“Every generation has its hot-button issue,” writes David P. Gushee, “For us, it’s the LGBT issue.” In Changing Our Mind, Gushee takes the reader along his personal and theological journey as he changes his mind about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender inclusion in the Church.
With 19 books to his name, Gushee is no stranger to the public arena. He is the author of the “Evangelical Declaration Against Torture” and drafted the “Evangelical Climate Initiative. “For decades now, David Gushee has earned the reputation as America's leading evangelical ethicist. In this book, he admits that he has been wrong on the LGBT issue.” writes Brian D. McLaren, author and theologian.
With the support of activists, authors and theologians like Matthew Vines, Phyllis Tickle, James V. Brownson and Mark Achtemeier, Gushee writes clearly and carefully about people dear to him and his study of Scripture. Brian D. McLaren says it
“Not only is David Gushee's work deep, thoughtful and brilliant; and not only is David philosophically and theologically careful and astute; he is also refreshingly clear and understandable by ‘common people’ who know neither philosophical nor theological mumbo jumbo.”
Rev. Prof. Dr. David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, Chair of Christian Social Ethics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Senior Research Fellow, International Baptist Theological Study Centre. He is also the elected past-president of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. Dr. Gushee is the author, co-author, or editor of 28 books, including the bestsellers Kingdom Ethics and Changing Our Mind. His other most notable works are After Evangelicalism, Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Introducing Christian Ethics, and The Sacredness of Human Life. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading Christian moral thinkers. Gushee and his wife, Jeanie, live in Atlanta, Georgia.
This is the second book I have read that attempts to make the case that being in a committed, monogamous, homosexual relationship is not against the teachings presented in the bible.
I was not familiar with David Gushee prior to learning about this book and did a little research on him so as to ascertain what his beliefs are/were. I was surprised to learn he is a Christian Ethicist (given the fact I did know even no that existed) and that his well received in the Christian community (at least at the time of this review.)
As to this book, is during the introduction in Which Brian McLaren states one will face a big ethical decision if one reads this with courage and their heart open. Conversely, if you are unwilling to read without being honest and engaging, the reader is chickening out. It is the sort of setup that really irritates me as it supposes that if you do not agree with the conclusion of the writer it is because you are not being a courageous or heartfelt reader. After all if the reader was, they would come to the same conclusion of the writer. I personally don't like being told what I should you should not believe in.
Much of the book deals with how the author came to the conclusion he did. I really cannot comment much on that except that he has a similar backstory in which they, as a "Christian", have believed that the Bible is not compatible with a committed, monogamous, homosexual relationship. It is only until a family member or other loved one comes out a "gay" that they reach an epiphany that the Bible does indeed allow for a committed, monogamous, homosexual relationship and work at great pains to prove it as such.
These are the areas I have an issue with.
Like other writers, we begin with Genesis and work our way through Timothy. In Genesis the notion of a Genesis 1-2 Christian interpretation is not realistic as the Adam and Eve were removed from the garden due to their sin and that Christians should like from Genesis 3 onward acknowledging the fact that humans are sinful and that the notion of a strictly male/female monogamous is not the only human relationship. That's an interesting notion but really make no sense as anyone could make the same argument concerning any sinful behavior, sexual or otherwise.
Of course, we get to Leviticus and the notion the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with sexual sin and that the notion concerning the men of the city wanting to "know" the angelic messengers who were with Lot had more to do with being bad stewards to guests, which is still considered a major taboo in the Middle East, and that if sex was to be involved, it had to do with humiliation and as an expression of power only, certainly not a committed, monogamous, homosexual relationship. I admit that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah had more to do than just sex. As the Bible described it, they were extremely sinful cities so I would have to imagine a lot more happened within their walls than what the Bible reports. The notion of the men of the city not really engaging in homosexual relations with the strangers and just wanted to show their dominance makes little sense. The writer argues that in a patriarchal society, allowing these men to engage in sex with the messengers would be quite detrimental as their societal worth, the messengers, would be diminished. The problem here is that Lot offered his virgin daughters which held a significate social and financial risk to Lot, if this was about power this would have had a severely adverse affect to Lot and his family.
