A Review of “Is God Anti-Gay?” by Sam Allberry

allberry“We should expect a number of Christians to experience forms of same-sex attraction. We live in a fallen world” (43). Sam Allberry knows this truth at many levels. As both a Christian who struggles with SSA and as a friend to many others who struggle with it, he writes from good knowledge. Helping Christians to think sensitively and Biblically about this reality is his goal in this fantastic little book with the provocative title. Is God Anti-Gay? is the most gracious, sensitive, and yet honest book on same-sex attraction I have ever read, and it is the perfect introduction to such a complicated and personal issue.

The short booklet (85 pages) is part of the Good Book Company’s Questions Christians Ask series. Allberry’s work is one of six different volumes in the series, each targeting a different question. I can’t speak for all volumes but Allberry’s work covered a wide breadth of material in a short amount of space but did so very proficiently, cogently, carefully, and insightfully. It helps that he has surely spent a significant amount of time thinking about and studying on the subject. He acknowledges that he is familiar with a wide swath of views, literature, and criticisms, but he never loses sight of the primary goal of the book: to answers questions about same-sex attraction based on Scripture (13). He never veers too far into conjecture or defense.

His work is also very gospel-grounded. In the introduction he gives us a glimpse of his own story and his personal struggle with SSA. As a young man struggling with feelings of homosexuality he states that the gospel of Jesus Christ was truly “good news”. It was wonderful news to him to learn that God was not against him. He writes:

God’s message to gay people is the same as his message for everyone. Repent and believe. It is the same invitation to find fullness of life in God, the same offer of forgiveness and deep, wonderful, life-changing love. It was this message I first heard at my friends’ church, the message I have tried to live in the light of in the years since. Through it all, as someone who lives with homosexuality, I have found biblical Christianity to be a wonderful source of comfort and joy. (10)

This gospel message not only shaped Allberry’s life and his experience of same-sex attraction, but it penetrates his advice on how to think about your own struggle with SSA, or your friend’s struggle with it.

Ultimately he takes his readers back to Christ again and again. He tells readers that their feelings do not disqualify them from having a right relationship with God. “There is a right recognition that this is not how we are meant to be,” he says. But such “feelings provide a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of the gospel” (46). Furthermore, he says, this struggle does not define you. His focus is admittedly not on trying to help individuals change their desires, but rather to help them desire Jesus more than anything else. “A ‘win’,” he say, “for Christians struggling with SSA is not that the temptations would go away, but that in the heat of them Jesus would be prized more and more” (58). He is exceedingly gospel focused.

He also helps the church as a whole keep their focus on the gospel as it relates to this issue. He writes carefully to us about how to care for those who come out to us. He helps us to know how to love the non-believer who is gay or lesbian. While he has many specific applications here, all throughout these sections he is reminding us to simply love people and bring them to Jesus. “When a gay couple starts coming to church, my priority for them is the same as for anyone else: to hear the gospel and experience the welcome of a Christian community” (66). In other words, we don’t have to jump on the same-sex partnership issue right away. It’s far more useful to build relationships and demonstrate love. It’s far more important, he says, that they meet Jesus.

This emphasis should not be understood as anything less than Biblical. Allberry is not afraid to state plainly what the Bible says about homosexuality. Chapter one is easily the longest chapter and that’s because the author covers all the applicable passages of Scripture on the subject, coming down where orthodox readings of the Scriptures do: God does not condone homosexual activity of any kind. Throughout the rest of the book he responds to common pushback from the LGBT community: accusations of cherry-picking Old Testament laws, the distinction between faithfulness in same-sex partnerships versus unfaithfulness in heterosexual partnerships, and the common criticism that Jesus never speaks about homosexuality. He addresses all this and more in a thorough, if not overly technical or detailed, fashion. Readers will appreciate both his honesty here, and yet his gentle touch.

Overall I can think of no book I have read on this subject that is more adept at dealing with this subject thoroughly, Biblically, and yet graciously. Yes there are more academic and exhaustive treatments of the subject. Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice is definitely a more full-treatment. But in terms of an easily accessible, simple, and practical guide to the subject from a conservative Christian context Is God Anti-Gay? is the best book available. The best part about it is the gracious manner in which Allberry writes it. Christians far too often treat our Gay and Lesbian neighbors as projects or pariahs, as enemies. Allberry helps us to be more thoughtful in our responses, more careful in our language, and more comprehensive in our care. Actually, this book is not simply great because it gives Biblical answers to those who struggle with same-sex attraction. It is great because it gives Biblical instruction to those Christians who should love and care for their brothers and sisters who struggle with SSA. I highly recommend it.

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