Radio Sex and sexuality

Ambush at High Midnight – Reflections on the Stephen Nolan Show –BBC Radio 5 Live.

The morning after the night before! Last night, in fact early this morning, I had the experience of appearing on the Stephen Nolan show, along with ex Tory MP Jerry Hayes.   You can hear the whole show here – (at least for 30 days) – the relevant part is from 2 hours until the end.

We also have the relevant part here:

I am feeling somewhat shattered and battered. Let me explain why.

  • Slip Ups – I got so much wrong. I knew that as it happened. There is no need for me to agonise over every wrong word or silly remark I made – and there were several.   For example when asked if I thought homosexuality was a sin – I simply answered yes when I should have said that I thought homosexual practice was a sin.   There were many things I should have said and didn’t – and others that I shouldn’t have said. I am sure that the tone wasn’t right at times – mainly because I found the ex-Tory MP (Jerry Hayes) to be smug, condescending, ignorant and patronizing. He thought he was being clever asking if I was a Wee Free and whether we allowed masturbation in the Church. But I shouldn’t have let that get to me.
  • Set Up – Whether deliberately or not, I was set up. I turned up at the studio an hour earlier than necessary, having read and prepared the headline pages of todays newspapers, expecting to be discussing them. Instead we spent 40 minutes discussing transgender! This after a very emotive 30 minute interview with an 11 year old girl who now says she is a boy.   After such a scenario then of course you are coming to come across as some kind of hard-hearted intolerant bigot. Personal story and feeling always trumps fact and the wider situation. Given that we did not start until midnight, I felt like it was an ambush at high midnight!

Sin – However I don’t want to use the late hour, the smug Tory or the set up as an excuse. The reason I got this wrong was simply because I am sinful. James 3:2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. I am not a perfect man.   I can’t blame other people or circumstances for my own sins and inabilities. If my MP opponent was smug, patronizing etc., I know that in many ways I am worse. If I know Christ and his Word, my sin is greater, not lessened, because of that knowledge.  And that goes for the whole church. One of the most difficult things in appearing on these kinds of shows is that the voice of the church has either been reduced to the shrill and somewhat nutty legalism, or more often the wooly banalities of those who distort and twist the word of God so that they can fit in with the culture. Walking the tightrope between those two views is a difficult balancing act – for a sinner like me!

  • Spiritual – Many people won’t understand this, but some will. Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Again I state this not as an excuse but this past week has been incredibly tough and intense. Illness, suffering, struggle, people wanting to know more about Christ, being in the ‘pangs of childbirth’ for the church….I was exhausted heading into this. And again that is not to make an excuse. I knew I was in a spiritual battle – I should have put on the ‘full armour of God’. And of course the reaction afterwards has been fierce.
  • Service – I have been through this several times and I can honestly say that whilst I rejoice that a Christian is asked to speak on the BBC, I wonder if it should be me. There was a time when I would have relished being seen as a spokesman for the Christian Church in the UK. That was when I was young and immature and knew little of spiritual warfare! I would love to retreat into my books, family, congregation and personal life. But I long for Christians to speak in the public arena – so my prayer is, ‘Lord here am I, send someone else’. But meanwhile I consider it a privilege to serve the Lord in this way.
  • Sovereignty of God– But – and this is the most important thing. It’s not about me. I hope I am not upset and frustrated because I let myself down – although who can know the human heart? My trouble is that for me this is not a game. I really believe this. I love the Lord and I don’t want him to be diminished or his glory abused because of my behaviour and words. And I love his people and don’t want to let them down.   But I take great comfort in this. God is sovereign. Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lords purpose that prevails.
  • Sustenance of God – And I love the way that in the midst of the battles this week the Lord has again and again fed me. I thank him for friends, family, the church, John Flavel and most of all, His word. My reading last night when I came home was Luke 18 which gave me the prayer for my night time tossing and turning – ‘God have mercy on me a sinner’. This morning I was fed with some delightful and challenging passages as well as Mr. Flavel. The Lord never patronises or brings false comfort – he goes deep. And although that sometimes hurts – he never wounds without healing.

So back to the battle. I get to speak the Gospel tonight at the CLC conference in the Steeple and in St Peters tomorrow. Onwards and upwards. I leave you with the collect this morning from the Book of Common Prayer.

“O Lord, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen”

PS.  BBC Radio5Live had said they wanted me as a regular contributor.  If that is the right thing please pray that the door would be kept open. I’m not sure that they will want to continue!


