Essentials of Apologetics - Lesson 20

Conversations with Skeptics

You will gain valuable insights into having effective spiritual conversations by asking four key questions. The first question is about understanding what the person believes, delving into their perspectives on various issues such as climate change, the death penalty, gun control, and the identity of Jesus. It emphasizes the importance of clarifying terms, especially in areas like atheism, where diverse beliefs exist. The second question focuses on why the person holds these beliefs, recognizing that deeper reasons may exist beyond what is initially stated. The importance of understanding influences, experiences, and past hurts in shaping beliefs is highlighted. The third question encourages finding common ground with the person, recognizing shared beliefs and building bridges. Lastly, the fourth question involves exploring areas of disagreement and understanding the reasons behind differing perspectives. The overall approach emphasizes listening, asking thoughtful questions, and fostering genuine understanding in spiritual conversations.

Sean McDowell
Essentials of Apologetics
Lesson 20
Watching Now
Conversations with Skeptics

I. Introduction

A. Practical Strategy for Spiritual Conversations

B. Origin of the Four Questions

C. Importance of Spiritual Conversations

II. Four Questions for Spiritual Conversations

A. Question 1: What Do You Believe?

1. Clarifying Questions about Beliefs

2. Examples of Questioning Atheism

3. Importance of Understanding Different Beliefs

B. Question 2: Why Do You Believe It?

1. Importance of Discovering Deeper Reasons

2. Storytelling as a Tool for Understanding Beliefs

3. Questions to Uncover Influences, Experiences, and Hurts

C. Question 3: Where Do We Agree?

1. Power of Finding Common Ground

2. Examples of Finding Common Ground

D. Question 4: Where Do We Disagree, and Why?

1. Importance of Clarifying Differences

2. Examples of Addressing Disagreements

III. Navigating Spiritual Conversations with Family

A. Long-Term Perspective with Family

B. Seeking Natural Opportunities for Conversations

C. Handling Sensitive Topics with Charitable Conversations

1. Importance of Listening and Understanding

2. Asking Questions to Better Understand Perspectives

IV. Conclusion and Call to Action

A. Encouragement to Use Knowledge Responsibly

B. Importance of Making a Difference

C. Call to Prayerful Consideration of Opportunities

D. Acknowledgment of the Role as Apologists

1. Responsibility to Use Knowledge to Fuel Faith

2. Encouragement to Impact Others Positively

3. Reflection on the Power and Responsibility of Knowledge

V. Questions and Thoughts from the Session

A. Addressing Questions about the Cosmological Argument

B. Handling Sensitive Topics within Families

1. Balancing Long-Term Perspective and Openness to Spiritual Conversations

2. Suggestions for Engaging in Charitable Conversations

C. Reflecting on the Role of Apologists and the Power of Knowledge

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of apologetics, the theological discipline of defending the Christian faith, through a personal mall encounter that highlights the importance of being prepared to provide reasoned defenses, with a focus on biblical foundations, addressing objections, and fulfilling a ministry to those with questions.
  • This second lesson on apologetics, highlights the importance of understanding worldviews, using practical exercises and examples to illustrate how our minds shape beliefs, categorizing worldviews based on their answers to fundamental questions, and exploring Christianity's unique perspective on creation, the world's problem, and the solution through Jesus.
  • This lesson explores Antony Flew's shift from atheism to recognizing Christianity's uniqueness. Dr. McDowell provides four reasons why a spiritual quest ought to begin with Christianity: testability in history, free salvation, a livable worldview, and Jesus' central role beyond religious boundaries. The lesson includes a Q&A time reviewing Islam's view on Jesus and Darwin's evolution.
  • Debunking the myth of blind faith, Sean counters with a scriptural foundation, using personal encounters and anecdotes. Examining biblical narratives, especially in Exodus and the New Testament, reveals a pattern: God provides evidence, imparts knowledge, and calls for faith and action. The story of doubting Thomas underscores that belief aligns with evidence, not against it. The lesson closes by emphasizing faith's dynamic nature, which can be fortified through evidence-based study.
  • In this session, you'll delve into the speaker's exploration of truth, gaining insights into its multifaceted importance in various life aspects. The session highlights three key reasons for the significance of truth, introduces the correspondence theory, and underlines the implicit connection between Christianity and truth, offering a comprehensive understanding of the topic.
