Living Out – A Follow-Up and Call to Further Action
On March 25, I began a series of articles that addressed concerns with the ministry of Living Out ( part 1, part 2, part 3 part 4). Over the course of four days, I revealed multiple resources at the Living Out website that were deeply troubling and profoundly unbiblical.
I initially became aware of Living Out as a result of being introduced to the writings of Sam Allberry – one of the founding leaders of the ministry. I had no reason to be suspicious of Living Out, because much of what I had read or heard from Allberry had been essentially sound and consistent with Scripture’s teaching. In addition, the website was officially endorsed by respected leaders such as ERLC President Russell Moore, who wrote, “These resources are anchored to biblical conviction.” Unfortunately, I discovered that this was simply untrue.
The Problems Revealed
As I began to examine the resources at the Living Out website, I discovered that many of them were not “anchored to biblical conviction.” Some of the teaching included the following:
- They write, “We’d be crazy to deny the good in permanent, stable, faithful same-sex sexual relationships.”
- They suggest that a same-sex couple who had recently “committed their lives to Christ” could continue to live together, in celibacy as friends, and “share the parenting of any children who are there too.”
- They claim that no one needs counseling “because they are gay or same-sex attracted.”
- They teach that if you are a same-sex attracted person, while you should not act on your desires, you should “choose not to repress your desires.” They offer the warning of a psychologist who says, “to ignore or deny your feelings is dangerous.”
- They offer an audit to determine if your church is “biblically inclusive” in its treatment of those who are same-sex attracted. This requires that there be people in your church who are “labelled LGBTQI+ or same-sex attracted,” a structure where “A godly Christian’s sexual orientation would never prevent them from. . . serving in leadership in your church,” and an environment where no same-sex attracted person is encouraged in “seeking” any “change” from his orientation.
- When I wrote Living Out to ask what counsel they would give to a young teenager struggling with same-sex attraction, one suggestion they gave was for me to visit the website of True Freedom Trust, which they “highly recommend.” When I visited that site, I immediately found an article that focused on how some same-sex attracted Christians meet “their longings for intimacy.” Some of those ways were “visiting naturist (nude) beaches” or “visiting gay bars or nightclubs without the intention of sexual intimacy.”
In light of these findings, I called upon Sam Allberry to take responsibility for these resources and to immediately take them down. I also requested that those partnering with him on any level (TGC, ERLC, 9Marks) would discontinue doing so until these issues were adequately addressed. Finally, I called upon Russell Moore to renounce the teaching at Living Out and immediately withdraw his endorsement as publicly as he had given it.
It is not an understatement to say that these revelations sent shockwaves through evangelicalism. By the end of the week, the endorsement of Russell Moore was removed from the Living Out website and 9Marks announced Jonathan Leeman would be hosting a Q&A with Sam Allberry to discuss these concerns. (You can listen here beginning at the 1:06:00 mark).
The interview was encouraging in many ways. Sam took responsibility for the presence of the resources. He admitted that he had approved them years prior and that there was understandable reason for concern. Therefore, he clarified his personal positions regarding same-sex attraction.
Allberry clearly articulated that homosexual desires are inherently sinful, that he did not believe that “sexual orientation” is good terminology as it implies immutability, and that same-sex attraction desires are “to be mortified.” In addition, he argued that although there is a sameness about both heterosexual sin and homosexual sin (i.e., all sin is equal in God’s sight) there is also a distinctive difference (i.e., “homosexuality is a further twisting and pervasion of God’s sexual design”). Sam promised an audit of the content at Living Out was forthcoming and Jonathan Leeman asked for “patience” as we walk through these complex issues.
I was extremely grateful to hear both Sam Allberry’s clarifications and promise. Therefore, I thought the call for patience was prudent and followed that advice. In the meantime, Sam and I have had several private conversations about these issues and discussed them at an even deeper level from Scripture. I want to publicly express my gratitude for Sam’s humility and desire to be faithful to the truth to God’s Word. I believe I can say that he has become a friend, but more importantly I view him and treat him as a brother in Christ. This friendship has brought criticism from some, but I have no reason to consider Sam any less than a brother who is seeking to be faithful in his walk with God.
