It is becoming increasingly clear that homosexuality will be a defining issue for the twenty-first century church, at least here in North America. It seems inevitable that same-sex marriage will soon be legalized across America; it has been the law in Canada for several years now. Meanwhile the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality is becoming a cultural shibboleth, a means of determining who has a voice worth hearing and who does not.
In the middle of all this is the Christian church which, since time immemorial, has held that the Bible forbids homosexuality. Is it time, as so many insist, for Christians to take a second look at the Bible, to get with the times, and to embrace homosexuality as a valid lifestyle, a valid expression of love and sexuality?
Many Christians feel threatened, like their backs are against the wall, and that this issue represents a major threat to their faith. But is it possible that Christians have been thinking about the issue all wrong? In his new book Love Into Light, Peter Hubbard asks, "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?" Is it possible that if we continue on our current trajectory, the church will soon be defined by what we are against, whom we oppose, and all the while the gospel will be lost in the fray?
Hubbard writes as a pastor, as a counselor and as a man deeply marked by the gospel of divine grace extended toward human sin. He insists that the gospel makes all the difference, for before the cross we are all the same, we are all sinners, we are all in desperate need of grace. He says, "We need Spirit-empowered love to move toward those struggling with [same sex attraction] without despising or excusing their sin, because their sin is our sin--our hearts are no different! ... My sin always seems reasonable to me, and your sin inexcusable. Left to myself, I can find a way to justify anything I really want, and the choices I make can hurt the people I most love."
The gospel makes all the difference and the gospel is exactly what Fred Phelps and so many others have thrown away in their misguided, hate-filled attempts to address homosexuality. "If our attitude toward a gay or lesbian person is disgust, we have forgotten the gospel. We need to remember the goodness and lovingkindness that God poured out on us. God should have looked at us and been disgusted. Instead, without condoning our sin, He loved us and saved us. And I want everyone to know that kind of love!"
"The gospel penetrates to the root of the heterosexual and homosexual dilemma: Who am I? Whose am I?" It assures us that we are all sinners who are utterly and wholly dependent upon God's grace if we are to be saved from the eternal consequences of our rebellion. Rather than focusing so much attention on a particular category of sin, we ought to concentrate on the joy of being undeserving, forgiven sinners, for "a church characterized by a small experience of forgiveness will be characterized by a small expression of love."
The book has several notable strengths that make it a valuable and important contribution to this discussion. One strength is in Hubbard's approach to homosexuality through a biblical lens. He attempts to diagnosis it accurately using biblical categories and as he does so, he helps show what it is and, perhaps especially helpfully, shows what it is not. He eschews easy labels and easy solutions. Another strength is Hubbard's pastoral tone and his love for the people he writes for and writes to. It is always clear when a writer knows and loves people who find themselves struggling with same sex attraction and people who are unapologetically homosexual; it is equally clear when a person is writing about a caricature, about people has never met and never loved. A third strength is that the book is anchored in the gospel; from beginning to end, the gospel pervades it all.
Love Into Light is a powerful, biblical, compassionate look at a moral issue that represents a great opportunity for the church. This is a book that will benefit anyone who chooses to read it. It is one leaders would do well to read; it is one pastors will want to read, especially if they are counseling someone who is struggling in this area, searching for identity, wondering what the Bible says. It will shape the Christian's thinking, it will apply the gospel, it will be a blessing. It is kind, it is biblical, it is pastoral, and it receives my highest recommendation.