The topic of homosexuality has reached an epidemic level in many Christian circles. We are seeing many people cave on this issue and give it up as if the Bible isn’t clear on this issue. In fact, it could be said that the issue of homosexuality among Christians is an issue because of how we view the Bible. The question around this debate is this, “Is the Bible clear on what it teaches about homosexuality? Or is it not?” Christians have long held to the authority, inspiration, inerrancy, sufficiency, and clarity of the Scriptures. The debate on this issue relates to the sufficiency of Scripture, which relates to the question of, “Do we have to practice what the Bible teaches?”, and, “Does it mean what it says about homosexuality?” In other words, “Is the Bible to be believed when it says homosexuality is wrong?” or, “Can we just make up our own interpretation of the relevant text and revise it to fit our own opinion?” This is what many people are doing. It’s also why a book like Kevin DeYoung’s new book What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? is so needed.
As readers of Servants of Grace know this issue is one I’ve addressed quite a bit over the years. It’s an issue I’m very familiar with as there is a large gay community in Seattle where I was born and raised. Even here in the Boise, Idaho, while not as pronounced (it seems to me) as Seattle, there is still a gay community presence here. When I write on this issue I get all sorts of questions and push back about it—more so than any other issue I write on. People genuinely want to know what the Bible teaches on this issue. This is why Kevin DeYoung wrote this book – to clear away this confusion. In part one, he sets forth the biblical teaching on marriage, as between one man and one woman. In part two DeYoung answers objections to the biblical teaching, he presented in part one. Here he tackles head on the revisionists who say that the Bible isn’t clear on homosexuality, “I don’t practice that type of homosexuality”, gluttony, divorce, the church is supposed to be a place for sinners, Christians are on the wrong side of history, your position on homosexuality isn’t fair, and the God of the Bible is “only” a God of love.
The book concludes with a call to faithfulness to the Word of God. DeYoung here says, “Faithfulness is ours to choose; the shape of that faithfulness is God’s to determine. In our time, faithfulness means a patiently winsome and carefully reasoned restating of the formerly obvious: homosexual behavior is a sin” (129). DeYoung also rightly notes throughout his book that we need to bring people to Jesus and Jesus will save them and through the Holy Spirit bring conviction of sin and transformation in this, and every area of their lives.
DeYoung helpful notes, “We must not be naïve. The legitimization of same-sex marriage will mean the de-legitimization of those who dare to disagree. The sexual revolution has been no great respecter of civil and religious liberties. Sadly, we may discover that there is nothing quite so intolerant as intolerance” (142). In the second appendix, he helps pastors and ministry leaders to speak winsomely by noting three building blocks for helping people struggling with same-sex attraction. First, biblically faithful, pastorally sensitive, and culturally relevant. Appendix three gives ten commitments every Christian should commit to all of which are helpful. The book also has an annotated bibliography of helpful books for further study on this issue.
The issue of homosexuality is one that isn’t going away anytime soon. This issue will continue to grow only worse as time goes on. Here soon Christians in America may be forced to not speak on this issue. We must count the cost and refuse to be silent no matter the verdict of the Supreme Court here soon. The authority of the Bible is worth standing upon. God uses His Word to pierce the hearts of hardened sinners and point them towards His finished saving work in the gospel. God is still in the business of removing spiritual blinders. He is in the business of removing people’s objections through the clear and faithful teaching of His Word. This is what DeYoung does so well. DeYoung’s book is a needed book for our times that we’re living in. Many people will say that the teaching in this book isn’t fair. They will object to DeYoung’s answers to objections to the traditional understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman for the rest of their lives. They will state that to be tolerant is to be accepting of other people’s positions, even as they are intolerant of our position and try to silence us.
Mention the word “tolerance” and you are likely to get some interesting responses. Most of those responses will focus on how people have the “rights” to think, believe, or act however they choose. In this view, tolerance is all about my rights and thinking on a given topic. At first, that may sound pleasant or even socially acceptable, but, in fact, it is rotten to the core. When people who view tolerance this way apply what they think too real life, the result is to exclude those who believe in absolute truth and absolute morals.
The argument goes, “Faith is private so keep it to yourself”. That sounds good at first glance. Let’s all keep quiet about what we believe. After all, isn’t faith a personal issue? The truth though is no one is quiet about what they believe. Is Oprah quiet about what she believes? Is Ellen DeGeneres quiet about what she believes? It seems like our liberal media can use its bully pulpit to proclaim that everyone has a right to think how they want, but when Christians make exclusive claims about God, the Bible, or Jesus according to the foundations of biblical Christianity, they are immediately discounted and treated as second class citizens. Yet the “enlightened” ones want us to believe everything they say without question and just soak in their magnificentness. The truth of the matter is not only does the liberal media not believe that faith is “private”, they are among the loudest in our culture in regards to proclaiming what they believe.
This is why the language of tolerance isn’t really tolerant, or as D.A. Carson said, “the intolerance of tolerance” in his book by the same title. Tolerance is intolerant because those who advocate for tolerance suggest they are the gatekeepers of truth. Whenever anyone says anything intolerant or if a Christian such as myself speaks or writes about gay marriage or other issues, they are shouted down, told they are wrong and immediately labeled a “bigot”, “misguided” or any number of unsavory labels. Is tolerance really tolerant? If you believe tolerance is tolerant then you are living in a world where truth must be abandoned because your truth is inconsistent. If we apply the standards of truth to the worldview of tolerance, it crumbles like shifting sand. The truth is that the new tolerance is another word for the spirit of this age which longs for teachers who will tickle people’s ears but never give them the truth from the Word of God. This is what DeYoung does so well in his book What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? he keeps bringing the reader back time and time again to the Scriptures where the reader will be confronted with the truth from the Scriptures.
Dear Christian, make no mistake. We are living in days that are challenging, but rest assured that, we also live in a day of great harvest. Stand firm on the authority of the Word of God and declare the message of the gospel. Jesus is alive, the tomb is empty, and He is ruling and reigning as His people’s High Priest. The Holy Spirit is still in the business of opening people’s eyes to the truth about Jesus, of convicting His people of their sin, and pointing them towards the truth of Jesus. The gospel is still the power of God! Preach the gospel all the more in a culture that says tolerance is a virtue and yet rejects its own conviction through its own inconsistency. Shout all the more from the rooftops and declare the sufficiency of Jesus to a culture that would rather celebrate its own pride and self-sufficiency.
I highly recommend What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? It is a book that every Christian must read to understand this issue. This book is a primer on God’s view of homosexuality from Scripture. This alone is no small feat as I’ve outlined in this review. Added to this, DeYoung responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike, making this an indispensable resource for thinking through one of the most pressing issues of our times. This book is well-researched, accessible, and saturated in the gospel. As J.D. Greear said in his endorsement, “This is now the book on this subject for our generation.” Dr. Moore is right, “Every Christian should read this book.” This book will help every Christian to answer the challenge of homosexuality in the church and outside the Church with the Word of God. I highly recommend this book and believe it is DeYoung’s best work to date.