Yesterday, Pastor Nate noted what a significant impact the Yuans had on our congregation while they were with us. Today, we wanted to start a short series of posts to follow-up from what they had shared, with the hopes of putting helpful resources on your radar–to encourage you if you experience same-sex attraction yourself and/or to help you care for your brothers and sisters in Christ who do.
Books Recommended By Christopher Himself
During his time with us, Christopher Yuan mentioned two resources that he most recommended for understanding same-sex attraction and how the gospel speaks to it. I (Gabe) have read and summarized the major thrust of each of these books in hopes that you’ll put them on your reading list. They are worth your time and will strengthen our church family in an often neglected and misunderstood arena of struggle.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith (Crown & Covenant, 2012): In her brief memoir, Rosaria recounts her unexpected and emotionally-traumatic conversion. As a tenured professor at Syracuse University, she proudly fought for women’s and LGBT rights through academic pathways. But, an unexpected letter from a gracious Presbyterian pastor (and a critical book project on the Religious Right) led to friendship and eventually, conversion. But the journey was hardly a smooth one! In this gripping testimony, Rosaria peels back the layers of her mind so that you can see the tumultuous journey of a woman caught in the struggle to understand her own heart and the transforming power of Christ. She speaks boldly of the ugliness of sin and the beauty of the gospel. But, the best take-away for me was that she painted a vivid (though, tactful and appropriate) portrayal of the thoughts and feelings of being a homosexual as Christ turned her world upside down. Her story helped me to stand in her shoes and better understand the painful, yet-life-giving journey that takes place when Christ saves His people from sexual sin.
Sam Allberry, Is God Anti—Gay? And Other Questions About Homosexuality, the Bible, and Same-Sex Attraction (The Good Book Company, 2014): In this primer, Sam analyzes what the Bible says about homosexuality, as well as sex, marriage, and singleness. He begins by sharing his own experience of coming to know Jesus, and how that knowledge intersected with a growing awareness of his own sexuality. He stays tethered to the gospel throughout the book and boldly articulates its implications for all believers, including those struggling with same-sex attraction (SSA). After presenting a biblical case for sex and marriage, he addresses the Bible and homosexuality, noting that the Bible is not fixated on homosexuality. In fact, God condemns several other sins found in Sodom just as much (if not more) than homosexuality. All sin is serious to God, including sexual sin. As sinners reject God, they find themselves craving all sorts of perversions, whether heterosexual or homosexual. While such sins are serious and evidence of God’s judgment, they are nevertheless escapable through the grace of God. Christians who are struggling with SSA can find strength in the power of Christ as they navigate those confusing waters. He offers sympathy and hope as he points his fellow strugglers toward Jesus Christ; and calls them to holiness through living in spiritual community while embracing singleness and abstinence. He also calls the church to be a place of spiritual healing and intimate community for those struggling with SSA. The book is brief and informative, yet loaded with practical, gospel truth! It’s worth your time.
Peter Hubbard, Love Into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual, and the Church (Ambassador Int’l, 2013). Hubbard writes from the vantage point of a pastor whose church compassionately embraces those struggling with same-sex attraction. That is not to say they approve of homosexuality. He offers clarity on the situation and fresh hope to battle-weary believers who need grace and truth. He challenges the church to be a loving community where sinners can find strength in living out the gospel together. His prayer, which shapes the entire book, is that “God’s people would be drawn out of the shadows and into the light of Jesus Christ through the love of His people… so we can fight sin and rejoice in God’s powerful grace together.”
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan, 2010). Hill writes from the deep struggles of his battle with same-sex attraction and his understanding of the gospel. His book is most profitable for better understanding the heartache of those struggling with SSA. However, it’s clear that he’s still on a journey of understanding his identity in Christ, though he emphasizes his new identity at several points. He embraces the gospel and a life of celibacy, and seeks community in the church. But, he refers to himself throughout the book as a “gay Christian,” which I think is unhelpful and confusing terminology. He’s trying to avoid minimizing the struggle with homosexual feelings, but it would have been better had he referred to himself as “a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction.” For that reason, my recommendation is qualified, but I still think the book has tremendous value for helping the church understand the deep pain and unfulfilled longings of our brothers and sisters struggling with SSA. You might be surprised where you find common ground!
Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abingdon, 2001). This work is beefy—but one of the most thorough, exegetical and theological treatments of the subject. Gagnon engages both sides of the issue and deals honestly—and faithfully—with the biblical text. If you’re looking for an intensely academic approach to every passage that deals with this topic, then look no further than this robust volume.
“Ten Ways to Love Your Transgendered Neighbor” by Denny Burk
“Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken” by David Powlison
“What If Your Child is Gay?” by Russell Moore
“Singleness is Not a Curse” a Podcast with Christopher Yuan
“How Can Churches Engage Believers and Unbelievers Who Experience Same-Sex Attraction?” a series of four videos that have very helpful wisdom
“Hope Positive” a ten-minute video of Christopher’s testimony