Interview with Author Peter Hubbard On The Gospel, The Homosexual, and the Church

Last week I wrote a review of Love Into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual, and the Church. Author Peter Hubbard graciously took time to correspond with me about the book and the topic of homosexuality this week. Thanks Peter!

What motivated you to write Love Into Light?

I believe God led me to write Love Into Light because of what I saw in faces, what I didn’t hear in the church and what is denied by our culture. I was looking at the faces of friends who struggled with unwanted same-sex attraction. I saw the hopelessness in their eyes and did not hear words of hope coming from our pulpits. Very few people in the church were talking to them in a helpful way and almost everyone outside the church denied their existence (specifically that people exist who experience SSA, yet follow Jesus rather than living a homosexual lifestyle). The hope-filled message of the gospel makes all the difference!

In your introduction, you challenge the church to consider the topic of homosexuality as an opportunity, not a threat. Could you elaborate on that? In what ways does this topic present an opportunity for God’s church?

Homosexuality is currently the Super Bowl of morality in our country. Politicians have their fingers in the air trying to figure out where to land on this issue. Military chaplains, college professors and professional counselors can lose their jobs if they don’t affirm the gay lifestyle.  Ministers who align their preaching with the mood of the day, fluctuate from condemnation to commendation. Can you imagine a better opportunity to proclaim the real gospel of Jesus? Fake gospels don’t stand up in these conditions. Religion is powerless in the face of gale-force winds of change and raging hormones. This is why the apostle Paul, who viewed homosexuality as a vivid moral example of the inversion of idolatry, was not ashamed to preach the gospel in a culture like ours (Romans 1:16). He believed that the gospel shines brightest in the times that seem darkest.

The Christian stance on homosexuality is often interpreted as homophobic by our culture. How can Christians respond to people who oppose us in a way that is loving but not compromising?

We must stop viewing homosexuality through the lens of the conservative activist or the gay activist. I just met with a couple who are seeking to reach out to their brother who recently came out as gay. Their response to his announcement has been sacrificially gracious. They have helped him in so many tangible ways. When the husband was asked by a nonbeliever, “How can you respond so lovingly? I thought you would reject him,” he explained, “But he’s my brother!” This is the key. We must move toward people as Jesus moved toward us. When we know people and love people we find creative ways to communicate that love without compromising the truth.

What one thing would you like to say to Christians on this topic? And what one thing would you say specifically to pastors?

End the silence. Too many of us allow the “yuck factor” to make us mute. When I see my own heart accurately, it is impossible for me to despise anyone else for their sin. My conversations with my friends who struggle with SSA have been hugely helpful for me in my own battles with sin. Pastors who evade difficult subjects like SSA are missing out on truckloads of grace and misrepresenting the gospel as weak or irrelevant.

Are you working on any upcoming writing projects?

I have several projects on the back burner, but I really need to finish my DMin project before I get back to those. I am enjoying helping pastors talk about SSA in their churches in a more faithful, helpful way.

Win a Copy of Sojourn Music’s “Over the Grave”

over-the-grave-album-cover

UPDATE: The contest is closed. Winners are announced in the side blog. If you won, please email me your shipping address. Thanks for playing!

For the past three months, I have been raving about Sojourn Music’s latest release Over the Grave. It is BY FAR my favorite worship album of 2009.

Today I wanted to introduce you to one of the main men behind the project, Mike Cosper, the Pastor of Worship and Arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Mike graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the album and also to give away five copies.

Could you describe the “Over the Grave” album?

Over the Grave is our first attempt at reworking and reimagining the hymns of Isaac Watts. The idea was to dig into Watts’ work and tap into the incredibly rich resources he provides. We wanted to focus on concepts for which we’d struggled to find songs – death, judgment, resurrection, and substitutionary atonement. We also wanted to musically “paint the picture” of those texts in modern sounds, so it’s a dark, aggressive, and passionate record.

Why did you choose to do all songs by Isaac Watts?

We’ve been singing modern arrangements of hymns for a while. The stuff that the two graces have been putting out (Indelible Grace and Sovereign Grace) has been a tremendous help. We noticed as we entered that world that many of our favorites were Isaac Watts. So I began to read through his hymnals and read about his life. It’s an amazing story. Watts life began with his mother nursing him on a stool outside a prison, where his father was being chained up for refusing to deny Sola Scriptura and refusing to conform. He grew up to be a brilliant pastor who knew that what people sang shaped what they believed, and he went to great pains to teach deep doctrine in his songs. In the process, he became the father of the modern hymn, and frankly, the father of English contextualization.

The album is super creative. What kind of sound were you trying to get with the album? What were you trying to avoid?

First and foremost, we were trying to create sounds that helped people imagine and emotionally participate in the texts. We also wanted to try to branch away from the four-on-the-floor rock songs that typify modern worship. Neil (one of our musicians and the record’s producer) is an absolutely brilliant musician and had a vision for a sound that was almost cinematic. At the same time, we tried to do things that we could pull of in our services. On that front, for the most part, we succeeded. Most of the sounds are fairly seamless with what we try to do every week at Sojourn.

How do you hope the album encourages people?

