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Changing Our Mind

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“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 best:

“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.”

126 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 17, 2014

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About the author

David P. Gushee

52 books94 followers
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 27 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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 106 reviews
Profile Image for Craig Patton.
25 reviews3 followers
October 25, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Robert D. Cornwall.
Author 31 books77 followers
December 16, 2014
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!!
Profile Image for David .
1,223 reviews147 followers
November 6, 2022
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.
Profile Image for Melanie.
104 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2020
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."
Profile Image for Kim.
76 reviews1 follower
November 16, 2014
A fantastic book by a scholar I respect. Read it.
Profile Image for Josiah Sinclair.
16 reviews2 followers
February 13, 2023
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.
Profile Image for Kyle.
188 reviews3 followers
March 24, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Stephen.
24 reviews
April 2, 2022
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.

If you are looking for a more in-depth review, which adequately and fairly asks questions about Gushee's overall approach and argument, I'd suggest: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/re...
Profile Image for Althea J..
361 reviews24 followers
December 17, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Emily Holladay.
491 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2015
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.
Profile Image for MEHorton.
28 reviews5 followers
June 2, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Josh Stadnik.
7 reviews
January 9, 2021
Helpful and hopeful

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.
Profile Image for Vincent.
497 reviews
May 18, 2020
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!
359 reviews
November 30, 2021
I'm not sure what else to say except I needed to read this. It's also amazing how much we can scapegoat without even realizing we are doing it.
Profile Image for Becky Lai.
97 reviews8 followers
October 29, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Phil.
333 reviews27 followers
August 29, 2016
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.

Profile Image for Heather Bottoms.
432 reviews13 followers
June 30, 2017
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.

16 reviews
January 24, 2020
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.

Profile Image for Drick.
814 reviews26 followers
May 16, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Anne Jordan-Baker.
81 reviews3 followers
December 21, 2014
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.
38 reviews
August 14, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
605 reviews33 followers
August 23, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
108 reviews7 followers
January 18, 2021
Takes a moderate-liberal view on the homosexuality issue, and takes a little longer to argue for it than it should. The first half of the book is spent proving that gay people exist, and that this poses a problem that the Church must grapple with, and then also provides some prefatory remarks for the form his argument will take. It isn’t until Chapter 10, more than 50 pages in, that he begins his argument proper.

The argument boils down to essentially four key points:

The condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, and the incident recorded in Judges 19, seem to deal with homosexual rape an abomination more because of the social implications having to do with a sexist and classist society, rather than a condemnation of homosexual activity as such. (Also, in each case, it’s rape — not any sort of committed, monogamous, etc., relationship.)

Passages in Leviticus condemning homosexuality and imposing the death penalty for it may have been more or less intended to set Israel apart culturally from the surrounding societies, rather than intended to condemn homosexual activity as such. Since so much Old Testament law is no longer observed, it is at least an open question whether these particular laws should still apply.

A word that Paul uses in Corinthians and Timothy that is commonly translated “sodomites,” “homosexuals,” “pervert,” etc., is actually a neologism he made up that could be translated in a number of other ways that would still make sense in context — Gushee suggests “sexual predators” or “pimps.” The most straightforward condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27 could be (and likely is) in reference to the really messed up things going on in the Roman Empire at the time. Considering that Paul was writing around the emperorships of Nero and Caligula, I think this is a fair point. Again, this is a far cry from any sort of committed, monogamous relationship.

Lastly, the complementarian vision of a man-woman marriage is rooted in Genesis 1-2, pre-fall creation. But the fact is that we live in a Genesis 3 world, post-fall, one in which divorce is allowed, etc. And here is where I finally have a problem with Gushee’s argument. Allowance does not imply endorsement. Just because we live in a fallen state does not mean that we endorse fallen behavior. He himself makes the distinction between descriptive and prescriptive ethics (28), so it’s shocking that he would try to make this move.

