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ss nucleus - spring 2006,  Holiness and Sexuality: homosexuality in a biblical context (Book Review)

Holiness and Sexuality: homosexuality in a biblical context (Book Review)

Holiness and Sexuality: homosexuality in a biblical context - David Peterson (editor) - Paternoster 2004 - £8.99 Pb 172pp - ISBN 1842272691

Evangelicals are often left silent and uncomfortable on homosexuality, afraid on the one hand of demonstrating unquestioning acceptance and on the other of loveless judgmentalism. Few issues have split the church as widely in recent years.

This book is a collection of talks given at a conference at Oak Hill theological college in London. It begins with a detailed dissection of sin and refers to several Bible passages, showing homosexuality to be a deviation from holiness and summarising all sin to be a 'radical disorientation' from our intended purposes.

Is it true that the Bible condemns only exploitative or promiscuous homosexual behaviour? This is considered with sound and balanced discussion (though often by analysis of the original Greek perhaps more suited to theological students than medics). I was left confident that the Bible does truly teach the inadmissibility of any homosexual action. A clear distinction, though, is made between temptation (which is not something wrong in itself), and giving in to temptation (which is sin). Homosexual orientation, whilst a symptom of fallen human nature, is not sinful. Rather, 'what comes out of a man is what makes him “unclean”' (Mk 7:20). This useful analysis of the theology of sin has application far wider than sexual ethics.

A very useful section is written by Martin Hallett, a celibate Christian homosexual who works as director of the True Freedom Trust, a Christian organisation committed to helping believers struggling with homosexual or bisexual feelings. These pages would be very helpful for anyone confronted with a homosexual orientation either in themselves or another Christian. The challenge of self-denial is discussed, but so is the ultimate blessing of seeing sexual orientation as a gift from God to be put to work for his glory, through helping others in similar struggles.

In the final chapter, Peter Saunders, CMF general secretary, looks at both 'nature' and 'nurture' arguments in scientific literature, which seem most threatening to the biblical position. He concludes that 'all of us, homosexual or heterosexual, are sinners by choice. But we are also sinners by nature...'

This book is a welcome addition to my bookshelf, its academic thoroughness made less daunting by its relative shortness. It will help you to think through the subject systematically (not dodging any difficult questions), and so be ready to face difficult situations in the lives of real people with both truth and love.

Reviewed by:
David Randall
Clinical student at Bart's and the London medical school

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