Sunday, June 18, 2023

Pride Month Resources for the Church

 7 Pride Month Resources for the Christian Community 

The Gospel Coalition (Canada) recently published an article sharing resources for Pride Month. (You can read that article by clicking here.) This, along with the onslaught of pride-related images, posts, updates, and shares, got me to thinking that I ought to put some resources out there for my Edgewood Church family as they navigate pride month, pride fests, and pride coalitions, along with the proud people promoting these things. It has become increasingly important for me, as a pastor, to consider what I can do to shepherd the flock of God in all faithfulness so that when the Chief Shepherd appears, I might receive the crown of glory (see 1 Peter 5:1-4).  

This shepherding duty is not one that I take lightly. And now with people professing to know the truth and desiring to be teachers, but not having "...understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions." (See 1 Timothy 1:7), the job of defending the faith is one that requires two voices... as John Calvin says, "The Pastor ought to have two voices, one, for gathering the sheep, and another, for driving away wolves."

image via 

Being a bi-vocational pastor, I don't always have the time or the energy to deploy both voices as often as they are needed. This means that sometimes my best option is to point the sheep to the best watering holes and the richest pastures. Specifically, places where other shepherds have taken their flocks or where I've seen other sheep come away stuffed with a marvelous feast. So, here are a few of those bountiful places to graze, especially if you are famished or starving for some genuine food.

Resource 1: Love into Light

Love into Light is a book by Pastor Peter Hubbard. Peter Hubbard is the head teaching pastor at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, SC. I met Peter Hubbard when I was living in Greenville, SC, and attended that church. I had already moved back to Illinois before this book came out. But when it did my initial interest was based on my knowledge of the author. Peter was a humble man that I had always seen exhibit love, patience, and compassion with those in his church. 

This has been my favorite book on this subject for several years now. I can remember when we first went through this book as a church, it was extremely helpful and gospel-saturated.  I like it because its focus is on how to minister to those who are struggling with same-sex attraction and what the good news of Jesus has to say about that struggle. For 100s of years, people have understood that the gospel message is at the heart of all dealings with sin, both in the church and in the individual. Hubbard does an excellent job of tying together grace and truth, or as the title suggests, love and light. 

Resource 2: Is God Anti-Gay?

Is God Anti-Gay? is a book by Sam Allberry. The full title of this book is Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions About Jesus, the Bible, and Same-Sex Sexuality with the subtitle stating: (Can you be gay and Christian? Christian book on same-sex ... and Jesus' teaching on sex and marriage).  If you are looking for a quick read on this subject, this is a good book for that. 

I would like to state that I don't agree with everything in this book. What I liked about this book is that the author writes from the perspective of someone who has dealt with (and is dealing with) same-sex attraction.  If I understand correctly, Sam Allberry is a pastor (or was a pastor, I'm not sure) of a church in the UK who faced this challenge as a teen. He is open and honest about this struggle and how he came to the conclusions that he did because for Sam Allberry it came down to God being God in his life. i.e. being obedient to the commands of God in spite of his inclinations. 

There is a commendable faith that is exhibited when one chooses to be obedient to God against all of their internal inclinations. I mean, to some degree, we all have to deal with that, don't we? Doesn't it say in Romans 6:12, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions."? (ESV) Our internal sinful passions are no longer the rulers of our hearts. We are to consider ourselves dead to those things (Rom. 6:11). So, I agreed with a basic premise that Sam Allberry put forward and I applauded his honesty and transparency when it came to directly dealing with these issues in his own heart and his submission to the God of the universe when it came to who got to say what was right and what was wrong, how to live, and how not to live. 

What I ended up not ultimately agreeing with, but didn't feel like it disqualified this book, was the assumption that someone struggling with same-sex attraction would have to face this for the entirety of their lives.  I do believe that there are some sinful inclinations that we will face until we die.  It is "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." (Philippians 3:12 ESV) And like the Apostle Paul, I sometimes cry in my continual frustration with my sinful self, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24 ESV)  I'm glad Paul finishes that thought in verse 25 with a "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!" 