This book was a quick read, especially since I skipped over much of the early chapters, and I was glad to have read his explanations of some of the key Biblical verses. It raises very good questions, and takes a reasonably cautious/balanced view on the issues. But his discussions were quite brief — I plan on investigating some of his footnotes — and in its final move, the argument falls flat on its face.

Extra points though, for this quote:

“I was doing my devotional reading while on vacation last summer—I made sure to say both of those things so readers wondering about my salvation are at least aware that I still read the Bible devotionally, even on vacation…” (107)
Profile Image for Jonathan.
236 reviews3 followers
July 27, 2020
Can the Church afford to be silent about LGBTQ people’s sexuality and suffering? No. Have (and do) Christians treat LGBTQ people shamefully, wickedly with a great deal of homophobia? Yes. Have “reparative treatment” for LGBTQ people caused more damage than good from Christian ministries? Yes. Have (and do) Christians been hypocritical, Pharisaical and horribly inconsistent in applying our sexual ethics? Yes. Have (and do) Christians made LGBTQ people casualties of a legal and cultural “war”? Yes. Should we listen to the experiences and stories of LGBTQ people? Yes. Do we need to get back to a Jesus-centred ethic rather than clobbering people with 6 seemingly random Biblical texts? Yes. Are the Sodom and Gomorrah stories (and even Genesis 1-2) all that relevant for the discussion of whether two LGB adults can consent in a covenantal life-long sexual relationship? Perhaps not. Are LGBTQ people intrinsically sinful? No! All of this I found helpful from Gushee’s book, but I first read these same arguments in Preston Sprinkle non-affirming (of same-sex actions) book People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue. Although I deeply respect Gushee (especially after reading his memoir Still Christian: Following Jesus Out of American Evangelicalism) and I think he has great insights (he knows the American religious landscape like few others and is not arguing for an “anything-consensual goes” sexual ethic)…ultimately I remain unconvinced by his arguments and story. The exegesis of the Biblical texts was far too brief and favoured arguments of affirming scholars (instead of properly engaging with non-affirming scholars like Robert Gagnon who need to at least be challenged) and seemed to want to cast doubt on traditional interpretations more so than construct helpful re-interpretations. Similarly, his discussion of hermeneutics was helpful (Christians have approached the Bible in ways that have destroyed human lives, etc) but ultimately unconvincing and intent on producing doubt rather than a re-constructive hermeneutic. All in all, Dr. Gushee changed his views from a commendable heart that cares for people and his own existential wrestle…but I don’t think it is enough to change a 2500 year Judeo-Christian ethic (even if this ethic has been deeply abusive at various times and ways). I look forward to checking out the works of James Brownson and Karen Keen who apparently make better exegetical and hermeneutical arguments for the affirming position.
Profile Image for Graham.
242 reviews15 followers
April 11, 2021
A good, accessible summary and personal narrative of David Gushee's ethical reasoning process which led him to move from a traditional position regarding LGBTQ+ inclusion to an position of affirming covenantal same gendered relationships. Overall, I suspect this won't move people from one stance to another. It's not a slam dunk case for inclusion, but I suspect the target is mainly those on the fence, or those who desire to see full inclusion of LGBTQ+ christians but don't know how frame their thinking or engage in theological conversations. For the average christian feeling overwhelmed by the circling arguments, this book can be a helpful guide to the understanding the arguments on either side, and become familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each position.

There a few issues with this book which took away some of it's overall impact.

1. The reference to "the LGBT issue". This terminology is really suboptimal. Gushee doesn't actually discuss trans people much. His focus is entirely on sexual orientation, so he's really focused on gays and lesbians (with some reference to bisexuals). But more importantly, the terminology of "LGBT issue" is a bit problematic, and better terminology could have been used. He's referring to the differences in position with the church regarding inclusion, so the phrasing is going to be somewhat clumsy at times, but this choice has a bit of dehumanizing feel.

2. Most of the material is taken from a series of blog posts, so the formatting needed some cleaning up, which doesn't seem to have been consistently done. Parenthetical shortened links to websites which would appear as hyperlinks show up regularly, spacing and formatting of citations isn't always consistent, and I spotted a few instances in which a note was added to the text which I assume the author intended to come back to and finish, but then didn't. I'm working in the 2nd edition, so one would expect an editor to have fixed these things.