  • You gain a deep understanding of the distinction between subjective and objective claims in this lesson, illustrated through relatable examples like ice cream preferences. Sean communicates that subjective claims rely on personal beliefs, while objective claims are based on the external world. Overall, you will develop a nuanced perspective on truth, specifically in differentiating between subjective and objective claims, with a focus on moral values.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the moral argument for the existence of God. Sean draws from a personal debate experience, emphasizing that God provides a solid foundation for moral values. Three key points are highlighted: the need for a transcendent standard for right and wrong, the role of free will in moral accountability, and the requirement for divine grounding of human value. The lesson challenges naturalistic worldviews, asserting that they fail to offer a satisfactory explanation for objective morality, ultimately suggesting that living in accordance with God's design leads to true freedom and fulfillment.
  • Explore the Christian view on the soul, diving into its significance through moral law and beauty. Analyze arguments supporting its existence, like its role in free will, using analogies. Address contemporary debates on gender and transgender issues, suggesting a dual human nature. Incorporate biblical references, evaluating flawed arguments and introducing stronger ones. Discuss practical implications for personal well-being. This lesson explores the soul's concept from a Christian standpoint.
  • Gain insights into the intricate relationship between science and faith, exploring arguments for God's existence, the concept of fine-tuning in cosmology and biology, and the conclusion that the fine-tuning of the universe and DNA's information complexity point towards a fine tuner and an author of life, offering compelling evidence for the existence of God.
  • In this exploration of miracles, the lesson shifts from discussing God's existence to questioning divine revelation, challenging skeptics to reconsider their worldview and illustrating the philosophical underpinnings of miracles, ultimately emphasizing an open-minded investigation and hinting at a compelling case for theism and Christianity with overwhelming evidence for miracles.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of near-death experiences (NDEs) and their potential as a compelling apologetic tool, exploring evidentiary aspects, transformative impacts, objections, and the significance of information unattainable by natural means in supporting the case for an afterlife and the soul.
  • Dr. McDowell reviews the overwhelming evidence of the resurrection and the significance of the resurrection.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insight into the historical evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus, including the crucifixion, discovery of the empty tomb by women, early and multiple accounts of Jesus's appearances, and the transformative impact on the disciples, ultimately challenging alternative explanations and asserting the resurrection as the most reasonable conclusion based on historical facts.
  • Exploring the Bible's trustworthiness through the character and copy tests, this lesson establishes the reliability of the New Testament by highlighting the writers' honesty, the disciples' willingness to endure hardships, and the exceptional proximity and quantity of early manuscripts.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a thorough understanding of the New Testament's reliability through an exploration of its extensive manuscript evidence, addressing skeptics' concerns about variations, and highlighting corroboration from external sources such as historical records and archaeology.
  • In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of the problem of evil and suffering, exploring its intellectual and emotional dimensions, drawing on personal experiences, historical perspectives, and a philosophical approach, and laying the groundwork for a more in-depth exploration in the next session.
  • In this lesson, you will learn of the logical problem of evil, exploring the philosophical challenge to God's existence posed by the coexistence of omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and evil, while examining the limitations of God's power, the compatibility of free will, and the unique Christian perspective emphasizing the redemptive nature of the incarnation and the cross in addressing the problem of evil.
  • Gain insights into responding to objections in apologetics, including addressing conflicts between a loving God and hell, defending the Bible against contradictions, clarifying misconceptions about God's stance on homosexuality, explaining the concept of the Trinity, and attributing natural evil to the brokenness of the world due to sin.
  • Gain insights into a personal and relational approach to apologetics by understanding that everyone is an apologist and theologian, as the lesson, through anecdotes, underscores the importance of discerning underlying questions, emphasizing active listening and probing inquiries to address the genuine needs and heartaches beneath surface-level queries.
  • Gain insights into effective spiritual conversations by asking four key questions: understanding beliefs, exploring reasons behind them, finding common ground, and navigating areas of disagreement, with an emphasis on listening and fostering genuine understanding.

