Homosexuality is one of the most controversial topics of our day, and we all need clear, biblical answers that are grounded in love and compassion. As a Christian and a leading expert in the field of sexual identity, Mark Yarhouse provides honest, accurate information about hot-button questions like:
• What causes homosexuality and same-sex attraction?
• Can attractions or orientation be changed?
• What is “sexual identity” and why does it matter?
• What should I do when a friend opens up to me about his or her homosexual attractions?
Mark A. Yarhouse is a professor of psychology and the director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity at Regent University. He is also part of a group practice in the Virginia Beach area, providing individual, couples, family, and group counseling. Dr. Yarhouse received his PsyD from Wheaton College and has worked collaboratively on a number of books. He and his family live in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
My review: You don’t often hear a lot about homosexuality within the church, and this is the first book I’ve read on the subject. I think it is something that needs to be acknowledged within the church. There are many people struggling with this “secret sin” sitting in our pews who are simply afraid to talk to anyone about what they are dealing with for fear of being rejected. This book explains the differences between same sex attraction, homosexual orientation and gay identity. It covers different situations like what to do if your child, adult child or spouse announces a gay identity. It also talks about how the church can respond to someone struggling in this area. It explains the difference between the “sincere struggler” and the “assertive advocate”. There are many people who struggle with this sin, who do not want to identify as gay. The church needs to be a safe place for these people. It needs to be a place where they can find love, acceptance and support…not a support of homosexuality, but of the person, the Christian struggling with this sin, who desperately wants to be free.
I recommend this book to everyone. Whether we know someone with this particular struggle or not, we never know when we will find ourselves in a situation where we need to know how to respond to someone with this struggle. It is real, and someone sitting behind you in the pew could be struggling with sexual identity. How will you respond to them?
Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I found particularly noteworthy:
“I don’t think Christians who are sexual minorities feel like they are part of “us”. The nature of their struggle is tremendously isolating, and there is much shame involved in it. Shame is different from guilt. Guilt is about feeling bad for something you’ve done, Shame is about feeling bad for who you are. Because sexuality is tied to our sense of ourselves as a person, it is common for the Christian who experiences same-sex attraction to feel shame for their experience, regardless of their behavior. ”
“What the Christian community can offer the Christian sexual minority is a vision for what it means to be Christlike. That vision places the Christian sexual minority squarely in the middle of the Christian community. They become us. We are all supposed to be working toward the same goal. Whether we experience same-sex attraction or not, we are all to move toward Christ-likeness.
A Church that facilitates this kind of community treats all people with respect. Such a church avoids negative comments about the gay community. The pastoral leadership takes a lead with wording and language here. They set a tone when they talk about people who are sorting out sexual identity concerns. This kind of church welcomes broken people and relies on the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of those who listen to the Word of God preached and lived by those in the congregation. “
*I did not receive a giveaway copy of this book, however I think it is an important read and I am going to offer up my copy for giveaway. If anyone is interested, please leave a comment at the end of this post. Thanks!!