dignity, because they’re made in the likeness of God. So I, I’ve personally felt the tension between my own concerns about holding to an Orthodox Christian belief and walking in a culture that seems opposed to that. And there are political movements that have that standing opposite to that. But dropping accidentally dropping in the process, just the goodness of being a kind, Christ like person who’s gracious with people. Yeah, let me let me just rewind a little because as you were talking about that, Preston, what are the things that comes to mind for me is, is I imagine that there are a lot of Christians who would say, well, I’ve I’ve never been unkind, like, I’m not. I go to church, I’m absolutely willing to walk with people. But I, you know, nobody’s nobody’s coming forward. They’re they I never knew like, so what are what would you say, to Christians in general? Like, what does that mean to be? This You sound like a, you know, kindergarten class question, but to be kind, like, wow, how can we do that differently? And maybe, what are some of the, from your perspective, your conversations, what are the mistakes that we’re making? That we didn’t realize we’re making?
Preston Sprinkle 9:58
Wow, yeah, that I mean, That is a great question. And I first of all, I just so resonate with your kind of kind of coming to realize that Christian should be opposed to bullying of any kind, like, like we I don’t believe sex outside of marriage is God’s will. But that doesn’t mean we would be okay with or even turned a blind eye towards or even just be kind of indifferent towards people being bullied, you know, the second they have sex outside of marriage, which is a high percentage of our youth group kids. Um, so yeah, I think we we can again, yeah, you know, I don’t repeat what you said, just really resonate with with your journey there. So here’s what’s interesting, because a lot of Christians, I do hear this. All you don’t hear from pastors, and church leaders or parents, whatever, saying, you know, I’m really thankful for your ministry, because because my main job is helping to train pastors in this conversation. And I’ll hear from some people say, you know, really appreciate your ministry. I’m glad you’re helping churches that have this this issue, you know, at the church, I’m, you know, we don’t have it at our church, but I’m glad you’re helping them. Do. You know, by my response, I this is where, again, I need to be caught, right, you. So I try to gently help them understand? Well, you know, first of all, it’s not an issue, but I get what you’re saying. But secondly, Yes, you do. Look at 3% of LGBT people were raised in the Christian church. This is based on a very thorough widespread study done on the religious background of LGBT people. It’s an it’s in a book called The US versus us by Andrew Marin, just to make sure my sources are out there, but 83% of LGBT people were raised in the church 51% leave by the time they they turn 18. So that’s, I mean, so it’s more rare that an LGBT person is raised outside the church than raised in the church. Now. So when when Christians think of, you know, the LGBT community, or those people out there, you know, indoctrinating our kids and all these things like that’s, that’s like, you’re just looking at like the eighth inning, if I could use a basement, little stration like somebody didn’t, doesn’t, they don’t just wake up and go and join the LGBT community. A lot of the hostility that comes from some not all, but some LGBT people outside the church is a result of a very, very bad experience of growing up in the church. And my bad experience. I’m saying, again, you know, when they’re 12 1314, they have unwanted same sex attraction 96% of gay people, the, the 96% of gay people that when they first realize that they’re attracted to same sex, it’s number one on one and number two, they pray to God or a god or a divine pain, please, please take this away. Like there is a moment in their journey, where they realize that they are have these unwanted attractions, they don’t want it, they want help, but they oftentimes sit there silent and scared in our churches, because they’ll hear a sermon about the evils of the gay agenda. They’ll hear people talk about those homosexuals out there, and we need to boycott this and, you know, oppose this and stand against this and, you know, rebuke that. And, and, I mean, when you’re 1314 1516 years old hearing this, you all you feel you feel like you’re the problem, like you’re a monster, we need to protect our children, you know, it’s like, well, gosh, am I am I a monster? Am I gonna grow up to be to be a pedophile or something? And so a lot, a lot of let me go back to my original point. There are a lot more people wrestling with their sexuality and or gender identity in our churches than most Christians realize. And I know because I get the emails, I get emails all the time from pastors, elders, pastors wives. I mean, the most unexpected people who share their story with me saying, I can’t, I have this secret thing I’m wrestling with. And I can’t tell a single soul because nobody here feels like they’re a safe person to talk to. So going all the way back to your question, you ask a question about how can we, you know, for somebody that says, Why don’t we know anybody?
