In Praise of Living Out

The initial article has been removed – guess it became embarrassing?

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I’m glad they removed the article, but I don’t have high hopes that this “review” will do much when repentance is what is needed.

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Here are their official reasons. There has been “recent scrutiny.” This and other articles were “open to misinterpretation.” Hardly repentance.

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I hope someone got a copy of the article to be able to refute the lame misinterpretation excuse.

Here is an archived version from June of 2018:

I was just sent this “interview” where Sam Alberry is supposed to have repented on this issue. The interview starts around 1:06 mark.

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My thoughts…happy to be corrected:

I’m actually not as encouraged by this video as one of my good friends. In fact, I’m finding the deflective tactic of the interview direction kind of revealing and shameful. This doesn’t seem so much like an interview or an expression of sorrowful repentance for wicked teachings, as much as a circling the wagons. Sure, Sam’s not standing by those articles now, but I’m hearing a lot of talk from him about the meaning of words changing from then till now, and the articles being “confusing” but only in relation to what he is saying there publicly. The articles weren’t confusing, they were false.

The interviewer’s very quick transition to make Sam Alberry a victim by asking about all the people that opposed him is shameful.

This second half of the interview about him personally and his decision for personal holiness without embracing heterosexuality is concerning.

No other sins do we ask for the person to merely stop sinning, but to repent by way of an about-face. It’s the put-off and put-on. Such were some of you. We are not called to live in a vacuum, but in holy affirmation of our creation.

He’s arguing that he should only be expected to put off and not put on how God intends him to live as a husband.

Remember Paul actually tells men to marry in order that they would avoid that burning vacuum of sexual temptation, where they do not have the supernatural gift of singleness.

Sam argues pragmatically, for the lack of benefits for putting on heterosexuality. That’s not what Paul says. Yikes. I’m just not feeling it.

I’m not exactly rejoicing. Don’t kill the fatted calf just yet.

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Precisely. I haven’t even watched it and I could have predicted all of that based on the obvious lack of repentance in what has and hasn’t been reported.

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Lastly, when the interviewer claims this is totally new territory, never dealt with before by the church, I almost fell out of my seat. What kind of irresponsible remark is that.

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I’ll probably need to watch this eventually, but I’m not looking forward to it.

Jonathan Leeman, the interviewer, has done some great work in the past on ecclesiological issues (baptist polity, especially) and has also written ever-so-gently in criticism of Tim Keller once or twice, which is more than a lot of guys do. I’ve benefited from a lot of his writing in the past, but I’ve not been impressed by his handling of gender and sexuality.

I appreciate this insight. I’m not real familiar with him, but it’s helpful to know and gauge whether his expressed discomfort on this topic was genuine or feigned.

Perhaps after watching it you might be able to help me see more faithfulness, but my first reaction is disappointment.

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Right. All this would have taken Paul completely by surprise, which is why he never mentioned such things in his letters. :roll_eyes:

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“Disappointment” is not a bad reaction. I was pleasantly surprised at first, only because my expectations were so low. I think Leeman’s discomfort was genuine, but at the same time he ought to know better. He kind of felt like a patsey–set up to do this interview without ever having given much thought to the subject. He’s an academic, but he was also an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist (Mark Dever’s church) for a number of years (now I believe he’s a lead pastor at one of their church plants). I don’t see how an elder at a “thick” calvinistic church in the heart of D.C. can avoid these issues. But then again, it is D.C., so maybe there’s something in the water supply that prevents it. More thoughts below.

  1. Leeman’s framing of the interview at the beginning was not helpful and clouded the main point of criticism. The issue is not that Sam is a false brother, but that several articles on the Living Out website are/were wicked and harmful and, given his role with the organization, he is responsible to either contradict the errors or to dissociate himself from the organization, neither of which he has done. Because social media is terrible, a number of critics did not raise this as the issue, but instead lobbed epithets of “heretic” and “apostate” at him with no substantiation. Most of these critics (in terms of sheer volume of online accounts) are not credible, which is true of all criticism on the internet of anyone on any issue, so the bad criticism crowded out the good. So Leeman felt the need to frame the issue with an assertion of Alberry’s status as a believer, which was never actually the point. Alberry being a false brother is a possible conclusion of the main issue, but is not itself the issue. Whether Leeman did this out of sincerity to defend his brother or duplicity to blunt the main point of criticism, the Lord knows. In all likelihood it was a measure of both.

  2. I’m surprised that I actually found myself saying “Amen” to much of what Sam said in the first 15 minutes. But how on earth is this message consistent with what was found on the Living Out website? Also, this is clearly different than what was presented at ReVoice. I don’t know if Sam has shared his views on ReVoice, but Living Out endorsed it if I recall correctly. Again, because of his role with Living Out, he is responsible to make his disagreement clear if he has one.

