Glenn Stanton is on staff with Focus on the Family and as part of his ministry conducts lectures and debates on gender and sexuality. He is well equipped, both doctrinally and practically, to intellectually write a book on homosexuality and the church. He, as well as Focus, is 100% committed to the biblical view of sexuality (pp. 11-12). The question is how do we stay faithful to Scripture and deal truthfully and lovingly with those who believe that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle and should be condoned by the church?
Stanton provides much to consider beginning with six fundamental truths:
- Everybody is a human person. No exceptions.
- Every human person is of inestimable worth and value, none more than another. No exceptions.
- Everyone is deeply and passionately loved by God. No exceptions.
- Unfortunately everyone is burdened with a terminal illness: sin. No exceptions.
- All, as children of Adam, are tragically separated from God, but this does not diminish God’s boundless love for us. But it does devastatingly hinder our relationship with Him. All of us, no exceptions.
- Therefore, everyone is in desperate need of repentance, healing, and a new life that comes only in surrender and submission to Christ. No exceptions (pp. 15-16).The author hangs out with those in the LGBT community and considers many his friends, whom he admires and esteems (see pp. 17-20). He nevertheless does not compromise his biblical convictions and publically and privately debates the issues with his LGBT friends in a gracious manner. As one who has looked deeply into this issue the author provides much good information:
- Gives a brief history of homosexuality, showing that it was not until the 1960s that anyone identified as gay (pp. 28-29, 42-44).
- Explains the recognized meaning of each letter in LGBTQIAAP (pp. 36-41).
- Demonstrates the difference between same sex attraction, orientation and identity (pp. 44-45).
- Gives clear teaching from Scripture on sexuality and marriage (pp. 50-57, 74), and answers the question of why Jesus never mentioned homosexuality (pp. 58-60).
- Challenges the revisionist’s view of Sodom and Romans 1:26-27 (pp. 60-63).
- Provides current scientific discussion on the origin of same sex attraction (pp. 93-100).
- Defends the position that same sex attraction is not sinful; it is acting on these desires that is (pp. 64, 102-103).
- Shows that no mature relationship demands total acceptance and therefore we should not be intimidated by the LGBT community which demands such (pp. 84, 144-146).
Stanton also provides his thoughts concerning practical questions for Christians and the church. For example what should Christians do who are invited to a gay wedding (pp. 147-151)? He believes the answer depends on the relationship and whether it is a civil or religious ceremony. And what about our children who are LGBT? How do we treat their significant others? (with love). What about their overnight visits to your home? (Your house, your rules). The author offers a number of real life examples of those who have shown the right balance (pp. 107-124).
While He is correct that believers are to love everyone, his view of how friendly, admiring and esteeming we should be is not without problems. How far are we to take this? For example, are we to develop cozy friendships with pedophiles, murderers, racists, neo-Nazi or terrorists? The LBGT philosophy is not merely an intellectual football that we can pass around without implications. This agenda is undermining the moral fabric of our society and in many ways is doing more harm than those mentioned above. Esteeming and admiring LBGTs seems to be more than expected in the command to love them.
Stanton also addresses many questions the church will face (pp. 151-168). He believes LGBTs belong in the church and should be allowed to minister in non-teaching, non-leadership roles. This is problematic on a number of levels. What is a church and who is to minister to the body? If LGBTs in the church claim to be Christians then how can their unrepentant lifestyle be ignored? What are we to do with scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 5 which does not allow open immorality to be practiced among those in the local church who claim to be believers? And what about church discipline which Stanton does not mention? I believe Stanton stumbles badly in this area. I agree that unsaved LGBTs who cause no disruptions should be welcomed to attend our churches to hear the gospel and the truth of Scripture, just like any sinner. But those claiming to be Christian yet living in immoral situations (gay or straight) must be confronted and ultimately removed, not invited to serve in behind-the-scenes ministries.
Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor addresses the major moral challenge of our day. Christians need to be informed both about what is happening in society and what Scripture teaches. This book is quite helpful in accomplishing both of these things. I appreciate Stanton’s firm but gracious tone and his call to truly love homosexual people. But I cannot agree with some of his practical conclusions.
Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor, Being Friends in Grace & Truth, by Glenn T. Stanton (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), 200pp., paper, $14.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher Southern View Chapel