An unusual support group. They have been talking in "Different categories of homosexuality and christianity" for a while, but believe now is the time for their voices and unique experience to be heard more widely. Since then another well-known Christian figure, Rob Bell, has spoken out in favour of gay relationships. A recent poll by the Public Religious Research Institute in the USA showed that nearly half of young evangelicals there are in favour of gay marriage.
For two of them, same-sex attraction has been met with a commitment to remain celibate, while one of them experienced a change in his feelings that led to marriage with a woman.
Allberry and Shaw share a dry sense of humour, while Doherty is more gregarious. In-jokes about Anglicanism abound as all three are involved with CofE churches. Their most pressing task is the forthcoming launch of a website called Living Out, aimed at helping others think through the realities of being same-sex attracted while remaining committed to a traditional view of Christian sexuality. From my own experience, I want to say that God is good and his word is good.
Allberry describes to me how as a teenager his homosexual feelings conflicted with his new-found Christian faith. There will be some who experience unwanted homosexual feelings.
Last year Vaughan Roberts, a leading conservative evangelical, spoke for the first time of his own struggle with same-sex attraction in an interview with Evangelicals Now, which was widely applauded. Allberry knows him well and was inspired to be open with his own congregation too.
He has just written Is God anti-gay? Shaw grew up in a Christian family and church where an evangelical view of sexuality was taught. One of the best things my parents gave me was an understanding that the Christian life is often difficult and that God takes and uses suffering to make us more Different categories of homosexuality and christianity him.
Doherty has perhaps the most unusual story of the three.
He came to terms with his sexual orientation relatively quickly while at university, attending a church where he could talk about it freely. In an environment where young people were being encouraged to experiment, I was really grateful that I had been kept from acting on my feelings.
I admit to still being a little confused about Doherty. His response involves some carefully chosen terminology developed by Peter Ould, an Anglican blogging on sexuality who shares a similar story. And how does his wife feel about the fact he still experiences homosexual attraction?
But all married people experience attraction to people they are not married to. Meanwhile, the support group allows them to talk through the challenges of celibacy. Shaw admits to an internal struggle over the years.
That is where the battleground lies for me. However, the average outsider would probably regard all three men as repressed individuals, using theology to sublimate their natural sexual identity.
Being a church leader who is samesex attracted brings its own share of potential complications too. We are still Ed Different categories of homosexuality and christianity Sam to them. Another awkward question comes to mind. Male pastors often lay down rules about not meeting with women in one-to-one situations. What are the rules in their case?
Shaw says that being open about his struggle has actually led to better pastoral ministry.
Mirth gives way to a serious point. Churches often focus on the gift of marriage to the detriment of singleness. The Bible sees friendship as an amazingly intimate relationship. I have a greater capacity for deep relationships with many people than my married friends do. Even so, do they ever feel they have missed out by not having a partner? Doherty presses home the point.
Loneliness can be just as big a problem for married people as it is for single. Doherty first got in touch after reading the Christianity article by Steve Chalke in defence of gay relationships. Being in a same-sex relationship in no way prevents you from being a committed Christian and having God at work in your life. But part of the gospel is that God loves us enough to challenge us, change frustrate us and contradict us.
The cost can be high.
Allberry tells the story of Different categories of homosexuality and christianity man who approached him after a carol service at his church. He was in a gay relationship but wanted to find out more about following Jesus. The man did not become a Christian, though Allberry still regularly meets up with him to chat.
I have to ask: Part of the call of Jesus is for each of us to lay down our version of self and take up the cross and follow him. This seems to be the year when the ground has been cleared among evangelicals for an open and honest discussion about how homosexuality fits with the gospel. For those tired of the politics of gay marriage and confused on where the Church stands, hearing these personal stories of people choosing a different path may be the next step they need.
Soon after becoming a Christian at 16, Doherty realised he was attracted to men rather than women. He says that his church accepted him for who he was, but was also clear about Different categories of homosexuality and christianity boundaries.
Over time, Doherty experienced a change in his feelings, falling in love with and marrying Gaby, with whom he has three children. Allberry became a Christian after hearing an evangelistic message aged At the same time he began to realise he was attracted to men, but chose not to tell anyone.
A turning point came after hearing a sermon on homosexuality as one among a number of sexual temptations. He draws on his experience of living a celibate life in his new book Is God anti-gay? The Good Book Company.
From puberty onwards he began to experience same-sex attraction, but hoped that it was a phase he would grow out of. Choosing to be celibate, Shaw has found his pastoral ministry at his church was in fact enriched by being open about his experience of same-sex attraction. Since the Evangelical Alliance EA announced last week that the Oasis Trust would be removed from membership, Christians across the spectrum have written to support Steve Chalke responds to the Government's decision to ban gay Evangelist Rico Tice has said he quit the Archbishop of Canterbury The Church is woefully failing gay people, argues Emily Hallock, Nobody gets to heaven by being good, faith is not a blind leap Deron Spoo shares four tips for Bible "Different categories of homosexuality and christianity" that have grown Tania Harris has learnt to her own God conversations rather We meet three evangelical church leaders who have decided to go public about their sexuality.
My sexuality is male" - swdoherty. Share this on twitter. Evangelicals divided over EA split from Steve Chalke. Get this month's issue free Click here to request this month's issue, free of charge. Subscribe And get 12 issues plus unlimited online access to the archive. You may also like Rico Tice quits Archbishops' evangelism team over sexuality teaching.
My dad and the powerful witness of same-sex attracted Christians. How one terrifying prayer started my conversations with God. How do the various refractions of the demand of love within the moral.