  3. Props to Leeman for actually reading a section of an article and picking up on the contradiction noted above (~1:22:00). Props to Sam for saying that the article was wrong, should never have been posted, and that he’s responsible for having approved it. Maybe my expectations were way too low, but I was expecting a lot more spin from both. But if so many of these articles are so “unclear” as to be misleading to those without a personal relationship with the authors, doesn’t the whole Living Out project need to be scrapped? Was shutting down the whole site ever on the table?

  4. “What kind of opposition have you received?” is a strange line of questioning. I don’t see how this is supposed to do anything other than cast Sam as a victim from every side.

  5. “Are you aware of any places where you disagree with conservative evangelicals on these topics?” Tell me, what exactly is a “conservative evangelical” these days and who speaks for them? If Doug Wilson and Beth Moore can lay equal claim to the label, then it doesn’t describe much. This is just a bad question.

  6. “I don’t see the Bible saying that I should be generally attracted to women, I see the Bible saying that if I’m married that I should be sexually faithful to my wife and if I’m not married I’m to be chaste.” This whole section (~1:37:00) is one straw man after another. The Bible also says that “because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.” The Bible also says it’s better to marry than to burn. The Bible also says to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. The Bible also says that malakoi will not inherit the kingdom of God. Another thought: Suppose just half of men with same-sex temptation could be counseled to find sexual fulfilment in a wife. Why withhold this help from all for sake of not discouraging half?

  7. Leeman is still trying to “wrap his head” around these issues. This makes a lot of sense, given how this interview went. Clearly his only qualification for conducting this interview is that he was already scheduled to be in the room and the conference organizers wanted to fill another hour. Leeman has affirmed (narrow) complementarianism in the past, but I think only because that is what “conservative evangelicals” believe and he knows he is one. He would do well to start studying these issues.

  8. As an aside, a hallmark of evangelicalism (I’m becoming convinced) is complete credulity, and Leeman demonstrates this in spades. Sam says he loves Jesus, so that’s all that really matters.

  9. “This is new territory.” I’m actually going to defend him here, but maybe for a reason he would disagree with. If I’m wrong, please correct me. Obviously the concept of homosexuality isn’t new. The Apostle Paul addressed it and the ancient world was well aware of many of its forms. But even so, I don’t think that Biblical anthropology has ever been attacked the way it has been in the 20th and 21st centuries. The Romans in the 1st century still had a concept of what a man was and what a woman was. They had an intuitive grasp of masculinity and femininity and there was some general sense of shame in subverting those roles, even if that shame wasn’t enough to right the ship. The creeds and confessions are awfully sparse on issues of sexuality because those issues were not under dispute in those days. We are in new territory in the sense that we need explicit teaching on things that used to be intuitive. And more so, we need to apply these truths in an egalitarian culture, which makes the job that much harder and requires the definitions to be that much more precise. I don’t think Leeman had this in mind with his comment, but I think it’s true nonetheless.

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The problem is that either it is “unclear” or it is blatantly wrong. At some point he’s got to admit that he’s been saying two things, and repudiate the wrong one, not say it was “unclear” or confusing or something like that. But you already said basically that in your first point.

Also, yes, the whole project needs to be scrapped because it is calling for gay people to come out of the closet, from its very name.

Try reading the Arian heretics sometime. Nobody should be surprised that somebody who is pushing something heretical is going to make sure to sound as theologically solid as possible and make it very hard to pin him down, backing away from the most obviously problematic wordings of what he believes. Typically there are just a very few simple positive and negative assertions that they will not affirm. Nor am I trying to imply that he’s a heretic. I’m just saying that you will typically agree wholeheartedly with 99% of what a heretic says, and they will do their best to say exactly what you want to hear.

In addition to what you said, I would add, “Try reading Song of Songs sometime.” Men are supposed to be attracted to these things about women. And women to those other things in men. Or read Ephesians 5 about Christ and his bride. To reject those things about women as good and beautiful and attractive, etc is to reject the universal goodness of Christ’s model. And the command to be fruitful and multiply is, by necessity, a command to be heterosexual.

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I just had a flashback to Mark Driscoll questioning T.D. Jakes about the Trinity back at that “Elephant Room” debacle. Driscoll had no capacity to ask even a single relevant question that would identify Jakes’ Oneness heresy, even though it’s simple to do. “Do you believe that the Son of God existed as a divine person before his birth in Bethlehem?”

It’s harder (for me) to remember this on other issues. But as you pointed out, it shouldn’t be a surprise. But, alas, I am an evangelical. I can’t help it–I was born this way. And so I will always struggle with temptation to credulity. :slight_smile:

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Worth reading, especially if you watched the interview above.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2019/06/06/living-out-a-follow-up-and-call-to-further-action/

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This and other articles were “open to misinterpretation.”
Translation: we got caught.

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