You probably do and don’t realize it. And if you demonstrate public compassion and love for LGBT people, maybe it’s just simply talking about it. You would be surprised how many people will come to you and talk to you once they perceive you know what this person might be safe to talk to? I don’t know if that helps. Maybe they won’t just judge me right away because I’m wrestling with something that I didn’t choose to wrestle it so I think you could probably draw people out in a sense if you go out of your way to to let people know that hey, look, I you know, I I believe the Bible. I love Jesus and I believe he calls us to a Christian sexual ethic, but man, we need to. We need to embody God’s love. for gay people and don’t play into, don’t laugh, if somebody tells a K joke and by all means don’t delegate joke and, and learn kind of, you know, some of the language that that’s more humanizing that we should use. And, and it’s amazing if you just take a few steps to educate yourself that you will probably pretty quickly start drawing people out there that will see you as a trustworthy person to walk with.
But it is pretty amazing. And I just would love to hear your thoughts on this. Why aren’t we talking about it? Why are churches so silent? You know, it seems like around here anyway, and in our area, it’s not being talked about. It takes so much courage, I think, to know how to talk about it. In this way that we’ve been describing, you know, we hold on to these truths. And we have compassion. And so what’s your understanding of what are we afraid of
what? And the other thing I’d say is I think people are talking about it in around us. But it’s like the Christians who are silent about it. Yes.
Right. That’s what I miss churches are talking about it. That’s what I meant.
Preston Sprinkle 16:03
Yeah. So what’s your sense of why people are silent about it press? Oh, it’s so good. And I will say I think there is a growing number of churches that are wanting to have this discussion. So my ministry is again focused at training church leaders, one of our bread and butter, things we do is we do one day, we call leaders forums on faith, sexuality, and gender. And man, we’re the demands to put one of these on far out numbers, the number that we can agree to so there’s no we were standing in. Yeah, it’s really good to know. But but it’s um, it’s no matter how we’re still one very small ministry. So even if our phones ringing off the hook, it’s still a very small percentage of, of evangelical churches, I gotta keep reminding myself back. In my little world, sometimes it seems like everybody wants to talk about this. And it’s like, actually, it’s still, you know, very small. I think, to your to your point, I think, one, there’s a lot of fear, I think churches, especially a church. And I don’t mean this in a negative way, but especially a church that is really focused on growing numerically, that one of their goals, you know, is to have three or four services have multi campuses to have as many people attending the church as they can, if that is a I don’t know, stated or unstated goal, then you kind of want to avoid topics that might drive people away. And this is the lightning rod conversation. So I know a lot of churches that will say, and they’re typically very large churches say, we’re never going to talk about this from the pulpit, because we no matter what we say, half the people are gonna leave, you know. So I think that’s why I think it’s fear. I think it’s certain approaches to, to church to like our ecclesiology. What are we doing as a church? I think, I think there’s also a level of ignorance. I think people, when they look at the news, when they look at blogs, when they listen to things they see, they’re starting to see that this is a complex topic, and it could take a lot of time to really educate yourself before you feel prepared to talk about it. So I so I sometimes get churches that want, you know, me, Hey, can you come in and do our homosexuality sermon for us? You know, I’m like, and I’m not completely opposed to that. But my main goal is I’m going to train leaders so that they can Shepherd their people. Well, exactly. I you know, I don’t know yet. But I can come in and preach a sermon. But that’s not that’s kind of putting a bandaid on the issue. So, um, so I think fear, I think ignorance. And, and going back to my earlier illustration, if a pastor actually thinks that they don’t have this quote, unquote, issue at their church, they’re not as motivated to talk about it. And I understand that, like, when you have marriages falling apart, and people having sex outside of marriage, they’re trying to make budget and they’re trying to prepare sermon like there’s enough pastoral needs right in front of you, that if this isn’t a visible tangible need, then you’re going to be less motivated to devote time and energy to it. Usually, I get the call from churches when the pastor’s son or daughter comes out as gay or lesbian when an elder comes out as gay or lesbian, when they’re, or there’s some significant thing at their church that draws pastoral attention, then then usually I get the call, which which again, I that’s, I appreciate that. But my main sermon is to help pastors be pre emptive so that we’re not in reaction mode, because we never think well, when when we’re in reaction mode, that I mean, it isn’t becoming and I don’t like this term, but if a situation hasn’t happened at your church yet, or somebody comes out as gay, whatever and having to deal with that it probably will we live in 2020. This is a 1980 Yoga. This is a You know, this is no longer like some secret thing like this is a thing that a lot of people are wrestling with. So best to be pre emptive to educate yourself, your leadership team and your congregation. So that you know you can address whatever you know person situation story that comes up and do it better.
