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Book Review of “Can You Be Gay and Christian” By Dr. Michael Brown

By: Jonathan Harris

Whether it’s a cake designer losing his business, a Christian organization changing its traditional view, or a Federal judge overturning a popular vote, it seems like every week the headlines are filled with stories about the normalization of homosexuality. In Dr. Michael Brown’s book Can You Be Gay and Christian, the light of Scripture is allowed to shine on this ever increasingly important topic. Brown doesn’t merely quote some Bible verses reinforcing traditional conservative views on sexuality. What we find as we examine Brown’s thoughts is that, behind every good point made, is a heart desiring to genuinely love the homosexual. This does not mean affirmation, but rather transformation. The sufficiency of Christ is the answer for all sinners, including the homosexual. With books coming out like God and the Gay Christian,  understanding the incompatibility between homosexuality and Bible is going to be an essential issue every Christian should think through in the coming years. Here are some choice quotes from Brown’s book.

This is the central argument being raised by gays and straights alike: love requires, even demands, that we recognize, embrace, sanction, and even celebrate committed same-sex unions.

Just as I have agonized over the stories of the Bobby Griffiths of this world, I have rejoiced over the stories of those who were once suicidal because they were living gay lifestyles—including “gay Christian” lifestyles—but who were delivered from suicide when they acknowledged their sin and turned to the Lord for forgiveness.

Actually, in the vast majority of cases, as suicide experts will verify, kids jump off bridges and hang themselves because they have other deep emotional or social problems. Otherwise they would not take their own lives. And yet rather than trying to get the root of these issues and really help these young people find wholeness, we are held hostage with the fear that our biblical values will lead kids to kill themselves. If we really care about these young people and if we really want to help them, this guilt tripping must stop.

But this is where so many well-meaning Christians have fallen into a trap: we have believed the lie that a person is primarily defined by their romantic attractions and sexual desires (as in, “I’m gay”).

You are more than your romantic attractions or sexual desires. You are more than someone attracted to the opposite sex or the same sex. You are created to be a child of God, a servant of the Lord Jesus, a world-changer and a history-maker in Him—and it is Jesus who tells us that the first step we must take in following Him is not to affirm ourselves but rather to deny ourselves.

One of the major roots of the problem we face when dealing with the difficult subject of homosexuality and the church: we start our thinking with the contemporary American value system that begins with, “It’s all about me,” which means that right and wrong is largely determined by how I feel about it. And then we weave the gospel into this, which is one reason we are in such spiritual error and deception today, not just in the area of “gay Christianity” but in so many other ways as well.

[Jesus] practices transformational inclusion, which I wholeheartedly advocate, not affirmational inclusion, which the GLBT community advocates.

The bottom line is that God doesn’t call us to heterosexuality as much He calls us to holiness.

That is a central problem with the “gay Christian” approach: it sees the Scriptures through the lens of homosexuality rather than seeing homosexuality through the lens of the Scriptures.

As for evangelical Christians being gay bashers, the fact is that the vast majority of evangelical churches in America rarely address the issue of homosexuality in any way—I’ve done surveys about this and examined lists of sermons and book and article titles—yet the popular perception is that we are obsessed with this subject and that on any given Sunday you are likely to hear an antigay, homophobic sermon. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It was only with the rise of an in-your-face gay activism that the church was forced to address these issues.

The issue is not the interpretation of the so-called “clobber passages,” which, as a sacred part of God’s sacred Word, are actually liberation verses, since embracing God’s truth sets us free. The issue is the testimony of the entire Bible, from beginning to end, and without a doubt, it is a heterosexual book—as one psychologist commented, “Our bodies tell us who we are—that humanity was designed and created for heterosexuality”—which is why marriage and family models in the Word are exclusively heterosexual.

So, the fact that Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time teaching against homosexual practice shouldn’t surprise us at all, nor does it prove anything. It would be like arguing, “It’s clear that President Reagan thought Martians were not a real threat to America, since he never mentioned Martians once, but he did talk a whole lot about the Soviet Union.” That’s true in part, but the reason Reagan never spoke about Martians was because he didn’t believe in Martians and so invasion from Mars was not a threat. The real threat was coming from the Soviet Union, and that’s where he put his emphasis. So, it would be ludicrous to say, “Ronald Reagan thought Martians were friendly.”                               

Let’s think about each of these points for a moment, recognizing that Paul’s writings—at most, thirteen letters, or even fourteen, if he wrote Hebrews—have been subjected to intensive scholarly scrutiny for many centuries, and those studying his writings have ranged from devoted followers of Jesus to skeptics and mockers. The range of interpretative differences between these scholars has often been massive, and some of the interpretations they have offered have been absolutely preposterous. Yet before the sexual revolution and the rise of gay activism, none of these scholars came up with these pro-gay reading of his writings.

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