What does the Bible really teach about Homosexuality?

From beginning to end, DeYoung’s book “What does the Bible really teach about Homosexuality?” was engaging, accessible, and Gospel-focused. He rightly reminds readers that homosexuality, just like all other experiences that a human may have, is not removed from a larger story or narrative. DeYoung also helps Christians and non-Christians to understand the nature of what we are talking about as well as what is at stake in such a discussion. The book is great mix of scholarly research, logical reasoning, and pastoral candor. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Everyone can and should read this book.

We should know that homosexuality is merely one aspect of a greater discussion. However, this single issue has become so emotionally charged that the larger conversation is often not heard or even considered. What is maleness? What is femaleness? What is marriage? What is the Gospel? What does it mean that God is holy? For whom and for what did Christ die? Must the Christian live according to any rule? How should Christians address sin within their local church? What does repentance look like? These are only some of those things that are conversationally connected to the main question of this book. All of these questions are part of the conversation, and all are worth our time.

DeYoung starts at the beginning (the very beginning) and briskly works his way through the biblical narrative. At each step, he reminds the reader that God has designed all of creation with beauty, complementarity, and truth in mind. DeYoung also meets challenges to particular biblical stories and passages head-on. Sodom and Gomorrah, the copious laws of Leviticus, and some of the New Testament passages that specifically address homosexuality are all handled with care and honesty. Quite frankly, every Christian could learn much from this book even if they are not interested in the particular subject of homosexuality at all. DeYoung helps the reader to understand the essence of Christianity and the lenses through which every Christian should view matters like this.

I truly appreciated DeYoung’s call for Christians to remember and embrace the idea of repentance for all Christians. It is true that many Christians demand repentance from those in the homosexual community, but refuse to acknowledge that such a humble turning away from sin is required for all followers of Christ – not just the one’s with same-sex attraction. DeYoung writes,

“If those with same-sex attraction are being singled our for repentance, the solution is not to remove forsaking of sin from the gospel equation, but to labor for a church community where lifelong repentance is the normal experience of Christian discipleship.”[1]

Often, the dangerous message many church attenders hear today is one of unconditional grace. It is as though many people believe that Jesus saves every sinner who simply wants to avoid any punishment for his or her sin. Indeed, Jesus does save sinners from punishment for sin, but He saves sinner into something and not just out of something. Jesus saves sinners into a new way of life (a holy life), into a new family (the local church), and into a new purpose (the glory of God). DeYoung quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the matter of a Gospel of grace without any notion of repentance. He writes,

“[Cheap grace is] the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is no the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the soils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”[2]

The nature of what it means to repent from sin and follow Christ has import for every Christian, not just those with same-sex attraction. Repentance and faith are also something to be experienced and celebrated within the context of Christian community, and DeYoung is right to turn our attention there as well. The local church has been and continues to be underestimated by so many in our day. Both Christians and non-Christians have a very low and seriously flawed view of the local church. But this is the only Gospel-centered community in which broken and repentant sinners may find the common bond of grace and truth. If there is hope for sinners, it is best embraced in the context of a local church community.

So, what does the Bible really teach about Homosexuality? Well, it says what most of us already knew it did. Homosexuality is a sin. However, it does not say such a thing outside of a larger context of holiness, relationship, and God’s Covenant of Grace. Homosexuals are sinners in need of repentance and faith, just as all other humans are sinners with this same need.

If you want to understand the issue, if you want to really know what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, if you want to be ready to respond to those you love with grace and truth, then you should read this book.

May God help us to understand the real meaning of faith, repentance, and church community.

[1] DeYoung, Kevin. What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015. 99.

[2] Ibid. 100-101.