Homosexuality. Gay rights. Same-sex marriage. No other cluster of current issues pushes our cultural buttons the way these do. What do we do as Christians with these topics? Do we ignore the debate? Do we go on the offensive, attacking those who differ with us? Do we bend with the cultural winds?
In his excellent book, Love Into Light: the Gospel, the Homosexual, and the Church, Peter Hubbard calls the church to an entirely different response, one based in love and truth. I found Hubbard’s work engaging, biblically faithful, and compassionate.
The stated purpose of the book is to make “an appeal to the church to rethink the way we talk about SSA [same sex attraction]. What if homosexuality is not a threat but an opportunity? Could God use one of the most controversial moral issues in our nation to awaken His church rather than damage it?…We need Spirit-empowered love to move toward those struggling with SSA without despising or excusing their sin, because their sin is our sin – our hearts are no different!” (p. 15).
The basic themes of the whole book are in that last sentence: love without despising or excusing. It was obvious while reading this book that Peter Hubbard genuinely loves those struggling with SSA and doesn’t see them as different than himself. At the same time, he refuses to compromise on the clear Scriptural teaching that homosexuality is a sin. In his chapter on the gospel as it relates to homosexuality, he gives four realities that should guide our thinking.
- Homosexual are like us: we are all marred image-bearers.
- Homosexuals have turned aside: all sin is twisted.
- Homosexuals can find a new identity.
- Homosexuals and heterosexuals hope in grace together.
As later chapters expound on #3 and 4, Hubbard does a great job rejecting simplistic notions of identity and change. Our ultimate problem before God is not our homosexuality or heterosexuality: it is our rebellion and alienation from God, and only Jesus is the cure: “Jesus is not a get-out-of-homosexuality plan, but ‘the way and the truth and the life.’ Real change is not simply a reaction to our latest problem, but a miraculous step toward our new eternal identity” (47). This gives all believers common ground, no matter what particular sin struggle we battle: we’re fighting to believe the good news of the gospel and live out our identity in Christ.
In the last three chapters Hubbard has excellent advice for churches. In chapter 7, “Climate,” he critiques ways the church has responded poorly to this issue by silence, talking about “those people,” or refusing to confront. “Community” describes three ways his church has benefitted from embracing those struggling with SSA: a clearer view of all of our sins, growth in the understanding of gender, and developing mutually edifying friendships. Finally, in “Outreach,” he calls us to respond to the homosexual community with church-based, truth-grounded, compassion.
Homosexuality is a controversial topic, and it’s not going away. But the gospel gives hope to every human struggle, whether self-righteousness or same-sex attraction or heterosexual lust. Peter Hubbard’s Love Into Light will help you understand how that hope applies to your struggles, and how to communicate that hope to others. I highly recommend it!