In this day and age, it is critical that followers of Jesus know how to think clearly and biblically about their faith and how it intersects with and often contrasts with how the world thinks. These areas include one's worldview, the fact that faith is not blind, why the truth matters, why seeing design in creation points to a designer, and evidence for the soul, resurrection, and the Bible. How can God allow evil, and how do we talk with skeptics? Dr. McDowell discusses these topics and others in this easy-to-understand course on apologetics.

Conversations with Skeptics

Sean McDowell
Lesson 20
Essentials of Apologetics

In our final session together, my hope is to give you just a simple, practical strategy that really these four questions come from a colleague of mine at Biola, Tim Muehlhoff, a communication expert, and I've modeled it after these four questions that I found particularly helpful. Now, the idea is how do we have spiritual conversations with people? That's the hope. This is something all of us can do. In my experience, most people are open and willing to talk about issues that matter, including spiritual things, if it's the right time, in the right way, and the right place, and we're willing to ask questions and listen. So a great first question I want to know is what do you believe? If I'm having a conversation with somebody who sees the world differently, the question is, what do you believe? What does this person believe about climate change, the death penalty, gun control, the identity of Jesus?

You name it. So somebody says something like, oh, I'm an atheist. I want to know what they actually mean by being an atheist. Even the term atheist can mean different things. Some would say it's the belief that God doesn't exist. Some would say it's the lack of belief in God. Like amoral would be atheist. So someone says they're an atheist. I want to know, okay, what do you believe as an atheist? By the way, there's atheists who can be Marxists, secular humanists, postmodernists. There's a range of beliefs. So step number one is simply to ask clarifying questions. What does the person believe? So if somebody says, I'm against racism, I want to know what they mean by racism. One definition of racism is to really think you are superior over another race. In our climate today in light of critical theory, racism is to have views of superiority coupled with power.

So if you're not in power, by definition, you can't be racist. Now, when somebody says they're against racism, that sounds simple enough, but I want to know what is it that you mean by racism? Just to make sure we're on the same page. Somebody asks you a question, well, do you believe in evolution? A very simple question is what do you mean by evolution? There's at least five different definitions of what evolution can mean. It can mean just change over time, like the Corvette has evolved over time. It can mean change within a kind, can mean change across kind. It can mean common descent, it can mean a God guided change over time or a purely naturalistic change over time. I want to know what this person believes about evolution. Even if someone says, do you believe in God? Yes, I do too. There's an obvious question you should ask.

What do you believe about God? It says in Proverbs 18:13, "If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." The Bible has a lot to say about listening. Of course, you've heard us say we have two ears and one mouth. That's not accidental. That's a part of God's design, but it's our job to ask question and to understand first before we respond. So step number one, what does the person believe? If I'm in a conversation, help me understand what you believe about X. Fill in the blank. Well, the second question is why do you believe it? It seems pretty obvious, but now I know that what you believe, and in fact, even before I get to the second question, I might say something like, I hear you saying that you believe this. Did I capture your beliefs fairly and accurately? By the way, do we appreciate when other people do that with us?

Absolutely. Here's what I think you're saying. What did you miss? What did I miss? That's a great charitable way to engage somebody. So then of course the question is why do you believe it? Why do you believe it? Now, this is kind of what we talked about last time. Discovering the question beneath the question, what somebody says is the reason they believe something is not always the full reason. They might be aware of it, they might not be aware of it, but there are often deeper reasons like we talked about in Proverbs 25, the purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man or a human of understanding will draw it out. There's a story that's told about Steve Jobs, who obviously, the creator of Apple, brilliant businessman, but known for being pretty ruthless at times, and one of his key biographers said that he suspected that Steve Jobs was motivated by proving to the world that his birth parents should not have given him up for adoption.