In a way that almost supposes the writer thought about a potential counterargument, he states it's also possible the wickedness had to do with the fact these men wanted to have sex with Angels. The problem here is two-fold; one would have to assume that the men of the city knew these messengers were indeed Angels, second the only mention of sex between "the sons of God" and "the daughters of men" appears several chapters earlier and the implication is the Angels felt enamored with the women on Earth.
Then of course we come to Paul and his condemnation of homosexuality. The writer then engages in the argument that other writers have made concerning the usage of the word in the society climate of the time and how it's possible the conversion from Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and English is not accurate and the word does not really mean what we in this modern society thinks it does. If that is truly the case, then how can a Christian reader have any faith in anything that is presented in the Bible? After all if these passages are translated into a word(s) that they were not to be, the entirety of all passages of the Bible should then be called into question.
Either the Bible is the divinely word of God or it isn't. What the writer is trying to do here is have it both ways. He believes the Bible is the Word of God at the same token he is stating it's not been translated correctly.
All in all, like the book on this subject I have read, the amount of work needed to make the argument that a committed, monogamous, homosexual relationship is permissible under the Bible, puts even the most gifted lawyers to shame as the amount of supposition, conjecture, heresy, and unrelated evidence that has to be cobbled together to make this an even slightly plausible argument.
The question of the status of the LGBT community within the Church is a vexing one. Traditionally Christianity has held up the premise that sexual relations are to be confined to marriage, and marriage is the domain of a man and a woman. This premise has been grounded in understandings of biblical texts, theological reflection, culture, and understandings of the orders of creation. The traditional paradigm is collapsing, and therefore the church is in the midst of a time of crisis. If the traditional model doesn't work, what should we put in its place?
In recent years there has been a great abundance of new books that wrestle with this question. Several books by evangelicals have appeared in the past two years that open the conversation up in new ways. One of those contributions is this book by David P. Gushee, an evangelical social ethicist. For a number of reasons David Gushee has had a change of mind on this topic, and has come out as a strong advocate for inclusion. In Changing Our Mind, Gushee shares how this change occurred and offers his rationale for why the church as a whole should follow his lead.
This is not a heavy read, though it will be a challenging one for many in the church. It will challenge both traditionalists and some revisionists. For one thing, he suggests that the way forward will require civility and patience. Speaking of traditional texts as clobber scriptures, while understandable, is not an effective strategy. For traditionalists, he wants them to understand that there are Gay Christians. Because of the closet, many have not known this to be true, but they're in our midst.
That is because while he embraces the full inclusion of LGBT folks in the church, he remains true to traditional values regarding the appropriate place for sexual relations to occur. In other words, it's not an anything goes kind of vision. Instead, he suggests that the idea of life-long covenant marriage be extended to LGBT persons. That will require, therefore, a commitment to one partner and one gender identity.
In the course of the book, he takes up texts that either are used in opposition to LGBT inclusion or that define marriage only in terms of male-female partnerships. He addresses the question of the orders of creation and notes their often problematic uses. Ultimately, this is a call for the church to recognize that the principle of exclusion is dangerous -- to body, soul, and spirit. It is an invitation to take up a new path.
For those of us who already embrace the change, this book should prove to be helpful in bringing others along. For those who are on the fence this may be the book that gets them to the other side. For those who have dug in their heals, if they are open to reading, perhaps their eyes will be opened to new realities. Whatever the case, this book has message whose time has come! Take and read!!
When David Gushee came out in support of same-sex marriage it caused ripples in the evangelical Christian world, as he wrote one of the best books on Christian ethics around. I got around to reading this book, the third edition. Its a must read for anyone interested in the ongoing discussion among Christians.
