Part-Time Recommendation: Is God anti-gay?

Sam Allberry's short book Is God anti-gay?  is a great introduction to the key questions and concerns surrounding Christianity and homosexuality. Sam is a Christian pastor, speaker, and writer who is single and openly shares that he is same-sex attracted (HERE is a great introduction to his story and his teaching). This issue is one of the most pressing of our culture and it is also one of the most difficult and tough to talk about. I think Allberry's book provides one of the most accessible, practical, and biblical Christian voices on this topic.

Allberry's book answers the somewhat shocking question in its title with a direct response "God is not anti-gay." The rest of his short book (it is less than 100 pages) lays out his biblical reasoning:  God’s message for gay people is the same as his message for everyone: repent and believe. The Bible provides the foundation for this teaching – begun in Genesis, reinforced and expanded by Jesus and his Apostles in the New Testament. It is the same invitation to fullness of life in God, the same offer of forgiveness and deep, wonderful, life-changing love. Repenting and accepting God’s invitation is just as challenging to everyone as it is to gay people because it asks nothing less than a full-life commitment. 

Not just satisfied with an overview of the biblical teaching on sexuality and in particular homosexuality, Allberry takes time to speak to many of the practical issues as well. Much of the last third of the book takes up this project.

"All of us experience fallen sexual desires, whether those desires are heterosexual or homosexual by nature. It is not un-Christian to experience same-sex attraction any more than it is un-Christian to get sick. What marks us out as Christian is not that we never experience such things, but how we respond to them when we do."

Beyond the main chapters, many readers will find the book's sidebars on the most popular objections to Christian teaching extremely helpful:
  • Surely a same-sex partnership is OK if it’s committed and faithful?
  • Aren’t we just picking and choosing which Old Testament laws apply?
  • Can’t Christians just agree to differ on this?
  • Isn’t the Christian view of sexuality dangerous and harmful?
I found these questions to be answered with a mix of pastoral care, biblical integrity, and brevity. It's hard to find a resource on this subject that is able to be brief, speak to the heart, but also provide solid biblical thinking on the topic. To that end, this is an incredible resource.

I strongly recommend this book to all lay-Christians, teachers, and the average non-believer who wants to know about the Christian teaching on sexuality. For a practical introduction and overview of this topic, the book feels remarkably comprehensive. It provides solid biblical, theological, and practical answers without getting bogged down in the weeds of anthropology, biblical studies, or theology. It's not a great resource for academics or those hoping for a deep analytical dissection, but that's kind of what makes this so helpful for the lay person.

"The teaching of Jesus does two things: it restricts sex and it relativizes its importance. Jesus shows us that in its God-given context the value of sex is far greater than we might have realized – and yet even there it is not ultimate. Sex is a powerful urge, but it is not fundamental to wholeness and human flourishing. Jesus showed that both in his teaching and in his lifestyle. After all, Jesus – the most fully human of all people – remained celibate himself. The gospel shows us that there is forgiveness for all who have sinned sexually. And the gospel also liberates us from the mindset that sex is intrinsic to human fulfillment. The gospel call that no one need cast all their happiness on their sexual fortunes is not bad news, but good news It is not the path to harm but to wholeness"