The issue of homosexuality is one that seems to be critical to the church, especially here in the UK where we hear so much reported in the press about the debate within the Church of England. This is becoming, if not already, a defining issue for the church, and unfortunately the church doesn’t seem good at engaging with this issue in more than a superficial way.
Wesley Hill as a Christian, and someone who is gay, has attempted in writing Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality to open the debate up. He is an evangelical Christian, but he is also a man who has always been attracted to men, and only men, he seems to have a natural orientation or inclination to homosexuality. As he tries to live out his Christian faith, he has remained celibate, convicted by his faith.
The book isn’t a theoretical book on faith and sexuality, although he does attempt to engage with some of that, but instead it is his journey as he wrestles with faith and sexuality. The book highlights how Hill isn’t alone, Martin Hallet of True Freedom Trust is quoted as saying:
“There are probably nearly as many Christians with homosexual feelings who do not believe that homsexual sex is right for Christians as there are those who are advocating its acceptance.”
Hill, in an guest post for Engaging Church writes:
That’s why I wrote my book—to describe, primarily for celibate gay Christians themselves, my experience of homosexual desires and my commitment to Christianity’s traditional position that sex is intended to be experienced only within marriage between a man and a woman. I wanted to assure gay Christians, many of whom remain deeply committed to Scripture, that their struggles—with the “why” questions, with loneliness, shame, and the hunger for love—are shared by many in the church. I wanted gay Christians to realize they aren’t alone as they seek, in their own way, to “grow up into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15) along with the rest of their fellow Christians.My hope is that this book will help pastors better understand what it looks and feels like to be a Christian facing the reality of one’s own broken sexuality. The result, I hope, will be a greater sensitivity to one another’s weaknesses, and a deeper commitment to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) in the fellowship of Christ’s Body.
The book goes beyond simple answers and asks tough but important questions. I like the way that Hill draws parallels with homosexuality and singleness – what it means to be called to a life of celibacy outside of marriage. Of course there are still differences; a single heterosexual person may still hope to meet someone; the homosexual doesn’t have that opportunity. Hill acknowledges that God can changes someone’s sexual orientation, but in his case God has not done so.
He ends the book calling for celibacy and to the work of the local church and the Holy Spirit. Throughout the book he highlights the power of quality friendships that supported, encouraged and challenged him. I doubt this is a book that in decades to come, people come back to read, but it provides the opportunity for the evangelical church to engage in a better and deeper way with this topic.
If you’re interested, read a sample of the book.