Just at the point of exhaustion and irritability, when we think the debate on homosexuality in the church has reached its end—with every position articulated, every line drawn in the sand, every constituency ghettoized—other voices emerge to remind us that the conversation must proceed. Despite anxiety for ourselves and the church, the conversation must proceed because God has called us to this annoyance as he has called previous generations of Christians to other annoyances; the interpretation of Scripture requires us to think deeply and wait patiently upon God; the shalom of the church is at risk if we close down the search for agreement; and, lest we forget, some of God’s precious children live upon the rack.
Three fresh and challenging voices aid us in their books: Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan), Jenell Williams Paris’s The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are (IVP), and Oliver O’Donovan’s Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion (Cascade). Here’s a “gay Christian” and burgeoning New Testament scholar who pursues the vocation of celibacy (Hill), an anthropologist who questions our unexamined appropriation of sexual identity categories (Paris), and a British theologian who reflects on the troubles in his church without entanglement in America’s culture wars (O’Donovan). Two big ideas emerge from their writing. They who have ears, let them hear.
1. The moral status of homosexuality is (not) important.
Against those who regard the moral status of homosexuality as all-important—whether in condemnation or celebration—a ...