Gushee writes with honesty. He discusses the pertinent verses, showing none of them are as straightforward as traditional interpreters think. Along with this, he pushes against the idea that Christian ethics is simply equivalent to Bible interpretation. This points to a view in some segments of Christianity that discounts intellectuals. In essence, some appear to say it doesn't matter what science or philosophy or experience may have to say because a verse or two in the Bible trumps all. Of course, this was the view in the medieval era when theology was queen of the sciences. Its not the view now, even within much of the Christian community.
That points to another thing Gushee points out. Even traditional views on homosexuality aren't really traditional. Most evangelical Christians have come around to accepting some humans have same-sex orientation. The focus has moved from changing the orientation to the challenge of living a celibate life. Gushee references Wesley Hill, a gay Christian who chooses to live celibate. The fact Hill's book is published by a mainstream Christian press shows the shifts even in traditional thinking.
Overall, Gushee's argument relies on seeing the work of the Spirit in gay Christians. He likens it to the Christian relationship to Jewish people. For centuries Jews were seen as second-class citizens, or worse. This all shifted in a few decades after WWII. All the Bible passages once used to say Jews were evil are no longer used this way. Gushee sees the same shift happening here. It is vital to say that Gushee argues that same sex couples can have the same covenant based marriage straight couples can. He is not endorsing any sort of easy morality that makes no demands. As a sidenote, whatever people believe about same-sex marriage it is important to relegate the terminology of "the gay lifestyle" to the dust bin of history. There is no one "gay" lifestyle just as there is no "straight" lifestyle. For Gushee then, if gay Christians want to commit to marriage, the church should welcome them. Besides, Gushee points out, if Christians have no problem welcoming divorced people into churches there ought definitely be no barrier to gay couples.
Agree or disagree, this is a helpful book in the discussion.
Count me as one of millions of Christians who never realized that there are scores of Christians who are also part of the LGBTQ community. Yes, I knew about the LGBTQ community, just not that so many of them worship wholeheartedly, love God with every fiber of their being, and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I apologize for my ignorance.
Over the past few months, I've read a number of books dedicated to "changing our minds" regarding LBGTQ inclusion. This is, perhaps, the best one (although the others have been very good too). In this book, David Gushee takes his readers on a journey that illuminates Scripture, appeals to human kindness and reasoning, and focuses solely on Jesus and the Gospels. I highly recommend the 2017 Third Edition of this book as it includes Gushee's presentation at the 2014 Reformation Project conference in Washington, DC, Gushee's Response to Critics, and a Study Guide by Rev. Robert Cornwall, written to help his church move towards a welcoming and affirming stance towards the LGBTQ population.
This is probably my favorite line from the book, which is now full of highlighted passages: "Better is one day in the company of those bullied by Christians but loved by Jesus than thousands in the company of those wielding Scripture to harm the weak and defenseless." (page 138).
Many people reading this will recoil and automatically hide behind years of church teachings against the LGBTQ community. To you I say, "Please read this book and prayerfully consider your reaction."
✨️TRANSFORMATIVE ENCOUNTERS WITH REAL HUMAN BEINGS --
This is how our minds can be changed.
For David Gushee, such personal encounters are profound experiences of God's Spirit at work. As a distinguished evangelical scholar, theologian, and ethicist, Mr. Gushee tackles one of the most contentious issues of our time - the harmful and unchristlike aspects of Christian tradition, which have resulted in a teaching of contempt towards sexual minorities, now referred to as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.
David engages in a thoughtful discourse on biblical interpretation at the hermeneutical level. He argues for a fresh and compassionate interpretation of the Bible, one that moves beyond literal and narrow understandings of biblical passages related to homosexuality. He advocates for a contextual approach, taking into account cultural, historical, and linguistic factors, while also emphasizing the importance of understanding the love and teachings of Jesus Christ in their deepest sense.
Drawing a parallel to historical injustices like slavery and anti-Semitism, David asserts that transcending the narrow lexical interpretation of biblical passages pertaining to LGBTQ individuals is crucial. Instead, he advocates for a broader examination of the fundamental essence of Jesus Christ and the implications of following Him. By delving into these deeper meanings, David believes that the defenses presented by anti-gay arguments can be effectively challenged.
