One can hardly open a newspaper or scroll through a blog without seeing someone’s opinion about sexuality and gender. For the Christian, the challenge is to find solid resources that actually reflect the Bible’s teaching on the subject. Fortunately there are a number of helpful books that have been written which explore the rights and wrongs of hot topics such as homosexuality. However, there has been a shortage of good resources which dive into the practical nuts and bolts of how to live with same-sex attraction in a way that is faithful. Ron Citlau’s book: Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted goes a long way towards meeting that need. Ron writes as a Pastor who has struggled with same-sex attraction himself. He brings this experience to bear in his book to help guide struggling readers to know what obedience looks like in this context. As he puts it in the introduction:
“We need to be able to show same-sex-attracted Christians how they can live out their sexual and relational lives in ways that honor Jesus and fulfill the deep aches of the heart. If we believe that same-sex strugglers must refuse to act on their same-sex desires for the sake of following Jesus, then I think it is up to the church to show the ways they can find relational fulfillment in Jesus and his church. Until we do this, the good news will not be very good to the same-sex struggler” (pg. 14).
Ron does this by first considering three dead-ends (or what he calls “obstacles”) to living a fulfilling Christian life with same-sex desires. First, he challenges the proponents of Gay Christian identity. Second, he considers the false hope of Gay marriage, and thirdly he offers a helpful critique of the “Spiritual friendship movement” as advocated by figures such as Wesley Hill.
Having shown why these paths don’t lead to happiness or holiness Ron seeks to guide his readers towards patterns of obedience that will bring fulfillment. He starts by discussing the gift of the Church, followed by chapters on the gifts of healing communities and Christian therapy, the gift of singleness or Marriage, and a striking chapter on the gift of prayerful lament. The book concludes with some final words to Church leaders and to the Christian who is struggling with same-sex desires.
Considering the lack of resource which cover this terrain, I found Citlau’s book to be a helpful guide. The book is not without its defects. There were places where his reasoning seemed rushed and Citlau reflects an eclectic theological diet (quoting positively from figures as diverse as Herman Bavinck, Pope Benedict, and the IHOP movement). I’m uncomfortable with the way he used the doctrine of the Trinity to undergird the Bible’s rejection of gay marriage and I think he overemphasizes the centrality of testimonies for faithful church life. Nevertheless the book really is very helpful in thinking through these issues. It is certainly a resources that I will both use and recommend to those either wrestling with these issues or looking to come alongside those who struggle. May there be more books like it in the years to come!
I would like to thank the good folks over at Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a free review copy of this book. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.