So two things come to mind as you’re sharing all that one is. One of theirs is so important because the people who walk through our doors at regeneration are often people who have sat in churches where there’s been silent or just side conversations that have been hurtful and they’ve remained quiet. But there’s a hunger to hear somebody invite. And so when you use that word public to have public, yeah, conversations that are kind and an open. Mm hmm. That that is such a gift to people. And honestly, it doesn’t really, it’s not this is not exclusive to those same sex attractions. This is true for people struggle with a variety of sins, that that sins or struggles that that for whatever reason, they feel shame about the moment a pastor stands up front and is talking about kind of the the whitewashed problems we all struggle with, like some of you are showing debt and pride and that we go yeah, I said a cuss word on the way to school because I’ll be coming up. Yeah. The moment a pastor says something like, you know, hey, look, I know some of you guys are looking at pornography. Or some of you women have been having extramarital affairs or, or some of you are wrestling with, with a deep sense of being less than other people, because you were abused when you were a kid. Or, you know, those kind of, or statements, including some of you are, are, are feeling gay, and you don’t know what to do about that you do same sex tracks in your life, like, we want you to know, you’re welcome here. There’s a place for you here because Jesus welcomes you here. And we are all here because we need to save your life. I mean, I’m, I’m riffing how that might be said, but that just little little, like line like that can open a door for somebody and, and find a knock on the door. I’ve heard from pastors who have said, they’ll, they’ll get a text or call from somebody. I was at your church this weekend, I just want to know what you think about you know, I’m gay. And I want you to know, my welcome to your church. And, yeah, and one of one of my favorite responses to that from a guy who used to be a pastor in this area. He’d say, that’s a really big topic. I’m so glad you were here. Let’s grab coffee and talk about it. And which is just kind of this Invitational like, I want to get to know you, I don’t want to just stand up front and kind of speak about something I want to I want to talk to you you personally, which is a big deal to them. And the second thing I wanted to say, I love that you’re that you’re talking to church leaders, because so like you we’ve been invited to come talk on different topics, often when there’s a crisis in the church. But as a pastor or church leader, an elder in a church has a level of authority over the whole congregation, they can speak in a way that really helps to shape culture from the top down in a way that that a guest speaker can’t do. Anything we can we can educate individuals, but when it is a local pastor here who did a series recently on on sexuality, and one of the things he said to his congregation, he, he talked about how we’re going to treat people who walk through our doors. And he said, so when a transgender person walks through the door, here’s how we’re going to treat them. And if you if you treat them in a dehumanizing way, we’re going to pull you apart as a side and private, we’re going to correct you, if you if you don’t listen to our private direction, we’re going to bring you before that. I mean, it was just kind of, I was like, wow, that what a difference you’re going to make. And I can’t imagine the number of people who might have been kind of in earshot of that who for whom those were issues, either in their family or themselves personally. Like he, he basically said, like, I’m here to defend you, we’re here to walk towards Christ together in Christ’s likeness together. So anyway, so thanks for what you’re doing with us. That’s good.
