Book review: Is God anti-gay?
I promised in church to review Sam Allberry's book on an important issue. His book is called 'Is God anti-gay? And other questions about homosexuality, the Bible and same-sex attraction.' Sam has written before on the Trinity (which gives you an idea of his grip on the Bible) and is also a minister of a church in Maidenhead. We want to help those thinking through or experiencing these issues too.
In his introduction Sam writes, 'Though I'd had a couple of girlfriends, I'd never felt the same kind of bond as I had with one or two of my close male friends. As the long summer began and there was less going on to distract me, the truth began to bite. The words began to form in my mind: I think I'm gay' (pg. 7-8).
Although Sam does not claim to speak for everyone, he is able to speak from his own experience of what he calls same-sex attraction. He prefers to use the term same sex attraction because the term 'gay' is one that 'refers to far more than someone's sexual orientation' (pg.10).
Sam walks the reader through the Bible passages in an accessible way, and also gives advice for the person going through what he went through, as well as for someone trying to help another. The book is very short and could be read in a couple of hours.
The distinctive of this book, is that Sam believes the Bible is clear. 'Homosexual sin is serious,' he explains (pg.35). Many will not be surprised to hear a Christian say that, but Sam then goes on to give wisdom on how to live a fulfilling Christian life without sex. He looks at the value of singleness: 'Jesus himself was single and this is very significant. He was the most fully human and complete person who ever lived' (pg.52.)
To those used to considering sexuality from a secular perspective I suspect that this book could be challenging, from it's very title and premise. But to those who are looking for answers from within the Bible and Christian experience, I commend this book to you.
Available here, (www.thegoodbook.co.uk).
You may also like to visit the website www.livingout.org which Sam and others have created on the issue of same sex attraction. It contains many honest and helpful resources.
A second resource, which I have also read closely is 'The plausibility problem: the church and same sex attraction' by Ed Shaw. This is a longer and more demanding read which is probably best suited to those involved in some kind of ministry such as leading a home group, or for those who want to take more seriously the call to create genuine Christian community in church.
The back of the book says: 'Ed Shaw experiences same sex attraction, and yet he is committed to what the Bible says and what the church has always taught about marriage and sex. In this honest book he shares his pain in dealing with these issues- but, at the same time, shows us that obedience to Jesus is ultimately the only way to experience life to the full.'
For Ed, many local churches are not currently making the Bible's call to sexual purity seem plausible in this area. We have not valued enough God's gifts to us of true and deep community in church life, where we can be open about our struggles. Carefully he goes through the 'missteps' that he believes churches have made. For example, how we now believe: 'If it makes you happy it must be right' on almost everything (pg.62). He then seeks to provide some answers.
Ed's fear is not that people do not understand what the Bible says. It is that they don't believe that the church is creating a valid alternative for people seeking to live faithfully to scripture in this area.
I believe that this book is hugely significant if we are to avoid letting down those amongst us who experience same-sex attraction.
Available here, (www.10ofthose.com).
All books are also available to order from Cornerstone Christian Book Shop in Whitehaven.