"Is God Anti-Gay?" is my new go-to book on the hot topic of homosexuality as a succinct introduction and guide. It's winsomely written while being biblically firm and written by someone who experiences same-sex attraction himself. There are a lot of books out there on this issue right now that explore the topic from many other important angles, but Sam Allberry's book is concise, clear, and helpful. I will be recommending it to many.
I have been reading books dealing with Christianity and the homosexual lately because the denomination I grew up in is moving towards ordaining practicing homosexuals.
I think I have just read the best book on the subject yet. And it is short - only 83 pages of text.
Allberry is himself a pastor in the UK who experiences same sex attraction. What he writes is not from a hypothetical position. He lives with being a Christian and having same sex attraction.
He answers the argument that Old Testament prohibitions of homosexuality deal with pagan worship practices or rape. He looks at Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 and the surrounding verses and their forbidding homosexual behavior. "None of these have any connection with pagan temples or idolatry. These things are morally wrong, irrespective of who is doing them and where they happen." (27) Noting that both parties are prohibited equally, "We can't write it off as only prohibiting things like gay rape or a forced relationship. Leviticus prohibits even general, consensual homosexual activity." (27)
Then he addresses another argument I recently read from a professor at a denominational seminary. Allberry looks at the Romans 1:26-27 passage, arguing that the words "against nature" do not refer to "our subjective experience of what feels natural to us, but instead refer to the fixed way of things in creation." (29) He notes, "All of us have desires that are warped as a result of our fallen nature." (30) It is the case for all of us, "...we find ourselves craving what we are not naturally designed to do." (30)
With great care he goes through each of the Bible passages dealing with the issue. His conclusion: "In each instance where the Bible directly addresses homosexual behavior it is to condemn it. The consistent teaching of the Bible is clear: God forbids homosexual activity." (36) "As far as Jesus is concerned, the godly alternatives before us are (heterosexual) marriage or celibacy." (36)
He has suggestions for those experiencing same sex attraction, writing about the struggles of the homosexual Christian. This is a great section for Christians who are critical of homosexuals to read.
He explores how sinful tendencies can be part of God's "all things" that work together for good. He writes about what the church can do for people facing this issue. He reminds us, "All are sinners, and all need God's grace." (62) We are all sick. We all need help. He encourages us to deal with biblical models of masculinity and femininity, not the cultural stereotypes.
Allberry is very clear. "A church leader who teaches that even certain kinds of homosexual activity are OK is actually sending people to destruction." (70) The gospel is at stake, he says. So he ends with a section on responding to someone who reveals same sex attraction - with our love and the grace of the gospel.
Before I say anything else by way of review, let me say this:
If you are an evangelical Christian wondering how best to think and speak into the current debate about same sex unions and relationships, then this is the book for you.
Allberry's book, almost more of a booklet, from The Good Book Company, should provide a valuable asset for the Church. He's biblically-grounded, Gospel-concerned, Christ-exalting, God-focused in his approach. He handles the subject with respect and empathy, having struggled with and against same sex attraction (SSA) a good portion of his life. The author knows by knowledge and experience what repentance is. He preaches this to all sinners, but especially in the focus of this small book, to those who struggle with SSA. Compassion seems to exude from the pages of this book as well: compassion for those who are fighting the fight for faith, as well as those who need to repent and believe. For only 88 pages in length, Allberry packs it in well.
If Allberry had written nothing but an even shorter booklet containing just the message in Chapter One, this still would come highly recommended by this reviewer. He lays out, in a succinct manner, the Bible's teaching on marriage (from Genesis 1-2), sex within and outside the bounds of marriage and what principles derive from this:
Human marriage is meant to reflect something of God's nature.
This one-flesh union is designed to be the way in which Adam and Eve fulfill God's command to 'be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth'
It is also meant to reflect the grace that, in Christ, God shows to his people.
Allberry goes on to show, in a very meaningful manner, how homosexuality is a sin to be repented of and forsaken, because it does not reflect God's nature, it does not fulfill God's design and it is clearly sex outside the bonds of marriage. I so greatly appreciate the author's usage of SSA to describe this effect. He does so, because he does not want his identity to be his sexuality, no more than you or I should want this to be the case. For the Christian, our identity is found in Christ, not in ourselves, and especially not in any sort of deviant, sinful lifestyle.
The use of Old Testament and New Testament was actually well-done in chapter three. I enjoyed this, because watching Christians and non-believers alike butcher what the Word says regarding this particular sin has been painful. Allberry deals with the notion of O.T. law adequately in just a few pages and then moves on the the New Testament. In his use of 1 Corinthians 6, the author clearly lays out that homosexuality (either in a passive partnership role or an active partnership role) as a gospel issue. Only the gospel, as embodied by Jesus Christ, can bring repentance, forgiveness and true, faithful, life-long obedience to the will of God, in this area of sin, or in any other.
Throughout Allberry's book, there are introduced short sections, almost in a magazine-type format, where questions might be addressed, or a hot-button topic in this category would be discussed. All in all, I believe this will be a very helpful book. There may be others, longer, more thorough, even more clinical, but none that I'm aware of so far that will easily be put into anyone's hands and be of benefit to them.