Christianity and Homosexuality: A (Short) Reading List

In recent years, homosexuality has become mainstream in American culture.  This has been challenging to the Church on many levels. First, some believers have had a knee-jerk reaction, pronouncing fire and brimstone on any who practice homosexuality or tolerate it.  The gay person is never seen as anything more than their sin and outright rejected in the process.  On the other end are those who are part of the Christian community but want to encourage the Church to move on. Many times, they reason that because their gay friends are nice people, maybe homosexuality isn’t a sin at all.  In this regard, they read the Bible in such a way that what was once clear to their spiritual for-bearers just isn’t there for them.

In between those two broad positions falls most everyone else. For example, some believers who think that the Scriptures show homosexuality to be a sin are nevertheless working through ways of showing love and speaking the gospel to their gay neighbors. Others simply aren’t sure whether or not homosexuality is a sin. Listening to both sides, they wonder about what the Bible really teaches. Still yet, there are faithful Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin, but they themselves struggle with same-sex attraction. How are they to feel about themselves?  How are pastors and other Christians to council them, befriend them, and love them?

And this is just scratching the surface. Much like any issue, sometimes there are easy answers and other times there are not. In light of this complex topic, I want to offer a short guide to a handful of great resources. I’ve also offered some brief annotations to help you know what you’re getting. These are also aimed at the average reader who could get through most of these books in a week, making this short-term project for just about everyone. Furthermore, these books are listed in the order I think they should be read, moving from general to specific and truth to application.  I suggest these works believing that every Christian should work through them as they flesh out their own thinking about the Bible’s teaching and how they ought to live.

Sam Allberry, Is God Anti-Gay? (The Good Book Company, 2013).

Less than 90 pages, this is a quick introduction to all of the major issues surrounding the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and how Christians ought to respond to those who embrace such a lifestyle. The author is someone who struggles with same-sex attraction, making him an ideal person to offer a unique perspective.

Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?  (Crossway, 2015).

This book is a bulked-up version of Allberry’s work and is about double the size. DeYoung spends the first half of the book going deeper into the Bible’s teaching about homosexuality. Then, in the second half, he gives thoughtful answers to those who object to the Bible’s teaching or the Church’s position on this issues. This is a great, all around resource that is accessible to everyone.

Denny Burk and Heath Lambert, Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change (P&R Publishing, 2015).

This book is unique because it talks about those who are experiencing same-sex attraction and explores the differences between sexuality, temptation, lust, and sin. Burk and Lambert work at showing what real, gospel change should look like for any struggling with sin, but this one in particular.

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: Expanded Edition (Crown & Covenant, 2014).

This short book (also available as an audiobook read by the author) is part testimony, part theology.  It recounts the experience of Butterfield, a practicing lesbian who converted to Christianity and became a pastor’s wife. Both challenging and compelling, it is an excellent way to get inside the mind of someone seeing the world very differently from you.

Brad Hambrick, Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends (Cruciform Press, 2016).

This is one of those books that should not have had to be written, but I’m glad it was.  Hambrick writes to believers beyond mere theological discussions (as important as they are). Through this book, the author keeps a laser-like focus on helping believers understand the difficulty many have living a gay lifestyle and how we can befriend them.  At the same time, he reminds that our friendship isn’t based on an agenda as much our faithfulness to love our neighbor; even ones with whom we disagree.  Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk is another short book that packs a big punch.  It shouldn’t have had to be written because it’s something every believer should already be doing. But I’m glad we have a guide for those of us struggling to get it right.

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