Let’s be honest: many Christians have done a poor job of showing love to the homosexual community and to those among us who deal with same-sex attraction. Far too many have used particular verses to hammer people into submission, rather than explain the Bible’s position on sexuality as a whole.
That’s why we need books like Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry. In this short book, Allberry explains the biblical view of sexuality and addresses many of the common questions people ask about homosexuality. But more than that, this is a book about the gospel, and King Jesus’ call demands upon the life of all who claim to follow Him.
This is an important book for Allberry to write. He’s is a pastor in the United Kingdom. He believes the Bible is true and authoritative in all it teaches.
He’s also a man who deals with same-sex attraction. So, as you can imagine, he knows about that which he writes. There’s a real sensitivity in his approach, both from a pastoral perspective and also from that of one who has had to wrestle deeply with these issues.
There are two areas that I personally found incredibly significant. The first is dealing with our tendency to place too much or too little emphasis on a given subject. When it comes to homosexuality, many want to take the (relatively) few references made to it and declare that it doesn’t matter. But, Allberry writes, “The Bible does not frequently make direct reference to how we are to care for creation, but that does not let us off the hook from following what is said in the places where it does.”
Likewise, we need to remember that the Bible isn’t fixated on homosexuality, despite how the media portrays Christians to be. “[Homosexuality] is not what the Bible is ‘about’… [and] what the Bible says about homosexuality does not represent everything God wants to say to homosexual people; it is not the whole message of Christianity.”
Allberry wants Christians to be balanced in their approach to the subject. We are to take it seriously because universally it is condemned throughout Scripture. There are no loop holes, no exceptions whatsoever. And yet, this is not the end of what we are to say.
In fact, this is what too many of us miss. We spend a great deal of time explaining the sin part and wind up failing to show that the gospel is bigger and better. “As society moves further and further away from its Christian moorings, the church is given more and more of an opportunity to model a counter-cultural alternative,” he writes. We have the opportunity to show the world something better. And we do it by being clear on our message and lavishly generous in our relationships.
This, I believe, is the key: when it comes right down to it, how we love one another within the church, especially those dealing with same sex attraction, is what will get people’s attention. It’s easy to write off someone you don’t know as a bigot; it’s a lot harder to do that to someone who has demonstrated great love for others.
There’s no doubt that if you raise concerns about same-sex marriage today, you’re in for a whole heap of trouble.
I live in Canada, where it’s been legal for nearly a decade (it was pushed through in an outgoing Prime Minister’s misguided attempt to create a legacy for himself). While society as a whole certainly hasn’t crumbled around us—and, for the time being at least, polygamy and pedophilia are still crimes—if you oppose homosexuality (even considerately) it is risky business. Say the wrong thing to the wrong person and you’re likely to be facing the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
That’s the world we live in now—one that pressures us to back away from a biblical view of sexuality, to fudge on what the Bible actually does say about sex and marriage. And make no mistake, many do compromise. “Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality, so obviously it wasn’t an issue for him,” suggest some. “If you’re going to appeal to Leviticus, why aren’t you stoning people who eat shellfish and wear poly-cotton blends?” say others. The Bible is homophobic, outdated and needs to be set aside in favor of “the new thing God is doing.”
Allberry refuses to go there—he is unwilling to compromise on what the Bible says, even when it might be convenient for him. Instead, he reminds us of the simple truth: “God’s message for gay people is the same as his message for everyone. Repent and believe.”
This is what we need to remember: Is God anti-gay? Not exactly. God is anti-sin. He is against all sin that is committed by his image-bearers, not simply homosexuality. God hates gluttony, gambling, and gossip, too.
But the blood of Christ is sufficient to cover even the worst of sins. Homosexuals aren’t a special class of sinner outside the reach of the grace of God. In Is God Anti-Gay?, Allberry does a tremendous job of equipping Christians to think biblically about homosexuality and, Lord willing, to use what they know to reach the homosexual community with the love of God and see them, like all sinners, “repent and believe.”
Title: Is God Anti-Gay?: And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible and Same Sex Attraction
Author: Sam Allberry
Publisher: The Good Book Company (2013)