Since publishing Restored Hearts, Book Two in the Born for India trilogy, which profiles a Christian man's struggle with homosexuality, I have been on the lookout for additional resources that address the restoration and freedom one can experience in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door is just such a resource.
Alan Chambers and the leadership team at Exodus International combine their stories and expertise in this compelling, compassionate book addressing the issue of outreach to the homosexual. Exodus is a Christian organization that serves as an arm of the local church to minister to men, women, and youth who struggle with unwanted homosexuality.
God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door opens with a twenty-question quiz to test the reader's knowledge about homosexuality. Answers are then given throughout the book chapters with the same quiz posted at the back of the book with answers and brief explanations. A helpful Resource List is also included at the end of the book.
As I read through the testimonies, studies, and sound, well-researched material, I noted several key themes:
1) Healing of homosexuality, and any sin for that matter, takes place in the context of community, i.e. a loving body of believers.
2) There is no hierarchy of sin. ALL sin is abominable to God. The ground is level at the foot of the Cross. Therefore, homosexuality is no worse than any other sin.
3) Homosexuality is a relational dysfunction. It results from a person trying to meet a God-given need for love and acceptance in an ungodly way.
4) The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality—it's holiness.
5) The best evangelism to the homosexual is done through friendship.
Eye-opening chapters include topics such as demystifying homosexuality, developing a Christlike attitude toward homosexuals, the change process, understanding the three degrees of homosexuality, the church's attitude toward homosexuals, five things not to do when reaching out to the homosexual, and ministry to homosexual young people and to the lesbian. The book closes with 25 questions and answers about gay ministry and five stories from those whose lives have been transformed by Jesus Christ.
The book challenged my thinking, broke my heart, and moved me to become more sensitive to those who battle unwanted homosexuality. Among the many valuable quotes was Mike Haley's comment: "I have never met a woman or man who left homosexuality who didn't do it without taking the outstretched hand of someone else. Because we're broken relationally, we're restored relationally" (p.199). What a powerful reminder to reach out in faith rather than retreat in fear when considering befriending a homosexual neighbor, coworker, or family member.
I highly recommend God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door if you have a heart that longs to minister to this hurting population of people.
Eileen Rife is the author of Restored Hearts, Book Two in the Born for India trilogy (OakTara), which profiles a Christian man's struggle with homosexuality and the healing of brothers, long divided. She and her husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars in the States, as well as overseas. www.eileenrife.com.