There is a lot of confusion among Christians as to what the Bible says about homosexuality, and also how we can helpfully relate to our family and friends who identify as homosexual. We have thought through some of these issues together at church in recent weeks, and in some of these sermons I referred to some books on the topic. This blog post will give a brief outline of these various books for those who want to explore further and to be well-informed.
I know not everyone is a reader! These books are all pretty short and aimed at a general audience, and I have found all of them worth reading in different ways.
Kevin DeYoung, ‘What does the Bible really teach about homosexuality?’
I have appreciated everything Kevin DeYoung has published, and this is no exception. He pastors the University Reformed Church in Michigan. He spends significant time in each of the major Biblical texts on the topic before wading into a range of objections people have to the traditional Biblical position. Although it is simply and winsomely put there is depth to his treatment of the Biblical material and its context. It communicates grace well while holding firm to the traditional viewpoint on homosexuality.
Sam Allberry, ‘Is God anti-gay?’
Sam Allberry is a Christian leader from the UK who has grappled with this issue personally, having struggled with unwanted same-sex attraction throughout his life. This book is more practical than the previous one and is one you could potentially give to friends who are not believers who struggle in this area. He communicates the Biblical viewpoint well, but the real value here is his sidebars on practical issues. He has discussions, for example, on whether Christians should attend same-sex marriages, what is sin and what is not, and how to reach out to friends in the homosexual world. This is also the shortest book of the lot.
Steve Morrison, ‘Born this way: making sense of science, the Bible and same-sex attraction’
The author of this book is a pastor from Sydney who has put to page what he had previously preached in his pulpit. This is a book of two halves. The first half deals with the current thinking in scientific circles about homosexuality, something I didn’t know much about before reading it. It is enlightening, especially as we only hear catch-phrases in the media and very little real science. The second half winsomely expresses the Biblical viewpoint on the issue and he is careful to point out that this is where the authority lies, not the science. Overall engaging and helpful.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, ‘The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an English Professor’s journey into Christian faith’
Rosaria is a real gift to the Christian church. She was converted out of a background of lesbian activism and scholarship to trust in Jesus. This book outlines her testimony and more and is most helpful in thinking through these issues. The man who spent most time witnessing to her invested much time, love and hospitality into helping her. Her story is worth reading. I learnt that those in the homosexual world often have a very poor opinion of Christians (and often with good cause too), and they often have strong communities that function as communities better than many churches. It reinforced my thinking that our main need is the gospel, and other issues come second to this.
I do need to say that this book in some ways frustrated me. Not her testimony part, that was most helpful. But she spends much time speaking of adoption, home-schooling, and exclusive psalm-singing in church, which was not what I read the book for. She has strong views on all of these things. But despite this somewhat unusual focus of the second half, it is worth reading.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, ‘Openness Unhindered: Further thoughts of an unlikely convert on sexual identity and union with Christ’
Rosaria’s second book I found far more helpful, filling in the things I wanted to know from her first book. This is less autobiography and more topical dealing with issues around sexuality. I found it immensely helpful. It helped me to understand the language of ‘gay’ from an English perspective. It reinforced to me that all people are sinners, and all people are sexual sinners (think of Jesus’ teaching on lust in Matthew 5 for example); all of us need Jesus to forgive our sexual sin. The importance of hospitality was emphasized and the need to creatively connect with unbelievers. This is well worth reading to better understand the homosexual world and a Christian view of this world.
Any of these books will help you explore this issue. Let’s pray that Christians can make a positive impact on the homosexual world with the gospel.