There’s No Escaping It
A review by David Campbell of What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), paperback, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-43354-937-3.
If we could withdraw to the proverbial desert island the problems created by homosexuality might easily be among the many left behind us. Such a withdrawal is for most of us the stuff of imagination. It’s beyond the bounds of the possible. And that is a mercy. For God has called us to be salt and light – something that requires us to be part of society, not separate from it.
So there’s no escaping it. Homosexuality and all the issues connected with it in today’s world. The belief that it’s as appropriate an expression of our sexuality as heterosexuality. That marriage, accordingly, is as much for same-sex couples as for a man and a woman. That to view homosexuality as a sin is to be grievously mistaken. That to openly say it’s a sin is to be guilty of hate speech. That Christians should repent of their negativity toward it and celebrate it as another beautiful dimension of our diversity as a human race. That that is what our children should be taught.
The critical question for the Christian (as indeed it should be for everyone) is, ‘What does the Bible say?’ For the Bible is the word of God. It is the revelation of the will of our Creator for our thinking and our living. There is nothing more important than that it be allowed to shape our beliefs and behaviour. Our highest well-being as individuals, families, churches, and nations can be secured in no other way.
So what does the Bible teach? That is almost the title of a recent book by popular Christian author Kevin DeYoung. To give it to you exactly, it is What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? The way in which the book answers that question is the reason for this review article. In the space of just over 150 pages, the teaching of the Bible on homosexuality is presented to us in as clear, full, accurate, and persuasive a manner as we could wish.
The book begins by endeavouring to show us how homosexuality fits into the overall biblical picture. One the one hand it is acknowledged that ‘there’s not a whole lot about homosexuality in the Bible . . . [I]t’s not a question that dominates the pages of the Bible’ (pp. 14-15). On the other hand it is no marginal issue either but one that ‘touches many of the important and most precious truths the Bible upholds’ (p. 15) – the atoning work of Christ, what salvation means, the coming judgment, the fate of the sexually immoral.
The main body of the book falls into two parts. The first is entitled, ‘Understanding God’s Word’. A number of key Scripture texts are examined which directly address the issue of homosexuality – or which have a bearing on it. For most of history there has been unanimity among Christians on how these texts are to be understood. To put it plainly, it has been universally agreed that they condemn all homosexual behaviour as sinful. In recent years, however, this traditional understanding has been subjected to a radical revision. DeYoung does a superb job of defending the traditional understanding and demonstrating that the revisionists are bereft of all scriptural warrant for their conclusions.
In the second part of the book a whole series of objections is addressed. For example, ‘The Bible hardly ever mentions homosexuality’; ‘Not that kind of homosexuality’; ‘The Church is supposed to be a place for broken people’; ‘It’s not fair’; ‘The God I worship is a God of love’. DeYoung has read widely, listened carefully, weighed the objections well, and responds to them with grace, wisdom, and unwavering fidelity to the Bible.
The two halves of the book fit together well and superbly answer the question posed by the book’s title. Several appendixes – on same-sex marriage, same-sex attraction, and the kind of commitments the church should make in dealing with this matter – helpfully round things out.
Time is short and the subject of homosexuality must not be allowed to occupy more of it than is necessary. But we do need to give some thought to it. As the heading of this article affirms – there’s no escaping it. In particular we do need to know what the Bible teaches about homosexuality and why the historical understanding of its teaching is correct. Kevin DeYoung’s book gives us just what we need. It is short, readable, clear, gracious, and thoroughly biblical. Highly recommended.
David Campbell is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.