Book Review: Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill

Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill

There are few subjects touchier than the question of homosexuality and Christianity.

In recent years, in order to shift the portrayal of Christians as vicious homophobes, many mainline denominations have fully embraced homosexual practice as compatible with Christianity, as have some in “post-evangelical” circles, such as Tony Jones.

Given the enormous pressure to affirm and embrace homosexual practice, it can be really tempting to go along with it, or worse to give unsatisfying, pat answers to hard questions about Christian faithfulness and homosexuality.

So what do you do if you earnestly believe that God’s Word is true, and what it says about homosexuality is in fact the truth?

What if you truly believe that homosexuality is a serious sin as outlined in Scripture?

And what do you do if you believe it—and you’re gay?

Wesley Hill seeks to answer that question in Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. What qualifies him to do so?

It’s his struggle.

Washed and Waiting tells Hill’s story of seeking to be faithful to Christ while struggling with homosexuality; at the same time it provides an encouragement to gay Christians who are convinced that “their discipleship to Jesus necessarily commits them to the demanding, costly obedience of choosing not to nurture their homosexual desires” (p. 16).

Hill does a wonderful job of ministering to readers while at the same time strongly affirming the Scripture’s clear teaching on homosexuality. Throughout the book, he never relents on the point that homosexuality is a sin—a result of the fall of man.

And the hope offered to all who deal with same-sex attraction is the same that is offered to all who “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23): the gospel.

He describes himself as one who is “washed and waiting,” drawing upon imagery from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Romans 8:23-25. Those who put their faith in Christ have been washed, sanctified, justified and they wait eagerly for their adoption as sons and the coming of Christ’s kingdom in its fullness.

It’s this hope, seeing all of life in light of what Christ has done and who He makes us to be, where Hill finds the answer to the question of why can’t one be a practicing homosexual and a Christian.

Seeing life in light of the gospel—of confidence in the forgiveness of sins, of our frustration with our stumbling and pain in putting our sins to death, of belonging to God and to the corporate body of Christ, and of long-suffering endurance in partaking in His sufferings—these are the most compelling reasons to believe what Scripture says about homosexuality, explains Hill.

“[The] struggle isn’t a mindless, unobserved string of random disappointments . . . And faithfulness is never a gamble. It will be worth it. The joy then will be worth the struggle now,” he writes (p. 79).

Unfortunately, as he’s experienced, the life he describes is one that is incredibly lonely. There’s a great temptation for homosexual Christians to pull away from any non-erotic same-gendered relationship for fear of it becoming something inappropriate. As a result, Hill (and many others like him) spent years trying to bear his burden on his own. “My very longing for loving, affectionate, yet nonsexual, relationships with persons of the same sex had paradoxically led me to shrink back from those relationships,” he writes (p. 114). And correcting this, he says, requires a profound theology of brokenness.

“I have come to realize my need to take the New Testament witness seriously that groaning and grief and feeling broken are legitimate ways for me to express my cross-bearing discipleship to Jesus,” he explains (p. 119).

There is a time coming when all who believe will no longer struggle with brokenness and when we will stand in the presence of Christ. “But until that day, we groan in faithful anticipation. We long for the end of longing, the end of our loneliness” (p. 120).

I really appreciate how well Hill handles the subject matter. Reading the book, it was evident that he was desperately seeking to be accurate and faithful to the Scriptures, even as he was drawing out his application. As a result, the struggle he describes isn’t one simply about living as a homosexual Christian, although that is the immediate context—it’s about living as a faithful Christian while we all continue to struggle with sin.

So there’s a sense in which Hill’s struggles are my struggles. They manifest in different ways, but the root issue is the same: Sin. And in light of this, the question of whether or not someone can practice homosexuality and still be a Christian is revealed as the wrong one: The real question is whether or not someone can live an unrepentant life and still be a Christian.

And the answer to that is no.

Our lives are to ones of continual, ongoing repentance. To seek to live in light of who Christ has called us to be. I am grateful for the reminder that Hill has given me in this book.

In Washed and Waiting, Wesley Hill’s thoughtful and biblical attitude toward same sex attraction and Christian faithfulness is a shining example of the sufficiency of the gospel. Read this book and allow it to break your heart and renew your hope for those struggling with homosexuality.


Title: Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
Author: Wesley Hill
Publisher: Zondervan (2010)

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  • http://hereiblog.com/ Mark

    I’d love to read this book as I am interested and fascinated at the different approaches to homosexuality within the Christian community.

  • Chad

    Would definitely read.

  • Dave

    My church community is currently working through resources on this issue. I have appreciated the growing number of books dealing with this subject head on – this seems like another good one to add to the list!

  • http://raisetherisk.wordpress.com raisetherisk

    My husband and I work with youth-middle school to high school. His background is in mental health counseling definately goes hand in hand with youth ministry and meeting family/youth needs. I think this would be a good resource to look into and then adapt to working with teens who are struggling with homosexual temptations.

  • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

    Great responses so far, folks. Glad you’re all excited about the book :)

  • AWHall

    Would be a helpful resource for our church staff to work through – and is an issue that friends in ministry have faced.