  1. David, don’t be disheartened. God is using you greatly to embolden and encourage many other believers. Yes, it was an ambush, but you will be much more aware of that possibility next time. Keep doing what you are doing. It was great that you got the chance to appear on the show and God’s plan will not be thwarted. Well done and keep going!

  2. Thank you for standing in the gap.
    I know it’s difficult but try and not have a postmortem. “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says The Lord”

  3. David

    If the BBC doesn’t ask you to speak they will ask Giles Fraser! He is undoubtely a clever man and I am sure a very nice one, but he is an extreme liberal and most of his public pronouncements on things Christian are way off beam although definitely crowd pleasing.

    The mantle seems to have fallen on you for the present – sorry if you get the prophet’s reward, but don’t expect rational debate on late night TV.

    We will pray.

  4. Hi David, I listened to the programme last night and agree with you wholeheartedly that you were indeed set up.
    But, Praise be to God … You handled the situation so very,very well.
    I Thank God for men like you, who are not afraid to Stand up for the things of God.
    People like Gerry … Often get away with talking over others that they don’t agree with … But you stood up to him like I have never heard before.

    Please keep up the Great work you are doing not only on the Radio, but in the Church and you blog.

    May the Lord Jesus Christ, continue to bless You and Yours.
    George Owens.
    (Scotland for Jesus)

  5. Dear David, It is wonderful to see your self reflection of how you handled the Stephen Nolan Show –BBC Radio 5 Live.
    I do think you are being a bit hard on yourself also.
    I am learning so much from you in regards to dialoguing with the atheist and especially the Hatetheist. The dawkins letters arguements are ones I use every week.
    Please allow me to speak into your life as I learn from you. David you must chill out and calm down at times especially in your speech when you are being ill treated. Allow me to lay a platform by saying I am no Rob Bell – Love wins lunatic. I preach the love of God and I also preach judgement and hell and I don’t go around saying just love everyone and the world will be a happy place. I tell you this as I am not one who goes around preaching a gooey syrupy love as I know the love of God includes correction and rebuke.
    Please at the very least consider this from a brother in Christ who wants to see you in this arena that you have been so fortunately placed in – where you have the opportunity to win the hearts of men and women who hate you and even more so they hate Christ in you. If not winning the hearts of men you are sewing seed and watering in places where the soil is tough and where many Christians fear to tread.
    I think of Stephen in Acts which says – Acts chapter 6 vs 15 – and fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.
    i also think of Proverbs 25 vs 21 + 22: If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
    David you seem to get upset and passionately dissapointed when you are attacked or when you hear the Godless unbeliever say ludicrous things. That’s like going into a pub and getting really upset at seeing drunk people. It’s why many go to the pub and just as I expect a drunk in the pub I also do expect to hear many an unbeliver to be subjective, intolerant, incoherent, illogical and has a hopeless bankrupt outworking to their thinking. You will always be misunderstood as satan never wants the truth out there in the open.
    Hearing your apology to the woman at 2 hour 35 minute mark was wonderful.

    Get up David seek the Lord in those early morning hours and off to the arena you go again with the wisdom of God, the sword of the spirit and the love of God bursting from you and never forget you are a sheep being sent out amongst the wolves.
    I look most forward to reading and listening to more interviews where you are tested and pushed to the limit whilst saints through the world uplift you in prayer.

  6. David,

    There is so much I identify with in what you talk about which is one of the things that keeps me coming back here. I have what I call my “Top Gun” moments where I got for it. When these are surrendered to Christ they are powerful, when it is of my own ego it is like in the film “Maverick, your ego is writing cheques your body can’t cash.

    I know there are times pastorally where I have spoken truth but that it has not been done in a loving way or in a way appropriate to either the church culture I am in or in how is needed for a particular individual to hear the word. For that I am ashamed.

    However I do agree with the above comment about being a little hard on yourself. In not dissimilar personal difficulties to the ones you have expresses, I’ve known in my personal prayer time for God to be kinder to me than I am to myself. There’s all kind of social programming that I have had that has leaned me to be the way I have been which I don’t have the space to go into here. This had me borderline ill with anxiety and depression. I found that I was not functioning well in church environments but OK out there in the world. what I did was seek help and it came in the form of compassion therapy. It was great – 6 sessions of it which enabled me to be closer to being as kind to myself as I knew God to be. This and regular participation in Christian meditation has been a game changer.

