"Gay," "Christian," and “celibate” don't often appear in the same sentence. Yet many who sit next to us in the pew at church fit that description, says author Wesley Hill. As a celibate gay Christian, Hill gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to wrestle firsthand with God's "No" to same-sex relationships. What does it mean for gay Christians to live faithful to God while struggling with the challenge of their homosexuality? What is God's will for believers who experience same-sex desires? Those who choose celibacy are often left to deal with loneliness and the hunger for relationships. How can gay Christians experience God's favor and blessing in the midst of a struggle that for many brings a crippling sense of shame and guilt? Weaving together reflections from his own life and the lives of other Christians, such as Henri Nouwen and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hill offers a fresh perspective on these questions. He advocates neither unqualified "healing" for those who struggle, nor their accommodation to temptation, but rather faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. "I hope this book may encourage other homosexual Christians to take the risky step of opening up their lives to others in the body of Christ," Hill writes. "In so doing, they may find, as I have, by grace, that being known is spiritually healthier than remaining behind closed doors, that the light is better than the darkness."
|About the Contributor(s)||Wesley Hill
Wesley Hill (PhD, Durham University, UK) is assistant professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan, 2010), Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters (Eerdmans, 2015), and Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian (Brazos, 2015). He is on the editorial board for Christianity Today and writes regularly for that magazine as well as for Books & Culture, First Things, and other publications.
|Publish Date||Sep 8, 2010|
- Review by Steve
I was very touched by this book, having walked a similar path dealing with same-sex attraction, but now being probably about 20-30 years older than the author. One thing that impressed me was his success in recruiting friends in the faith community for help. This speaks well of his faith community and also speaks to the courage of the author in being vulnerable to bring up a subject that might be difficult or uncomfortable for some. I was also greatly impressed by his commitment to standing on principle regardless of his feelings, and for his hopeful affirmation of the rewards of faithfulness.
Although I do not prefer the semantics of "gay Christian", I mostly think they are only semantics. If there are some drawbacks to the wording there are probably also benefits, such as, in ease of communication with the secular culture.
One thing that stood out strongly was the author's intense loneliness, which seemed be of overwhelming proportions. From my perspective, yes, this is an issue related to his homosexuality, but also perhaps a separate issue for the author. In fact, loneliness of this magnitude could be too much of a weight on any relationship. Perhaps the answer would be to seek help in the area of bonding in general.
A couple of ways that I have found that have been a great help in following Wesley's path are:
--Peer support--finding others who have the same moral convictions, but also deal with life dominating issues, and walking through together. (Often, people with “run of the mill” problems have a very hard time getting a grasp on homosexual issues.) With proper boundaries, this can be a very safe and helpful way of finding aid and friendship.
--Same-sex "hetero" friendships--There are a good number of "hetero" men and women who see the value of strong, close, same-sex friendship (that is non-sexual) and are welcoming of others who want join in. For "gay" men, this can be a real opportunity for growth, in finding ways to connect on the terms of the larger male community. This may not be the place to air all the nitty-gritty details of struggle, but it can be satisfying in overcoming feelings of inferiority and in learning to enjoy the bond with others. For instance men's small groups in the faith community can be an excellent way to cultivate these contacts.
Again, this book was a very touching look into the dilemma of the author’s life, and how he made progress along the way, and found some answers that can be of help to others.
(Posted on 12/7/2016)
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