“Changing our Mind” is a must-read for anyone who struggles with how sexual orientation fits together with a life of faith. It delivers a compelling argument for embracing LGBTQ individuals as full and equal members within religious communities.👊🌈
Insightfully comparing Christianity's 2000-year-old tradition of antisemitism (rooted in verses like Matt. 27:25, John 8:44, and Acts 7, with supporters including venerable Church Fathers such as Augustine, Tertullian, and Justin Martyr to reformers like Martin Luther) to homophobia, David Gushee examines the traditional scriptural arguments against LGBTQ orientation and practice and draws on a Christ-centered hermeneutical and ethical framework to argue for the full inclusion of LGBTQ Christians in the life of the Church.
Gushee perceptively diagnoses that the issue underlying and framing LGBTQ inclusion is that traditional Christian understandings of human sexuality have been largely abandoned. And not just by an increasingly secular culture, but also by the Church itself, driven by the rise of widely available contraception and the accompanying de-coupling of procreative and unitive aspects of sexuality, but also by the changing role of women, feminism, and the sexual revolution. Consider the modern Church's tolerance for divorce, for which there is no biblical provision (even in the case of abuse). Or the widespread acceptance of contraception in protestant Christianity. It is in this broader context that David Gushee offers that "traditional Christian understandings of sexuality are being re-evaluated due to evidence offered in the lives of those who do not fit the historic heterosexual norm". This context is crucial for explaining why those in the traditional camp view the question of LGBTQ inclusion as a theological and cultural “last stand”, but also important because it hints that a broader project of re-articulating Christian sexual ethics for a post-contraceptive world is ultimately needed.
For Gushee, however, the question of how the Church should treat LGBTQ individuals simply cannot wait. Integrating evidence from the lived experience of LGBTQ individuals and the findings of the modern scientific and medical professions with theological discernment, Gushee carefully re-examines scriptural and theological arguments against LGBTQ acceptance and without being dismissive carefully explains why he no longer finds them compelling. I found his discussion of the key scriptural passages balanced and accessible, and his criticism of biblicism convincing. (Biblicism is an approach to Christian moral discernment that emphasizes the authority of scripture while deemphasizing the authority/relevance of Christian tradition, reason, or experience).
Changing Our Mind is a relatively short book, and at points I found myself disappointed in Gushee’s brevity. I thought that he conceded too quickly that Christianity’s historic attitudes towards LGBTQ behavior have been uniformly negative, and that more time could have been spent on the topic of hermeneutics. Some of these frustrations would have been even more severe had I read the first edition, and although the additional essays and response to critics included in the third edition were very valuable, one can’t help wishing that Gushee (or someone else) would write a longer and more thorough treatise on the subject capable of incorporating more nuance than the slim 120-page 3rd edition permits. Despite these small complaints, I overall found Changing Our Mind to be compelling and convincing. It’s a book I’m sure I will be recommending frequently and which I would enjoy reading again for a book club or discussion group.
A very dear, fairly theologically conservative friend who I never would have expected to be anything near gay-affirming (although one of the most loving, least-judgemental people I’ve ever met) recommended this book to me after I came out on twitter as a Christian who “struggles with homosexuality”. Which is, more or less, how I’ve always thought of myself and my sexuality and my faith. The truth is that, of late, I’ve been back-and-forthing a lot on whether or not I’m “affirming” or would ever think that actively pursuing a relationship with someone of the same sex could ever be something I might conceivably do. My friend told me that this book had greatly changed her perspective and that, although she probably wouldn’t call herself “affirming” and although she does still question whether or not she thinks same sex relationships are something God is in the business of blessing and calling those of His children who are queer into pursuing, she nonetheless had felt the holy fire of conviction upon her heart and had decided to double down on her resolve to treat everyone she comes across with nothing else at all but grace and acceptance.
So of course I read the book.
