Dwelling In The Land: Bringing Same-Sex Attraction Under The Lordship of Christ, by Jeanette Howard
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]
About a decade ago I had the chance to write an article for a denominational magazine that sought to encourage those who were struggling against Same Sex Attraction (called SSA throughout this book) . I later wrote other articles for the magazine and its successor, which was based more broadly on struggling in general, about my own wrestling with the aftermath of early child abuse both under my name and anonymously. Some years after starting my own writing in this area, I had the opportunity to take a single’s cruise with other single members of my church, and when I referred to the magazine and its purpose, the response was one of incredible harshness, as if it was a corrupt and wicked thing to encourage brethren struggling against any sort of sin. The author, sadly, a writer who combines the empathy that springs from struggling for the last thirty years to remain celibate rather than indulge in her own inappropriate longings, is familiar with this problem, and writes about the struggle for believers to control sexuality in a world that encourages people to live in sin and pursue the carnality that comes naturally, without ever having had her own struggle removed from her, or ever having been provided a loving and compassionate husband. This is her third book; I have not read the other two, and this one follows after them in discussing the Exodus and the conquest of the land, by looking at the dwelling of the children of Israel in the promised land in the times of the Judges in particular, as being symbolic of the life of a Christian seeking to dwell in God’s ways despite the distractions and temptations of the world.
In terms of its contents, this book mixes personal discussion as well as the testimony of others, some of whose stories are told under their own name and some of them anonymously. The almost 300 pages of material in this book are divided into fifteen chapters in five sections. The first section of the book looks at the current state of Christianity and those who seek to encourage those struggling against SSA, with chapters about the post-Exodus Christian world, the contemporary fluidity of sexual identity, and the different responses to this reality within contemporary Christendom. The second section, on the clear and unambiguous biblical doctrine concerning homosexuality, contains chapters on hope, identity, and expectations, wants and needs. The third section examines the questions of believers and issues of submission to God’s laws and ways and will and the deliberate and conscious use of thanksgiving as a weapon against bitterness. The fourth section of the book looks at attitude and perspective relating to how we deal with God in the face of continued trials and difficulties. The fifth and final section of the book examines perseverance, scars, and the peace we find in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. After this comes a bibliography and some resources for those struggling with Same Sex Attraction.
For those who are struggling with SSA, this book has a lot to offer. It is written from a compassionate and empathetic perspective, it deals with the struggles of society, it puts questions of sin and identity in a larger perspective, including the struggle that believers feel when they are unmarried and struggle to remain continent and celibate in obedience to the laws of God despite their own longings. The reader who does not share the struggle of the author will find at least some encouragement in analogous struggles, but this book is really designed for those who are struggling with their own homosexual longings, and those who do not share that struggle are likely to find this book of worth mainly in the compassion it shows and encourages to others, as a lot of this discussion speaks about inside groups and somewhat unpleasant and awkward personal matters. There are a lot of books being written right now about the Christian response to the growing decadence relating to sexual sins , and each one is written from its own perspective. Together, they tell a tale of a society gone increasingly wrong, and the struggle it is for all of us to remain vigilant against sin while remaining compassionate to those who struggle with any kind of sin in a world that is tolerant to everything except righteousness.
 See, for example: