Disclaimer: I was kindly given a copy of this book by IVP to review, but this in no way altered my review and my freedom to express what I want to about it. All books I review can be got from your local Christian bookshop, in Cork (Unbound) or in Belfast (Evangelical Bookshop).
It’s a bold title “satisfaction guaranteed” that grabbed me from the outset and made me think it may not just be another book of many on this kind of topic. Whereas in other works (see footnote), the authors try to persuade people from further back (persuading them that unbiblical sexuality is wrong), Berry and Wood have a lesser target but still a bold one – that we as Christians can be completely satisfied in Christ. The book is not a long one, and passes quite quickly over other material to really home in on this aim.
Easily read, they spend the first half of their case building a biblical worldview of sexuality and then in the second half, hit home marvellously helpful points about how we can still find life to the full, even within that biblical worldview.
Somewhat the uniqueness of this book is the two who are writing it. Berry in his forties, and Wood in his twenties both have been in same-sex relationships and know what it is to be in that position from a Christian background. Their stories (not lurid and just the right amount of detail to be helpful), are what really grabbed me and made the rest of the book have a weight greater than the size of book would otherwise have managed. Through their work, they’ve met hundreds of same-sex attracted Christians and have given guidance and help to many.
As they rightly note, it’d be easy for those well versed in the big Bible picture to drift through or entirely skip the opening half of the book, but it’s a helpful read, if not even just for their stories interspersed throughout. As they lay the groundwork for what is to come later, it really goes without saying that the first half is worth the read.
But for me it’s the second-half which so helpfully counters prevailing belief even in Christian circles. Dealing with our weakness and struggles and verses like “it is not good for man to be alone” and the “gift” of singleness and marriage, they correct many false understandings and deal with many struggles for the single Christian, whilst not allowing us to dwell in being victims of society but to be empowered to love God and love others.
Jonathan and Rob write with such warmth and understanding that the fact they call Christians to the “narrow road” in Christ doesn’t seem so bad anymore, as they point to a flourishing of humankind that opens into an infinite enjoyment of the One who gave us sexuality in the first place. They join me (see: here) in quoting Lewis!
Altogether, a worthwhile addition to the books on this topic, that is worth picking up, though don’t expect to be blown out of the water with new thinking. It’s a long, hard road, the Christian life. But we’d do well to walk in their footsteps.
Also on this topic:
“The Plausibility Problem” (Shaw, IVP) ranked one of my top reads this year, for anyone wrestling with sexuality and singleness of any sort. Perhaps tries a little too much for the length of the book.
And “Is God anti-gay?” (Alberry, Good Book Company) was another helpful but shorter introductory apologetic.
“Sex and iWorld” (Keuhne, Baker) is a lesser known, more academic analysis of culture that pinpoints how our culture has moved on relationally and helps us understand that we don’t want to go back to the traditional view (which also had its flaws) but move forward to new ways of defining Biblical relational life.
“Secret Thoughts of an unlikely Convert” (Butterfield, Crown and Covenant Publications) tells the unexpected and gripping story of a LGBT studies lecturer and top thinker in the USA who became a Christian through the faithful love of a pastor and his wife. Worth enduring the theological tones in the 2nd half that appeal for exclusive psalmody and other secondary issues.
livingout.org (Alberry and other high profile same-sex attracted Christians run this site)
Satisfiedinchrist.com (The authors run this blog)