I still have deep, dark doubts as to the goodness or evilness of pursuing a same sex relationship. But I think I’ve come quite a lot closer to affirming other believers who do. The advice I’ve always given to straight friends pining after relationships has been “Just wait and see what God does. If something’s going to happen, it’ll happen. Forcing it is disingenuous.” And I stand by that. So I’m going to wait. I’m going to see what happens. I’m not going to seek out anything that the Lord does not put before me. And whatever He DOES put before me, I’m going to pray through with all the earnesty and fervor and humility I can muster.
Right or wrong, Gushee’s book is a good one. Thoroughly researched, concisely written, logically presented. Grace is shown even to his most ardent of detractors. I give it five stars.
I call myself a Christian, so I believe in God's unconditional love and follow Jesus, who modeled that kind of love. My friendships with those proudly in the LGBTQ community are how I came to love and accept them. It's not for me to judge, as I don't want to be judged (I'm a divorcee, also forbidden in Scripture, by the way). The author does an excellent job laying out the issues and his own transformation. I especially appreciated the addition of his message, "Ending the Teaching of Contempt," and his "Response to Critics."
Gushee does a great job of laying out the ethical and empathetic realities for many in the LGBT community. It is a work that is commendable, and needed in that regard.
Where the book falls apart, for me, is in the lack of cohesive narrative in his arguments. He often casts doubt, but doesn't state his own conclusion. The arguments are meant to 'beg the question' and evoke feelings in the reader, without stating their true intent. He makes sweeping Scriptural statements that fundamentally change how one would read the Bible, in short paragraphs, without adequately making the case.
Is it an important work? Absolutely. However, Gushee fails in his goal. In the end, it appears he is appealing to those who are already predisposed to the argument, and himself argues out of experience, rather than logic.
From the start, this book has got my mind working -- I've been writing the entire time that I read this book: taking notes, jotting down reactions, posing questions for further investigation. This is my first foray into reading scholarly work regarding the intersection of Christianity and homosexuality. An excellent book that was completely accessible to a novice like me, but so richly informed and thoughtfully laid out. I would imagine that this would be a truly effective tool in helping initiate productive dialoguing within the Christian community.
I don't think I've accurately conveyed how important Gushee's perspective is to both sides of the issue. I think I need to let this one percolate a bit before I can really do it justice in a review.
But bottom-line ...this is a book that everyone should read.
This is the most concise book I've read suggesting a new framework for a Christian sexual ethic. Gushee is a respected mentor of mine and I am proud of the way that he takes both scripture and personal experience seriously, going as far as to apologize for the way his previous teachings have been detrimental to LGBT Christians. I would recommend this book to any evangelical Christian looking to understand a pro- LGBT stance in light of true biblical scholarship. For many people who are "already there," this book might not go far enough for you, but I think it faithfully asserts a challenging and compelling ethic for Christians in the 21st century.
“It says something really terrible when the least safe place to deal with sexual orientation and identity issues is the Christian family and church…
The fundamental need right now for Christians is to think seriously about whether the Church’s own marginalized sexual minorities will be treated, unequivocally, as sisters and brothers in Christ…
My mind has changed…
We ought to know that a predictably very large percentage of these irresistibly attracted same-sex people have the same aching need for partnership and sexual companionship, and the same aching grief over being alone, that the man experiences, and God recognizes as “not good,” in Genesis 2…
That small minority of people whose gender identity and sexual orientation turn out to be something different than the majority ought to be able to be accepted for who they are, and assisted, where necessary, in the ways most congruent with their overall well-being. This better reflects the spirit of Christ's ministry than demanding an impossible uniformity and rejecting those who do not achieve it…
My readiness to take these Christian sisters and brothers seriously has also been affected by serious study of numerous instances in the past and today when Christians have read Scripture so as to hurt and marginalize disfavored groups…
It began to seem more and more clear to me that Jesus was more likely to be found among these gentle, hurting gay and lesbian Christians than among their adversaries…
I cannot respect heartless and loveless Christianity.”
