What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

What does the Bible ReallyTeach About Homosexuality? Is a great new book by Kevin DeYoung. This book really breaks down into four parts: 1) an overview of the big storyline of the Bible, 2) a quick exegetical walk through of the passages in the Bible that deal with homosexuality, 3) a look at the most popular objections to what the Bible says about homosexuality, 4) and some appendices that deal with cultural issues in and outside the church, as a well as a great bibliography with notes for further research.

In part one Kevin DeYoung walks through all of the passages in the Bible that deal with homosexuality. These include: Genesis 1-2, Genesis 19, Leviticus 18, 20, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and 1Timothy 1. What the reader will find here is an unapologetic and thorough exegetical study of these important passages. DeYoung’s conclusion concerning the Bible’s message about homosexuality is clear, “the Bible places homosexual behavior – no matter the level of commitment or mutual affection – in the category of sexual immorality” (17). But DeYoung also believes that all sexual sin, including homosexuality, is not beyond the reaches of the redemptive powers of the Gospel.

If you are a Christian or a non-Christian that wants to better understand what the Bible says about homosexuality, Part I of DeYoung book is a great, quick summary of the pertinent passages. This does not mean you will like what he has to say, but he is unapologetic about what the Bible says. DeYoung affirms “there is nothing ambiguous about the biblical witness concerning homosexual behavior. Even many revisionist scholars acknowledge that the Bible is uniformly negative toward same-sex activity” (73). Further more DeYoung boils the arguments against the Bible down to brass tacks when he says, “no positive argument for homosexuality can be made from the Bible, only arguments that texts don’t mean what they seem to mean, and that specific texts can be overridden by other considerations” (74).

One exercise I have done with younger members in my congregation that are struggling to understand this issue from God’s perspective is to walk them through each passage that deals with homosexuality in the Bible and let them tell me what each passage says. Unanimously they agree that the Bible speaks negatively about homosexuality. It is plain and obvious. Many Christians and non-Christians alike know this about the Bible. What DeYoung does in Part II of his book is then to walk through the cultural arguments and objections to what the Bible says. It is this section of DeYoung’s book that shines and is a must read for Christians and non-Christians alike.

What is so important with the second half of DeYoung’s book is that he answers many of the popular objections to the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality, and he does it by exposing the faulty thinking that these objections or questions spring from. In Part II he deals with the following objections and questions: Chapter 6 - “The Bible Hardly Ever Mentions Homosexuality,” Chapter 7 - “Not That Kind of Homosexuality,” Chapter 8 - “What about Gluttony and Divorce?,” Chapter  9 - “The Church Is Supposed to Be a Place for Broken People,” Chapter 10 - “You’re on the Wrong Side of History,” Chapter 11 – “It’s Not Fair,” Chapter 12 – “The God I Worship Is a God of Love.” With each objection or question DeYoung shows us why we are even asking these questions and why the Gospel meets us with a different and better solution. If you are a Christian you need to read these chapters so that you can actively engage in careful conversation with your friends on the issue. If you are a non-Christian, you need to engage with these chapters to better understand your own thinking and reactions to the teaching of the Bible, whether at the end of the day you agree with the Bible’s teaching or not.

In the short appendices that follows the two main parts of DeYoung’s book, he gives a couple of pages to the issues of gay marriage and same sex attraction. DeYoung does a good job pointing out that the issue of gay marriage is more than just about who you can marry, but includes other issues such as the state suddenly having the power to decide what is marriage, which is a ceding to the state vast amounts of power that it has never had (137-140). The state has always recognized marriage as an institution, but has never had the power to define it.  DeYoung’s second appendix deals with the growing debate in Christian circles over whether same sex attraction is a sin in an of itself. Sam Allberry deals with this issue some in his book, Is God Anti-Gay? And OtherQuestions About Homosexuality, the Bible, and Same-Sex Attraction. I have a review of Sam’s book HERE, that previously has appeared on entrustedwiththegospel.com if you would like to hear a little of what Sam has said. As a sidenote, Denny Burk, has recently, published an article in JETS on the topic entitled, “Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful?” You can read Burk's article HERE. DeYoung notes that all misplaced sexual desires are a product of the fall and are in need of redemption. Finally in a third appendix DeYoung gives “Ten Commitments” that the church should make as they deal with homosexuality. And they are all good.

DeYoung’s book is a great resource for knowing what the Bible says about homosexuality. But more than that, it is a great resource for a careful look at the questions Christians and the wider culture are posing as they wrestle with what the Bible has said. The book by its own admission is not meant to be a pastoral resource on how the church should gracefully deal with the issue, but wants to make the underpinning of the issue clear. The debate in the church over homosexuality and its acceptance is at its core a debate over biblical authority. Will the church accept the Bible’s teaching or find a way around it to indulge in sin.

If you want more resources on the debate, DeYoung has included a great bibliography with notes on each book listed for further study. He includes books that will help pastors and churches minister to those of the LGBT community, as well as works arguing in favor of homosexuality if you want to read counter arguments.  I would also encourage you to read one of several blog posts from Kevin DeYoung that have appeared on the Gospel Coalition’s website dealing with the issue of homosexuality. DeYoung's book is a must read for Christians working through the issues associated with homosexuality.
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