Sam Allberry, Is God Anti-Gay?: And Other Questions About Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-Sex Attraction (The Good Book Company, revised edn., 2015)
For many of us today, Christianity and homosexuality can seem like oil and water. Maybe you’ve hit a wall in your evangelism – a friend or stranger has cornered you on the issue of homosexuality, and you haven’t known what to say about what you believe. Perhaps you’re personally struggling to reconcile your sexuality and your faith, or are exploring Christianity but just feel deeply uncomfortable with what you’ve heard on sexuality. Whoever you are, help is at hand in Sam Allberry’s short, accessible book Is God Anti-Gay?.
Across ninety short pages, Sam walks us through many topics: his own testimony; God’s good design for sex and marriage; what the Bible says about homosexuality; the practical implications of this for Christians, including the blessings and struggles of singleness; how churches can love gay people and same-sex attracted Christians better; and how we can be effective witnesses on this topic both to the world and to gay friends.
From the beginning, his basic message is simple: ‘Is God anti-gay? No’ (p.12). In making his case for this position, Sam tackles some of the big, uncomfortable questions head-on, seeking to re-centre the conversation to what the Bible really says and give us confidence in that. To lift a couple of examples out of context, we read that the Bible calls homosexual behaviour ‘unnatural’ (p.31), and that ‘where the Bible directly addresses homosexual behaviour it is to condemn it’ (p.38). Are you squirming yet? These are hard things for our twenty-first century eyes to read and ears to hear.
Fortunately, these tough truths don’t come without context in the book. Instead, they’re rooted in two key things: the goodness of God’s word, and the author’s own experience of same-sex attraction.
Although it’s by no means the focus of the book, Sam begins by explaining his own wrestling with his sexuality and faith. This helps us, as readers, to know that the author shares some of our struggles and is not insensitively lecturing or condemning us from on high. In fact, he admits that ‘God’s word to [him] on this issue at times feels confusing and difficult’ (p.10).
Most importantly, though, this book also reflects Sam’s conviction that God’s word is ‘deeply and profoundly good’ (p.10). Virtually every page of the book is focussed on what the Bible says. Perhaps surprisingly, we learn that the Bible rarely addresses homosexuality directly and as such ‘it is probably not the first thing, or even the main thing.’ (p.26) that gay friends need to hear. Sam encourages us instead to start with Jesus’ death and resurrection and work outwards from there. He leads by example on this, putting what the Bible says on homosexuality in the wider context of the gospel.
However, alongside this caveat, Sam affirms that what the Bible does have to say about homosexuality is clear and important. When it comes to the difficult and oft-quoted passages, such as Sodom in Genesis or verses from Leviticus, he weighs up what people say about them and why, before exploring the original wording and wider context of the verses to demonstrate that they clearly condemn homosexual behaviour. Again, these are hard but necessary things to read. Ultimately, we see that the Bible does not single out or condemn gay people for being gay, but ‘God is opposed to all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage’ (p.38). This requires tough decisions from all of us, but we’re also reminded that wonderfully ‘the same offer of forgiveness and deep, wonderful, life-changing love’ (p.10) is open to anyone and everyone in Jesus.
Being a short book, Is God Anti-Gay? isn’t an exhaustive, comprehensive guide to every question anyone might ever have on Christianity and homosexuality. Nor is it a blow-by-blow, autobiographical account of someone wrestling with their faith and sexuality. Anyone looking for that kind of thing would do well to read Jackie Hill Perry’s Gay Girl, Good God, as one such example.
However, this is an incredibly helpful, clear guide to what the Bible actually says about homosexuality and what that means for Christians. Whether you’re wrestling with your own sexuality or just looking for answers on what the Bible really tells us about homosexuality, Is God Anti-Gay? is full of biblical truth and practical ways forward for individuals and churches. It can be skim-read in an afternoon, but it’s worth taking your time to absorb each chapter, to reflect, and to pray. It’s a useful one to hang on to and refer back to, either to answer your own questions or those of friends.