Over the next week or so I want to share with you some exclusive excerpts from the new expanded second edition of Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church. As you know, for much of the last 2+ years I've been out on the road on a book tour in support of the first edition. In the process, I've met countless faithful LGBT Christians and their families and been blessed to worship and share in fellowship together. I wrote up some of my experiences, "stories from the road" if you will, and that became the preface to the second edition of Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality. Pasted below, I've chosen a few paragraphs from the preface to the new edition:
...In the summer of 2008, I spoke to about two-hundred LGBT evangelical Christians at the West Coast conference of Evangelicals Concerned, a group founded by Dr. Ralph Blair, a New York psychotherapist, gay man, and evangelical Christian. Blair founded this organization to meet the needs of conservative Christians who also know themselves to be gay. At the conference I became reacquainted with three former students from my teaching days at Fuller Theological Seminary. I had not known that the three men were gay. Each of them shared with me essentially the same story: when he had finally acknowledged that he was gay, people who had previously loved and admired him suddenly rejected him and refused to allow him to participate in church leadership.
These men had all participated in so-called “ex-gay” groups or therapy. They had been told by their church leaders that the Bible condemned homosexuality and that their salvation was at risk. So they had turned to organizations that promised to help them change their sexual orientation. One man had tried for three years. Another had stayed in an “ex-gay” group for ten years. They had each spent enormous time in prayer, therapy, and self-loathing. But they all finally came to realize that they had not chosen nor could they change their sexual orientation no matter how hard they tried. When these three former students finally accepted their sexual orientation, they were able to find meaningful relationships and personal stability, and they were able to start building a healthy family life.
This book tour has shown me firsthand the enormous pain caused by the church’s unjust policies. All of this suffering is completely unnecessary and preventable. As I show in this book (and as countless other scholars have shown in their work), the Bible, properly understood, does not condemn people who are LGBT, and it does not prohibit faithful same-sex relationships. The church’s historical prohibitions against marriage and ordination for people who are LGBT are an anachronism—much like our churches’ previous policies that prohibited interracial marriage or ordaining people of African descent, women, or people who are divorced and remarried. Indeed our faith calls us to do justice, provide hospitality, and embrace equality for all God’s people...