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. (By clicking the following links you can also read part 2)
This portion of my review covers the section entitled “Chapter 1: The Story-Shaped Life”
A Story-Shaped Life (p.51-79)
I feel bad for getting this far into this book and wondering when the evil-gay agenda of Wesley Hll is going to come out. Any such thought though was quelched quickly at the beginning of the chapter. Using a quick scripture-laden study, Hill makes his doctrinal statements regarding homosexuality clear:
- The Old and New Testament support that human sexual expression is gifted by God to man and woman through marriage, in turn ruling out homosexual practice.
- Man shall not lie with another man as with a woman.
- Jesus taught that marriage covenant was to be between a man and woman.
- Paul explained that homosexual practice and union was not allowed inside the church and individuals who participate in such forefeit their entrance into the kingdom of God.
- No matter what science or discovery may unveil regarding the roots of homosexual desire, none would excuse homosexual behavior and change the Biblical position(s) on such.
Hill explores the thought from some that God is setting homosexuals up for failure because of their sexual desires. This argument tends to turn people away from God and, as Hill explores, eliminates any idea of love and grace. Hill makes a good point that there may be no other group of people who the church confronts more sharply and directly than homosexuals. Are their sins worse than mine and is the current idea that a person must “become” heterosexual in orientation and desire even plausible when we don’t even really know the answer to why someone may be attracted to the same-sex. Still, despite the struggle of abstaining from fulfilling homosexual desires, Hill is unremitting in the fact that a Christian must not violate God’s natural order as revealed in scripture. I can’t help but think as I read this how soft I can be on certain sins that I may allow myself to commit or that I overlook from brothers and sisters in Christ that I love. Shame on me…
This chapter turns into a beautiful story at the half-way point. Hill asks himself why he abstains from homosexual sexual practice and the answer he comes back with is because of the gospel. The good news of what Christ has done for him empowers him to persevere. How is that any different from my story and my desire to refrain from my weaknesses. I see none. Didn’t Christ die for people who may have once indulged in homosexual practice? If your answer is no, then He did not die for any of our sexual sins.
Hill recommends that we stop reading the condmenation against homosexuality found in Paul’s letters to the Romans apart from the rest of the letter which we know is story of love and grace and mercy bestowed by God through His Son hanging on a tree. Hill expresses his understanding that his guilt for past sins particular to him is no different from the guilt that all Christians feel about their past sins. We all have those “how can God forgive me for fill in the blank” sins don’t we?
Hill uses Cormon’s painting of Cain to paint his own beautiful picture of how he has come to see God. Studying this piece of artistic expression, Hill states that he came to better understand the fact that God is dangerous. Cain wanted to hide from God, but God would not allow it and punished him for the murder of his brother. At the same time though, God provided for Cain’s continued survival as a human, created in God’s image. Was the exsistence sunshine and roses? No, but God allowed him to continue his life and experience life. From this, Hill came to understand that the gospel, while full of good news, is also something that asks us to give up many things in order to honor God. Hill sees his homosexual desires as something that God would see as a person dying of thirst to be craving salt. It just doesn’t make sense. Don’t we all look at the sins of Adam and Eve in the garden the same way. WHY WOULD THEY GIVE UP PARADISE FOR WHAT LOOKS LIKE SUCH MINISCULE GRATIFICATION TO US?
Is it painful to Hill? Yes, and incredibly lonely. But Hill is resolute that, although not what most want to hear, God can ask him to do or give up whatever God well pleases. Hill understands that not only does his body belong to God, but to the church as a whole as well. This is the separation for many in my estimation regardless of their sins. Hill stands as one who will proclaim that he has given up his body and desires for God and His church. Have I? Have you? All Hill has is the gospel hope and supportive Christians to help him through this life. What more do any of us lay stake in?
To purchase this book from Barnes & Noble, click the cover image below.