I don’t think that there has been any view within our culture that has changed as much in recent decades as that toward homosexuality. When I think back to my youth, homosexuality was not accepted outside the church, much less within. Now not only is homosexuality accepted, I know pastors who have performed same-sex marriages and you can get in legal trouble speaking publicly against homosexuality.
I don’t think that the church has done well in navigating these turbulent waters. I have seen two extremes. One is a response of pure disgust and almost hate toward people who even feel same-sex attraction. The other are those who observe that most homosexuals are very nice people and so biblical passages that seem critical toward homosexual sex need to be either reinterpreted or rejected.
I think both of these approaches are far too shallow. That is why I really appreciated Preston Sprinkle’s People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality is Not Just an Issue.
I suspect Sprinkle has received significant criticism from both sides. Sprinkle has taken a very loving and respectful posture toward people who experience same-sex attraction. He is not afraid to confront homophobic caricatures of the LGBT community. He doesn’t just research homosexuality, he has entered into close relationships with people in the LGBT community. Some people will not like this.
On the other hand, Sprinkle doesn’t reject biblical passages that deal with homosexual sexual activity. His background is in biblical studies, so he comes at it from the perspective of interpreting within the historical and literary context rather than trying to make the passages fit his position. He rightfully, in my opinion, rejects the Sodom story as having anything to do with our attitudes toward homosexuality. However, he also demonstrates that passages written by Paul are not just addressing pederasty or cultic prostitution and that equal and consensual same-sex relationships existed in the ancient world. Some people will not like this.
Ultimately, Sprinkle comes down on the position that sex is meant to be within a married relationship between a male and female. This will bother some affirming Christians but this emerges from his study of Scripture rather than a desire to demean those who experience same-sex attraction.
However, Sprinkle has much to say about the horrible ways that the church has responded to homosexuality. As the title and subtitle express, this is not just an issue, it is about real people who need be loved. Christians must wrestle not just with the morality of homosexual activity but with how we love people who we disagree with.
Whatever side of the debate you fall on, I strongly recommend that you read People to Be Loved. It is the best book on the subject that I have read.