Now, I don't know if he can really prove that or if that was just his suspicion, but if that's true, would that give you a different perspective of somebody like Steve Jobs? Yeah, there's deeper reasons that often shape what we do, why we believe things than we often grasp. So how do you discover this? One simple question is when somebody says something like, oh, here's the belief that I hold. I'll say, "Hey, tell me the story of how you came to believe that, or tell me the story of how you came to believe what you believe." Just this morning I was teaching a high school class and we were talking about the topic of immigration, and one girl had pretty firm beliefs about the importance of legal immigration, but she was against illegal immigration, and I simply said, "Hey, tell me the story about that."

Well, it turns out both her parents were from overseas and they migrated legally and went through the process. Well, that shapes her perspective of people who don't, understandably so, but rather than assuming it's just because I've read this book and I have this idea, there's a deeper story behind it, a relational story that shapes why she sees that issue as she does. So how do you get to the heart of why someone believes something? Here's some questions that I found helpful to ask people. What people most influenced you? Isn't that an interesting question? Just to be in conversation with somebody and say, what people most influenced you? Now, for me, you could not possibly understand me if you have not noticed yet, apart from understanding who my dad is and the influence he's had on my life. It's simply not possible. And that's probably true for all of us in this room to greater and lesser degrees.

There's also people like my resident assistant at Biola University, resident director. His name is Rob Loan. I went through kind of a period of questioning and he listened to me and he asked me questions and gave me space to wrestle and gave me perspective. Huge influence on my life. Couldn't understand me apart from my basketball coach. Coach Holmquist, and I'll brag on it a little bit. The fourth all-time [inaudible 00:07:55] coach in the history of college basketball, an even better person. I quote him to my kids all the time because lessons from on the court and off the court have profoundly shaped me. You can't understand me apart from my wife and our story. Now, how many of you would love to be asked the question about the people that most influenced you? We love to talk about it. Human nature is we like to talk about ourselves, right?

How great is it to ask people's questions if we really want to know why they believe what they believe? Tell me about the people that influence you most. Second, what experiences have most shaped you? What life experiences? In the case of Steve Jobs, if that narrative is true, being adopted out by his birth parents profoundly shaped him. My sister, who's adopted, would say the same thing in a very different perspective. How grateful she is to be in the family, how much my parents have just loved on her. You can't understand her apart from that experience. For me, you can't understand apart from playing basketball, and lessons that I've learned through that sport just shapes who I am and how I see the world. If you understand why someone believes that they believe, ask them about what experiences have most shaped them. Third, what are your past hurts?

What are your past hurts? This could be physical pain. This could be relational pain. This could be financial pain. Now by the way, before we go any further, these are the kinds of questions you can ask somebody over months or possibly over one conversation, but you kind of have to earn the right to ask somebody, tell me about your deepest hurts. You have to be wise and sensitive about doing so because, obviously, there could be some hurts that are still raw in that person's life, but it's so often through our pain that God shapes us and molds us and imprints us. You want to know why somebody believes what they believe. When you can discover where some of those deep hurts on, then you're beginning to make headway. One question I found particularly interesting, especially when I'm talking to non-believers who say they don't believe in God. I'll frame it something like this. Can you tell me your understanding of the God you don't believe in?

Every single time I've done this, you know what my response is? You know what? I don't believe in that God either. Do you mind if I share with you what I think the scriptures teach and Jesus revealed that God is really like? If somebody wrote to me and say, no, I'm not interested in that. I've never had somebody say that. More often than not, in my conversations, I tend to interact with a lot of atheists and agnostics more than, say, New Agers as a whole. Many will say things like, "I just don't believe in this vindictive, angry God, just eager to send people to hell, judgmental, callous, genocidal God." And I'll say, "God does judge sin, but if that were the whole picture of God, I don't believe in that either." If we want to know what God is like he has most revealed himself through the person of Jesus. That's where maybe we should start.

