Along with others from Hope Church Tom Scrivens recently attended the “Identity in Christ” conference put on by Living Out - an organisation which aims to help Christian brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attraction stay faithful to biblical teaching on sexual ethics and flourish at the same time. Here's what he learned:
During the day it was lovely to bump into a number of friends from across the Relational Mission and wider Newfrontiers family of churches coming to learn about this important issue. The day consisted of main session sermons from Tim & Kathy Keller, as well as interviews with Christians who experience same-sex-attraction.
Tim Keller began the day by speaking about “Culture & Identity” and having read many of his books, it was a privilege to finally hear him preach in person. I’ve heard him described as the 21st century’s C.S. Lewis and I don’t think that is an exaggeration, he is quite the communicator! He masterfully unpacked the differences between traditional approaches to identity and our late modern culture’s approach, showing us that there are positive and negative elements to each, but ultimately (as he would unpack in his second session, entitled “Christ & Identity”) in sharing the gospel we are calling people to find their ultimate identity in Christ, not to a traditional or late modern view of identity. In his words, "Christian identity is the only identity that is received not achieved. It’s based on our standing in Christ."
Kathy Keller in her session “Church & Identity" was excellent on the practical ways our churches can be places where celibate people can thrive - it was very thought provoking, challenging and inspiring all at the same time as she reminded us "You do not need to be married to be a fully realised person.” She and her husband have pastored thousands of single people in their time in New York City, so I was well aware that I was learning from the masters on these matters.
What was most inspiring for me was the testimonies that were given throughout the day of men and women who are same-sex attracted but who are totally sold out for a life of following Jesus and honouring the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics. For all of us, a life of following Jesus means taking up our cross and denying self and these folks are incredible examples of a life of honouring God. I don’t believe these interviews were recorded, but there are plenty more testimonies and excellent resources on the Living Out website to check out, SO check it out!