    We know that the demolishment of arguments and pretenses that set themselves up against the knowledge of God is done by holding every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. Then it is in his strength that we employ the sword of the Sprit which is the word of God. When emotions are running high it can be difficult to discern what is of God and what is one’s ego. We all are naturally attached to being happy and adverse to suffering. So how do we engage when in the natural we experience a threat response? Do we become defensive or are we able to be gentle as in exercising power under control?

    I don’t know to what degree that helps or not but I do hope that it is of some comfort. There does need to be a public presence out there and your obvious intelligence, passion and awareness of issues is not without need in today’s climate.

    I don’t know what other to say than I’m praying for you David and for others in the public arena and stepping up to that calling.

  7. David, it is almost certain that you were ‘set up’. The Beeb is not interested in the news or in balance, or in ‘truth’, merely in pursuing its own secularist agenda, so the fact that you are being invited to contribute in these programmes indicate that they think they can use your contribution in order to further that agenda.

    That being the case, forewarned is forearmed!

    A degree of self-awareness and self-criticism is not doubt helpful, perhaps to be more effective next time you are invited to contribute, but I would not beat yourself up over this. We have a sovereign God, and you’re the one being asked to comment, so He will make use of that contribution.


  8. Hi David

    Greetings from Australia. I have listened to the relevant part of the show. My view is that you were not ambushed but I also believe you did much, much better than you thought. We Christians need people to speak out as you did. Why do I believe you were not ambushed – because the thoughts expressed by your fellow guest (whom I do not know as I live here in Oz) are the thoughts of the natural man in today’s society. We are going to sound bigoted and self-righteousness (unfortunately) as our society today is no longer Christian. We are now possibly closer to the society faced by the earliest Christians than at any other time since the Resurrection. Remember Paul was accused of losing his mind (Acts 26, 24, 25) – not that you were accused of that of course but one wonders whether we will be at some time in the future. The fact that the medical profession appears to be changing its collective mind on the nature of body dysphoria indicates the way the society will continue to go. It will get much worse before it gets any better. Bottom line: keep it up. I am many others are praying for you. We need people to speak out strongly. Blessings. Sandra

  9. Be encouraged – I thank the Lord for people like you who are courageous enough to speak the truth of God’s word. Brian

  10. Hello Pastor Robertson

    I am a young person in another country and I would like to sincerely ask you about this point you mention in your article:

    “He thought he was being clever asking if I was a Wee Free and whether we allowed masturbation in the Church…”

    Does the Free Church of Scotland think masturbation is a sin? I looked specifically to see if the Free Church of Scotland had a formal position on this issue and I could not find one online. I am struggling with the issue and every Protestant site I look at seems to have a different opinion.

    The opinions I have come across are summarised on this Wikipedia page and it shows there are apparently even divisions amongst Reformed Christians. I am just seeking a clear answers:

    There are also mixed opinions here:

    Is it considered a grey area by the church? If it is not specifically in the Bible then is it not a sin? (By the way, I realise there are related situations where it would be sinful – for instance, if the person was also using pornography.)

    I genuinely want to live a life pleasing God so I do not want to sin if this conduct is wrong. However, I also do not want to put myself under undue suffering if this is just a manmade rule and the activity is permitted.

    Thank you in advance for your help. I genuinely appreciate it.

    1. Thanks Marcus….I’m sorry that this answer will be short…but I hope it helps.

      No – the Free Church does not have a formal position – because we don’t need a formal position on any sin – and masturbation is wrong – although not the massive sin that some want to make out. Why is it wrong? Because it is an abuse of the gift of sex that God has given us….I guess in theory you could argue that if you could do it without any lustful thoughts or fantasies then there might not be much problem…but in reality that is not normally the case. Its the kind of sin like greed, pride, lying etc that most of us have done. I would not get hung up about it but I do think that John White’s description of it is accurate ‘sex on a desert island’. Sex is meant to be meaningful and between people – not alone. Many Christians do struggle with this…I would suggest that we should focus more on our relationship with Christ and realise that he has forgiven us all our sins…and then live for him…(also stay away from pornography of any kind!)…

      1. Thank you so much. I will go away and meditate on your answer. May God bless you.

      2. Thanks Marcus – I tend to see this in the wider context of controlling our appetites…something which in todays church we largely seem to have forgotten about – and of which sex is only a small part!

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