Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness & Homosexuality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016. 221 pages.
Wesley Hill (WH) is a Christian, a professor of biblical studies, and a homosexual.
WH presents the issue of his homosexuality in an autobiographical manner. Even though he grew up in a healthy Christian family and church environment, he explains his homosexuality in terms of life-long homo-erotic attraction. He describes his growing realization as a youth to his attraction and the accompanying confusion, fear, desires, isolation, and loneliness.
In the midst of this, WH states, “I do not think the option of same-sex, erotically expressive partnerships is open to gay believers who want to remain faithful to the gospel.”
He further explains that:
The Christian's struggle with homosexuality is unique in many ways but not completely so. The dynamics of human sinfulness and divine mercy and grace are the same for all of us, regardless of the particular temptations or weaknesses we face. (28)
The book’s title combines having been washed in redemption and waiting for the coming of the Lord (i.e., 1 Corinthians 6:11 and 4:5).
As a follower of Jesus, the author writes of his longings in the context of the call to be faithful and pure before the Lord. He expresses this in terms such as “my struggle with homosexuality” (57), “a frustrating thorn in the flesh” (64), and “the disordered desires of a broken sexuality” (122).
WH does not accept the common positions of either (1) celebrating and affirming committed homosexual unions as good, or (2) deliverance from same-sex attraction. Instead, he presents a third way to live with a “bent and broken sexuality” (170).
This third way builds upon the big picture of what God is doing. He is (1) forgiving all (including homosexuals) who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, and (2) confronting everything (including homosexuality) in our fallen predilections to transform all (including homosexuals) into the image of Jesus Christ.
This third way is a “life of discipleship to Christ as a life that [is] both sexually abstinent, or ‘celibate,’ and also same-sex-attracted, or ‘gay’” (180). WH describes this third way as a vocation in which he states, “I am learning that my struggle to live faithfully … is pleasing to [God]” (177).
The third way is a challenge not only to the homosexual believer but also to the Christian community/church. The church needs to be a community that honors celibacy, and lovingly nurtures those who are celibate.
For those wanting to read more about the third way, here is a link to Hill’s article “Washed and Still Waiting.”
WH has written a clear, courageous, and biblically-sound book that should be read by all. First, for those who are homosexual and experience homo-erotic attractions, WH demonstrates that you are not alone, and there is a way to honor God and to live faithfully. Second, it is for Christians who have no homo-erotic attractions providing great insight into the life of those who experience such attractions. Third, although WH focuses on homosexuality, there is much that speaks to all of us about the need to live faithfully before God in all areas of life “regardless of [our] particular temptations or weaknesses.”
I highly recommend this book.
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