Too often, opinions about how the Church should respond to homosexuality fall into two diametrically opposed camps: one side urges us to cast aside, or at least downplay, what the scriptures and the Church have taught for two thousand years in the hope of “saving the brand.”
While the other side is closer to a biblically orthodox perspective, their rhetoric and thinly-if-at-all-disguised repugnance make it likely that a person struggling with same-sex attraction would feel unwelcome and unwanted in their midst.
The lack of commitment to the truth on one side and a self-righteous lack of compassion and grace on the other is why I’m really excited about a new book, Love Into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual, and the Church by Peter Hubbard.
The first time Hubbard counseled a man struggling with same-sex attraction, he wondered how, if at all, he could help him. After all, “Aren’t we supposed to be enemies? Aren’t we told that my theology of sexuality is ‘toxic’ to him, and that his lifestyle is destructive to everything I believe in?”
Based on the rhetoric of the various parties in the culture wars, the answer to these questions was “yes.”
But thankfully, Hubbard and the young man were able to relate to each other as people, not as representatives of warring factions. As he listened and learned about the man’s “fears, joys, failures, and victories,” he realized that they shared one essential thing — “our daily need for the grace of Jesus.”
I say “essential” because, as Hubbard documents, so much of what people with same-sex attraction are struggling with is the message that these attractions define who they are as people. This message is inadvertently reinforced by the way many Christians regard them and even refer to them as “those people.”
As Hubbard writes, what we all are is “marred image bearers.” We have all “turned aside” from the worship of God and instead we worship idols. When Romans 1 refers to homosexual acts, it is citing an obvious example of how this idolatry inverts God’s intentions for his creation, but not to mark this sin as particularly grievous.
Just as we are all “marred,” we have all been promised what Hubbard calls a “new identity,” a God-given one. As Hubbard says, “The gospel of Jesus is not an invitation to do better or try harder; it is a death certificate that unfolds into a new birth certificate, providing us with a renewed identity!”
And just as all Christians have been promised a new identity, we are all called to “struggle together. ... Our new identity does not preclude temptation or hardship. Old cravings still hunt and haunt us.” But we are not in this alone.
Perhaps the best part of the book is Hubbard’s discussion of celibacy and marriage. For the Christian, neither marriage nor celibacy is an end in itself. Instead, they are the settings in which we are transformed into the image of Christ. Suffering and sacrifice play a central role in both callings. In fact, both are callings to suffer.
Our failure to acknowledge this places those with same-sex attraction in the role of designated sufferers while everyone else gets to enjoy the good life. Can you blame them for recoiling from the message?
There’s so much more in the book I could tell you about. Time doesn’t permit, so let’s leave it at this: Please come to BreakPoint’s online book store at BreakPoint.org and get yourself a copy of Love into Light today. Read it. And please, share it with others.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Publication date: September 16, 2013