Bed & Board – Review

Bed and Board: Plain Talk About MarriageBed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While parts of this book seem a bit dated (Fr. Capon tried a little too hard to be hip and relevant to the hippie generation), there are parts that are pure gold. Capon has the Solomonic perspective of Ecclesiastes, as he celebrates the absurdity of love, marriage, sex, and raising children. The whole thing is quite preposterous, really. He also revels in the deep mysteries of the Christian tradition, and shows how ancient dogmas like the Trinity really explain everything, especially that crazy little thing called love.

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Washed and Waiting – Book Review

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and HomosexualityWashed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is is possible to be “gay” and a Christian? “Yes!”, answer the many Christians who openly practice their homosexuality and condemn conservative Christians as intolerant homo-phobiacs. Is it possible to be a Christian and wrestle with homosexual attractions, with no end in sight, no prospect of “healing”? Wesley Hill’s painfully honest book, Washed and Waiting, shows that this is indeed a reality for many gay Christians.

Let me admit that I took some time to open up to Hill’s perspective. I come from the Jay Adams, “Nouthetic Counseling” approach, informed by testimonies from the ex-gay movement exemplified by Exodus International and writers like Joe Dallas and Anne Paulk. My research so far has encouraged me in the belief that the people I know and love who are struggling with homosexuality can find healing and release from what I believe is emotional and sexual bondage. Then I read Hill’s moving book. Hill confesses his long struggle with homosexual attractions, and shares some of his victories (and his defeats). But he says repeatedly that he is still “waiting.” For him, the temptations are still present and the daily battle is intense. I think what finally won me over was Hill’s brutal honesty, as well as his unrelenting search for answers.

Although this is Hill’s first book, he is not a lightweight. There is plenty of theological substance here to wrestle through (he is pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament at Durham University). I really appreciated how he did not simply pull out a few proof-texts against homosexuality. Rather, he showed how sexual desire, longing, and brokenness are part of the New Testament narrative of fall and redemption. He writes:

“In the end, what keeps me on the path I’ve chosen is not so much individual proof texts from Scripture or the sheer weight of the church’s traditional teaching against homosexual practice. Instead, it is, I think, those texts and traditions as I see them from within the true story of what God has done in Jesus Christ–and the whole perspective on life and the world that flows from that story, as expressed definitively in Scripture … I abstain from homosexual behavior because of the power of that scriptural story” (pg. 61).

Hill powerfully argues for celibacy as the only option for gay Christians who are waiting for healing. In our sex-saturated culture, this is one of the most helpful parts on the book. We sometimes forget that Jesus Christ lived and ministered as a single, celibate man.

I’m very thankful for Wesley’s willingness to share his struggles with the world. Anyone who wants to understand how to better minster to those struggling with sexual brokenness needs to read this book!

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.)

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Questions on Homosexuality

Here are some questions a former student (now in college) sent me, to help him write a paper.

1. What do you think about the homosexual lifestyle in general?

As Christians, we must always submit our views to Scripture, as interpreted by the Church throughout history.  I’m sure you don’t need me to quote Bible verses, but here are some for quick references which clearly show that homosexuality is not God’s plan (Lev. 18:22; Gen. 18-19; Jude 6-7; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). 

2. As a teacher at a very conservative and traditional Christian school, what do you think about Liberal education(teaching complexity, diversity, and change)?

We’d have to more clearly define “liberal” if I were to give a complete answer.   But, here’s an imprecise answer, anyway.  Christians believe in “complexity, diversity, and change”–God is complex, His Word is complex, we are complex.  God is One God in Three Persons (Diversity!).  God “changes” us through Christ.  We are continually changing to be more and more like Him.  Christians can accept all the good things that liberalism is striving for (provided it is really “good”!) 

What’s more, I can’t help pointing out that liberalism can’t live up to its own ideals.  The central belief of liberalism (I’m using the term quite loosely here, I know), as opposed to conservatism is TOLERANCE.  But, liberals have a double standard here.  They preach tolerance, they enforce tolerance, and they punish anyone who doesn’t agree with their version of truth.  Because conservatives do not coform to the liberals’ view of what truth is, liberals do not tolerate conservatives.  Liberals are really quite intolerant people, if you look at it from the other side.  So, we’re all going to be intolerant of some things.  It’s not a question of whether we will be intolerant, but of which things/behaviors/actions we are not going to tolerate! 

But, I also don’t like most conservatives either–they’re just trying to “conserve” things (like “traditional morality” or “traditional marriage”) without any firm foundation to base it on.  So I think both liberals and conservatives have missed important truths, that only truly Biblical Christianity can provide a basis for.

3. Where do you see homosexuality in the future? Legalized marriage? Adoption rights etc.

I actually think homosexuality will become more and more common.  I think this because (1) the factors which tend to cause homosexuality are increasing (like broken families, child abuse, and unhealthy parenting), (2) the militant liberals of our country are pushing (and suceeding) in implementing educational curricula that teach the acceptabilty of homosexuality from the earliest ages (I’m sure you can find all sorts of juicy material on Obama’s “education czar,” and other evidence of the agenda which is being pushed in the public school system.