Sam Allberry is right in not allowing his own heart to determine what is the life he is to choose, but heading toward the heart of God in all of those life choices. So this book is good for the one who may be in the middle of a homosexual relationship or knows someone who is in this lifestyle. But as we will see from these other resources, there is hope... and it doesn't have to be one of celibacy. 

The next three resources come highly recommended by my wife. (Who also has Harmless Thoughts.)

Resource 3: Homosexuality: Speaking the Truth in Love

Ed Welch's Homosexuality: Speaking the Truth in Love is a short read. I believe that this is technically considered a pamphlet, as part of the CCEF's Resources for Changing Lives series. This resource is amazingly helpful for the person who is needing answers to some of the false teachings that are making their rounds on social media and from the lips of those who have made shipwreck their faith. If you need Biblical answers to these questions quickly, this is a great pamphlet. 

I would also like to add that Ed Welch offers more hope for the person struggling in this area. There is a real Spiritual element to this discussion that often gets overlooked. Ed Welch, as a Biblical Counselor, brings that Spiritual element into the conversation in a real-to-life, put-it-into-practice way.

This is a great resource to purchase in bulk. 

Resources 4 & 5: Gay Girl Good God and The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

Gay Girl Good God by Jackie Hill Perry is a great book for anyone who is struggling with same-sex attraction or is in a homosexual relationship and needs help navigating out of it. The other book I have listed here is by Rosaria Butterfield. Her book is called The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith. Both of these books come from the perspective of one who is fully engaged in the LGBTQ+ community and approach this topic in an autobiographical format.

My wife has listened to both of these as audiobooks and highly recommends both of them. These sincere stories are from real people ... people who were not coerced or forced into a way of life ... people who were not biased based on their upbringing or lifestyle or community. Both of these women came to understand Christianity, the Bible, and the Church through their coming to meet Jesus. Both of them also have a significant amount to say regarding the role that other Christians played in their lives and on their journey to meet Christ. It is stories like these that demolish the experiential arguments that false teachers tend to put forth. (Of course, all false teachers disregard stories like these because they don't fit their narrative.)

Resource 6: The Church

Not "a church" but "THE Church."  The Church is the only human institution that has been sanctioned and founded by God himself. And then according to the Apostle Paul, the Church is... "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20 ESV).  Christ Jesus, as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament), is the beginning block, the corner to set everything else in place. The Apostles, as they were guided by the Spirit, spoke to us of The Christ, explaining to us his message and purpose. Their teachings (the New Testament) laid out the rest of the groundwork, the weight-bearing doctrines, the alignment of all of the walls, for this structure we call the Church, God's people, the physical manifestation of the Kindom of God. 

Any local church that is worth its salt, is built on the cornerstone of Jesus and that foundation of the Apostle's teaching. It will be a church that can trace its roots of belief from the past to the present. It will be built on previous generations of learning. As a lover of Church History, it is encouraging, empowering and strenghtening to follow that flow of The Church's teachings. All of its creeds, confessions, corrections, reformations, and councils are an amazing testimony to the providential grace of God towards his people. 

Churches that adopt new cultural morals are not to be trusted. Paul warned the young preacher Timothy that this would happen. After telling Timothy to continue preaching the word, he says, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions" (2 Timothy 4:3 ESV) This is precisely what we see happening, and people who ought not to be teachers are finding an audience as they tickle those itching ears. 

Look for a church that preaches the word. Look for a church that is not ashamed of what the word teaches. Don't get swayed by great youth programs. Don't get sidetracked by an expensive sound system and talented musicians. Look past all of these outward elements to what make a church a good church... one that is founded on the the teachings of the apostles the prophets, with Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.

Resource 7: Me

Seriously.  This is not meant to sound arrogant or prideful. I simply mean that I would be willing to walk through this with you. Call me, text me, message me, or drop a comment here. Let's wade through this together. I will listen and then we can both go to the word together. If I am wrong, God will show that to me, but if I am right, "Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you." (Philippians 3:15 ESV)

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