Homosexuality is a hot topic in the church and in some of our countries today. What does the Bible say on homosexuality? And do the Christians in the church accurately reflect what it teaches? How should Christians treat homosexuals? Is it the Christian’s job to change them before they can be invited to church? What does the Bible say about marriage? How should I respond amongst all the controversy? We need to remember that we are dealing with real people. These are real people who have real struggles and issues just like the rest of us.
Sam Allberry is the associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Maidenhead, UK. He writes this book because it is well needed in a time like this. He clearly explains what the Bible says about marriage, sexuality, same-sex attraction (SSA), and how Christians should respond. Allberry writes this book from his own experience as one who had and still has same-sex attractions.
Allberry starts with the center. He keeps the main thing the main thing. What is the Gospel, and what does it say I should do? The Gospel declares that Jesus has come to save us from bondage, and that we are to ‘turn’ in repentance toward Him, which means we were not heading in the right direction in the first place. We believe the Gospel that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can be reconciled with God. The Gospel was “[H]is message for all people. When Jesus burst onto the scene, he didn’t subdivide humanity into categories and give each one a separate message. One for introverts….extroverts….left-brain types….right brain folk…God’s message for gay people is the same as his message for everyone. Repent and believe” (p. 9-10). Everyone has been given the same offer. To turn away from yourself and to live for God.
Allberry then moves to chapter one with a Bible view of marriage and sex. God said it was “not good” for man to be alone, so He created for him a woman. Humanity is gendered, and “sex is designed to irreversibly knit two people together” (p. 18). God designed marriage to reflect Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31-32). A man and a man, or a woman and a woman, can never represent Christ and His bride, the church.
Chapter two continues with the Bible’s view of homosexuality [Gen. 19; Lev. 18 and 20; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:8-10] all the while explaining what each text means in context and some different issues within them.
Chapter three is on homosexuality and the Christian. What happens if a Christian is struggling with same-sex issues, or if a homosexual becomes a Christian but is still struggling? Does that mean they are no longer saved? Of course not. Temptation isn’t sin until you give in. Allberry lists some of the main struggles Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction face, and how it can be used as a part of God’s purpose. He talks about the difference between the unrepentant heart and one who struggles but seeks to walk in line with God’s Word and His will for their lives. “What marks us out as Christians is not that we never experience such things, but how we respond to them when we do” (p. 41).
Chapter four is on homosexuality and the church. What should you do if a homosexual couple starts coming to your church? Allberry gives some much-needed advice on how to treat homosexuals in the church. Their spiritual needs come first: they need Jesus. It’s as simple as that. You start at the center, and you move from there. It is then that you show them what the rest of the Bible says about sexuality and marriage ordained by God.
Chapter 5 is on homosexuality and the world. How do you respond when your friend comes out and tells you they’re gay? How do you then share Christ with them? How could you be the most loving and effective witness to the world on this issue? “The church is the ‘pillar of truth’ because it is the outlet of God’s truth into the world” (p. 78; 1 Tim. 3:15).
Allberry ends with a conclusion stating that “Jesus is the bread of life. He – and he alone – is the one who satisfies” (p. 82). Despite the complexities of our issues, despite the amount of time we succeed and fail, it is Jesus who satisfies our needs. Our sexuality (whether it be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc.) is not our identity. Jesus is.
The Chocolate Milk
+Almost every chapter ends with a gray box with a significant question that many have asked before: “Surely a same-sex partnership is OK if it’s committed and faithful?”, “Aren’t we just picking and choosing which Old Testament laws apply?”, “Can’t Christians just agree to differ on this?”, along with others. Each section is answered in a few paragraphs, but the depth of the answer given is perfectly adequate for the posed question. They are not easy question, but the answers are spot on and complete.
+This is a simple book to read. It’s only 83 pages, and it’s very Christ-focused. There are some hard truths, but they are not written out of hatred. Allberry understands what life is like living with SSA, denying himself, and saying “Yes” to Jesus. These are hard truths to accept, but these are also hard truths that he himself is accepting and living life accordingly.
Allberry covers a lot of ground in such a small book, and in doing so he shows God’s heart toward homosexuals, gays, lesbians, those who have same-sex attraction, and it’s the same heart he has toward all who sin. God loves us, and He is not “anti-gay.” Allberry writes for the benefit of those who experience SSA that God does love them, and for the benefit of those who don’t share in experiencing SSA to know how to love and minister to those who do.
This short book could be read in a single night. However, I would recommend that you don’t do that, but that instead you take the time to go through it. Think about the Scriptures Allberry proposes, read through them, and think about the points he is making. How does this differ from what you’ve thought about homosexuality? How can you show Christ better to a world around you, whether the people around you are of a different sexual orientation or not? The media has put a target on churches who have rejected homosexual members. Can you show your employees that the real Jesus is different? Can you show them that Christianity is different? Can you show them that you are different?
This book comes from a pastor who understands and cares about those who struggle with SSA, whether they are believers in Christ or not, and one who cares about the churches who are to show the love of Christ and how they can do that. Homosexual lifestyles are becoming more common place, and Christians need to know how to say more than, “That’s sin.” But then what? How is that person supposed to live in light of that? We need to be more helpful in lovingly showing others how to live in light of the Gospel of Jesus. It is good news. Right?
- Paperback: 83 pages
- Publisher: The Good Book Co (October 8, 2013)
- Amazon: Is God Anti-Gay?
- Reading Level: Any level.
[A big “thank you” to Dean Faulkner at The Good Book UK for sending me a free copy to review. I was not obligated to give a positive review in return for reviewing my copy.]