Preston Sprinkle 23:51
Yeah. No, that’s, that’s great. And yeah, I agree. I mean, the the, the local leader carries that, that carries out of that relational authority and collateral you know, I come in and here’s the pastor kind of says, You know, I trust this guy, whatever and, and they can Google me and whatever, but at the end of the day, I’m not walking with them day to day and they know that so I mean, my my words still will not care not me and as much as as the pastor but um, you know, I think, here’s the thing. Most people really do want to have this conversation. Most people in the pews, there hasn’t been a church that I’ve gone to, you know, whether I’m doing like a seminar, or maybe a sermon or an evening q&a. It’s not a church. I’ve been to where the pastor doesn’t receive a flood of like gratitude afterwards. Thank you. Not because I just like knock it out of the park, but because like the pastor, I have the courage to actually have this conversation, because here’s the thing. I mean, again, we live in 2020. The conversation is happening Monday through Saturday, all if they have an internet connection, it’s happening. They are being disrupted. People are being discipled into into a view of sexuality and gender. So whether we remain silent or not, that doesn’t mean it’s like it’s not happening, it’s happening. It’s fine. And this is why I tell parents, especially your kids are having the sex talk. And they’re having the LGBTQIA to plus sex talk. And if they have an internet connection and or a phone, they are having this talk whether or not you are an an authoritative voice in your life. That’s another question. So my point is, by simply avoiding the conversation doesn’t mean that conversations not happening. And also, you know, and like I’m from a ministry, my wife was in her party, she grew up in the mission, field, pastor’s kid and everything. And I’ve been involved in many different churches. So I understand the demands of ministry. Okay, so I, I’m always trying to be really sensitive when I’m challenging pastors. That said, I will say, questions related to faith, sexuality and gender are among the most pressing important ethical questions facing the church today. And I want to be sensitive here, but I it would seem to me to be pastorelli irresponsible to not help disciple guide Shepherd your people in what has become some of the most pressing ethical questions facing the church today. So I, one of our mottos is, silence is not an option. You can speak about it. Well, you can not speak about it well, but silence isn’t isn’t an option. And I would prefer that you speak about it? Well, But to your point, and I’ll stop. I don’t want to ramble on. But yeah, I think that going back to the fear thing, I think we’ve been given these two models of E if we try to, if we talk about love, then the only way we can do that is to affirm gay marriage. And you know, a lot of pastors like I don’t do that. But if we preach a sermon on it, then we got to hit the Bible hard and preach truth and, and then people think that we hate LGBT people. So there’s kind of this this crippling effect, because people think that there’s only two kind of binary options. But what I want to do is say, look, you can you can go about addressing this topic in a way that that really helps people to understand how to love LGBT people well, and even the congregants that you have that might be more on the left side, you know, you can talk about in a way where they’re going to be Oh, my gosh, thank you so much for saying that. That’s what I felt that it was so good to hear a leader say that. And you’re going to have, especially if you’re a conservative church, you’re going to have the, you know, the Bible thumpers and I’m a bible thumper. So I you know, but you’re going to people that are like, we need to, if we talk about this, we need to just stay to the text of Scripture, like you can do both. You can talk about radical love, you can repent for how the church has treated LGBTQ people, and you can stand up and celebrate God’s vision for marriage, it can it can be done. And this is, again, one of the passions in life as the show pastors, how it can be done.
Well, so we have about 15 minutes left. And so I want to, I want to get into some of these this hard, hard question or two as pastors are wrestling with this stuff or Congress wrestling? So one of the one of the questions like, if, if the if Christian orthodoxy, if the scriptural truth is, is, as we’ve kind of understood it to be regarding sex between a husband and wife, in a covenant of marriage for life, then what exactly would you say pressed into the question of, what do we what is discipleship look like? For the person who has a same sex orientation? What? What are we calling them to? What is Christian faithfulness look like for a man or woman? Because Because one of things I think a lot of us are hearing is, it sounds like mandated celibacy and loneliness. And, and, you know, less than full life for the rest of my life. And yeah, that’s it. That’s a hard sell.
