That book is Ed Shaw’s Same-Sex Attraction and the Church. Shaw is pastor of Emmanuel City Centre in Bristol, England.
His book is an important one because of 2 main reasons:
a) He is a man who experiences same-sex attraction, though refraining from same-sex relationships. Because of this, I believe he has much to offer in the conversation.
b) He identifies 9 missteps that surround this important discussion. But, in doing so, Shaw lays out one very important misstep that happens on both sides of the fence. That grave misstep is that we believe our sexuality determines our identity. Whether one stands in favor of or against same-sex relationships, I agree wholeheartedly that this storyline is deeply flawed! Our identity is not primarily centered in our sexuality. It is a part of our make-up, but not the primary part and definitely not the full picture.
Remember, when reading his 9 missteps, they are not merely directed at those in favor of same-sex relationships. Rather they are pointed at both sides. Some of these are points we’ve probably heard addressed on a regular basis when it comes to this topic, but others add a fresh perspective to the conversation.
The 9 missteps are:
- Your identity is your sexuality
- A family is a mom, dad and 2.4 children.
- If you’re born gay, it can’t be wrong to be gay.
- If it makes you happy, it must be right!
- Sex is where true intimacy is found.
- Men and women are equal and interchangeable.
- Godliness is heterosexuality.
- Celibacy is bad for you.
- Suffering is to be avoided.
While a) I deeply grieve at some of the rhetoric within the church, b) I desire to find a better pastoral path in walking with those who have same-sex attractions, and c) I do want to genuinely understand some of the psychological issues behind the scenes, I am one who does believe God’s good design for committed and faithful marriage relationships is that of a one woman and one man.
Yet I will also say this: I am grateful for these beautiful folk who are also created in the image of our good and gracious Father. We must, and by must, I mean must, find a better way forward in authentically listening to and loving them, while also offering a call to holy love of the Father in whose image they have been created.
If interested, Ed’s own story can be seen in the short video below.