My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Considering the fact homosexuality is evident in all aspects of American life, we shouldn’t be surprised at the number of Christians who deal with it as well. What is surprising is the lack of assistance available to such Christians, in spite of the growth experienced by the few ministries that do offer help.” (Joe Dallas, Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity, 24).
W.P. Campbell’s new book, Turning Controversy in Church Ministry, will help fill the gap Joe Dallas describes. Campbell is a pastor in the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church, USA), which has become more and more liberal in its acceptance of gays. (This is the denomination I spent my teen years in, and I remember hearing about the first heated debates about this in the 90s.) Campbell has been an active participant in these growing pains, and I respect his attempt to really understand what pro-gay theologians and activists have said.
Since he has obviously put in time researching this issue, and since he actually ministers to homosexuals, it lends enormous credibility to his position. He disagrees with the conclusions of pro-gay theology, and he believes that homosexuality behavior is a sin. But, that does not stop him from exhorting all churches to welcome, and minister to, the sexually broken.
I found his treatment of “sexual brokenness” to be especially helpful. We are all sexually broken, or messed up. Some of us are broken heterosexually, and some of us are broken homosexually. Christ came to heal our brokenness, not condemn us as hopeless perverts. Campbell makes the interesting point that the gay community is often called “the family.” It’s no coincidence that many people turn to homosexuality because they find a love there they never had in their own families. Sadly, they probably never felt this love in their churches, either. We need to focus on really, truly, loving others in our churches. We need to be honest about our own sexual struggles. Hopefully, that will create a culture of transparency, where those struggling with same-sex attraction will feel safe to open up and talk about their struggles.
Campbell has lots of wisdom and practical advice to offer in this book. I highly recommend it for all pastors, leaders in churches, teachers in Christian schools, and anyone who knows someone who is gay. Given the way our culture is deteriorating, you may be surprised at how many gay people you know, or how many people might be secretly struggling with same-sex attraction in your church, school, or family.