Preston Sprinkle 28:57
That’s a good guy. It’s a great question. And I think we need to back up and ask some really fundamental questions about what it means to be human. What is the role between sex marriage human flourishing singleness? What is sexual orientation? So there’s several kind of layers of complexity we’d have to unravel there. But certainly, let me kind of just jump to the point. I, God, humans have a widespread variation of sexual desires that are, are are affected by the fall, okay. It’s not just like straight and gay or bisexual. Like there’s loads of different desires that people have that need to be ordered towards God’s direction, okay. And so God calls all humans regardless of the myriad of different kinds of orientations, desires, whatever caused all humans to celibacy in singleness until or unless Not until unless you are called out of singleness into marriage. And marriage is a place where God has designed sexual relationships to to take place. And so I and that’s a call on everybody. And I really want to stress the your we are called to faithfulness and human flourishing in our singleness in less not until, unless God calls you out of singleness in the marriage. So if you can hear my tone, you might know where I’m getting, I think we do have this assumption that we cannot flourish unless we get married. Or, you know, God promises us, you know, forgiveness of sins, eternal life with him, you know, in the afterlife, and a married partner, if we do everything right, then we’ll get a married partner. And then this is why when we turn 3035, or God forbid, 40 people look at us, like something’s wrong with us if we’re not married yet, but there’s not a single verse in the New Testament that bakes the promise of marriage into the good news of the gospel. It’s not there, God never promised it. In fact, we serve a single savior of marital age. And I think that was an intention. I think that was very intentional. You ever wonder like, Why wasn’t Jesus married, married, this isn’t a bad thing was there before the fall? Why wasn’t Jesus married? I think because he wanted to show that human flourishing is not dependent upon marriage. And if you’re married, look, marriage doesn’t guarantee that you’re not gonna be lonely anymore. Marriage doesn’t guarantee that you’re not gonna have sexual struggles anymore. In fact, statistically, even psychologically, a lot of it kind of is sexual attractions that, you know, drive people to get married, a lot of stuff wears off, which is why married men are the number one porn users on the internet, you know, and why there’s so many affairs and divorce, like, if you think marriage is going to solve this vacuum in your life, you’re just you’ve got a warped view of marriage. And this is why, you know, when we talked earlier, offline I some of the most beautiful, flourishing, Christ centered marriages I’ve seen personally. And this is just anecdotal. But, you know, one of the beauties of postmodernism is you can’t disagree with my experience. So in my experience, some of the beautiful crisis marriages I’ve seen are between a opposite sex attracted spouse and a same sex attracted spouse, so one person is straight, and the other person of different sex is is gay or same sex attracted. And I’ve seen loads of examples where that kind of relationship blows up, it doesn’t work, whatever. But I’ve seen so many that are like, wow, this this is such a beautiful relationship. And people say, well, that’s impossible. No, you can’t. Like you know, you know why it is possible to the person that’s called to it is because marriage is so much more than sexual attraction and we straight people know this. We This is what we do in marriage seminars. One on one right, you begin by saying, if you build your marriage on simply being sexually attracted to each other, it’s not going to be a flourishing.
Yeah, so yeah. So So yeah, I think people can flourish in singleness, gay or straight, if they have a proper view of singleness and intimacy and love. And I think people who are same sex, attracted bisexual, straight, whatever can also flourish. in marriage, if God is calling them to that, we really mean we, it’s been kind of a pet topic of ours here to talk about how important it is for the church to recapture and to, to work hard on developing a, an adequate approach to married and singles, We’re all called to the same thing, which is Christ, like love to become a part of the family of God. Because I do think that I mean, our conversations with singles here, and especially as they get older, whether it’s because they have never married or they were married, and something happened in the first marriage, but is the sense that that, you know, there’s kind of this trajectory in church, you grew up, you’re in youth group, you’re you’re in college ministry, you’re in the young singles ministry and then it’s crickets unless you’re then in marriage ministry. or there might be you know, divorce care and some some issue but yeah, that that role of of singleness which I think brings us back to the the larger body of Christ and so I asked you the question, what is what does Christian faithfulness look like for the same subtracted person? And, and there’s a lot more we could talk about that with that. What does it look like for the, for the, for the rest of the church body that like, because I think that we’re like, you can’t, we can’t say I can’t say as a married man with integrity, to my my same sex attraction Christian Brothers, same sex attracted Christian brothers and sisters. Hey, God wants flourishing for you. He wants without it also, like I’m asking. I’m saying it’s gonna cost you something to walk in obedience to Christ. I have to ask myself, like, what’s it going to cost me to walk as their brother? So what would you say to that? what’s what’s what is Christ calling the 21st century to in regards to that?
