In an attempt to get a better grasp of how to correctly handle homosexuality in the church, I am sharing my thoughts on Wesley Hill’s newest book Washed & Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness & Homosexuality. To learn more about the reasons behind this project, see the introduction to this series here.
This portion of my review covers the section entitled Part One, Prelude: Washed & Waiting.
Hill wastes no time in describing the beginnings of his homosexual feelings. Explaining a late entry into puberty, Hill shares that he found himself both sexually attracted to males and not attracted to females (a story regarding a youth trip and a Playboy magazine drives this home). Hill describes much confusion in his teen years, He wasn’t aware if this was “normal” and a part of growing up and he didn’t have anyone he felt comfortable asking. All this time, Hill remained in a Christian home with Christian parents and was in church regularly. Still, in the church other young males would discuss lust for women openly and he sat there silent.
Hill explains that he knew he wanted to be a disciple and that as he advanced from his parent’s faith into his own, he began to study more about Christ on his own. He describes guilt and pain associated with his knowledge that no matter what, his feelings and attractions for males was not lessened by his spiritual growth. Finally, he admitted to himself that he was gay. Hill makes sure to explain that this was more of an acceptance on his behalf than a choice he made.
He struggled with what he was hearing James Dobson and others tell him were the reasons he was how he was. Did daddy not love him enough? Was he sexually abused as a child and forgot. He looked deep within himself to try and match what Christian “leaders” were telling him was wrong with him. All the while, he was trying to make himself be, or at least feel heterosexual. His solution was to just tuck his homoerotic desires away.
Once in college (Wheaton) Hill grew spiritually. He also was given a viable excuse to “research” his homosexuality and write papers about it. What he found was that while no one could agree on the causes of his homosexual urges, many, including himself, agreed that practicing homosexual relations was strictly prohibited by the Bible. Convinced, and I really admire Hill’s position on this, that what he wanted was not in line with his desire to be a disciple of Christ, Hill again stuck his lusts and fantasies away and began looking for answers on how to change and become heterosexual.
Hill did try to date females but he explains it as awkward and clumsy to him. As I read this I remember my own dating life. Conclusion, either I’m gay or clumsiness and awkwardness is normal for any male trying to win the affections of a female. I am leaning toward the latter. One has to wonder how this story would be if he had honed his dating skills. For many reasons though, Hill became resolved to the fact that he was a gay college student.
Finally, Hill confided in one of his college professors about his desires towards other men. This led to a referral to a psychologist and Hill gained some fruitful and spiritual insight through this. Finally, Hill decided to confide in a pastor about his dilemma and asked for Christian guidance. What Hill found was a friend who helped him to understand what he knew already. The Bible tells us that the church is a place for sinners and that he must find a way to rely on that love to fill the void of his unfulfilled lusts.
Hill continued to grow in his love and understanding of the gospel but found himself refusing to make real male friends because he was afraid his homosexuality would damage any relationship that might blossom. Hill goes on to explain that he had not stopped struggling with his feelings but that he was learning to struggle well, as a Christian, and through the assistance of a church.
Hill discusses 1 Cor. 6:9-11 and Paul’s list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Right in the middle of the list stands “men who practice homosexuality.” However, Hill points out that Paul’s letter is written to, as Paul writes, “such were some of you.” Hill finds great comfort in knowing that his homosexuality is not a condemning matter and that Paul wrote specifically to men who once practiced homosexual sexual contact. Their saving grace according to Paul? “You were washed.”
Hill sets himself up for attack from the homosexual world when he discussed the fact that while he may not know the origins of his homoerotic desires, he admits that he has made conscious decisions and choices to both satisfy and by such exacerbate his homosexual urges. Hill promises to explain how his life has become a living example of Romans 8:23-25. Hill is not ashamed to admit the pain and groaning that he feels by not being able to, as a Bible-believing Christian, satisfy his urges. Yet, Hill writes that he clings to the hope of Christ’s return when his body, his urges, his temptations, and his pain will be cast aside for a new body and life in Christ.
This honesty is hard to read. While I struggle to admit my own temptations and failings as a Christian, to see someone harboring this much pain is difficult. I wonder if I have ever discouraged someone such as Hill from reaching out for help? To see Hill discuss his failings and his simultaneous perseverance makes me reevaluate how quickly I can give in to temptations of mine. This is powerful and so far I am loving this book. I wonder what his parents think as they read it??? I really appreciate Hill’s refusal to bend scripture to match his desires.