Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Book Review: Is God Anti-Gay?

Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions About Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-Sex Attraction. Sam Allberry. 2013/2015. Good Book Co. 93 pages. [Source: Gift]

I recently read Sam Allberry's revised and expanded edition of Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-Sex Attraction. The book opens with Allberry sharing his own struggles with same-sex attraction, something that he has struggled with since he was a teen. He notes that he was introduced to God through Christian friends around the same time that he was admitting to himself that he was homosexual.

I liked how straight-forward he is in the introduction, "God's message for gay people is the same as his message for everyone. Repent and believe. It is the same invitation to find fullness of life in God, the same offer of forgiveness and deep, wonderful life-changing love." I agree wholeheartedly that everyone--every man, every woman, every boy, every girl--needs the same gospel message or invitation. We all need to hear the gospel; we all need to repent and believe; we are all equally in need of grace and redemption.

He continues, "what Jesus calls me to do is exactly what he calls anyone to do." He then shares Mark 8:34 which reads, "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'" He reminds his readers "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 a cross is to declare your life (as you have known it) forfeit. It is laying down your life for the very reason that your life, it turns out, is not yours at all. It belongs to Jesus. He made it. And through his death he has bought it."

I would say if the book is making one point, it would be this: The whole Bible is relevant for all. One shouldn't lift five or six verses from the Bible that are "about" homosexuality as if that is all the Bible has to say for the gay person. These passages should never be taken out of context of the whole Bible message--the whole gospel message. The gospel is MORE important than any one passage "about" the sinfulness of homosexuality.

Does the book go passage by passage or verse by verse through those verses specifically about homosexuality? Yes, it does. But it also stresses in almost every chapter, that the gospel is what is key, what is needed. It is Jesus that is needed, not condemnation or judgment. There is a time and place to address homosexuality, but, people need to hear the good news that Jesus loves them, that Jesus died for them, that God is bigger and greater than their sins and desires.

For example, he writes:
Sometimes there is a danger of Christians thinking that a gay couple needs to be confronted with their sexuality almost the moment they walk through the [church] door; that this needs to be talked about immediately and the couple told what the Bible's teaching is on the whole issue. This is simply not the initial concern is for them to know they are welcome and that we are glad to have them with us, and for them to come under the sound of the gospel through the church's regular ministry. Another way to put this is to say that I would rather start at the center and work outwards, than start at the edge and work in. The center is the death and resurrection of Christ. That is where God reveals himself most fully. That is where we see his glory most clearly. It is also where God most clearly shows his love, righteousness, power and wisdom. This is what I most want people to know--for them to be bowled over by the God of the cross and resurrection. And, once they are gripped by this, to help them think through what trusting in this God will involve--what will need to be given over to him.
The book provides food for thought for individual Christians to consider and also for churches as a whole, as a body.

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