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Turning Controversy Into Church Ministry

January 20, 2011

Over at Internet Monk, Chaplain Mike reviews Turning Controversy Into Church Ministry: A Christlike Response to Homosexuality by William P. Campbell.

I like that he is unafraid to take all sides to task. He balances strong words to Christians who have been bothheretical (twisting grace into license) and hypocritical (twisting truth into judgmentalism). He disassembles the arguments of those who would link gay affirmation with the liberation of slaves and women. On the other hand, he points out the thoughtless use of language on the part of conservative Christians, as when they bandy about words like “abomination” without understanding its meaning or impact. He warns, “The American Psychiatric Association has embraced an oversimplified and unbalanced position on homosexuality; the church must not overreact by doing the same thing in the opposite direction.” (p.118)

While I am thankful for good analysis and thinking about the issues, sensitivity to the gays around us, the call for churches to welcome gays and call them to Christ and sexual purity through a cogent position of compassion without compromise, this book did nothing to encourage me or show me how to actually make friends with my gay neighbors. It did not help me learn to live and work and play in the community with them even when they don’t want to change, how to listen to their concerns and identify with their struggles on a personal level, how to love them and help them and serve them, whether or not it involves trying to help them change in some way.

In my experience, it is better to start at ground level with a willingness to play the game on someone else’s field. Learn to be a neighbor and a friend first; don’t expect me to come join your program.

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