But overall this is a book I'd recommend to people seeking to engage charitably with people who are in sharp disagreement.
635 reviews33 followers
July 26, 2018
David P. Gushee is a well known and well respected educator in the field of Christian ethics. He is the author of several books, that span more than two decades. This book is a compilation that chronicles his change of mind about the matter of full inclusion of persons who are LGBTQ in the Church as members and also as leaders. (The third edition of this book, the one I read, is not listed on Goodreads, as of yet.)

My purpose here is not to summarize his conclusions. I highly recommend you prayerfully read this book and see if it doesn't broaden your faith journey. From my earliest childhood, long before I accepted Jesus as my savior and the Lord of my life, I believed God loves all people who seek after him. When I came to know the Lord, after reading through the Bible--Old and New Testaments--I approached the Scriptures, in totality, as a mirror of what Jesus said, what he did, and how he lived. On a much higher theological level, this is how I see the author's view. He presents the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Church from a theological and Scriptural perspective far beyond my ability to write.

The book is informative, written in plain language, and with an eye toward bringing Christians with different points of view together in a way to promote understanding and acceptance, in an effort to begin to heal the hurt experienced by many people who are LGBTQ.
Profile Image for Giordana.
90 reviews
March 9, 2021
hiiiiii i don't know what to rate this yet but i FINISHED IT!!!!
this was a really good introduction to the argument for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in christian churches. i just want MORE!!!!!! MORE MORE MORE!!!!
the book is written from a very interesting perspective: the author writes this book as america's leading evangelical ethicist, which says a LOT. he talks about how and why he changed his mind regarding the "LGBTQ issue" in the church; he used to be against it, but now realizes he was wrong. he outlines the "LGBTQ issue" in a very comprehensive, easy to follow way, as well as the options or "forks in the road" that one might choose to follow regarding this issue. part of this is going over specific bible verses that are often used to condemn same sex relationships and explains how they've been interpreted incorrectly.
i think that this book is very important, especially for christians who might not be LGBTQ affirming, seeing as it comes from the perspective of someone who was also on that page and has now changed his mind. as someone who is LGBTQ affirming myself, I appreciate this book as it clearly showed me how to respond to the opposing argument.
ps: god loves LGBTQ people. fight me.
Profile Image for liz - dear virginia.
544 reviews13 followers
March 31, 2021
I was wrong. I’m not very good at saying those words, but I mean them from bottom of my heart after reading this book. As someone raised in a very traditional, strict Christian background, I only know what I have known, been taught, read, etc. There are several issues that I’ve struggled to reconcile over the years due to Scripture, culture, politics, personal connection to people; one of which is same sex marriage which this book centers. It is extremely difficult to have deep, honest meaningful conversations on controversial topics where sometimes you have to be brave enough to fumble & really get things wrong and equally have someone patient & curious & kind to share their full thoughts too. This thin, yet very thorough book tackles pretty much all elements of the conflict & arguments within the Christian church on this topic. It is a full argument thesis broken down into small essays but far from a bashing or angry tone. Instead, you can feel his calm, kind tone as a professor gives you teaching and hopes you will then reflect on your own conclusion. It is not a book for everyone as there is lots of terms and concepts of theology not fully explained and it gets wordy in that respect; it’s assumed you will be reading this from perspective as a Christian or former Christian.
Profile Image for Jim.
1,789 reviews61 followers
January 10, 2017
I’ve never read a book before with a Foreword (Brian McLaren), a Preface (Phyllis Tickle), and an Introduction (Matthew Vines). But this book warrants these notes from acclaimed writer, theologian, and author of God and the Gay Christian.

This is about David Gushee’s journey from believing that the Bible condemns all homosexual relationships to believing that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual committed monogamous relationships (the same standards we hold heterosexual Christians to).