I had a chance to speak at this atheist group. It's kind of a skeptical group in Orange County, and it was really interesting to go meet with this group. About 20 skeptics, maybe 15, 20 skeptics in a home. My wife and my pastor came, and I told them, I said, "Hey, I'd be willing to come to your group and just sit in the hot seat and you can ask me whatever questions you'd like to ask a Christian for an entire evening." I don't know about you, but that sounds like fun to me. And it's not that I think I have all the answers, but I'm really curious in just how they live, how they act, how they treat me, what questions are important to them. And what amazed me about this scene, this is kind of a fun moment that we capture, this fellow is Bruce. He's the head of this skeptical group in Orange County, is one time he stopped and looked at me. He goes, "No way." I said, "No way what?" He goes, "I didn't expect this." I said, "You didn't expect what?" He goes, "You actually have a sense of humor."

He was dead serious. And I started thinking in my mind, I thought, okay, wait a minute. Why does he believe what he believes? In part, his experience and perception of Christians is just humorless and judgmental and harsh. If there's a part of us that says, I don't like that club, I don't want to be a part of it, that's going to shape our beliefs. I've had an ongoing conversation with a friend of mine who describes himself as an atheist New York media elite. It's actually a tongue-in-cheek self-designation. He's written for New York Times, the New Yorker, MSNBC, and for a while was watching my stuff, which is a reminder you and I never know who's watching us. And I had a chance to interview him about his story, and he grew up in Greenwich in New York, which was the hub of the sexual revolution.

He said, "Sean, I didn't know a single evangelical Christian. 40% of the men that I knew growing up were gay." He felt loved and he felt cared for. Does that shape why he believes what he believes? Absolutely. So I want to know just what this person believes. Second step is I want to know why they believe it as best I can. Third, where do we agree? Where do we agree? Common ground is powerful. Paul did this on Mars Hill. He starts off and he says, he talks about, "Oh, I see you're religious people. You're looking for an unknown God." We're spiritual. We're religious. He doesn't start with criticism. He's finding common ground with his audience at Athens. I had a woman who describes herself as the OG lesbian YouTube creator. That was her self-designation. She's not religious, but described herself not a Christian. She said she's spiritual. And I just interviewed her on my YouTube channel.

I like talking with people who see the world differently. And I said, "So you grew up Catholic and you came out as gay to your parents? How'd they respond?" And as best I can remember, she said something like, "Oh, my dad was awesome. He responded, said, great, kind of like, you be you. If God made you this way, he wants you to be this way." She goes, "What do you think?" I'm sitting there thinking in real-time, going, how do you navigate a question like this? I think I said back, "Do you really want to know what I think?" Just to make sure it wasn't just like, how are you doing when you don't really care how somebody's doing? And she goes, "Yes." So I'm thinking, how do I find common ground so when I land truth, it's received better?

I said, "I agree with your dad in the sense that all of us are made in God's image. We have a creator. And because we have a creator, that gives us value, God's creation is good. Black, white, male, female, straight, gay, none of that matters to the fact that I think your dad got it right, that we're all made in God's image. But as a Christian, the story doesn't stop there. That's Genesis one and two. The story continues in Genesis chapter three, we have this thing called the fall, that says, 'Everything was broken and everything was messed up by sin.' So where I would differ is to point towards somebody's attractions and say, given that the world has been affected by sin, that's necessarily God's design for how we're supposed to live." And she goes, "Oh, that makes sense. As long as you're not saying gays are uniquely sinful and abomination, I'm fine with that." I said, "I'm not saying that."

The Bible makes it clear. Romans 3 said, "All has sin, and in Greek, all means all." Notice the response. I wasn't avoiding truth, but was trying to build some common ground and rapport so I could speak it like the scriptures say, a soft word breaks a bone. Kindness leads to repentance. A gentle word turns away wrath. That's why Proverbs 24:3 says, "By wisdom, a house is built. And by understanding, it is established." By wisdom, a house is built and by understanding it is established. What does the person believe? Why do they believe it? Let's find some common ground which builds bridges instead of walls. And fourth, where do we disagree, and why? Where do we disagree, and why? Now once you've taken the time to understand what somebody believes, why they believe it, you've asked them questions, you've listened, you find common ground, it makes perfect sense to say, here's where I think we differ.

