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Is is possible to be "gay" and a Christian? "Yes!", answer the many Christians who openly practice their homosexuality and condemn conservative Christians as intolerant homo-phobiacs. Is it possible to be a Christian and wrestle with homosexual attractions, with no end in sight, no prospect of "healing"? Wesley Hill's painfully honest book, Washed and Waiting, shows that this is indeed a reality for many gay Christians.
Let me admit that I took some time to open up to Hill's perspective. I come from the Jay Adams, "Nouthetic Counseling" approach, informed by testimonies from the ex-gay movement exemplified by Exodus International and writers like Joe Dallas and Anne Paulk. My research so far has encouraged me in the belief that the people I know and love who are struggling with homosexuality can find healing and release from what I believe is emotional and sexual bondage. Then I read Hill's moving book. Hill confesses his long struggle with homosexual attractions, and shares some of his victories (and his defeats). But he says repeatedly that he is still "waiting." For him, the temptations are still present and the daily battle is intense. I think what finally won me over was Hill's brutal honesty, as well as his unrelenting search for answers.
Although this is Hill's first book, he is not a lightweight. There is plenty of theological substance here to wrestle through (he is pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament at Durham University). I really appreciated how he did not simply pull out a few proof-texts against homosexuality. Rather, he showed how sexual desire, longing, and brokenness are part of the New Testament narrative of fall and redemption. He writes:
"In the end, what keeps me on the path I've chosen is not so much individual proof texts from Scripture or the sheer weight of the church's traditional teaching against homosexual practice. Instead, it is, I think, those texts and traditions as I see them from within the true story of what God has done in Jesus Christ--and the whole perspective on life and the world that flows from that story, as expressed definitively in Scripture ... I abstain from homosexual behavior because of the power of that scriptural story" (pg. 61).
Hill powerfully argues for celibacy, as the only option for gay Christians who are waiting for healing. In our sex-saturated culture, this is one of the most helpful parts on the book. We sometimes forget that Jesus Christ lived and ministered as a single, celibate man.
I'm very thankful for Wesley's willingness to share his struggles with the world. Anyone who wants to understand how to better minster to those struggling with sexual brokenness needs to read this book!
(I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of Zondervan's blogger-review program. Receipt of the book does in no way entail positive endorsement of the book.)
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