There has been a wave of books recently on the topic of homosexuality. I haven’t read them all. Out of the Far Country by Christopher Yuan and his mother Angela tells the story of his life as a gay man and subsequent conversion after ending up in prison. The non-biographical Love into Light by Peter Hubbard was very good. Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry is also very good though it is shorter (though in need of a different title). One thing that sets this book apart from Hubbard’s is that Sam admits that he experiences same sex attraction (SSA). Like Yuan, Allberry takes a conservative approach to the Scriptures. What is significant is that both of them end up saying, “Yes, this applies to me too.” They seek to live by what they teach which should eliminate at least some of the pushback. They are not homophobes, they don’t claim to now be heterosexual and they are celibate.
Sam starts off with the words of Jesus to all who want to follow Him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8
He does this to show that everyone who comes to Christ repents, or turns away from all they were seeking life in in order to receive life in Christ. We all have to put parts of our life to death. This was clear to me even before I became a Christian. This is why it took a year for me to become a Christian- I didn’t want to give up my sin. All of us are the same before God if we are not united to Christ by faith, we are dead in sins and trespasses. Homosexuals are not in some special class.
“Every Christian is called to costly sacrifice. Denying yourself does not mean tweaking your behavior here and there. It is saying ‘No’ to your deepest sense of who you are, for the sake of Christ. To take up your cross is to declare your life (as you have known it) forfeit.”
Additionally, Sam explains why he uses SSA instead of gay or similar terms. He believes that the attractions he experience are not fundamental to his identity: Christ is. He doesn’t think sexual orientation should be the defining factor of their lives. It is part of who they are, but not all of who they are. As fallen sinner, Christ is against all we are by nature. So our sin, whatever it may be, shouldn’t be our identity anymore because we are a new creation in Christ.
His first chapter, Getting Started: the Bible, marriage and sex, is excellent. He returns to Genesis to provide a biblical understanding of both sex and marriage. We find both are given together in order to fulfill the creation mandate. Both are good things and were given not only for our joy but also for procreation (unless providentially hindered). As a result, biblical marriage and sex involve individuals of both genders. The rest of what Allberry says must be kept within this biblical context and background. God is not against sex but gave us the gift of sex in a particular context and for particular reasons. When we remove it from that context it destroys the gift whether we want to or not.
In the second chapter Allberry addresses the main texts that talk about homosexuality. He is brief and concise. He concisely addresses some of the common objections to the traditional Christian view on these passages. He also makes some shocking statements like “homosexuality is a sign of God’s judgment.” He arrives at this from Romans 1, and it is not the only sign of God’s judgment nor it is to be seen as a sign of God’s judgment on particular people. It is one of many signs that a culture has rejected the truth and embraced lies. Everyone’s desires are disordered and warped by our sinful nature. All of us, as he says later in the book, are sexual sinners. The only one who wasn’t was Jesus.
From 1 Corinthians 6 he focuses on the phrase “do not be deceived.” All of the sins Paul mentioned there will keep people out of the kingdom of God unless they repent of them. In a permissive culture like Corinth, and ours, there were those who taught that such sins didn’t matter and Christians could continue to persist in them. Those false teachers, coddling to the spirit of the age, are bringing people to destruction.
While focusing on the seriousness of all those sins, he also reminds us of the sufficiency of Christ to deliver from all those serious sins. Homosexuals are not beyond the reach of Christ; it is not the unpardonable sin. Not only that, but people can be set free (this doesn’t mean their orientation changes, or that they don’t struggle with attraction, it means they can stop acting on that attraction).
He doesn’t back away from “hard words”. He lives by those hard words. Like any heterosexual single adult, someone experiencing SSA should either marry someone of the opposite sex or remain celibate. Those are the options. Premarital sex isn’t okay for heterosexuals and wrong for homosexuals. Both violate the boundaries God has established regarding sex.
Later he provides some good counsel should a friend come out to you. It is counsel that seeks to address the immediate needs of the person whether professing Christian or not. It is counsel that builds the relationship so on-going ministry can take place. It is counsel that is rooted in the fact that we are all sexual sinners.
As noted, Allberry’s book is short. This means he cuts to the chase and isn’t bogged down with trying to avoid offense. He is blunt about how God views SSA, and how Christ can forgive and help someone with SSA. As such, it is a good resource to keep on hand. This little book is a book worth buying, and reading.