Is God anti-gay? And other questions about homosexuality, the Bible, and same-sex attraction by Sam Allberry
The answer to the perennial opening question provided by the title of this book is No. God is not diametrically opposed to those who consider themselves gay. As Sam Allberry elucidates in his new book, Is God anti-gay, the questions relating to homosexuality are both deeply personal for many and at times the church has not done it job well to minister to those struggling with same sex attraction. Sam starts out the book with a picture into his own life by writing, “The words began to form in my mind: I think I’m gay…..And yet, instead of having feelings for girls with my friends, I was finding myself having feelings for my friends” (6). Not knowing exactly what to do with these feelings, Sam stumbled upon some believers who brought out the message of Jesus to him. Being amazed at the wonderful good news and believing in the Savior brought Sam some great news for his struggle with same-sex attraction. The rest of this little book traces five sections dealing broadly with homosexuality and the Bible, the culture’s message, the church and the Christian’s approach toward homosexuality and some practical matters.
In the opening introduction, Sam makes a distinction between same-sex attraction and gay that I think is helpful to those entering the discussion. The reason for this distinction is that, “When someone says they’re gay, or for that matter, lesbian or bisexual, they normally mean that, as well as being attracted to someone of the same gender, their sexual preference is one of the fundamental ways in which they see themselves” (8). In other words, in many cases, someone’s sexual preference is wrapped up in their identity, the way they were made on this Earth. Sam makes it clear that while God is not anti-gay he is ‘against who all of us are by nature, as those living apart from him and for ourselves’ (10). Furthermore, the call to repentance goes for all people engaging in sin to flee to God and Christ.
Sam makes the point in the opening chapter that the relationship that Christ has with the Church reflects human marriage of a man and a woman. Sam writes, “Paul is saying that marriage is about the relationship Jesus has with the church. It, too, is a union between two different, yet complementary , entities….And it is because Christ is different to his people that he is able to draw them to himself, pledge himself to them, and have them be united to him” (20). As such, human marriage is a mirror of this relationship between two different, yet complementary entities or people just as Christ and the church. There is physical complementarity in the way God has designed man and woman for each other but also a unity in difference, for two men or women cannot become one flesh (19). Sam’s point in the chapter is that marriage by design is for man and woman, including sex.
Sam is also quick to point that the homosexual lifestyle is not an iron trap for someone who cannot escape. Commenting upon 1 Corinthians 6:11, Same writes, “However ingrained it may be in someone’s behavior, homosexual conduct is not inescapable. It is possible for someone living a practicing gay lifestyle to be made new by God. Temptations and feelings may well linger….What defined us then no longer defines us now” (35). The reference point here is that God is able to bring someone out of a homosexual lifestyle if they are committed to changing as well. The feelings may subside and temptation is ever at the door, but change is possible with the power of the good news of Jesus Christ. This point cannot be reiterated enough because I know many people feel trapped and unable to break free from their lifestyle.
The rest of the book is a minefield full of wisdom on areas such as Homosexuality and the Christian and Homosexuality and the Church. The section on the church’s response to those couples coming into the service was very well done. Sam points out that condemnation is not the first order of business but a clear presentation of the death and resurrection of Jesus (63). Working from the central issues to the peripheral will bring to focus the weight of relief that the good news has to offer for sinners.
I hope this book goes a long way in bringing about further discussion and study surrounding the issues of homosexuality, the Bible and same-sex attraction.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and the Good Book Company for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review.