Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Book Review: Yarhouse, "Homosexuality and the Christian"

By Eko Ong

Foreword: As a conservative Reformed Christian, my view on homosexuality is quite predictable: the Bible unequivocally teaches that homosexuality is against God's will and there is no indication whatsoever that such a value is culturally-dependent. Yet I also believe that we -the church- fail to minister to those who struggle with same-sex attraction. In the midst of the fierce propaganda from the activists, we may over-react and end up falling into the trap of self-righteousness or judgmentalism - forgetting that Paul also warned that all of us are "without excuse" (Rm 2:1, right after 1:18-32!!). I often listen to a group of Christians discussing this issue as if it were an abstract theological enigma that awaits a simple and definite solution, i.e. a mere "truth" matter. Yet many of us encounter this issue in the context of pastoral or relational setups. It involves real people with real (not abstract) problems/struggles. I once hear someone say in a discussion about this, "Well, we should stick to the "truth" and not let personal feelings get in the way ..." as if biblical truth were only propositional and could be abstracted from people. The dichotomy between truth and love is, in my opinion, unhelpful, and a negative by-product of rationalism of the Enlightenment which still infects the church until today.
Then how should we treat this issue in the context of counseling and relationship with those who struggle with homosexuality?  Is sexual "straightness" the only indicator of restoration in Christ for gays? How should the church (meaning all Christians) handle this issue? While this question does not allow an easy answer, I find Yarhouse's book a helpful tool to equip the church. Here is my take on it.