It is not to anyone’s surprise that discussions on sexuality and gender dominate the news and political headlines. Everyone seems to be talking about something (or someone!) related or involved in some aspect of these two topics. Discussions can range from how Christians should view, both politically and religiously, LGBTQIA+ marriage and relationships to how one views adoption by a same-sex couple. Other topics range from genetic proof of same-sex attraction to it is merely a choice made by the person to how should the Church global view persons of same-sex attraction and a different gender (or those expressing desire to change their present gender). These are not easy discussions, but they must be had and in an atmosphere of willingness to listen, grace, and truth.
Hiestand and Wilson’s “Beauty, Order, and Mystery” is a compilation of essays that seeks to open-the-door to those unfamiliar with these discussions and to equip the reader with what many consider the biblical perspective (obviously, some will disagree). If you are unfamiliar with these two authors’ work, or the work of the Center for Pastor Theologians (CPT), I highly recommend you peruse their website; especially if you are a pastor currently or planning to serve in ministry. There seems to be no more pertinent discussion in and without of the church than that of human sexuality, and rightfully so. As the authors suggest, the need for a Christian view of sexuality because “we have lost sight of human sexuality as graciously ordered by a good Creator” (2). That is the purpose of these essays, to regain and recapture this vision.
Part one discusses the theological vision of sexuality, that is taking the biblical narrative as it addresses human sexuality and thinking about it in light of the present context and tension. Here one will find a particular chapter entitled “How Should Gay Christians Love?” which was one of, if not my absolute, favorite chapter. Here, Wesley Hill addresses the tough and often awkward-for-some question of how a gay person should love others. He compares two prominent arguments in the affirming camp, and then offers critique and proposes his solution. In the second part, the “beauty and brokenness of sexuality” is discussed. Here topics of transgender(ism), the reactions of the American Church, and a pastoral response to a transgendered person is discussed. The book concludes with “biblical and historical reflections on gender and sexuality.” Here the reader will encounter a chapter on 1 Corinthians 11, Thomas Aquinas, and recapturing a view of marriage and the Image of God based on Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22.
I truly believe the topic of human sexuality is one that will be present in the Church for at least my generation if not also the next. How the Church responds is, I think, up to learned pastors and parishioners. Pastors must be willing to have an open dialogue with those they disagree and agree, for how can we learn? Pastors must be eager to listen to those in their own congregation and families who find themselves entangled in the question of their sexuality and/or gender. Parishioners, likewise, must be prepared to listen actively and often to others who are questioning, struggling, or seeking knowledge with regard to a biblical response. Without grace and truth together, we run the risk of harming those we care about most. This book is a great conversation starter, and I hope you will pick it up and read.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from InterVarsity Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and a positive review was not required. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.