The Counterpoints series by Zondervan is a long-standing examination of various Christian views and issues that allow different perspectives to be shared together in one volume, with the hopes that it allows us all a better understanding of each other’s position, and help us land where we may.
When it comes to this particular volume, though, tensions rise from the moment the book is opened. All of us are on edge when it comes to the topic, the issue, the people living within the tension of conversations about homosexuality. It is in-depth, complex, and deeply affects many people’s identity as well as friends and loved ones. This is more than a simple discussion about what we believe about the end times, or how to interpret a particular passage of Scripture. Much is on the line, for the Church especially, when it comes to discussing how homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church all coexist.
Thankfully, Two Views on Homosexuality, The Bible, and the Church has perhaps the best team of contributors one could hope for in such a discussion. The general editor is Preston Sprinkle, a speaker, and author who has written fantastic material on homosexuality already, such as his book People To Be Loved. William Loader and Megan K. DeFranza, arguing for the affirming view, are two leading scholars on sexuality and theology and make critical attempts to read the Scripture for what it is in making their conclusions. Wesley Hill and Stephen R. Holmes, on the non-affirming end, are also leading scholars in sexuality; particularly close to home is the fact that Hill is a self-identified gay Christian, making his contribution (and his non-affirming position) a very compelling addition to the book.
All four authors land in different places when it comes to what the Scriptures have to say about these discussions. Helpfully, Sprinkle offers this counsel early on:
“If you follow along with a studious mind and compassionate heart, you will see that all of our essayists wrestle deeply with the Bible and theology because they believe that God is the author of Scripture and has mediated his truth to humanity through human writers” (14).
And then, his challenge follows:
“Read all the essays with an open mind and an open Bible. Have the courage to go where the text leads and explore how it applies to the twenty-first-century church” (16).
It would be beyond the scope of this review to unpack the arguments of these four essays. Suffice it to say; I walked away with better language for why I believe what I believe, a better understanding of the opposite position, a greater desire to administer grace in these matters, and a deeper sense of my need to listen and learn from others of all views. If all of us found a dose of that for these times…what a joy that would be.