I've had a conversation with two skeptics in depth about the cosmological argument. We mentioned this briefly earlier that says, whatever begins to exist has a cause, the universe began to exist, therefore the universe has a cause. Now, if you trace this argument back farthest enough, you eventually are going to conclude that either the universe can come into existence from nothing and literally has no cause, or there's a cause outside the universe that's timeless, spaceless, powerful, intelligent, and personal, that spoke the world into existence. You kind of have to land on one of those two. You could take an agnostic position and say you just don't know. But in some ways, that's avoiding the question. Both of these skeptics, I remember I looked him in the face and I said, "So what's most compelling to you? That literally the universe came into existence from absolutely nothing where there's a cause outside of space and time that brought the universe into existence." They both looked me in the face and said, "A universe from nothing makes more sense."

Now, part of me is like, I'm not quite sure where to go from here. As best I can remember, I said, "Okay, so the cost of your worldview is that something can come from nothing. That's a pretty big act of faith." Years later, one of those two became a believer. And I asked him, I said, "What was it?" He said, "I remember that conversation and I thought you were wrong. There's like 1% in my mind that thought, I wonder if he's right about this and I'm wrong. And that doubt began to snowball." Friends, you might write books, you might not write books. You might make a YouTube channel. You might not make a YouTube channel. Some of that is secondary, but you are an apologist. You are an apologist. And with great power comes great responsibility. You've been blessed with the power and the knowledge of this class. The question is what are you going to do with it?

And this is the kind of task that all of us are called to make a difference. So as we wrap up, I would encourage you to just prayerfully think, who in your life could God maybe use you to fuel their faith, to pray for them, to invite them into a spiritual conversation, to open up the door if it has not been opened up yet to just begin to talk about things that matter most. Would you pray to God to bring somebody to your mind whom you could engage? Because being a Christian, it's difficult sometimes. Jesus said, pick up your cross, but we're part of an adventure. And the reality is the eternal God can use you and he can use me if we're willing to do so. That's pretty awesome, isn't it? Questions and thoughts from this session? His hand went up before I was even done. Go.

Okay, you mentioned that the universe requires a cause, but if God thinks it's about cause, [inaudible 00:21:18]?

It's a great question. So let me make a very important distinction. My argument is not that everything that exists needs a cause. My argument is that things that begin to exist need a cause. So if the laws of logic exist and are eternal, they didn't begin to exist. They exist uncaused. If numbers and mathematical principles are real, they didn't begin to exist, they're necessary in eternal. That would be the case with God. God by definition is uncaused. The universe is not eternal, both philosophically and scientifically. The evidence strongly points toward the universe having a beginning, therefore, it needs a cause.

So if you were to say, well, what caused God? That's actually a nonsense question. Sounds sophisticated, but it's nonsense. Why? It only makes sense to ask what caused something of things that in principle can be caused. I can ask what caused your shoes? I can ask what's caused a rock to roll downhill? Because these things can be caused, but God by definition is uncaused. So if you ask what caused God, you're actually saying, so what caused the uncaused creator of the universe, which is the category fallacy, like saying, how much does the color purple weigh? It's actually nonsense. Now it sounds sophisticated, but it's an illogical question within itself. Does that make sense? So it's not that everything needs a cause, but if something begins to exist, it needs a sufficient cause.

[inaudible 00:23:00]

You don't have to use the words "where do we agree" when you're engaging somebody. The point is to look for areas of agreement and highlight those. That's the point however you do so, and if we look through that lens, human nature is to find what divides us and where we differ and focus on that rather than focus on what we have in common. And some of that is because of our culture focuses on intersectionality right now and focuses on all the things that divide us. And if you and I are not in the same categories, I can't understand you, you can't understand me. The reality is because of our human nature, we have far more in common than we do differences.

So it doesn't have to go perfectly in this order. If I learn what you believe, and I might point out some commonality as I'm getting to why you believe, and it doesn't have to be perfectly scripted, but I'm making sure I know what somebody believes, why they believe it. And through this journey, focusing on areas of common ground and then moving to clarify differences. And sometimes just clarifying differences is powerful. This is one thing Dennis Prager's done for years on his show. He said, "I'm not always trying to convince somebody that they're wrong. I just want to highlight where we agree, where we differ, and why we differ." There's something powerful just in doing that. It's a good question. Any others from this session? Yeah.

