One of the many blessings about living life in community with one another is sharing about what is helping us grow in our relationships with the Lord in hopes of inspiring others as well. Below is one such example. Read as Morgan Swank writes about a book she has read recently called Compassion Without Compromise: How the gospel frees us to love our gay friends without losing the truth by Adam T. Barr and Ron Citlau. We hope that her review is helpful to you.
“The question is no longer, “Can we win the culture wars?” Rather, it is, “How can we be a compassionate, uncompromising witness in a culture that celebrates what the Bible censors?” (Barr & Citlau, p 18.)
Compassion without Compromise: How the gospel frees us to love our gay friends without losing the truth by Adam T. Barr and Ron Citlau provides Biblical council for Christians struggling with how to stand for truth in the current cultural climate, while also reaching out in love to the lost. One of the noteworthy aspects of this book is the story of author Ron Citlau’s redemption from a homosexual lifestyle. He provides unique understanding into the struggles homosexual believers face. He is also an incredible encouragement of how God can redeem sexual brokenness. I recommend this book for every believer who has struggled with how to Biblically love members of the LGBTQ+ community.
This book covers a significant amount of territory starting with God’s intent for sex, how sexual sin is different from other sins, and how the gospel informs our view of sexuality. Looking to Jesus’ ministry, the authors spend time showing examples of how Jesus not only loved and cared for the lost, but also how, “his welcoming hospitality was never meant to be confused with an indifference to the lifestyle of those who asked to follow him. If they wanted life in his kingdom, it meant true repentance – death to the former self – and genuine faith in Jesus as Lord” (p. 64.)
As believers interacting with unbelievers who chose to live a homosexual lifestyle, the call is to stand for truth, but also to pursue relationship and community. We are not called to ignore or dismiss those with whom we disagree. “We can do good and be in relationship with our gay and lesbian friends because they are bearers of the image of God. So in a real sense, we are not doing good to them but to the God we dearly desire to honor. Our good is not acceptance of unbiblical lifestyles but the honoring of God’s image in individuals” (p. 83.) To help the reader understand this better, the authors provide several chapters of questions and answers to everyday issues surrounding homosexuality.
Barr and Citlau provide helpful definitions and distinctions between desire, orientation, sexual identity, and sexual behavior. Referencing 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Corinthians 10:13, they show how the Bible transforms desires, identity, and behavior. Throughout the pages of this book, the authors continually point the reader back to the Bible and the hope one has in Christ. “For any follower of Jesus, our identity is in God himself, specifically the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are no longer the sum of our actions, desires, biological inclinations, or cultural pressures. We are his. This is true for everyone, even gay and lesbian strugglers” (p. 105.)
An important point to note is that the goal of evangelism is not to make individuals heterosexual; rather, “the goal of the gospel’s transformation is not healthy heterosexuality. It is total identification with Christ. This is what the gospel can do for a person’s identity” (p. 105.) When we truly see Jesus for who he is, sinful desires (while they may not ever completely go away) will lose their captive hold. When affection for Jesus grows, affection for sin diminishes. Through seeing Jesus, denying sinful desires, and pursuing community in the church, believers who struggle with same-sex desires can live transformed, godly lives.
The good news of the gospel, the news that has transformed every believer’s heart and mind, is the only hope for the sexual brokenness we see in the world. It “…provides the way forward in a culture very confused on the issue of sexual intimacy. Our sexual sin – whether homosexual or heterosexual in nature – leads us out of the garden of God’s blessing and into a wasteland. The gospel provides a way back” (115.)