A Review of “Love Into Light” by Peter Hubbard

Love-Into-LightThe church has a lot to repent of when it comes to caring for our brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction. We have defaulted either to not talking about it at all, or to talking about it with such hateful rhetoric that we have made the church an unsafe place for those who struggle with this temptation. In his book Love Into Light Peter Hubbard aims to help us reevaluate our approach, and do better. His perspective, compassion, and theology are a welcome addition to the growing body of work on the church’s relationship to homosexuality.

A number of questions guide Hubbard’s writing. “What if homosexuality is not a threat but an opportunity? Could God use one of the most controversial moral issues in our nation to awaken His church rather than damage it” (15)? It has been his experience, both personally and through discussion with other churches, that these questions have not been answered well historically. The church has often viewed homosexuality as a worse sin than any other, and gays and lesbians as particularly bad sinners. We have downplayed the similarities between us all, and have made both those openly gay and those secretly struggling feel unwelcomed within our walls. Hubbard desperately wants to see that change. That’s why he calls this book a “plea.” He writes:

This book is not a counseling manual nor a comprehensive theology of homosexuality. Neither is it a political action plan. I think of it more as a plea, an appeal to the church to rethink the way we talk about SSA. (15)

The way we talk about same-sex attraction is important, says Hubbard, because it reveals what we ultimately believe about “the gospel, the homosexual and the church” (15).

The book focuses on these three elements across its ten chapters. In chapter one Hubbard focuses on the gospel, exploring particularly how the gospel speaks to our gay and lesbian friends. It speaks to them in the exact same way it speaks to all of us. Hubbard stresses the overlapping similarities we all have regardless of the ways in which they manifest. “As we look carefully at the reasons homosexuals might feel marginalized,” he writes, “we begin to see our own hearts more clearly and the story of the gospel more accurately” (23). “Could the way we speak or don’t speak about SSA be an indicator of a deficient understanding of the gospel of Jesus,” he wonders.

In addressing homosexuality Hubbard is careful. He avoids simplistic or reductionist explanation of causation. He also carefully navigates the discussion of “change.” He does not buy into some of the simplistic and hurtful approaches to encouraging individuals out of a lifestyle of homosexuality. He is not calloused towards the call to celibacy, nor is he convinced that everyone will overcome this struggle. He readily recognizes the difficulty to which Christ calls our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. I appreciate this feature of Hubbard’s writing. He is not interested, in this book, in simply promoting a heterosexual lifestyle. “The antidote for homosexuality is not heterosexuality” (47). The book as a whole is very balanced and careful. While Hubbard works to remain faithful to the testimony of Scripture he is also incredibly sensitive to the hurts of our friends who struggle with, or embrace, same-sex attraction. His work serves, in many respects, as a good model for the church to follow. He is not simply giving us a “how-to-manual,” but a rather a sensitive and Scripturally faithful example. This is a very pastoral work. Even as he exegetes the relevant passages on homosexuality, he does so with an eye towards caring for others. For that I am grateful.

There were only a few qualms I had with the book. On occasion Hubbard writes of “the homosexual” (27), or “a homosexual” (47), and similar uses of the word. It has been well documented that such usage is perceived as derogatory and inflammatory to the LGBT community. There are a host of reasons for this, Andrew Marin explained them well in his book Love is an Orientation, but Hubbard is either unaware of this dynamic or careless in his writing. Observing his general sensitivity throughout the work leads me to believe he is probably unaware. In either case his sensitivity could have been helped even further by his avoidance of such phraseology.

In addition to this criticism I have a stylistic complaint. Throughout the work Hubbard includes a number of helpful footnotes to direct readers to further study and clarifying information. At times, however, these footnotes come across as condescending. There are times where he makes clarifications that seem unnecessary, and imply that his readers really don’t know much. He explains what LGBTQ means, and defines “coitus,” “misogny,” and “sexism” in his footnotes. It’s not entirely clear why he feels the need to explain these things. He unpacks the Greek, defines existentialism, and references a host of academic studies on homosexuality. So why he, in turn, feels the need to explain these simple basic concepts also is a strange and annoying feature of the work. I realize, of course, that this is a petty criticism and so I will say nothing more about it.

Overall I appreciated this book. It’s tone sets a good example for how the church should think about same-sex attraction. Hubbard’s sensitivity and Scriptural faithfulness make this a welcome addition to the ongoing conversation within Evangelicalism. I highly recommend this work to both pastors and laymen. Changing the way we have this conversation will go a long way to building bridges with our friends in the LGBT community. It is possible to be faithful to Scripture and sensitive to our friends, Peter Hubbard’s Love Into Light is a good example of that.

Comments

  1. I’m just getting ready to read this book! Thank you for the review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: