Zondervan, the publisher that though the world needed a gender-neutral Jesus, has joined with the American Psychological Association to push for Christian acceptance of the “celibate gay Christian”. As opposed to “repentant Christian”.
Though we often hear about the “gay problem” today, there is an even deeper problem in the church today–one that we often overlook. The call to follow Christ is a call to costly obedience for all, not just for gay Christians. Far too often, the church has elevated homosexuality above other sins and required a costly obedience from gays that it is unwilling to demand of others. And yet, the answer is not to weaken the demands of obedience. Instead, gay Christians who make the difficult choice to align their lives with the biblical view of sexuality are a gift to the church, reminding all of us that spiritual growth and maturity is costly. There is a price to pay in following Christ and devoting our lives to the call of the gospel, and it is one that we all must pay–gay and straight Christians alike.
Through the stories and struggles of gay Christians who are reorienting their lives around the costly obedience required to follow Christ, Mark Yarhouse and Olya Zaporozhets call the church to reorient as well, leaving behind the casual morality that is widespread today to pursue the path of radical discipleship. Unlike any other book on homosexuality and the church, this is a call to examine your life and consider what God is asking you to lay down to take up your cross and follow him.
That sounds harmless. Just one nagging question: if these Christians are trying to get past their homosexuality then why do they still identify as gay? “I’m a bestial Christian. Please don’t persecute me, I’m normal like you! Let me help with the flock! I promise to not bugger the sheep even though I tell the world I want to and know you’ll forgive me if I accidentally do!”
Tell me that’s not a big step towards acceptance of sodomy.
Mark A. Yarhouse, Psy.D., is the Hughes Endowed Chair and Professor of Psychology at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he is a core faculty member in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.
Dr. Yarhouse has spent several years promoting dialogue between people who view the topic of sexual identity differently. Fifteen years ago he chaired a groundbreaking symposium at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention that brought together gay psychologists and Christian psychologists to discuss common ground in treatment options for those who experience sexual and religious identity conflicts. He chaired similar dialogues at the APA on the many meanings of marriage (among different religions and among various groups within the gay community), services for adolescents experiencing sexual identity concerns, and an approach to services referred to as the sexual identity therapy framework.
Dr. Yarhouse is the past recipient of the Gary R. Collins Award for Excellence in Christian Counseling (American Association of Christian Counselors) and the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence at Regent University. He was a past participant with the Ethics and Public Policy Center think tank in Washington, DC, and he was named Senior Fellow with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities to conduct a study of students navigating sexual identity concerns at Christian colleges and universities. He has been a consultant to the National Institute of Corrections under the Department of Justice to address issues facing sexual minorities in corrections…
The best argument I’ve heard in a long time to not bother paying taxes.
…and he was part of a consensus panel from the American Psychological Association on sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts that convened to provide input to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in Washington, DC. Dr. Yarhouse is currently the Chair of the task force on LGBT issues for Division 36 (Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) of the American Psychological Association. He was recently invited to write the featured white paper on sexual identity for the Christ on Campus Initiative edited by Don A. Carson for The Gospel Coalition.
Mark Yarhouse is a great find, linking the converged APA directly to the converged Gospel Coalition. He’s one of the Cathedral’s queen termites. You can trust that any book written by the Chairman of the LGBT taskforce for the American Psychological Association is not going to condemn sodomy as an unnatural act.
Similarly, you can trust that anybody who talks about sexual perversion as an identity does not regard it as a perversion.
Frankly, if the APA hasn’t run this high-profile member out on a rail yet then that’s sufficient cause to dump him in the Treachery bin. “I host dialogues with the devil!” said no Christian ever.
Mister Yarhouse, let’s NOT have a dialogue about the many meanings of marriage. Let’s have enforcement of God’s meaning of marriage, seeing as you identify as a Christian.
And Zondervan is publishing this book, the company that tried to queer the New International Version of the Bible. That’s a red flag by itself.
For confirmation, let’s go to this review I found.
Celibate Gay Christians: Neither Shockingly Conservative nor Worryingly Liberal
By Ed Shaw, 21 June 2019
Being a celibate gay Christian means being an object of suspicion. The wider LGBTQ community sees you as shockingly conservative (“You think gay sex is wrong?”), while the wider evangelical community sees you as worryingly liberal (“You call yourself gay?”).
That sounds right. The queers hate any suggestion that their depravities are evil, while Christians wonder how somebody who rejects sodomy still accepts it as their core identity as a human being. It’s hypocrisy.
There are no gay Christians. Only Christians. When believers have trouble with Internet porn, do they call themselves Porn Christian?
One day, someone will be expressing disgust toward your “fundamentalist” beliefs. On the next, someone else is targeting your “perverted” sexual orientation. Disparate groups see you as an existential threat, and their attacks can be fierce, as recent online responses to conferences like Revoice and ministries like Spiritual Friendship and Living Out would attest.
Why would this person be hanging out with both unrepentant homosexuals and Christians? Pick a team, kid. Christ and Satan ain’t gonna share the trophy.
