Tom Buck, pastor of First Baptist Church (FBC) in Lindale, Texas, claims Ed Shaw, pastor of Emmanuel City Centre in Bristol, England, is guilty of “heretical teaching.” Buck takes issue with how Shaw explains navigating same-sex attraction and has called on Sam Allberry and The Gospel Coalition (TGC) not to support Shaw any longer.
Shaw says that when he sees a man he is attracted to, “I don’t necessarily need to repent of that recognition of beauty because what I’ve recognized is something that I as a human being have been designed to recognize.” Shaw shared these thoughts in a 2019 interview with Dominic Steele of The Pastor’s Heart. In addition to being a pastor, Shaw is the director of Living Out, a ministry whose goal is to ”encourage Christians, equip churches, and engage the world with God’s plan for sexuality and identity.”
Shaw explains, “I’ve been designed to recognize beauty; I’ve been designed to recognize the image of God in somebody else.” The attraction in and of itself is not sinful. What is sinful is what we do with the attractions that we have. Shaw says that in the moment when he recognizes beauty in another person, he has a choice either to sin or to respond in gratitude to God for the beauty he has created.
“Nothing new about Ed Shaw’s claims,” said Buck in a Feb. 15 tweet of a clip of Shaw’s interview. “I exposed this heretical teaching three years ago…What also hasn’t changed is Sam Allberry’s unwillingness to condemn this as he still remains on the Living Out website, and [TGC] continuing to cover for Shaw.” Allberry is the founder of Living Out, and both he and Shaw have articles published on TGC’s website.
Ed Shaw: Let’s Stop the ‘Journey to Ungodliness’
“I continue to call upon @SamAllberry to renounce the teachings of Ed Shaw and Living Out,” Buck said later Tuesday. ”Sam needs to come out from among them rather than ‘still supporting’ them.’” Buck also gave Shaw as an example “of the wolves that are ravaging the church today.”
The FBC pastor linked to an article he wrote in 2019 where he addressed similar comments that Shaw made in a post on the Living Out website. Buck believes that Shaw’s views are not in line with Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 5:29 to deal with lust seriously or the instruction to believers in Colossians 3:2 to set our minds “on things above.”
“No faithful pastor would give this counsel to a heterosexual man that is dealing with his lusts,” says Buck. “I could never imagine any pastor saying, ‘This is simply your natural response to beauty as you were created to respond. You should appreciate the beauty, but do not let it drift into a sexual fantasy.’”
Ed Shaw and Dominic Steele, however, made this exact point in The Pastor’s Heart interview. At one point, Steele pondered his own thought process of noticing someone who is “pretty,” thinking that person is attractive, and then “moving to ungodliness in my thought patterns.”
“We have become so used to traveling that journey to ungodliness that it’s really difficult to change,” said Shaw. “What I am trying to do and what I am encouraging other people to do is actually try and break that habit and see that noticing that beauty is an opportunity to recognize where that beauty comes from, to recognize God and to worship him and to praise him for the beauty that is just walking past us in the street. It is the decision of the moment, but I think it’s something we can increasingly train ourselves to do.”
This posture of thankfulness helps Shaw not to live in “horrific fear of falling into sin” as a result of his attractions. And it helps him to recognize the depth of God’s love for him. “My sexuality is there to help me appreciate God’s love for me,” he told ChurchLeaders in an interview last April. “When I feel the strength of sexual desire, I’m actually getting just the smallest insight into the strength of God’s love for me.”