In the late 1970s, as a new Christian, I was told I should always be ready to defend the historicity of the resurrection. And that was helpful. At other times, the apologetic priorities have been about defending our belief in the Bible, answering arguments about evolution, or justifying faith in the face of extreme evil or suffering. In reality, we should always be ready to address all these issues.
But today, the charge of homophobia may trump all other defeater beliefs. If we’re seen as one of those anti-gay bigots, any discussion about the gospel may get dismissed out of hand before we can ever get to any compelling evidences for the resurrection, any testimonies of sufferers who still love Jesus, or any personal copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls we might happen to have in our back pocket. If we don’t know what to say when we’re accused of homophobia, we may be in big trouble.
Joe Dallas and Nancy Heche have authored a tremendous resource to help the church address the issue of homosexuality and they’ve done so with grace and compassion. Their personal stories set the tone but their experience of fighting against the tidal wave of gay-affirmation prevent them from naivety. (Joe lived a gay life for many years and attended a gay-affirming church. Nancy was married to a man for 25 years who led a double life as a homosexual and, eventually, died of AIDS. They both share their stories freely).
Their book, The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality: A Biblical and Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction attempts to be a “one-stop resource” for Christians who need and want to learn about homosexuality.
While no one book can tackle every aspect of this issue thoroughly, this one attempts and succeeds, I think, at introducing a wide range of topics. They go after theological, cultural, and personal issues about gay-theology, the history of the gay rights movement, and practical matters like counseling gays, helping gay teens, answering questions about gay marriage, hate crime legislation, transgender issues, and AIDS.
A friend asked me to recommend “just one book” on homosexuality and this was my first offering. He rejected it because it’s so huge. At almost 500 pages, it could scare off most readers. But, at only $12.63 on Amazon, it’s the best page-per-penny-ratio item on the topic and, as a mini-library, people can read only the sections that most apply to their situation. I still recommend it, despite its size.
Whether you buy this or any book on the topic, I recommend preparation for when the accusation of homophobia comes. Perhaps you’ll want to pave the way for a helpful discussion with something like this:
“You know, people have always thought Christians were insane about their views on sex. But they also thought Jesus was crazy too, so I’m not surprised. Following Jesus has always been counter-cultural. There may be more to this issue than just what we see in the news. Are you interested in seriously discussing it?”
We still need to know how to support our belief in the resurrection. But we also need to know how to express truth and grace about many other issues – even issues as potentially explosive as homosexuality. Let’s be prepared.