Researchers Mark Yarhouse and Olya Zaporozhets step bravely (foolishly?) into this battleground with their comprehensive study of people like me: Costly Obedience: What We Can Learn from the Celibate Gay Christian Community. It’s an important book with an academic feel that grows more pastoral as you read on. Yarhouse has written multiple volumes on LGBTQ experience based on careful research from the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity at Regent University in Virginia, where both of the authors teach. I wouldn’t agree with everything he’s ever written, but I thank God for the gracious tenor of his contributions.
I notice he didn’t get fired by the LGBTQs for what he’s written and refuse to bother reading his work for myself. No need to purchase this book.
If you’re curious, Olya is a Ukranian diversity hire. She isn’t worth these two sentences.
This newest book is essentially a listening exercise, based on an in-depth survey of celibate gay Christians. You hear their stories of milestone events and experiences in church life and ministry—as well as research that maps their mental health outcomes and relational challenges. But they are not the only voices recorded: There’s also input from friends, along with some fascinating insights into the perspectives of some evangelical pastors. The authors helpfully add their own measured reflections.
Fostering sympathy for gay Christians is definitely a step towards gay acceptance. They’re preying on the Niceness of Churchians, getting them to lower their guard.
Certain conversation topics could prove controversial. We hear differing thoughts, for instance, on such questions as the origins of same-sex attraction, the correct labels to use (is it “gay,” “same-sex attracted,” or something else?)…
EVIL! Call it what it is!
…the possibility of same-sex desires that aren’t wholly sinful…
There it is. Their goal.
and the prospect of changing one’s sexual orientation.
That’s like saying thievery is an economic orientation. There are two genders, male and female, and they are not interchangeable. But in the interests of hilarious dialogue, a third gender, mutant, will be made available to those with a doctor’s note explaining how their DNA is busted.
But one of the authors’ strongest points is the need to discuss these issues more carefully. They write, “Some church leaders and some celibate gay Christians seem to us, at times, to be describing two different things, rather than disagreeing on precisely the same thing.”
This appeal for a better conversation within evangelicalism couldn’t be timelier. The danger today is that some celibate gay Christians who appear to be drifting away from orthodoxy will make a clean break, precisely because of the lack of understanding (at best) and hatred (at worse) coming from more conservative voices. The book provides stories and statistics that help evangelicals appreciate where celibate gay Christians are coming from. Too much miscommunication is happening via angry tweets and polemical blog posts, and the careful research presented here could help set things right.
The carrot of more butts in seats. Never mind the failures of previous seeker-friendy fads. But yes, Mister Shaw, by all means, direct their attention to our angry tweets and polemical blog posts. A little adversity will help them to shit or get off the pot.
The standout chapters of Costly Obedience come toward the end. Chapter 5 contains excellent advice on how churches can better care for celibate gay Christians, including a moving and persuasive plea to “drop the language war” around sexual identity labels.
This is not a language war. A turd by any other name would stink as much.
As a pastor, I heartily second the authors’ request to “maintain a consistent standard” when it comes to challenging any sexual sin: It is amazing how blind we can be to our double standards.
There is only ever one standard, God’s. Neither is all sexual sin equal. Flogging the bishop because marriage is not an option is much different than deceiving one’s way into a church so he can sodomize children.
I most appreciated chapter 7, “How Celibate Gay Christians Could Strengthen the Church,” which offers a wonderful counter-narrative to the fear that gay people only ever pose a threat. I wanted to cheer out loud when I read passages like this:
“What we are suggesting is that the costly obedience of celibate gay Christians should impact the full church by being a model of what we are all called to live into: a life of sacrifice in which the hardships we face are given meaning and significance in relation to the passion of Christ. And the church needs to consider what it means to share in that cost.”
They’re trying to guilt us into giving special status to unrepentant homosexuals. Secret kings can’t wait!
In God’s providence, I ended up reading this book during Holy Week and writing this review the morning of Good Friday itself. Costly Obedience has encouraged me to continue taking up my cross and following Jesus. And it has given me a renewed hope that my lived experience will benefit not just myself but the wider church that Christ has bought through his own, infinitely costlier obedience.
Ed Shaw is the pastor of Emmanuel City Centre in Bristol (UK) and author of Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life (InterVarsity Press).
Ed Shaw is Associate Pastor at Emmanuel Bristol. He talks about the reasons people come up with to explain his same-sex attraction, and the good that God has brought into his life and friendships because of his openness about his sexuality.
Yeah, see, that doesn’t compute. He openly declares himself homosexual and in the next breath, claims to follow a religion whose God hates homosexuality. What are we supposed to believe, that he’s honest?
Serving two masters like that can’t last and is a good example of how Cult of Nice serves as the Trojan horse of Social Justice. I hope that Ed soon realizes that ‘homosexual’ is simply not who he is in Christ and puts even the existence of his personal evil to death.
And instead of complaining about suspicion, I hope he realizes that the people who look like him, talk like him and define their human identity in the same perverted way, are legendary for treachery and deceit… and thus, our suspicions of such people are fully justified.
This book, written by the APA’s corruption-agent-in-place and published by the pushers of the Feminist Bible, is exactly such treachery and deceit. And the most charitable we can be towards Ed is that he didn’t notice.