This book is a bit different than some of the books I’ve read on the subject. Gushee is a Christian ethicist and confirms that he is fairly conservative on sexual ethics - concerned about the direction we’ve been going in as a society. About this book, he says:

It is the story especially of how not the Bible itself but traditionalist readings of certain texts in the Bible have become increasingly implausible to me, while other texts about the Gospel message and the Church now seem to have a broader range of applications, broad enough to include the full embrace of gays and lesbians.

This book is interesting, because I think it is written by a devout Christian, to devout Christians, and contains a lot of food for thought for people who are seriously trying to follow Jesus and do God’s will.

It’s simply written. Gushee does a fantastic job of writing clearly and concisely about the issues facing the Church, and about how Christians react to them.

I love how he addresses this problem:

Odd, really—the big divisive issue in our messed up world today is how perhaps one-twentieth of all people handle their sexuality. That fact itself is remarkable. What does it say about our priorities that we will fight to the death over this issue rather than, say, divide over our stand on clergy sex abuse or mass murder or caring for the poor?

I love perspective.

Gushee talks about Christianity and it’s broader message. How can any self-proclaimed follower of Jesus not agree with this paragraph?

And so, it is increasingly agreed, even on the traditionalist Christian side [those who believe the Bible condemns homosexual activity in any form]: gay people exist. It is wrong to call them names or use slurs about them. Their relationships should not be criminalized. They should not be discriminated against in employment, housing and public accommodation. They should not be bullied. They should never have to be afraid of violence as they go about their daily lives. They should not be blamed for America’s security problems or social ills. They should not be stigmatized or treated with contempt. There should be no space in church life for their dehumanization and mistreatment.

Of course, I live in the south in the Bible belt, and know there are plenty of people who say they believe in Jesus but do not agree with this paragraph. It is to these people that I believe Jesus was talking to when he said, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

But I digress. Back to the review.

Gushee takes another step forward.

But regardless of your stance on the sexual ethics issues…I hope you will agree that all Christians ought to be eager to offer well-informed understanding and hospitality to people of non-heterosexual orientation and identity in our families and churches. Anything short of that is not consistent with the Gospel.

To which I can only reply with a resounding, YES!!

Not quite halfway through the book, there’s a chapter titled If This is Where You Get off the Bus. In this chapter, Gushee notes that you may not be able take the next step with him and believe that the Bible confirms monogamous committed homosexual relationships. But even if you can’t, he issues a series of challenges. They boil down to treating LGBT folks like human beings and trying to understand what they might be facing. Basically, acting like Jesus would expect.

It’s at this point that Gushee discusses the Biblical arguments that are used against even homosexual committed relationships. There’s something about the way that Gushee addresses these. There’s something about the perspective he has on these issues.

He starts out talking about all the issues on which Christians have disagreed in the past. And he references I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly…” How can we not realize that we will never have all the answers? Have ahold of the complete truth?

Gushee addresses Sodom. He talks about Leviticus. The “Biblical model” (male + female). The two weird words that Paul used.

He discusses changing paradigms. Like what happened to Peter (Acts 10) when he proclaims that God has shown him not to call any man impure or unclean. Why don’t we get that?

I guess he answers this question, too.

This is Custer’s last stand against the rejection of Christendom, against the loss of Christian dominance in culture, against theological liberalism, and against visibly deteriorating sexual ethics in Church and society, as evidenced by the ubiquity of divorce, cohabitation and the hook-up culture. Many will fight on this front to the last man.

But he follows this up with something truly amazing.

If what we are talking about is blessing an anything-goes ethic in a morally libertine culture, I stand utterly opposed, as I have throughout my career. But if what we are talking about is carving out space for serious committed Christians who happen to be gay or lesbian, to participate in society as equals, in church as kin, and in the blessings and demands of covenant on the same terms as everyone else, I now think that has nothing to do with cultural, ecclesial and moral decline, and everything to do with treating people the way Christ did.

I think this book should be read by every Christian. Not so that it will change your mind on LGBT issues. But so it can convince you to tackle these issues with the heart of Jesus.
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