I first encountered David Gushee in a webinar led by Ken Wilson of Blue Ocean Faith. After hearing him speak thoughtfully about his journey, I knew I needed to read this book. I appreciate his treatment of Scripture, his exploration of the different views that exist today in evangelicalism around the LGBTQ community and integration into faith communities. This is not an easy topic to read about, or speak about, especially when one considers how personal a it can be, and how deeply our convictions can run. This is why David shines: he looks at the Scriptural foundations of many convictions and shares what the journey of (perhaps) the foremost evangelical ethicist of our generation looks like in separating wheat from chaff. He acknowledges his perceived shortcomings and shares how he arrived at the point of writing this book in a very candid manner.
It may be easy for a person of faith to look at the costs of rethinking convictions around LGBTQ engagement and continue moving in the other direction - many of us are on the record "for" or "against". The invitation from David is to hear one person's story and pay attention to what is resonating in your soul; and ask whether you yourself are being invited to change your mind.
Important book about how church leader David Gushee is trying to change how churches treat the LGBTQ community. He explains how the Bible has been misinterpreted for years by churches to exclude and harm its LGBTQ members. It was refreshing to read that David Gushee is trying to make it better for anyone who has ever felt like something was wrong with them, or been told that they were going to hell because they are gay.
Overall, this is written well to its intended audience of people who are currently of the opinion that LGBT+ people cannot be Christians while actively living out their sexuality. This is the best book I’ve read aimed towards this audience with this intent, but it is distracting how much Gushee focuses on himself in it. I really do not care about him as much as he thinks I care about him. I just want a book to recommend to my conservative Christian family and friends.
Insightful. Engaging. Challenging. Convicting. A few words to describe this great book. It’s a must for those wishing to deepen their understanding of the LGBTQ conversation. It was well informed and laid out beautifully. I appreciated the theological examination and reflection. The study questions at the end are a helpful resource tool, great for future use.
Read this for church along with a book on the others side of this issue. Regardless of where you land, this book forces you to think and to truly evaluate your theology around LGBTQ+ issues. Beautifully written and the slow progressions are helpful. What a ride!
Concise, easy to read, “conservative” explanation of full inclusion of queer folks in monogamous marriages. A solid read for what it sets out to do — (1) challenge the notion that exclusion is clearly stated in the Bible and (2) disrupt the accusation that inclusion is part of a larger trend of loose convictions about the sacrament of marriage and whatever feels good as a sexual ethic.
Sort of identifies the problem but leaves the reader with a lot of other questions! Good place to start for folks who were raised in conservative Christianity.
This was an easy-to-read overview of points that led the author (a Christian ethicist) to reconsider his non-affirming view of LGBTQ Christianity. He goes into less depth than the previous book I read on this subject, but it is also a more readable presentation that seems to function more as a summary of his process.
This book is a fairly topical one, especially for me as a Canadian Anglican, given the high-publicized and roller-coaster General Synod vote on same-sex marriage. It was also not a particularly easy book to get a hold of because, despite being rather a recent book, its first edition is unobtainable and one has to go through a print-on-demand publisher to even get the copy. I'm glad my wife and I decided to take the trouble because this is one of the best and most sensitive handing of the LGBT issue in Christian thought that I have seen. Not that I've read the entire (extensive) bibliography, but I've read enough to resist wanting to read more of the same.
Dr. Gushee, a notable Christian ethics prof, has, of course, changed his mind on this issue. That is, he has gone from a moderate opponent to the full acceptance of LGBT people in the Church to a moderate supporter of this acceptance. In doing so, he has not thrown the doctrinal tradition out like bathwater nor has he lost his compassion and sympathy to those who continue to uphold the traditional views on this issue. He is thoughtful, irenic and has read both sides' scholarship carefully. His analysis is fair and measured and, while it comes to a firm conclusion, it does so without condemning traditionalists, merely suggesting that here is a point where tradition might be revised. That calmness and humility is a rarity on this highly divisive issue and, agree or not, is a welcome contribution to the discussion-a discussion which is more commonly barely heard amid shouting, name-calling and condemnation practiced by both sides.
