I've had another uptick in Starbucks appointments to talk about homosexuality, the Bible, how to be a loving church, and (the unavoidable connection) the politics of sex. Our view of what the Bible teaches is very clear, so that's where the conversation begins (just search the topic in my blog sidebar). Its also always important for me to share that we don't think our view of homosexuality is essential to the good news of Jesus, nor to being a part of our church. Its a non-essential issue of Biblical interpretation, though a tough one (I continue to find) over which to 'agree to disagree in love.'
I just finished reading THE BEST BOOK on the subject (it helped that its a beautiful morning to be reading on my back deck). If you care about this issue, if you have same-sex attracted friends whom you love, if same-sex attraction is your own orientation, BUY THIS BOOK NOW. Its by Wesley Hill:
This book is not primarily argumentative or biblical commentary. It is personal story of a gay man who loves Jesus, finds the Bible to teach that same-sex actions are against God's best for him (i.e. sinful), and aims to faithfully follow Jesus as a gay man who is called to ministry. Along the way he deals with subjects like 'what the Bible teaches about homosexuality' and 'is my attraction nature or nurture,' and all the other major questions that attract so much heat.
You'll find some of his views not easily categorized (for instance, like me, he thinks there is an inborn aspect to same-sex attraction for many). This book is most helpful to me as a heterosexual in its examination of the cost of discipleship, the suffering involved in following Jesus in this world, for everyone no matter what their burden is. As a church leader, its helpful to me for the insights into making the church a safe place for people like him to wrestle with faithfulness amidst their struggle, without begin rejected because their struggle is with sexual identity.
Here's a bit from the book jacket. Go get this book, and perhaps you and I will discuss it someday over a cup of Pike Place at Starbucks:
'Gay,' 'Christian,' and 'celibate' don't often appear in the same sentence. Yet
many who sit next to us in the pew at church fit that description, says author
Wesley Hill. As a celibate gay Christian, Hill gives us a glimpse of what it
looks like to wrestle firsthand with God's 'No' to same-sex relationships. What
does it mean for gay Christians to live faithful to God while struggling with
the challenge of their homosexuality? What is God's will for believers who
experience same-sex desires? Those who choose celibacy are often left to deal
with loneliness and the hunger for relationships. How can gay Christians
experience God's favor and blessing in the midst of a struggle that for many
brings a crippling sense of shame and guilt? Weaving together reflections from
his own life and the lives of other Christians, such as Henri Nouwen and Gerard
Manley Hopkins, Hill offers a fresh perspective on these questions. He advocates
neither unqualified 'healing' for those who struggle, nor their accommodation to
temptation, but rather faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. 'I hope this
book may encourage other homosexual Christians to take the risky step of opening
up their lives to others in the body of Christ,' Hill writes. 'In so doing, they
may find, as I have, by grace, that being known is spiritually healthier than
remaining behind closed doors, that the light is better than the darkness.'