It happened a few years ago and I confess I was taken by surprise. I did not know what to do. One of the women in my church brought a young person to my Sunday school class. She sat there and listened as I presented the idea of the day and people in class began to participate. I encourage interaction. That’s the kind of teacher I am. Then the visitor spoke and made a good comment. The woman who brought her there stopped the discussion right there and introduced “Alex.” I did something stupid. I got uncomfortable because I was not sure how to address “Alex.” Alex looked like a girl somewhat and sounded like a girl, but Alex was dressed in boy’s clothing with a short haircut and could easily pass for a boy. After the class was over and I had a chance to speak to my wife about how I felt, I just felt so inadequate. Why did I struggle with this situation?
Kevin DeYoung’s book* is not about “trans” people; it is about homosexual people and his interpretation of The Bible regarding homosexuality. He is very adamant in his position: same sex intimacy is a sin.
In his discussion he poses many uncomfortable questions that people have to deal with. When a friend or family member announces they are homosexual, how does one handle that? If a child is struggling with feelings of confusion about same-sex attraction, how do they tell their parents? How do parents help their children with this situation? What if abuse is a factor in the confusion? Does that make it more complex? What if my church finds out about my struggle and I think they will be negative about my situation? What can I do for my friend who just confessed he is attracted to other men? As a Christian who believes in traditional marriage, should I attend my friend’s same-sex wedding? I have a lesbian daughter and she wants her partner to spend the night at my house. Should I allow that? I am not sure what The Bible says about sexuality specifically. Where do I need to go for answers? Can my pastor minister to people who are attracted to their own sex? How can I talk about this in public? Can any church help me find relational fulfillment and gospel purpose as a celibate man or woman with same-sex attraction?
These are all good questions and people who are in these situations need answers. Yet Kevin DeYoung’s book is not going to address questions like this because his premise is same sex intimacy is a sin. That is the foundation of his book and with that as a foundation, he claims that there is no confusion about what to do in particular circumstances. There are no easy answers for helping a person with these questions if they don’t know what The Bible teaches about homosexuality. Many Christians don’t feel the answers are easy anymore because the overwhelming majority of people in our culture accept homosexual behavior, but DeYoung is not writing for “many Christians.” He writes for those who think that same sex intimacy is a sin.
“Along with most Christians around the globe and virtually every Christian in the first nineteen-and-a-half centuries of church history, I believe The Bible places homosexual behavior—no matter the level of commitment or mutual affection—in the category of sexual immorality” [DeYoung, 17].
DeYoung then gets very direct with his readers. He figures there are three types of people in his reading audience, the convinced, the contentious and the confused. Let’s discuss each group.
The convinced are his readers who know that homosexual behavior is wrong. DeYoung [of course] argues this position but he knows that the self-righteous approach to this subject is very wrong. Calling others’ behavior a sin and acting sin-free is a recipe for disaster because all of us sin. If asked about this subject, a “convinced” person should be humble about their own fallenness. DeYoung points out some horrible mistakes people make with this subject: engaging in an conversation like it should be a theological “throwdown” will only elicit anger on the part of someone with a more positive view of homosexual intimacy. Anyone who is homosexual should not be treated like a project that needs to be fixed or a problem that needs to be solved. People need to be loved no matter what their sexual orientation. “‘Blessed are the pure in heart’ you say. Yes and blessed are the merciful and mournful too. If you walk away from this book angry and arrogant, disrespectful and devoid of all empathy, someone or something has failed. I pray the failure is not mine” [DeYoung, 18].
The contentious are those who react with frustration or hatred to any message not supportive of the homosexual lifestyle. DeYoung hopes that his book should not be used to change someone’s mind, or read just to get a feel for the opposite side of homosexuality. His hope is that all readers should have an open mind on this subject, especially those who are “contentious.” “Our feelings matter. Our stories matter. Our friends matter. But ultimately we must search the Scriptures to see what matters most. Don’t discount the messenger as a bigot if your real problem is with the Bible” [DeYoung]. I have been is public discussions of this topic and friends who are homosexual have been brought up. The argument is “they are some of the finest friends I have.” Family members who are homosexual have been brought up. “I love my family members unconditionally, (gay or not) and I support them completely.” I have even heard ad hominem attacks in support of accepting homosexuals in the church. What I don’t hear is a good discussion of the interpretation of Scripture.
DeYoung is really concerned that the confused are helped by his book. He is a pastor and he hopes he is making an intelligent defense of traditional Biblical marriage and traditional Biblical sexuality. He intends to open the Scriptures and make things more clear for those who may be thinking “Something seems wrong with these new arguments, but I can’t put my finger on it….Maybe the Bible doesn’t say what I thought….Maybe I need to give the Bible another chance….(or even) All my friends are saying one thing, and I’m not sure what to believe anymore” . DeYoung says to these folks, “Keep digging, Keep praying. Keep trusting that God’s word is clear, true and good” .
As I close this post, we must remember that homosexuality is a topic that is in the news today as denominations struggle with the role homosexuals can play in the church. The cultural climate right now makes this a newsworthy item today, when one turns to God’s word, homosexuality is hardly an issue at the forefront of the message of God for His people. So many issues today are divisive and so many in our culture can’t discuss divisive issues. This type of discussion can lead to hatred and extreme responses. So what do we do? We take sides and dig in…
The Convinced versus The Contentious.
DeYoung hopes there are many that need his help…The Confused.
*What Does The Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?