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IS GOD ANTI-GAY?

IS GOD ANTI-GAY
And other questions about homosexuality, the Bible and same-sex attraction

By Sam Allberry
www.thegoodbook.com, 91pp
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQPDKBU/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 kindle $5.99

Reviewed by David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
March 4, 2021

If you, like me, hope that one day before we die, we might wake up to find the Church talking about something other than homosexuality; say, arguments over the two natures of Christ, the deity of Christ or the bodily resurrection of Jesus, we might want to stand up and sing the Hallelujah Chorus.

But, as Francis Schaeffer reminded me years ago, if we don't fight the battle where the battle is being fought, then we will only beat the air with our words.

Homosexuality is tearing both Western culture and Western churches apart. The tear begins with the help of Western government money and Church money that encroaches on the Global South, specifically Africa, with devastating consequences. Homosexuality has successfully undermined mainline churches in America to the point that churches like The Episcopal Church, The United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, the Moravian Church, to name but a few, have split. Parts of those churches now embrace that which the Scriptures forbid and which the Church for 2,000 years has forbidden.

Homosexuality remains, whether we like it or not, the hot topic of the moment, if not of the last two decades. Evangelical Christians have fought what looks to be a losing battle. Because they are out of step with prevailing cultural attitudes towards pansexuality, evangelicals find themselves in a hostile world of woke culture that is increasingly sidelining and alienating them from the marketplace of ideas. Holding different views is now considered dangerous, damned dangerous. You can lose your job, your church, your family and much more.

Sam Allberry knows all about this. You see, he is a same-sex attracted (SSA) man, a theologian who lives a single, celibate life. He is not only okay with his life, he is living a positive, liberating life and he is not remotely interested in apologizing for it.

Is God Anti-Gay? is a short, very readable (pocket) book. It explores the whys and wherefores, refusing to dodge the hard questions of persons, like himself who experience same-sex attraction. Allberry delves into the Greek and Hebrew meaning of words and all the Old and New Testament portions of Scripture that deal specifically with the topic.

So, is God anti-gay? No.

But He is against who all of us are by nature, as those living apart from Him and for ourselves. He's anti that guy, whatever that guy looks like in each of our lives. But because he is bigger than us, better than us, and able to do these things in ways we would struggle to, God loves that guy too. Loves him enough to carry his burden, take his place, clean him up, make him whole, and unite him forever to himself, writes Allberry.

Allberry describes himself as a Christian who lives as a Christian with SSA. Alberry has met people who struggle with SSA, who are hostile to Christianity. He has met those who have experienced painful rejection but says that the more he looks at the Bible, the more convinced he is that what it says about sexuality makes most sense in light of what it says in general about sex and marriage.

Allberry digs deep into Scripture. He analyzes biblical accounts that liberals and progressives have use, read misused to support their position.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is often portrayed as an issue of failed hospitality. Not so, says Allberry. Sodom was accused of quite different sins: oppression, adultery, lying, abetting criminals and indifference to the poor. However, the word (yada) meant more than a quiet chat over coffee; the city was behaving badly and Jude 7 clinches it "...they gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." Sodom is clearly meant to be a cautionary tale. They are an example of facing God's judgement.

The two Leviticus Scriptures (18 and 20) talk of homosexuality as an abomination. They cannot be parsed away as 'cultic prostitution'. The language is not that specific, "lying with a man "as with a woman" make it clear sexual sin of a general nature that also included incest, adultery and bestiality. None of these have any connection with pagan temples or idolatry. These things are morally wrong, irrespective of who is doing them, and where they are happening.

Writing about St. Paul's concerns over homosexuality, the concerns are described as "unnatural". Why that language? The words for "natural" and "against nature" do not describe our subjective experience of what feels natural to us, but instead refer to the fixed way of things in creation. The nature that Paul says homosexual behavior contradicts is God's purpose for us, revealed in creation and reiterated throughout Scripture. "This is why it is not true for those with SSA today: "But God made me this way!" Paul's point in Romans 1 is that our "nature" (as we experience it is not natural as God intended it). All of us have desires that are warped as a result of our fallen human nature. Desires for things God has forbidden as a reflection of how sin has distorted me, not of how God has made me.