There is a lot to like about this book, which is really a series of essays published by Baptist News Global. I like that he outlines that there have already been changes in how LGBT Christians are treated, especially in eliminating the discrimination against gay people and the marginalization of groups like Westboro Baptist (who even traditionalists don't want to be associated with). I like how he warns progressive Christians how not to argue with traditionalists (because they stop listening) by warning against dismissing Scripture and tradition. I like how he works through the standard passages usually cited by traditionalists and carefully discusses them, using scholarship from both sides of the debate, but raising real questions about whether those passages should be taken that way. I like how he includes experience as a theological category without letting it overwelm Scripture or Tradition. I like that he argues with compassionate for both LGBT and traditional Christians. There is a lot to like here.
This is a book which deserves wider circulation. It sets out the issues clearly and sensitively. It argues well and convincingly and, while I have a few reservations about some of the Scriptural interpretations, I think it deserves to be taken seriously.
David Gushee, leading Christian ethics scholar and writer, spent decades firmly in the traditionalist evangelical camp in regards to his beliefs and teachings on same sex relationships and LGBT Christians in the church. But in recent years, he has come to change his mind and now champions full inclusion and affirmation for LGBT Christians. This book is his explanation of how he arrived at his new position - scripturally, ethically, and spiritually.
I appreciate his careful, reasoned investigation of scripture, and was especially impressed with the gentleness and kindness with which he outlines opposing viewpoints in what is often a divisive subject. Maybe it resonated with me because my journey followed a similar path. But this is the best book I've read on this issue. Highly recommend.
There are some evangelicals that might be moved by Gushee’s systematic reasoning and ethical approach to this subject. Those in leadership roles may welcome his scholarship on the topic of inclusion for LGBTQ+ people and find the book helpful in crafting a way forward. Anti-elitists or anti-intellectuals, those who need to follow his theological approach the most, might dismiss Gushee outright by simply categorizing him as a liberal-elitist. Such dismal would be a mistake. “Changing Our Mind” is easy to read and includes a small group study guide included in the latest edition.
Folks from a mainline Protestant tradition might appreciate and prefer the scholarship of the revised and expanded edition of “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths and Heal the Church” (2009) by the late Jack Rogers for a small group study.
Christian Theologian and Ethicist David Gusheee outlines a biblical argument for welcoming and affirming gays in the church. For evangelicals this book may be helpful. Gushee has been quite prolific in evangelical circles and addresses many of the concerns about homosexuality. However, I found his arguments to be repititive and not engaging.This says more about me than him. For me the LGBT in the church debate is less about Scripture and more about justice.
Really interesting to read about this issue from an actual evangelical ethicist. Smart, interesting, personal, brief. I don't agree with everything Gushee says here, but it was a fascinating read from a perspective I've never heard from.
Written by the leading evangelical ethicist in the US, this is an intelligent exploration for anyone seeking resolution of the issue of the LGBT community within the Christian church. A must read on the topic.
One of the most persuasive affirming (Side A) perspectives I have yet read. Fast-paced and nuanced. If you want to seriously take account of the LGBTQ/Christian conversation, this will be an important work to intend with.