So, if this is the case, why am I revisiting the issues at Living Out with this follow-up? I assure you that it is not because I have an ax to grind or cannot be truly satisfied. There is much at stake regarding these matters and serious concerns remain. Two months later, lingering questions still need to be answered.
Questions That Call for Further Action
As the dust has settled over the past two months, I have discovered that many people are confused and think that all has been resolved after Allberry’s interview with Leeman and the removal of Russell Moore’s public endorsement at the Living Out website. I will address this with questions I have been asked in response to my continued concerns.
Haven’t all the objectionable resources that were exposed in your articles been removed from Living Out during the audit?
Answer: NO. Only two resources were removed and all of the resources quoted from the section above are presently live on their website. Although I trust that an audit is being carried out, this reckless and unbiblical teaching remains unedited for people to follow. (It is important to clarify that Sam Allberry does not have the sole authority to remove these resources.)
Furthermore, I continue to find new troubling resources at Living Out. For example, one of the writers answers this question: “How should I respond if my child comes out to me?” In one section, they give counsel for how to respond if “your child is a child or young person.” They declare, “it should go without saying that any family rule about same-sex boyfriends or girlfriends should also apply to opposite-sex ones!” (Exclamation mark is theirs) You read that correctly. Living Out teaches that a parent cannot have different dating rules for their one teenage son and his girlfriend than they do for their other teenage son and his boyfriend. This counsel goes beyond any potential acceptance of a child’s homosexual lifestyle and encourages the parent’s facilitation of it.
Call to Action: I ask others to join me in asking Living Out to have these resources taken down immediately so that no other person is misled or further embedded in their sin. I sincerely believe Sam’s desire is to bring the changes needed. However, Living Out’s unwillingness to remove the troubling resources, even during the audit, raises doubt that they truly believe any substantive change is needed. If Living Out refuses to remove them, I pray Sam will quickly leave that ministry and be clear about why he departed from them.
Didn’t evangelical leaders like Russell Moore withdraw their support of Living Out?
Answer: NO. First, the endorsement of Pastor and TGC founder, Timothy Keller remains live on the website. Second, the ERLC released a statement that indicates Moore did not actually request his endorsement to be removed, but Living Out proactively removed it. Additionally, Moore has yet to publicly renounce the teaching at Living Out. The ERLC offers a statement for those who make inquiry that Moore has always taken a strong stand against homosexuality and his “hope is that clarity will prevail in answer to any questions” about Living Out.
Call to Action: I and my SBC church continue to call upon Russell Moore to renounce the teaching at Living Out with the same public clarity that he gave in his original endorsement. We are thankful for the many biblical stands Moore has taken against homosexuality, but this makes his refusal now to renounce Living Out’s teaching all the more dangerous. I feel certain there are those who are not aware of Moore’s quiet disassociation with Living Out. I do not believe he desires parents to follow Living Out’s dating advice for their children. Therefore, because of his former endorsement of the resources at Living Out, Dr. Moore cannot afford to leave his position on these issues ambiguous.
Since this is new territory, should we continue to be patient?
Answer: It is always wise to be patient, but we cannot afford to be unclear about things that are so blatantly obvious and carry such a heavy eternal price tag. The teaching outlined above is patently unbiblical and we would be wrong to afford any more time for clarification. These things do not call for clarification, but renunciation.
Call to Action: More than two months have passed and little to nothing has been done from a public perspective. I have been contacted by multiple people in SBC churches that are following the counsel of Living Out. Others have told me how they recommended Living Out to many people solely because of their trust of Sam Allberry or Russell Moore’s endorsement.
Christians who are seeking to battle against same-sex attraction need authentic biblical compassion and answers. Living Out, in its current state, is clearly not the place to send them. The lives of real people are at stake and it is far past the time to take a stand. As Paul wrote Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).
Eternal lives are at stake and the time of waiting is over. While we are patient, people are perishing.
 This endorsement has since been removed.