Preston Sprinkle 35:03
Man, I feel like I’d say you’re reading my notes
is literally uncanny how almost word for word are saying a lot of the stuff that I say I fact I just said it was this couple days ago, I was speaking up in Canada on this topic. And I said there, you know. So the flourish is one of my single gay friends who is on a panel, and we were talking about this and I said, his flourishing, his intimacy, his love his community is not his sole responsibility that’s on us. So, Jesus has this promise and Mark 1029 and 30, where he says, nobody who’s left, I’m paraphrasing, nobody who’s left father, mother, sisters, brothers, family, wives, whatever, will not nobody has left all that who will not receive in this life, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and so on. And the whole point there is that if you do leave family, you receive a, an even greater family, a spiritual family in this present life and you know, eternal life needs to come. And one of the phrases I use is we we straight married non ssae people, we have the privilege and opportunity to embody that promise that Christ made to those who have left family and I think a single celibate, same sex attracted person who’s so sold out for Jesus that they’re committing to celibacy. Man, we are the reward that person meaning, we need to open up our homes and families and minivans and lives to people who are walking the hard road because as many of my single same sex attracted friends say I can live without sex. But I can’t live without love and intimacy. And until the church understands the difference there, it’s hard for me to live. The number one question I get from, especially single celibate. Gay are same sex attracted people who are who believe in a traditional sexual ethic, the main question I get is not is this traditional sexual ethic? True? It’s not that hard to get you look at Bibles, it’s not that unclear. A main question I get is, is this livable? How? How? How can I live this way? And the number one response we’re looking for is if the church comes around me and swallows me up with intimacy and love and walks with me then then, then I could do this. But if I’m just left to my left on the sidelines, you know, being told don’t have gay sex, good luck with that we’ll see on the other side, then yeah, that’s that’s not a realistic call, we are called to walk in obedience in community, not apart from it.
And so that’s gonna, that kind of thing would have to come, wouldn’t it from a really strong compassionate commitment from the leadership of a church, even I go so far as to say like the senior pastor, right, for this for these things, to really become a part of the church. So that’s why I love that you’re so committed to training pastors. And, and, you know, senior leadership, because I think you whether it’s a small church with one pastor or a bigger church, like for this to happen, it’s going to have to be a conviction, and compassionate conviction on the part of church leadership. And what else would you say about that? Because I’m finding myself so intrigued by what you’re saying, like, yes, yes, we need to do this. What’s, how do we practically begin to do this? What does it
look like? And let me jump in real quick to say, like, I don’t think what you’re saying, as I know you well enough, like, if you’re listening to podcasts, and you’re not in church leadership, you’re not off the hook like this. This is a call for all of us. But so yeah, pressing what would you want to?
Preston Sprinkle 38:38
Yeah, no, you’re exactly right. I mean, I think everything does flow from the leadership, the tone, the posture, the language, the convictions, the passions from the leadership, typically shapes, you know, the vision, the tone, the posture, the church. So yeah, if leaders are just simply avoiding this conversation, then people aren’t going to be even the kind of what I was just talking about a couple minutes ago, like a lot of people want would embody that kind of posture. They’re just kind of unaware that there’s this need, right? I think most people deep down, they want to live out their faith, they want to be hospital, they want to be loving, and
Unknown Speaker 39:14
they just don’t so well.
