Book Review-May 2015

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? Kevin DeYoung, 2015, Crossway, Wheaton, Ill., ISBN 9781433549373, 150 pages, $12.99, softcover.

The books we review in Disciple most often cover theological and scriptural subjects, and it is our hope that sharing these recommendations helps equip you for ministry in your local church. Less often, we review books that address cultural or social issues of pressing importance. Rarely do we get to share a book with you that combines both these aims with adroit scholarship, succinct arguments, and pastoral compassion.

Michigan pastor Kevin DeYoung has developed a reputation for writing punchy books that speak directly to theological and practical concerns within the body of Christ. He has touched on discerning God's will (Just Do Something), evangelism (What Is the Mission of the Church), catechesis (The Good News We Almost Forgot), holy living (The Hole in Our Holiness), work (Crazy Busy), and the doctrine of Scripture (Taking God at His Word). His latest, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, follows that line, calmly and carefully laying out the Biblical underpinnings of Christian teaching on sexual relationships.

DeYoung begins by offering a defense of "making a big deal" of sexual issues based on a) the overarching story of Scripture (which consistently likens mankind's relationship to God with the marriage between a man and woman, even referring to the consummation of all things as the "marriage supper of the Lamb"), and b) the fact that this is the issue at hand-the world's chosen battleground against Christ today. He also takes time at the beginning to define his terms, focusing his attention (as Scripture does) not on constructs of sexual identity, but issues of sexual practice.

From there, he launches into the two main segments of the book. The first section presents a thorough exegesis of selected Scriptures of particular importance to the subject. Section two seeks to apply the Scriptural lessons from section one by way of answering seven common objections to the biblical and historical view of sexual sin. Throughout, his gift of summarizing mounds of more scholarly works on the subject into understandable terms (without undermining their significance) is put to good use.

To unpack the biblical case, DeYoung starts with Genesis 1 and 2, showing how the Lord designed marriage as a testimony of His internal communion within the Trinity and a reflection of the interconnected complementarity He built throughout Creation (light/dark, day/night, sea/land, plants/animals). Second, he examines the case of Sodom and Gommorrah in Genesis 19, showing from the text (and other passages referring back to it) that a significant part of God's judgment of these cities was homosexual behavior itself, not merely the particularly violent expression thereof. He devotes a chapter each to the relevant part of the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 18 and 19), Paul's description of homosexual behavior  as "contrary to nature" (Romans 1), and his inclusion of this particular sin in the "sin lists" of 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1. Through each passage, DeYoung brings out detailed word studies and faithful exposition of the text in its context.

In seven brief chapters of section two, DeYoung works to engage with several arguments he has encountered in favor of accommodating same-sex relationships within the church: "The Bible hardly ever mentions homosexuality;" "Not that kind of homosexuality;" "What about gluttony and divorce;" "The Church is supposed to be a place for broken people;" "You're on the wrong side of history;" "It's not fair;" and "The God I worship is a God of love." In each instance, he digs down to the root of the question, and winsomely builds a case in opposition that is grounded in Scripture, love for others, and honest acceptance of areas in which Christians have failed to apply God's Word to their actions.

DeYoung concludes the book with an appeal to readers to walk in faithfulness and love, boldly trust in Christ's power to save all sinners, and humbly seek God's glory in how we live among those with whom we cannot agree. He also includes three very practical appendices on same-sex marriage, same-sex attraction (as differentiated from homosexual acts), and speaking truth with love.         

For such a short book, there is much to digest here. DeYoung ties together the big picture of God's sovereignty, holiness, and love with the details of sexual morality and its practical effects in our lives and churches. His deft shoring up of the biblical view on marriage should embolden Christians to remain faithful to God and His Word as the cultural pressure continues to mount. His restatement of these truths is also a winsome appeal for the sake of the Gospel to those who disagree. Moreover, the book offers blunt but loving rebukes to those who attempt to remain within the Church while affirming revision of Christian morality, and challenges the "live and let live" crowd to consider the cost of their withdrawal from the discussion.

DeYoung, who is not yet 40, writes with the pastoral and personal urgency of someone who must engage the issue, someone who will still be preaching, teaching, and counseling, long after this cultural shift and all it entails is complete. He recognizes that the Church is on the losing end of the question of the day, but is ready to hold the line for the sake of truth and to preparing Christians to answer well, come what may.

Among the "blurbs" on the back of the book is this endorsement from Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention: "Every Christian should read this book." This may sound hyperbolic, but I second Moore's recommendation. The changes to our culture are working their way through our legal system, and will be knocking at the door of every church sooner or later. Take time to read and remember what God's Word teaches and what you have believed so that you are not unprepared when your moment comes.

Justin Lonas

Type: Theology/Cultural Analysis
Target: All
Take: Must Read

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