What Does The Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?, by Kevin DeYoung
Like many contemporary writers, against my own personal inclinations I have felt it necessary from time to time to write about homosexuality , and one gets the sense that the writer is in the same boat I am. In this particular case, the author’s tendency to pick a rather narrow field that is not necessarily unique is a winning strategy, because it allows this book to be taut and focused and strongly biblical and exegetical in its approach. Given the heated nature of the feelings that exist about this subject and about the larger question of biblical relevance in contemporary society, the author’s approach is for the best, and successfully handles issues of whataboutism as well as worthwhile points as to the connection between approving what God clearly hates and holding to a generally liberal worldview about the Bible that views scripture as having little relevant to say about contemporary problems. Again, although I have found much to be critical about in the author’s writings as a whole, this book is certainly one which I can wholeheartedly approve of not merely for its doctrinal positions but also, somewhat surprisingly, for its kindness and gentleness.
This short book of around 150 pages is divided into two parts. In the first part of the book, the author concisely presents the biblical position on homosexuality. He begins by looking at the biblical ideal of one man and one woman joined together in a complementary fashion into one flesh from Creation (1), continues with a discussion of the notoriety of Sodom and Gomorrah in scripture and in extrabiblical writings of the Second Temple period (2), takes the “strange” book of Leviticus and its prohibitions seriously (3), moves on to a discussion of Paul’s condemnations in Romans (4), and then looks at how Paul cites the Hebrew scriptures in the new circumstances of NT Christianity in places like 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1 (5). The second part of the book is devoted to answering objections to the biblical position towards homosexuality and also includes various supplementary material. This includes defeating arguments about how the Bible apparently barely mentions homosexuality (6) and attempts to defend loving and committed relationships as not being the sort of homosexuality that the Bible condemns (7). It also includes dealing with the whataboutism of questions of gluttony and divorce (8), the longing for the church to be a place for broken people (9), triumphalist beliefs that traditionalists are on the wrong side of history (10), the lack of supposed fairness implicit in there being no legitimate way to practice same-sex desires (11), and claims that God is a God of love and not burdensome restrictions on personal behavior (12). The book also contains a conclusion about walking with God and with each other in truth and grace and three appendixes about same sex marriage, same-sex attraction, and ten commitments concerning the Church and homosexuality as well as an annotated bibliography, acknowledgements, and a scriptural index.
Again, in stark contrast to the majority of the author’s writings, this book demonstrates a firm fidelity to scripture, an awareness of relevant extrabiblical literature that can be used to support a strong biblical case, awareness and an interest in the proper understanding of contentious words in the koine Greek of the New Testament, and a graciousness towards whom the author disagrees. With a mild approach like this one, the author may be capable of winning over people through persuasiveness rather than merely trying to club people with his preferred interpretations. Before reading this book I would not have suspected that the author was capable of handling such delicate and contentious matters in such a winsome fashion, but this book surprised me for the better. That is not to say that this book will be popular with those who adopt a liberal Christian approach to trying to abandon the Bible’s clear teaching because of its odious nature among the fallen and reprobate and because it cuts against our own desires to follow the dictates of our own deceitful and wicked hearts, but this book does what it sets out to do and does it well, making it an essential read in wrestling with the biblical position on homosexuality and its implications.
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