  • http://www.mburt3.blogspot.com Melissa

    As a student in Social Justice and Peace at King’s University College, the idea of homosexuality and the church has arisen many times. Some of my professors have gone as far as to say that the verses in the bible that many have interpreted to be God’s judgement against the act of homosexuality are in fact not talking about the acts of homosexuality at all – and that the church needs to accept and embrace it because it isn’t wrong. Homosexuality is a confusing issue amongst the church, and amongst scholars, universities and society as a whole. The book would be helpful to me to better shape a theological belief about the issue of homosexuality, and allow me to be more bold in classes that demonize the Christian Church on the issue of homosexuality.

    Furthermore, the book would allow me to shape a different ideology about the nature of homosexuality. I have heard arguments that homosexuality can be a nurturer lifestyle, and at the same time it has the ability to be a “family disease” (I realize that sounds very negative) much like alcoholism can be passed on from generation to generation.

    Those are some of the reasons the book could be very helpful to me and to those I go to school with, work with, and live in community with.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mega1e Eric G Wan

    Coming from a similar background, I was deeply faithful to the Word of God and all the doctrines like Wesley from a young age. I know all sorts of references that condemn the practice of homosexuality. For example, Paul said “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: …nor men who practice homosexuality…” (1 Cor 6:9, ESV), and even the Old Testament “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Lev 18:22, ESV).

    I am a 19 year old guy from Vancouver, Canada. And being of Asian heritage, that also makes things complicated. From as long as I could remember until about grade 9, I was unconsciously attracted to guys. I often fantasized about them, and it got serious after puberty. Many factors came into play: though I wasn’t sexually abused, I had an absent father, and no male role model figure – it’s just as Wesley said. I hit puberty really late, not even knowing how anatomy worked until then. But after that, I began to really struggle with my orientation and lust just took over me. I was confused about myself. I just wasn’t attracted to girls like most guys. Though I thought some girls were attractive and hungered for companionship with them, I never had sexual desires. It could be the strict command of abstinence before marriage that gave me the conscience of not fantasizing about them. But since the drive was still there, I automatically turned to guys. I prayed and prayed that God will turn me right.

    And having believed that Jesus died for me, and received salvation and the Holy Spirit inside me, I was told again and again that a true Christian is transformed into a new creation. I hear all sorts of stories of repentance of how people have turned from their old ways of sin like lying, swearing, drugs, alcohol, etc. So I kept on wondering how is it that being a Christian, God has allowed me to develop lust in my heart for the wrong gender. I turned to the Bible for more help, and I couldn’t find anything except judgment and condemnation for this sin.

    I know being in the dispensation of grace that we are forgiven through faith and that God will love us no matter what. Jesus came to call sinners to repentance, right? After all, he ate with publicans and sinners and forgave them. I know for this fact that homophobia is not right. I will never know if the woman caught in adultery followed up Jesus’s command “go and sin no more.” I relate to Sam and Dan from Amazing Race season 15, who said they were respectful, non-explicit Christians who came out, but I can’t seem to know what to do right now. I once considered joining the LGBT community, but knew it wasn”t right. I am not a slave of sin and the world anymore, because I belong to Christ.

    I am scared to reveal any of this information to my family, friends, and people from church, not confident they will accept me. When I read this review, my eyes begin to sparkle. Could this be the answer of my prayer? God always works in His own time and I shall never comprehend his will. For the time being, I really pray that this book might aid me.

    • Tom

      Hey Eric.

      I have a very similar story as you do. I’d really like to encourage you to take the step and talk to someone about your struggle. when I did this, it made all the difference in the world – knowing that one person one this earth loves you and accepts you in your brokenness is HUGE! the first time I told someone, I was so scared and ashamed, but it was so freeing! The struggle is still just as hard, but the difference is that now I have someone to walk through it with. Whether you realize it or not, you desperately desire to trust other guys, but are too scared to do it. I know it is rough!

      I’m so glad that you did not join the LGBT community, I’m positive you would have regretted it. I had decided to do that about 6 months ago. but God did some amazing things in my life which stopped me from doing it! One thing that has been key in my struggle is seeing homosexuality as “just a sin.” it is not worse than adultry, selfishness, anger, drugs, disobeying your parents. it is all sin! and God forgives all sin! contrary to what many people say you are not a “worse sinner” than other people.

  • Tom

    I struggle with ssa and am trying to overcome it. I heard about this book and was told that it would be good for me to read it. I am really excited for it and think that it will help me to understand more about the struggle and how to surrender that to God.

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  • davestuartjr

    Hi Aaron,

    I’d love to read this, as I have several beloved friends who identify as homosexuals. Also, I think my readers at theothercriminal.wordpress.com could benefit from a review of it.

    -Dave Stuart Jr.

  • craighurst

    I work with teens so reading a book like this would help me better be prepared when this issues comes up. I know there are some teens in our youth group that have similar initial stories and know that it can happen to them as well.

  • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to tell me why you want a copy. I’ve selected the winners and am notifying them now via email. I’ll be announcing them to you all on Sunday.

  • http://bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

    The winners of the Washed & Waiting giveaway have been announced: http://wp.me/pscCj-1Uk

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  • http://twitter.com/jeremyers1 Jeremy Myers

    It was a good book. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one they sent a free additional copy to. I did the same thing and gave away a copy of it on my blog.

    BTW, I love your theme. *wink wink* (I use the same one).

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks Jeremy – Arras is a pretty good theme. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the book, by the way. Take care!

  • Wesley Hill

    Thanks, Aaron, for this thoughtful review. And thanks, too, to all you guys who have commented. I appreciate the interest in the book!

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for writing it, Wesley; it’s a great book and I’m hopeful that it will be a great help to many.

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