Allberry deals at length with all of Paul's statements and concludes that homosexual sin is not inescapable; "But you were washed, you were sanctified..."

Then we come to Jesus, a favorite of liberals who say Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.

Allbery cites Mark 7: 20-23. Jesus says there are things that make someone spiritually unclean before God. In this list, Jesus includes adultery, lewdness and sexual immorality. The Greek word porneia (from which we get the word "pornography") is a catchall-term for any sexual activity outside of marriage. None of Jesus' hearers would have doubted that his reference to porneia included homosexual behavior.

Allberry makes a firm distinction between SSA and acting out. Temptation is not sin. There is a right recognition that this is not how we are meant to be. Such feelings provide a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of the gospel. We could never be acceptable to God because of our own merits and actions. It is only "in Christ" that anyone is righteous in God's sight. (2 Cor. 5:21). And, wonderfully no experience of temptation, however unremitting it may seem, is ever a threat to that.

Allberry makes the point "that sexuality is not necessarily a static thing. Our desires at one stage of development may not be the same at another. I have met many men and women who have been through periods of SSA...only to discover that their desires eventually reverted to opposite-sex attraction.

"I believe that change is possible, but a complete change of sexual orientation is never promised in this life."

Allberry does not hesitate to address other pressing issues for those struggling with SSA. He writes of the necessity to seek the support of others; healthy singleness; being single as a "gift", the blessing of singleness, loneliness, isolation, sexual temptation and more.

His chapter on "Homosexuality and the church" is worth the book. We should welcome gay couples as we should welcome unmarried heterosexual couples into the church, "I would make a mental note that this will be an issue to think through with them in due course. Another way to put this is to say that I would rather start at the center and work outwards, than start at the edge and work in. The center is the death and resurrection of Christ. That is where God reveals himself most fully. Conversations about sexuality should take place in the context of the gospel rather than start with their sexuality and try to get them from there to the gospel. They need to know who Jesus is before being landed with what he requires."

Allberry's other points included, making it easy to talk about; honoring singleness; remembering that church is family; dealing with biblical models of masculinity and femininity, rather than cultural stereotypes, and above all provide good pastoral support.

Can't Christians just agree to differ on this? "The Bible allows for disagreements on certain issues. In Romans 14 Paul speaks about 'disputable matters' but homosexuality is not one of them. It is a gospel issue." One's salvation is at stake. Allberry puts it bluntly; "This is a gospel matter. If we allow this to be a matter of acceptable disagreement within our fellowships, Jesus will hold it against us. Some forms of tolerance are sinful."

He asks, "Isn't the Christian view of sexuality dangerous and harmful? Allberry recognizes that some people have been driven to despair and suicide, attributing their distress to real or perceived pressure from Christian disapproval of homosexuality. This is a real situation.

"The teaching of Jesus does two things. It restricts sex and it relativizes its importance. Jesus shows us that in its God-given context the value of sex is far greater than we might have realized--and yet even there it is not ultimate."

Allberry concludes his book with a chapter on "Homosexuality and the world". Our gay friends need to know that we are for them and not against them. We need to love them more than they love their homosexuality. Only then can we begin to point to the greater love that God has for them. We must at all times remember that the gospel doesn't define us by our temptations, but by the righteousness of Christ.

This book is a must read for any Christian involved in local church ministry to homosexuals or in personal friendships. It is probably the best book on the subject to date that I have read. It is real and sensitive, bold and biblical.

AN HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE:

1) homosexuality is not a stand-alone issue, but is part and parcel of the Sexual Revolution.

2) The Sexual Revolution started in exactly the same place as the French revolution — the highly promiscuous Palais Royale in Paris, under the Duc d’Orleans and later the Marquis de Sade, and later still Wilhelm Reich;

3) The stated purpose of the Sexual Revolution is to overthrow 3,000 years of civilization, and its main stated enemies to be overcome are the Church and parents (therefore sex ed at three and four).

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