The Same Sex Controversy, by James White and Jeffrey D. Niell. Bethany House Publishers (2009), 254 pages, $16.00.
This topic is an unpleasant one to say the least, and many of us, myself included, often find it an undesirable subject for conversation or reading. Yet there are few topics which are relevant to the present state of affairs. We are a living in a time of tremendous moral change, a time when the traditional values cultivated by Christianity are being intentionally overthrown by our society. The most obvious example of this is the current debate over gay “marriage.” Not only are our political assemblies divided over the legality of homosexual “marriage,” but more and more our society is acclaiming homosexuality a permissible and even praiseworthy lifestyle. However as we all undoubtedly know, the situation is far worse than that. For the Christian Church itself (broadly construed) is also becoming increasingly divided over this issue, an issue which ought never to be a problem for any Bible-believing, Christ-confessing Church. Today that which was formerly “unthinkable” has indeed become the present reality: Christian Churches are declaring that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle and that the Bible itself does not condemn it, but even promotes it. This is the social and ecclesiastical context in which we now live, and therefore it is imperative that we are able to articulate and defend the biblical position in this debate. A great way to do this is to read good books on the topic.
The Same Sex Controversy is one such book. It is a book which is intended to engage this debate within the Christian community and to equip faithful Christians to stand fast in the way of truth. The focus of the authors is not to engage the legal battle over the place which homosexuality might be permitted to occupy in our society. Rather, they focus on the Bible’s teaching concerning homosexuality. In particular, the book is meant to provide a definitive response to those who claim that the Bible actually teaches that homosexuality is acceptable before God. In accordance with this emphasis, the majority of the book consists of comprehensive examinations of the key biblical passages which treat the topic, i.e. story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the prohibitions found in Leviticus, and the preeminent New Testament passages in Romans 1, I Corinthians, and I Timothy. The analysis of the relevant Biblical texts is detailed, and above all, devastating to the convoluted interpretations imposed upon the texts by those who have compromised on the issue of homosexuality. When necessary, the authors provide a thorough examination of key words and concepts in the original languages of the passages under discussion, a study which sheds considerable light on the meaning of those texts. In so doing, they show how the biblical text, when viewed in its original languages and historical context cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be construed to promote or even permit homosexual behavior. Using scripture to interpret scripture, they demonstrate the Bible’s unequivocal condemnation of all forms of homosexual conduct. In my opinion this emphasis is the book’s greatest strength. The authors do a fine job of keeping the book biblically based and biblically focused from cover to cover. Another one of the nicest aspects of the book is that it does not present a purely negative argument, rather the authors base their argument upon a positive affirmation of the biblical doctrine of marriage as laid out in Genesis and affirmed by Christ. The book does not simply define and refute error; it also casts light upon the beautiful order of human relationships that God created in the beginning, that of the complementary and mutually enriching relationship between male and female. The sanctity and holiness of this ordained order is the basis for the Christian’s opposition to homosexuality. This is a critically important facet of the biblical position which can often be lost when necessity compels defenders of the biblical position to refute the multitude of twisted interpretations thrown out by other side. Another strength is the book’s readability. The book is intended for a wide audience and for use by the average lay person. As a result the book is easy to read and its content, while avoiding superficiality, is easy to understand and digest. In this way it avoids the cumbersome style of many scholarly books, which may discourage the casual reader from picking them up. No part of this book is wasted. The endnotes and appendices are as valuable and worth reading as the text itself.
In sum, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who desires to equip himself or herself to contend with this particular “spirit of the age.” If you want a clear presentation of the biblical case against homosexuality as well as perceptive, detailed, and fatal refutations of the opposing arguments, you will find this book a useful tool and an enlightening read. The Same Sex Controversy is a clear, accessible, and powerful articulation and defense of the Bible’s teaching concerning homosexuality.