I embarked on a project this summer. I wanted to read everything I could on the subject of Christianity and the LGBT+ community. I was able to read books on both sides of the debate. It’s hard to keep up with so many new ones coming out. And I would recommend a number of them, including ones by Christopher Yuan, Sam Allberry, and Beckett Cook.

My top pick, though, is People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue by Preston Sprinkle. If you were to read one book on the non-affirming side, this is the one I’d recommend.

Scripture

I take the Biblical text seriously. I want to know what it says and what it means, understanding the various perspectives and all the surrounding issues.

I love that he sees Scripture as authoritative, and is wiling to follow where ever it leads. As he studied this topic he prayed, “If my tradition has been wrong about homosexuality, then please show me through your Word and give me the courage to proclaim the truth.”

Sprinkle does a good job working through the key texts and interacting with the various interpretations. He’s a reliable guide through the relevant biblical passages. He’s evenhanded, humble, and fair. He’s willing to go wherever the text leads. No matter who you are, I think you’ll be challenged by the texts he works through in this book.

People

As the title of the book suggests, settling the textual issues is not enough. “Homosexuality is not about an issue,” he writes. “It is about people.” Later on he writes:

If the church is ever going to solve this issue, it needs to stop seeing it as an “issue.” Homosexuality is not an issue to be solved; it’s about people who need to love and be loved.

Sprinkle cares about LGBT+ people. He’s engaged with them on the issues and he’s listened well. He wants Christians to cultivate an environment where people who experience same-sex attraction can talk about it. He wants us to listen to the stories of LGBT+ people, fight homophobia, educate others about the complexities of the issue, and promote biblical (not cultural) views of masculinity and femininity.

If you have a question on this issue, it’s likely that Sprinkle has covered it. I love the practical wisdom and grace of this book.

There are lots of excellent books on this topic, but this is the first one that I would recommend. I’m grateful for this book, for Sprinkle, and for his organization The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, and the resources they provide for anyone who wants to handle this issue — and people — carefully and graciously.

Top Quotes

Most people who are attracted to the same sex don’t end up leaving the church because they were told that same-sex behavior is wrong. They leave because they were dehumanized, ridiculed, and treated like an “other.”

If the gospel is not good news for gay people, then it’s not good news.

What would happen if Christians were known more by their radical, otherworldly love for gay people than their stance against gay sex?

Jesus doesn’t lead with the law. He leads with love—love without footnotes.