Friday, May 9, 2014

Is God anti-gay?

I just finished reading Sam Allberry's recent book Is God anti-gay? And other questions about homosexuality, the Bible and same-sex attraction. Allberry is a single pastor in the UK and has struggled against same-sex attraction throughout most of his life. The book is a store of biblical wisdom, compassionate counsel, and clear thinking.

He writes in the beginning that he refuses to identify himself as "gay" and instead emphasizes that he is someone who experiences same-sex attraction. "Describing myself like this is a way for me to recognize that the kind of sexual attractions I experience are not fundamental to my identity. They are part of what I feel but are not who I am in a fundamental sense. I am far more than my sexuality." This is a crucial observation and one which all of us need to remember in our increasingly sex-saturated society. Christ defines us not our sexual drives.

Allberry does an excellent job explaining the meaning of repentance. "Repentance means turning around, to change course. The implication is pretty clear and a little uncomfortable: we're not heading in the right direction." He goes on to remind us that Jesus calls all of us to take up our cross and deny ourselves (Mk 8:34). And this has direct relevance for the title of his book, Is God anti-gay? Allberry answers: "No. But he is against who all of us are by nature, as those living apart from him and for ourselves. He's anti that guy, whatever that guy looks like in each of our lives. But because he is bigger than us, better than us, and able to do these things in ways we would struggle to, God loves that guy too. Loves him enough to carry his burden, take his place, clean him up, make him whole, and unite him for ever to himself."

Allberry surveys the biblical teaching on sexuality in general before discussing homosexuality in particular. He writes, "Sexuality is a little like a post-it note. The first time you use it, it sticks well. But when it is reapplied too many times, it loses its capacity to stick to anything. We are simply not designed for multiple sexual relationships."

Thereafter he gives a helpful survey of various passages that address homosexuality directly, answers potential objections, and then goes on to discuss ways individual Christians and the Church can assist those tempted by same-sex attraction - both within and without the Christian community. I would highly recommend his book.