Yes, I think gay marriage will become legalized eventually in our country (unless our country changes dramatically!).  But, I have a somewhat radical view on this–I don’t think the government should be this involved in marriage in the first placeGod defines what marriage is.  Marriage is a covenantal reality which is solmenized by the Church.  Perhaps a representative of the government should be at a wedding, but I’m more of a libertarian on the role of the government–scale it way, way back!!!

4. What is your response when or if you have seen a gay couple holding hands or kissing etc.?

When I first saw this sort of thing in public, I was a bit shocked, just like when I first saw really gory death scenes in movies.  Now, after knowing people who struggle with same-sex attraction, I feel more pity and sadness than anything (though I admit when I first saw these behaviors, I was a bit repulsed by it.)  But, now that I realize what tragic histories many homosexuals have, I hope I have more of the compassion of Christ, rather than the self-righteous indignation of the Pharisee.

5. What do you think the cause of homosexuality is in terms of Christian views and biblical teachings?

I believe the cause of all disorders is sin.  How’s that for a simplistic answer! 🙂  First, I think we need to approach the issue with love and humility.  We are all sinners.  We are all inclined to disobey God’s will, and turn away from his perfect plan.  God clearly created a Man for a Woman.  This is seen not only in Genesis, but also in the most basic design of our body parts.  When homosexuals turn away from God’s plan for sex, they still end up copying it in some respect (or they do bizarre and strange things, instead).

Back to the question about liberals and how they celebrate “change” and “diversity”–what’s diverse about homosexuality?  The Greek (had to bring that in!) behind the word means, “same sex”.  This isn’t diversity, this is boring sameness.  God’s original design is incredibly diverse and complex!  My wife is just plain different, not to mention complex!  I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure her out, and I look forward to this exciting journey. Homosexuals usually mimic this God-designed pattern (with one of the pair acting more “male” and one more “female”). 

The books I’m reading, point out obvious flaws with the studies that claim to have found a genetic cause for homosexuality.  They even quote from some of the scientists involved in these studies (as well as studies that claim to have found biological causes or traits–differences within the ears, longer fingers, etc.)  Even if science conclusively proves that all homosexuals have some gene which disposes them to same-sex attraction, what does this prove?  Alcoholics may be genetically predisposed to alcoholism!  Rapists might be genetically predisposed to rape!  What if they find a genetic cause for pedophilia???  My genes predispose me to lust after every hot babe I see–does this mean I should just do what my genes (or my hormones) are urging me to do?  Plenty of homosexuals have turned away from a homosexual lifestyle.  There are even secular therapists who will do what they call “reparative therapy” for homosexuals who don’t want to be homosexual. 

Some homosexuals themselves don’t like the gene theory.  Anne Paulk writes:  “Consider this recent [not so recent!] quote from Peter Tatchell of the gay rights organization Outrage!: ‘I’m amazed that it’s taken this long to destroy what is obviously a totally implausible theory.  It is a choice and we should be glad that it’s that way and celebrate it for ourselves.'” (the footnote cites, John Arlidge, “No Tears for Passing of ‘Gay Gene,'” The Observer [April 25, 1999].)

People are complex beings!  We will probably never know what “causes” homosexuality.  However, it is is interesting that (at least for lesbians) many of them have abusive backgrounds, parents who did not have a healthy marriage, or some trauma in their life (death in family, or adoption at a later age).  We are all broken by sin.  We all have an emptiness that only God can fill.  Some of us choose to try and fill it with Playboy Bunnies, lots of girlfriends, or lots of guyfriends.  Some of us try to fill it with drugs or alcohol.  But, this only numbs the pain.  Only when we turn to Christ, and repent of trying to replace Him with the things He has made, only then can we truly enjoy the good gifts He wants to give us (like alcohol or sex).  [Of course, someone could also try to replace Christ with an idolatrous love of their wife/husband, kids, car, or whatever.  But, that’s another topic …]

6. Anything else you would like to add or tell me about with this issue?

I’m glad you’re taking the time to think through these things, and I’m humbled that you think my opinion is worth asking 🙂  Here are the books I’ve been reading on this subject lately:

Exodus International – a good web-site

Joe Dallas (a former homosexual) – When Homosexuality Hits Home

Joe Dallas – Desires in Conflict

Anne Paulk (a former lesbian) – Restoring Sexual Identity

Janelle Hallman – The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction 

In Christ,

GS

Stop Child Sex Slavery Now!

Stop Child Trafficking Now! – Slavery still exists.  Sexual exploitation of children is rampant throughout the world.  Each year, thousands of enslaved and sexually exploited children are brought into the USA!  Virtually no one in the US has been convicted of child trafficking in the last 10 years.  Get involved–your salvation may depend on it (Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-13).