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Book Review: What Does The Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?

So, what does the Bible really teach about homosexuality?

It is no longer acceptable to be a Christian and likewise completely ignorant of the ramifications behind homosexuality. More specifically, it is not okay to be ignorant of what the Bible says about homosexuality. It has become the issue of our day. Yet, many Christians — including me, before I read this book — don’t exactly have a pin-point grasp of what the Scriptures actually teach.

So, what do we do?

What Does The Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?

Well, here’s where we start: Kevin DeYoung is one on my favorite writers and I got this book for free from Crossway as apart of the Beyond The Page program. There you go — full-discloure right off the bat. But with that said, my honest assessment follows. I’m not required to say anything nice, but after reading the book, I can’t help but do so. And I think most Christians would agree.

Speaking of DeYoung, he has been known to take complicated and controversial issues and shed light on them in a biblical, winsome, clear, and helpful way. That’s one of the things he’s known for, and certainly does that in What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? Right from the get-go, he tells us the main purpose of the book: “Along with most Christians around the globe and virtually every Christian in the first nineteen-and-a-half centuries of church history, I believe the Bible places homosexual behavior—no matter the level of commitment or mutual affection—in the category of sexual immorality. Why I believe this is the subject of the rest of this book.”

And that’s the subject of the rest of this review.

The First Five Chapters: Ruthlessly Biblical and Unapologetic 

The first five chapters are devoted to DeYoung simply saying what the Bible says on the matter. In five chapters, he deals with six primary texts from the Old and New Testaments that relate to homosexuality: Genesis 1–2 and 19; Leviticus 18 and 20; Romans 1; 1 Corinthians 6; and 1 Timothy 1. Over and over again DeYoung just flat out tells us what the Bible says on the manner, and doesn’t apologize for being up front:

  • “I believe the Bible places homosexual behavior — not matter the level of commitment or mutual affection — in the category of sexual immorality.”
  • “It’s hard not to conclude from a straightforward reading of Genesis 1-2 that the divine design for sexual intimacy . . . is for one man and one woman.”
  • “Homosexual practice is a serious sin and a violation of God’s created order.”
  • “There is nothing ambiguous about the biblical witness concerning homosexual behavior.”
  • “It cannot be overstated how seriously the Bible takes the sin of homosexuality.”
  • “Let me be blunt: the Bible says nothing good about homosexual practice.”

The book is filled with pithy phrases, but perhaps the one he frequents the most is “divine design.” But he’s never overly explicit. No, he’s a sympathetic pastor. He asks the hard questions. He’s willing to listen to arguments of his opponents. But, again, he continues to go back to this question: How did God design marriage and for who? In DeYoung’s eyes, homosexuality is a distortion of God’s divine design for marriage, and a sin no matter how you look at the issue.

Answering Objections: Sympathetic and Winsome 

In the last five chapters of the book, DeYoung takes time to answer some of the common arguments of homosexual practice, which he says are:

  • The Bible hardly mentions homosexuality.
  • The cultural distance argument (What the Bible says is homosexuality is different from what the Revisionist call homosexuality).
  • What about gluttony and divorce? (As if to say that gluttony and divorce should be in the same category as homosexuality).
  • The church is supposed to be a place for broken people.
  • Being on the wrong side of history.
  • It’s not fair.
  • The God I worship is a God of love (That is — that because God is love — we can just overlook homosexuality because, after all, he is a God of love).

As you might expect, DeYoung answers all of these questions well with truth, but also with grace. DeYoung’s tone is never off-putting or harsh. He never says anything in a put-down kind-of-way. Throughout the whole book his tone is humble and admirable. I guess I should’ve known this was coming when he said in the beginning, “Being convinced about homosexuality is great, but the right conclusions can be handled in the wrong way. Focusing on other people’s sins, while ignoring our own, would be the wrong way.”

This aside, I’m simply not convinced he’s going to win over a lot of skeptics. If anything, he probably just caused more of a ruckus. The reason is because all of his arguments, as you might expect, are straight from the Bible. If you are a Christian and love the Bible, you are going to be very pleased with this book. If you remotely skeptical of the Bible, you are simply not going to like this book. It’s just that simple.

Honest Assessment

Here’s my favorite quote from the book: “Desire must never be given the priority over obedience. Intense longings does not turn sinful wrongs into civil rights.” This he used in the topic of same-sex attraction. Yes, we may have feelings and thoughts that we sometimes can’t control, but for the follower of Jesus Christ, obedience should trump feelings. Though feelings matter, but they should never take precedence over obedience.

Just as a heads up, though, this book is not meant to be comprehensive. That is — DeYoung does not take the time to answer every nagging question about homosexuality. He doesn’t take that much time to speak on how to deal with this pastorally, practically, or culturally either. The main gist of this book is exactly what the title suggests: What do the Scriptures say about homosexuality? And he does so well. Very well, might I add.

In the end, this is an excellent book on what the Bible actually teaches on this pressing topic. I’m glad that it was both a short read an easy one. I’m not sure that it will covert many skeptics, but the Christian who reads it should feel informed, helped, encouraged, and prepared to teach others what the Bible actually teaches on this weighty topic. I highly recommend it.

Buy it on Amazon
Author: Kevin DeYoung
Publisher: Crossway (2015)
Pages: 158

You may also like: 

  1. From Lesbianism to Follower of Christ: An Interview with Emily Thomes
  2. The Best Gospel-Centered Resources on Homosexuality 
  3. Why Did God Make Me Ugly? 

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