So I have family members that are gender gay and drag queens in our family. They say they believe in God and that it's not their choice to be that way, that God made them that way. And I don't know how to have a discussion and their attacks [inaudible 00:25:07].

Okay, this is a big question that requires probably more unpacking than I could give due service to, but let me make some general comments about spiritual conversations with family members. It's one thing to sit on somebody next to a plane and know pretty much you'll probably never see this person again. There's a level of anonymity and a level of urgency. Well, with family members, you're probably going to see him again and again and again and again. When it comes to family, I tend to have a longer-term perspective here, and I don't want my family to think, hey, here comes Sean. He's going to force it about Jesus every time. And the big picture things, that's actually going to be counterproductive. And in my wider family, I'll leave it at that. There's a lot of non-believers. So what I try to do is I try to just, I think a lot about the life that I live, think a lot about the way, especially with maybe some non-believers on my wife's side, how I treat her, how I treat them.

And I just look for natural opportunities that arise to have spiritual conversations that aren't forced, that people are open to it. Some family members are, some family members are not. But I can think of two specifically come to my mind. After years with these family members, changes took place in their life, called me up for help, spiritually speaking. I think because they knew I think about this stuff, also knew that I cared about them and wouldn't jump in to judge them. So I tend to take a longer-term perspective when it comes to family members. Now on this specific issue, because it's very sensitive, one of the things that I'll do is if you have a family member who's very outspoken and has a very different perspective, one option is to simply say, it's obvious we see the world very differently here. I'm wondering if this is okay with you. Can we just go get some coffee? And all I want to do is hear out your experience so I can better understand you. That's it.

That's a win. Now, if the person says no, I don't know how more charitable you can be than that. Then you say, okay, if you're ever open to it, I really mean it. I'm not going to judge. I'm not going to argue. I really want to understand your journey and your story and your experience so I can better love you and care for you. And you just go out and you say, if you have a family member, you mention LGBTQ. Tell me the first time you felt this way. Tell me how different people responded to you. Did it change the way you think about God? Do you still believe in God? How have different Christians treated you since you've come out?

And you just ask questions and you listen. And the Bible says, be ready with an answer when people ask. If you're ready with an answer and you show that charity and kindness to them, number one, it can help turn the temperature down of how they treat you. But you also show yourself as somebody who's open-minded and thoughtful and caring, and willing to talk about spiritual things. Now, if none of those things work and they are treating you a certain way, there comes a time where you just say, you know what? The way you're treating me is not okay and it needs to stop, and here's why. There's a time and place to do that too. But I would try to take some of these steps first if at all possible. One last question related to this before we wrap up. Anything? Go.

To follow up on that question. When it comes to ideas of you're dealing with identity and sexual matters and things like that, people absolutely have identities that they feel God may move this way, et cetera, and you're drawing that out with these kinds of things, type of questions that you have with them. How do you then talk about the identity when they have that as their core and we know that they're made in the image of God and that they were not made that way?

So how do you speak with somebody who grounds their identity in something such as their sexual orientation, which we know is not who they really are? Well, this is not unique to the LGBTQ conversation, is it? People identify themselves by their wealth, by their success. This is a human issue that goes much deeper. How do we engage people who view themselves differently than a biblical perspective? That's the root of your question. I'm not sure it's really that hugely different with the LGBTQ conversation than it would be with anybody else.

I'm going to listen. I'm going to ask questions. I'm going to try to understand. I'm going to look for common ground. I'm going to service in differences and try to ask some meaningful spiritual questions to unseat maybe where that identity is. If that's the idol and that's the root of the issue, I'm going to lovingly and graciously kind of push at that as best as I can and see their willingness in how they respond. Remember, you can't change anybody's view on that. You can love them. You can listen. You can ask questions. It's God through the Holy Spirit who's going to have to change their hearts.

You know what that means? We're done. We did it. Good job.