Preston Sprinkle 39:15
Yeah. So I mean, honestly, if leadership starts to have the conversation and which isn’t just you know, here’s our stance on homosexuality but it obviously talks about the Bible but then follows up with how can we live this out as a as a body of Christ and and challenging the church to to me at the model at first, but I may challenge the church to reach out to not be so secluded in our families and, and do that and you know, some I just just again a couple days ago, a good friend of mine who she transitioned from female to male, seven years ago, and then met Jesus. And a couple years ago and her pastor it he did In such a gracious way, but he raised the question Does God wants you to, you know, live out your identity as the sex that he’s created you to be? And she was like, No, I think God’s been pressing on my heart. But he didn’t just stop there. He says, You know what I can only imagine how difficult that would be to live as a female for 30 years living live as a male for five years, and then try to go back to female. I mean, just there’s certain things that are irreversible. And I don’t get all the details. But I mean, I can imagine this would be difficult, why don’t you come and live with me and my family? Wow, for you for as long as it takes so that you have a family who is right by your side walking with you. So that invited him in, I invited her into their home, because he didn’t want to just say, you know, why don’t you live out your biological biological sex, you know, good luck with that. He said, I want to walk with you in this. And that’s pretty radical call, maybe not a good posture is his call to have, you know, a detransitioning person to live with them. But maybe he is he maybe God is calling you that. But either way, we I think the leadership needs to model and address this, this radical hospitality that, gosh, it’s hard to read more than a couple pages in the New Testament and not see just how how the church wasn’t like a family, they were a family, the spiritual, our spiritual blood runs thicker than biological blood. And, and it’s just such a beautiful, it’s a beautiful thing, when I see churches live out this this radical call to hospitality and community, because at the end of the day, who doesn’t need that, you know, this isn’t just a lesbian people we all need, we desperately need these authentic life saving relationships.
That’s so true. And, and, and that, I love that, because I think we can talk about the both end of that, like, this is an issue that is a critical part of, of I think, Christianity and how we’re gonna, how young people are going to perceive us, you know, and how we’re going to be seen as loving or not, but it is all this bigger picture, like we do want authentic, like, Are we being real? In some of these ways to those those aren’t separate issues. And maybe there’s a way to actually talk about that, too. I like that you brought that up that that resonates with me.
Preston, we here’s what I’m realizing as we as we land this, this plane, two things. One is that there is so much I mean, so much what you talk about, and you do a great job teaching about these things is is more than words, it’s not just a position. It’s not just how you articulate truth of those things matter. But it’s also a call to two to living this stuff out. And I think as an You are a non anxious presence, at least, the way you come across, I hear you talk about this thing. So commend your, your teachings to our listeners. Second thing I realizing is we we have so much more to talk about. So I’d love to have you back on another time and unpack Is it because I know that there are some really difficult questions that we’ve not gotten after. Yeah. The deal with identity that deal with, you know, pronouns that deal with Yeah. Some of the intricacies of holding a holding to theological truth and relating with people for whom their experience just doesn’t align, like how do you how do you balance some of those things? And so yeah, you know, we’ll, we’ll figure out a way to to continue that conversation. But john, thank you for the time you’re taking us today and for the work that you do, and we’ll have more information about what you’re doing and who you are in our show notes. But what did I what I just closed with a word of prayer for those who are listening and and for you?
Preston Sprinkle 43:45
That’d be great. Thank you. Yeah, thank you.
So Jesus, I don’t think there’s a there’s a, a way to walk away from this conversation without wanting to be closer to you, and wanting to be more like you, wanting to see you, Lord, interact with with people where they are, and, and to walk with them Lord, to wherever it is, you’d have them go. And Lord, I don’t think there’s a there’s a way not wanting to that we could leave this conversation without realizing we just have so much more growing to do and Christ’s likeness, whether same sex attractions is a part of our story, or a part of our story of some in our in our family, or whether we just care about about those around us who are who are dealing with these things. So did you continue to transform us and your church into people who, who recognize, Lord that you see us differently than than, than the way we see each other according to the flesh. We open our eyes to see people the way that you do and treat people the way that you do. And Lord, including treating ourselves the way that you treat us. We pray blessing on Preston, continue to grow and deepen his faith deepen is the way that he can serve the church and the capacity you’re calling it to. Thanks so much for this time with him. pray these things in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen.
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