Book review: Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted: Biblical Direction for Friends, Family Members, and Those Struggling with Homosexuality
Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted: Biblical Direction for Friends, Family Members, and Those Struggling with Homosexuality by Ron Citlau, Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2017.
Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted is a practical and pastoral application of biblical principles on the subject of homosexuality for those who believe that Scripture, correctly interpreted, prohibits homosexual behavior. Those struggling with homosexuality, as well as those who minister to them, will find in these pages clear guidelines, written with the sensibility of one who has struggled with same-sex attraction but has experienced healing and transformation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The author, Ron Citlau, successfully navigates the intersection between compassion and faithfulness to Scripture.
The book consists of two parts. Part one discusses three obstacles that keep same-sex attracted individuals from experiencing true healing. These obstacles include the acceptance of gay identity, gay marriage, and what he calls the “spiritual friendship movement.” Gay identity, he asserts, opens the door for sin, whether intentionally or unintentionally (18), arguing that the Bible does not “give us permission to identify ourselves in terms of our sinful desires, inclinations, or activities” (20).*
Similarly, he argues that gay marriage robs those struggling with same-sex attraction of the transformation available to them in Christ. This seems to be because marriage, sexuality, and the family point beyond themselves (31) to the Triune God in ways that same-sex marriage will obscure. The gender difference between man and woman shapes the different roles and functions in the family, and this is “intrinsic to the very fabric of our humanity,” not just a cultural thing (32). This gender difference and marital oneness reflect the distinctiveness of the members of the Godhead (33) and their mystical unity.
In part two, Citlau discusses the roles of the local congregation and the small groups within those congregations, the “healing communities” as he calls them, as well as the role of Bible-believing Christian therapists (74) in helping same-sex attracted individuals to experience “healing and transformation” (19). Such congregations, he argues, must be those that “love the Scriptures and point everyone to the living Christ” (59). This healing differs from reversion therapies, as Citlau maintains we are all in need of the healing that can only come from the truth of the gospel. He emphasizes the effectiveness of small groups that provide, among other things, a context for confidentiality (62). The goal is to lead persons struggling with same-sex attraction to experience healing and transformation. He emphasizes that healing may not mean the recovery of heterosexual attraction nor may it always lead to heterosexual marriage. Healing may involve singleness with celibacy, which should be seen as a biblically sanctioned option for those who seek to remain faithful to Scripture. Throughout the book, Citlau shares multiple stories of people who have experienced the kinds of healing and transformation that he describes. I highly recommend this work.
—Reviewed by Gilbert O. Ojwang, PhD, associate professor of biblical studies and languages, Oakwood University, Huntsville, Alabama, United States.
* The position of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary is, “It should be emphasized, however, that the biblical materials condemn homosexual practice, but there is no castigation of innate homosexual orientation per se.” See Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, “An Understanding of the Biblical View on Homosexual Practice and Pastoral Care,” position paper voted on October 9, 2015, www.andrews.edu/sem/about /statements/seminary-statement-on-homosexuality-edited-10-8-15-jm-final.pdf.
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