James V. Brownson. Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013. 312 pp. $29.00.
I am acquainted with this book’s author, James Brownson, and I like him. He’s always been kind and gracious to me. Among other things, he’s a leading theological voice on issues of sexuality in the denomination in which I pastor (Reformed Church of America); to say I was interested in what he’d have to say about homosexuality is an understatement. I read Bible, Gender, Sexuality thoroughly and carefully. I was touched by Brownson’s personal family story and thankful for his thoughtful writing. But his book deeply saddened me, and I believe it should sadden all others who follow Jesus. At the end of the book, Brownson writes:
Can we imagine a world in which the divine pronouncement at the beginning of creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), might find a range of deeply satisfying resolutions, from heterosexual marriage, to celibate communities, to gay and lesbian committed unions?. . . . For some Christians, this vision is imaginable as a form of “accommodation” in a broken world. . . . Other Christians may be more ready to acknowledge that, throughout the natural order, same-sex attraction is a naturally recurring “minority” experience. These Christians may celebrate the way in which, by the providence of God, such “queer” folk can naturally deconstruct the pervasive tendencies of majority voices to become oppressive and exclusionary. In this vision, the inclusion of committed gay and lesbian unions represents . . . [a] rather offbeat redemptive purpose in the new creation. (252, 253)
Brownson gets to this point via a complete reconstruction of the biblical narrative concerning sexuality. Unfortunately, however, he builds his biblical narrative on a shaky foundation. Below I have identified several problems with Brownson’s vision of sexuality. Though by no means exhaustive, I think they will grieve your heart like they did mine.
(To continue reading, click here. This post was originally posted at The Gospel Coalition)