I know that this blog usually looks at the lighter side of life and of being a Christian. But occasionally I post a review for a book I have read through NetGalley. Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor by Glenn T. Stanton is one of those books. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review. I hope you'll take the time to read this post and comment on what you think about it. Thanks.
This book fills a need for Christians who are troubled by mixed feelings when it comes to loving those who are gay. How do we love the sinner but hate the sin when the sin involves so much more than just telling a lie or missing plenty of opportunities to call your mother?
The author begins by pointing out what Christianity is by listing six truths that put everyone in the same boat. No one is sin free; everyone needs Christ as their Savior. No exceptions.
The author does a most thorough job of helping the reader know the background of the gay movement and what it means in the times of today. He rightly points out that we need to “understand why those we disagree with believe as they do and what motivates them.”
As much as we’d like to bunch everyone in the LGBT camp into one entity, Mr. Stanton explains in detail how each part (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) fits into the whole “Love your neighbor” quandary.
It all boils down to relationship: relationship with those who identify themselves as LGBT and those who support them. It’s the old saying of “Make a Friend, Be a Friend, Bring a Friend to Christ”. It takes time and effort, which, sadly, most Christians will not take. It’s easier to lump everyone together and hate the sin and the sinner.
What is most troubling to me, personally, is the demand I hear for complete acceptance of the LGBT community’s practices with little respect shown for the Christian’s beliefs.
I agree with the author that this issue is extremely important in showing the world that God’s love extends to all, no matter what the sexual orientation may be. I also agree with the author that those who identify themselves as Christian should look again at how Christ (who Christians are named after, for heaven’s sake) loved everyone.
In addition, the author also tackles the same-sex marriage issue, an issue that is also very troubling to most Christians. We say we are against it, but we don’t know why, other than a vague reference to the scripture in Genesis about husband and wife cleaving together.
I appreciate Mr. Stanton’s explanation of not only Genesis, but also what Jesus had to say about it. By expressly quoting Genesis, Jesus put his stamp of approval on man and woman marriage. He fulfilled a lot of scripture that changed the Jewish faith in dramatic ways, but he made clear that the old, old Genesis definition of marriage was still correct and is still correct today.
I like the author’s approach to the issue of homosexuality as a sin. As he points out, being a homosexual will not send one to hell; not having Jesus as one’s Savior will. This basic truth is somehow lost or ignored when debates or arguments spring up.
If a person identifies themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, their sin would be in carrying out their thoughts and urges. The same can be said for those who identify themselves as heterosexual. Their sin would be carrying out anything that goes against God’s teachings regarding marriage and being single. It’s what we do with these thoughts and urges that’s important.
As to the it’s-a-choice vs. born-that-way arguments, Mr. Stanton thoroughly explains what studies have been done and shares what the American Psychiatric Association has established: there are no findings to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.
I have a few concerns about the author’s commendable attempts at trying not to sound superior. In the story of Sam and Nicole, the quote about the “Walmart-shopping, football-watching, NASCAR cheering white male,” and later in the same story the quote “I’ve heard of such people, but thought they all lived in Mississippi,” are insulting and condescending to we who live in the South. I don’t think they belong in a book about loving your neighbor.
In another story, he quotes Caroline as saying “Michael Jackson was still black…” This sounds racist to me and doesn’t belong in this book.
I realize that Mr. Stanton was quoting other people, but surely after all his years dealing with this subject, he can come up with better stories without remarks such as these.
But here’s a remark that is the author’s own: “However, I don’t want or need any that are either ‘Star Trek’ or Adam Sandler fans.” I know he’s just trying to be funny, but it really doesn’t work. Snobbish comes to mind.
But the reference to an Alabama fan and an Auburn fan is spot on.
I’m afraid the superior attitude shows itself again when Mr. Stanton is talking about Weird Al Yankovic. I’m not a fan of his, either, but I think there are more tactful ways to make a point than a putdown to his friend who is a man “with otherwise good taste”, not to mention any other Weird Al fans reading the book.
In the Homes and Churches chapter, the author writes “Too often Christian parents do this, but it is also frequently just run-of-the-mill parents…” I feel that referring to non-Christian parents as “run-of-the-mill” is disrespectful.
In the chapter Navigating the Dilemmas We Face in our Homes and Churches, under Number 6., What about those who are disagreeable and disruptive, Mr. Stanton tells about a husband and wife who led worship in his church with no shoes on. They came to church each week barefooted and refused to change. Surely Mr. Stanton can come up with a better story than this. Bare feet is such a minor issue. I’m sure there are stronger issues that have a great story behind them.
On the whole, I think this is an important book that addresses very emotional issues that need to be discussed in every church that professes Jesus Christ.