I hope more than anything that people hear the texts and hear the bold proclamation of the cross throughout the record. I hope it simultaneously shines a light on our sin and the abundant provision of grace by our great God. Secondary to that, I hope that people just enjoy the music, and that it has staying power in their iPods and car stereos.

Okay, now here’s how you can win a copy of the CD.

  • Share this post on Facebook or Twitter using the handy buttons below.
  • Leave a comment saying, “I must have this CD or I will scream,” or something like that.
  • I’ll choose five winners.

Up Close With Abraham Piper

Abraham Piper is a Christian, husband, dad, and blogger. He may be some other things too, such as accomplished ninja, but you’ll have to ask him personally. He blogs personally at 22 Words and Downhill Both Ways, and he also blogs for Desiring God Ministries.

Abraham was kind enough to take a few moments to answer some questions about blogging.

All of your blog posts are limited to exactly twenty-two words. Why do you do such short posts and what are you trying to accomplish with the blog?

I write short posts for four reasons.

  • I enjoy seeing if I can summarize an idea that briefly.
  • I like being freed of the responsibility to explain myself. When people don’t get what I’m saying, I’d have no excuse if my words could’ve been unlimited. But the way things are set up now, when I make no sense I can just shrug my shoulders and point to the premise of the blog as my excuse.
  • I’m lazy. I can’t even imagine writing full posts every day. Writing 22 words, on the other hand, is pretty easy.
  • People don’t generally read much more than 22 words of any given post anyway.

I want following my blog to feel similar to knowing a person: Sometimes it will be encouraging or funny other times depressing or infuriating.

Obviously, with certain individual posts, I want to make things happen in my audience’s hearts or minds or behavior, but I wouldn’t say I’m trying to accomplish anything in particular with the blog as a whole. It’s just me living life, saying some hopefully helpful things and also saying some definitely stupid things.

You blog personally and for Desiring God. What do you think makes a good blog? What separates the good from the mediocre?

Despite all the varieties of good blogs out there, I think what is true pretty much across the board, is that excellent bloggers care about how to blog. They’ve educated themselves and experimented enough to know what will work for them and their audience.

You can find answers all over if you Google for what makes a good blog. And they’ll all say mostly the same things. And they’re mostly right. Good bloggers obey these rules or disobey them carefully.

In light of the fact that there are eight bazillion blogs now, should someone start a new blog? If so, what is one tip you would give them?

Absolutely. Maybe no one will read it, but if that’s ok with a potential blogger, then go for it.
May I give three tips, instead of just one?

1. Use a theme that has a light background.
2. Use a professional-quality photo in your banner.
3. Keep every paragraph to 5 lines or less.

Up Close With Tony Reinke

Tony Reinke

Tony Reinke is part man, part reading machine.

He also happens to be assistant to C.J. Mahaney and friend to me. He blogs, dads (verb meaning “to dad”), husbands, and most importantly, passionately follows Jesus. I like hanging out with Tony.

As I mentioned earlier, Tony reads. A lot. More than me. And probably more than you.

Because I want to learn from Tony, and I want you to learn as well, I asked Tony to answer three questions about reading. Here they are:

Why should the average Christian, who works a hard job and comes home really tired, bother with reading books beside the Bible?

The short of it: Christians walk by faith and not by sight. We build our lives on spiritual truth, truth we can only know through words. We know that God is holy because that truth is written for us. But we live in a world that is saturated by images that can’t communicate unseen realities. This doesn’t mean that images and pictures have no value, but it does mean that the written word is a priority for Christians.

And history shows that words succumb to the visual. In the Garden of Eden Eve saw the fruit shimmer in the sun and ignored God’s words. Later the newly exiled people of God melted their gold earrings into a calf at Sinai (note the emphasis from the ear to the eye). Later the nation of Israel ran after visual pagan idols and were defeated by their enemies and sent into exile for it (2 Kings 17).

Part of being faithful to God is maintaining a priority on the written word and remaining aware of visual temptations. This conviction keeps me reading my Bible, and other books, even when I’m tired and would rather watch TV.

How would you encourage a person who knows that they should read more but just doesn’t like to read?

Reading is too often assumed to be an isolated discipline. I would encourage them to find someone in the church that enjoys reading, and read a good book together. The books I most appreciate are the ones that I have read with others, and often the sections that have most impacted my life are the ones that I have read aloud with friends or heard quoted in a sermon. Reading in the context of community is an often powerful and untapped resource for encouraging reading. And once I experienced the benefits of reading with others I more easily tapped into the benefits of reading alone.

So often I forget what I read or struggle to understand it. How can people get more out of the books they read?

The books I have benefited from most are the books I have read for specific answers. Too often I approach reading passively and I read with no clear purpose in mind. Find one area of life that you want to improve, write a list of 20 questions that you have and want answered, ask someone for a book recommendation, and then read for the purpose of answering your questions. This seems to help me benefit from the books I choose to read. And of course this helps me determine what books not to read.

BONUS: If you could be a ninja, Jedi, or NASCAR driver, which would you pick?

Being a Nebraska boy I am automatically disqualified from two options. That makes the picking pretty easy.