Near the beginning of the book, Peter Hubbard addresses what I feel can be one of the most challenging problems with how the church has interacted with this topic. He puts it this way:
I have spoken to scores of men and women who have spent years worshipping in church while battling alone with SSA (Same Sex Attraction). They were terrified to tell anyone, and convinced that if other Christians knew their secret, they would be tagged and discarded. Imagine the trauma of believing that your struggle is unlike any other sin. The preacher makes applications in his sermons to lying, stealing, or marital selfishness. And periodically a man may testify to struggling with heterosexual lust. Or a woman may ask for prayer regarding anxiety. But these sins seem normal, understandable. And there is hope and help for change. But homosexuality seems different. When it is mentioned in church, it's usually associated with abomination, activism, or antagonism. Often the pronouns change from "we" to "them." Some sins allow you to be a "we," but other sins require you to be a "them." The "yuck" factor crosses the line of acceptability.How true that next to last sentence has been. How often I have heard, and maybe have even maintained myself a "them" mentality regarding homosexuals.
Right after the above statement, he states three goals in this book. The third of those three goals is:
...that the church, all believers, would shift from reacting to media and political stories, to proactively engaging our homosexual neighbors with the same love and the same truth that Jesus is offering to us.Even though I thought that the entire book was excellent: again and again dealing with this emotionally charged topic with both grace and truth, I found that the final chapter, addressing outreach, was what truly brought everything together. Of course to understand that final chapter, I needed to go through the rest of the book, which brought a better understanding to the topic, so that we can go into an outreach mindset with compassion and understanding. Consider this quote near the end:
Paul did not command Titus to preach against "those homosexuals." He commanded Titus to "teach what accords with sound doctrine." ... According to the letter to Titus, gospel advancement is not to be pursued through hurling insults or lobbing cliches over picket lines. These methods attempt to catapult sound bites over deep trenches rather than living and speaking the story of Jesus before friends and neighbors. Some of us may feel uncomfortable with the New Testament's method of evangelism. [emphasis mine]I obviously left some of that quote out. What does he mean by "teach what accords to sound doctrine"? What does this look like? How would one accomplish this? I've left much out because it would take a book to do this topic justice... So, you should just buy the book! That final sentence is such a reality for many of us. We say we want to do evangelism God's way, but when it comes down to it, we can start to get a little uncomfortable and there are too many Christians that eventually default back to that "us" vs. "them" mentality.
I hope that God saves us from this, and more specifically I hope that Edgewood (the church where I pastor) would be a be a place where those struggling with SSA in Danville would come for the truth of the Gospel and the grace of Jesus Christ.