Any book dealing with sexuality and scripture is bound to be controversial. A book that claims to detail ‘what the Bible really teaches’ is sure to have its share of supporters and detractors. Despite the heated nature of the church’s conversation around human sexuality, Pastor Kevin DeYoung provides a clear and calm articulation of the traditional biblical arguments about homosexuality.
In What does the Bible really teach about Homosexuality?, DeYoung seeks to tackle both key biblical texts and common objections to his interpretation. In five brief chapters (roughly 8-10 pages each), he engages what he believes to be the central biblical passages that deal with God’s vision for human sexuality and homosexuality in particular. DeYoung argues that every text, from both Old and New Testaments, states that same-sex sexual activity is a sin and cannot be blessed or supported under any circumstances. From Genesis 1-2, the only proper place for sexual intimacy is between a man and a woman within the bonds of marriage. From that original created design comes the consistent rejection of all other forms of sexual intimacy, including homosexuality. DeYoung argues that this prohibition is consistent across the whole of Scripture and supported by the church for the last two thousand years.
The second section of the book addresses seven common objections to the vision that DeYoung sees stated in Scripture. These objections range from claims that ‘the homosexuality addressed in the Bible is different than what is experienced between committed, same-sex couples’ to ‘the God I worship is a God of love.’ The book concludes with DeYoung’s claim about the high stakes of this conversation for the welfare of both church and parishioners along with a series of appendices on such topics as same-sex marriage and same-sex attraction.
In both his biblical exposition and rational argumentation, he seeks to provide lucid, concise arguments that will engage the reader. DeYoung does not seek to break any new ground, but to restate for today what the church has believed Scripture teaches for the past two thousand years.
On the one hand, this book is not really that special. There is nothing here that has not been written or argued before countless times over. However, on the other hand, that is perhaps the book’s greatest strength. In 150 pages, DeYoung provides valid biblical arguments for Scripture’s teaching on homosexuality. The book is brief and readable. It is the sort of book I could easily pluck off the shelf and hand to a member of our congregation.
Where DeYoung’s book shines is in how it connects what the Bible teaches about homosexuality with what it teaches about everything else. Human sexuality is not on the a la carte menu of the Bible, but integrally connected with the whole story from Genesis to Revelation. DeYoung rightly reminds readers that this does not make homosexuality central to the biblical story, or make the Bible ‘a book about homosexuality,’ but that its connection to the larger story of salvation means it is not insignificant for biblical teaching.
Some readers will undoubtably find DeYoung’s arguments unconvincing. For instance, his treatment of Genesis 19 seems to stretch the connection to the sin of homosexuality. While I agree that Genesis 19 indicates that Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin surely included homosexuality, I still believe Ezekiel 16 when it gives a different set of sins that principally characterize Gomorrah. Additionally, some of his uses of the ‘slippery slope’ argument overstate what must necessarily follow from particular positions. Other readers may disagree with his larger vision for human sexuality or with his interpretations of particular passages as prohibitions of homosexual sexual activity. Whether one agrees with DeYoung or not, he provides a coherent, consistent argument that must be reckoned with. In a conversation often filled more with outrage than argument, that fact alone makes the book worth reading.