I found this book to be refreshing in many ways, if not convincing at the level of actual argument. While Gushee seems to fairly present the arguments of the non-affirming perspective at many points, the vast bulk of his response to these come in the form of the subjective and anecdotal, in which can be found little appeal to positive argument. The author’s bonafides are stated in depth at the beginning of this book, and lead the reader to assume grounded arguments to come from such a highly-regarded professor of Christian Ethics and philosophy. Alas, there is little to be found in these pages. While currently in vogue, the style of story-telling and deconstruction has little chance of convincing readers who have considered the topic of the morality of homosexuality at any depth, and found themselves unable to come to a strictly affirming stance on the matter. In order to better explain these approaches which I personally feel to pervade this book, I will present a few examples which I feel to be representative of the general approaches Gushee chooses to take: Chapter 12: On the topic of Levitical (Old Testament) law: "Do Christians quoting Leviticus 20:13 support the death penalty for those committing same-sex acts? If not, why not? If so, do they support the death penalty for all of the offenses listed in the previous three paragraphs?” This style is often called a “what-aboutism”, and is presented as a red herring fallacy which attempts to deflect the topic in question by presenting the opposition as hypocritical. While this abstracted opposition may indeed be hypocritical in their application of Levitical law, it has little to do with the actual question of the morality of homosexuality. The author’s question also integrates a motte-and-bailey fallacy here by presenting a frankly ridiculous duality between full affirmation and the killing of those who engage in homosexual acts. In short, the author presents a verse which is indeed often used by Christians on the non-affirming side of this issue, but in place of presenting a reasonable approach to Biblical interpretation, he presents the only non-affirming stance to be one of strict Biblical literalism, in which the Levitical laws and stated punishments of the Old Testament are viewed as directly and wholly applicable to the modern world. This is simply not the world or environment in which we live, and one would reasonably expect an author of such stated authority to know this. Gushee runs through each verse throughout the Bible which has seemed to assert the immorality of homosexuality, but fails to do much more than to deconstruct the interpretations and translations of these verses. This is primarily the approach I would view as a “negative argument”. In place of justifying an affirmative interpretation of these verses, Gushee merely aims to muddy the water and present the non-affirming interpretations as unreliable. Chapter 15: "We also know from real human beings and research about them, that 3.4 - 5 percent of the population cannot find a "suitable partner" (Genesis 2) in a member of the opposite sex because that is not their fixed, enduring, unchangeable sexual orientation". Here the author states the innateness and stability of non-hetrosexaul orientation as simple and settled fact. While possible, he neglects to address two fundamental contradictions of this claim: If sexual orientation is in fact simply “fixed, enduring, and unchangeable”, how does one justify the identifications of bisexuality, let alone the variety of alternative sexual identities under the umbrella acronym of LGBTQ+, particularly the identification of sexuall fluidity? In fact, due in part to this exact question, many modern LGBTQ+ movements have in fact been moving away from the simple “born this way” claims of first-wave American gay rights movements. Another problem is the lack of objective evidence of this claim. Gushee himself presents no such evidence in defense of this claim. As an example of an honest presentation by an affirming homosexual man of the objective findings on the topic, I would recommend Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why (2010), by Simon LeVay. According to a 2021 Gallup Poll, far from the 3.4 - 5% of the population stated by Gushee above, they found that 20.8% of those polled within Generation Z reported identifying as non-hetrosexual. Indeed, far from stable, this seems to have developed into an exponential trend. In this Gallup poll, Traditionalists (born before 1946), Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z reported rates of LGBTQ+ identification at 0.8%, 2.6%, 4.2%, 10.5%, and 20.8%, respectively. While not conclusive, given the date of publication, readers would expect such incoherencies to at least be addressed by the author. Chapter 19: "I also hope to be spared the more meritted judgment of those, especially LGBT people themselves, who are rightly way more than tired of being placed under the theological microscope, as I have done in this book. It seemed necessary for me to do this in service to that part of the Christian community that might be aided by this kind of reflection, but I will not do it again. And probably in 50 years, people will marvel that books such as this one were ever really needed. It says something that secular folks, unhindered by centuries of destructive Christian interpretations of the Bible, have so often reached full acceptance of their LGBT neighbors more easily than have Christians". Here at the end of his book, the author states that the type of analysis presented throughout is no longer a matter fit for discussion. While, again, I found Gushee to be often refreshing in his approach to at least the presentation of the non-affirming stance, I do not feel that he has presented any substantial positive argument in favor of the general morality of homosexual intercourse, let alone how this can be rectified with Biblical interpretations, translations, and degrees of application. Still, he feels that conversation and argument (even constructive argument) is something which he is no longer willing to engage with. While somewhat understandable, this is not a sign of an open-minded and confident position.