The Grace of Shame: 7 Ways the Church has Failed to Love Homosexuals is one of two most important books of 2017. The other is All That Is In God by James Dolezal.
If you’re a run of the mill evangelical, I doubt that you’ll have heard of the book. My take is that, though of prime importance, it hasn’t been broadly well-received, probably often dismissed by those who actually do know of it as being “too harsh”.
The errors against which it teaches are still being spread throughout evangelicalism, without signs of let-up. In fact, far from let-up, things are turning up, with the recent Revoice Conference put on by Covenant Theological Seminary.
What does The Grace of Shame argue? Written by Tim Bayly, Joseph Bayly, and Jurgen Von Hagen, the book is, first, a positive explanation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, which reads,
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. “
Second, the book is an argument for the practical application of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 in ministry to homosexuals. And, third, it’s an argument against the common interpretive and methodological errors of modern evangelicalism.
If you have not yet read this book, please do not let 2018 come and go without that being addressed. Read this book, for the sake of integrity, for the sake of truth, and for the sake of compassion.
Read this book for the sake of integrity.
Though this book is faithful and well-written, it is dangerous. Why is it dangerous? It makes a case that you will never hear made on the big platforms of evangelicalism. And it makes a case critical of everyone who speaks from the big platforms of evangelicalism. That makes it dangerous because it will never be a popular book to be read or a popular book with which to agree. It is dangerous because evangelicalism is a big money movement, and, as with all big money movements, it literally pays to toe the line, to not step on toes, to not criticize or condemn.
If you’re a Bible teacher who reads and is persuaded by this book, if you are so bold as to go on and teach the truths argued for in this book, you will not be invited to speak at big money events. You will not find a future writing platform for yourself at a sexy, evangelical website. You will not hit it big in the conference engine. You will become an aggravating, unwelcomed prophet whom everyone wishes would just disappear into the backwoods of West Virginia. Matt Chandler can blabber about sharks and pirate ships and he will still be a big dog in evangelicalism. If you dare believe and publicly teach what is found in this book, you will not be given such a pass. Count on it.
If you’re a church member who reads and is persuaded by this book, know that you will not only find more enmity from the world, but also more enmity from the church. There will be less peace, less comfort for you in this life. Count on it.
So, what does the danger of this book have to do with integrity? Integrity is proved and developed and strengthened when fidelity to Christ and His Word actually costs you something. We want to be loved. We want to be wanted. We want recognition and celebration and influence. But, if all that we want is obtained without integrity in our service to Jesus, we have obtained nothing but packing peanuts.
The call of discipleship is the call to come and die. You cannot be a disciple of Jesus without integrity, for you cannot be his disciple if you’re ashamed of Him. This book in this day and age will uniquely test and strengthen your integrity.
Read this book for the sake of truth.
While the evangelical industry has produced many pages of writing on the topic of homosexuality, it has unfortunately produced many pages of error. There are those in evangelical pulpits who cite Jesus and John, and David and Jonathan, as Biblical affirmation of gay desires. There are those who say that homosexual orientation both exists and is part of God’s created order. There are evangelical best-selling male authors who say that when they look upon the male form and find it sexually desirable they are simply rightly responding to beauty in God’s world. There are those who say that only homosexual action is wrong. There are those who say that there is such a thing as homosexual orientation, as a result of the fall, and therefore gays should not expect renewed desires in this life. There are those who condemn the work of conversion or reparative therapy. There are those who argue for celibate, homosexual unions. There are those who deny the moral repugnancy of effeminacy.
These are things taught by men and women with evangelical backing and influence. All of it’s wrong. And even the conservative guys in the evangelical pool have made such a mince of 1 Corinthians 6 that we’ve robbed ourselves of the key passage to think through these errors clearly.
Because the Baylys and Von Hagen are willing to take fire from the good guys, they write truth in this book that many are not willing to write. Because the authors are not deceived by modern twistings to verse 9, they’re actually equipped to accurately teach its true meaning and application for life with clarity.
This book should be read for the sake of truth.
Finally, read this book for the sake of compassion.
I used to be a college minister for a local church in the States—it was my first job after graduating. When I started, plenty of the students I worked with used to be my peers and friends. Aaron was one of those guys. He was a committed dude, always at church, always at Bible studies, thoughtful, engaged.
But Aaron carried himself effeminately. Most of his friends at school were girls. His hand gestures were girly. His tone was camp. If you saw this guy on campus, you would automatically think he was gay. Though we were friends, though he trusted me, he never confessed to being gay. He never brought up gay temptations.
I asked my pastor what I should do to help him. Because my pastor is an actual guy, he found Aaron’s mannerisms uncomfortable. But he told me that unless Aaron confessed to being gay, he was just a little camp, not actually doing anything sinful. At the time, through The Gospel Coalition recommendations, I thought Sam Allberry’s book was the go-to resource to think about dealing with the situation. But it had nothing for me.
Neither my pastor nor Sam had a category of effeminacy as a damnable sin. My ESV, altered well for contemporary sensibilities, didn’t even have that. So, I didn’t think Aaron was in sin. So, I didn’t say anything to him about his effeminacy. I just tried to “accept” and “understand” him. And I failed him. I didn’t help him when he needed it. I didn’t care for this friend and admonish him to embrace his manhood in obedience to Christ.
My ignorance led to my failure to minister. And when Bible teachers fail, people get seriously injured.
If you love others, and want to do something effective with your love, then you need a foundation of accurate, Biblical truth, even when it’s hard to swallow, even when it’s different than what you hear from your favorite Bible teachers.
Christ’s sheep need to be loved well, not simply from warm intentions. Read this book for the sake of compassion.