Monday, September 13, 2010

Turning Controversy into Church Ministry: a Christlike response to homosexuality By W.P. Campbell Published by Zondervan 2010

W.P. Campbell likes balance. He has turned a very difficult topic into a balancing act between two extremes. Our topic is homosexuality. The balance is grace and truth. The extremes are the affirmation of gays and lesbians as they are on one hand while on the other hand is the bashing of gays and lesbians without offering any compassion, love, or hope. It is Campbell’s heart that homosexuality be considered a temptation and sin like any other with Jesus as our savior. He offers hope and understanding to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions. He offers guidance to Christians and churches who want to minister to those who so struggle.

Turning Controversy into Church Ministry is a book that attempts to simplify the current issues surrounding homosexuality . It is written from the stance of a moderately conservative Christian viewpoint that wants to, in the midst of swirling controversy, be an eye in the middle of the storm. He wants to “equip Christians and their churches to provide a Christlike response to homosexuality and to people who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions”. (p.7)He does this by demonstrating, quite clearly to my way of thinking, that the “liberal” and “conservative” stances on homosexuality are actually extremes that need each other in order to find balance. Campbell writes that his book “is not a call for compromise but a call to deeper Christian commitment”. (p.7) Campbell wants us to see that Christ’s way does not affirm sinful behavior. Yet Christ’s way not only loves the sinner, but has provided all that is needed for anyone to live a godly life.

Campbell interacts carefully with those who believe that God made some who are born to be homosexual and also feels that fulfilling those desires is normal and right. By going through each place in scripture that refers to homosexual behavior Campbell shows that this view cannot be maintained and still hold to scripture as “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. (2 Tim 3:16-17NIV) He realizes that his way of thinking will not convince those who do not hold to such a view of scripture or those who are not interested in overcoming their same-sex attractions.

But to those who do hold a similar view of scripture his argument is very good. Additionally Campbell discusses the genetics question, the stance of modern psychology, and the poor responses of the church regarding homosexuality. In each of these areas Campbell shows how the truth has been distorted. He even discusses some of the roots of these distortions.

He also interacts with those who see homosexuals as an abomination in a similar fashion. The church’s negative response to homosexuals has hurt the spread of the gospel, not only among the homosexuals, but also the general public. Campbell then carefully brings correction to those who judge the homosexual along with the sin of homosexuality. He urges us to separate the sin from the sinner and find positive ways to relate to the homosexual. One example was taking part in a march against AIDS. By this they showed to the homosexual community that they are sensitive to their plight. This example of compassion is, as Campbell believes, also an example of Jesus’ heart.

This is the crux of the book. Christians must show Jesus’ love to all. This promotes the gospel to all, homosexual and non-homosexual alike. Campbell then identifies six ministry spheres, rooted in the love of God, through which the church can minister to the homosexual. These spheres are prayer, leadership, healing, mentors, small groups, and outreach. With these a church can provide a real door of hope to those who struggle with same-sex temptations.

We cannot leave this issue in the closet, so to speak. Christians have to examine their own hearts and see if their actions and reactions are truly built upon Christ and His love. Too long we have accepted behavior that upon inspection does not stand up to the light of scripture. Turning Controversy Into Church Ministry by W.P. Campbell is a good guide that helps us with this kind of heart scrutiny.


Andrew said...

Thanks very much for this review. I appreciate that you highlighted Campbell's quote from p.7, "a call to deeper Christian commitment." I think that is the heart of this book.

William said...


Thank you for your post. (Your wife would be proud (-: What's it like doing ministry in Portland? Do you find it difficult to bring up this topic?

Please check out our website, in a couple of weeks. We'll have a variety of resources to help pastors along the journey.

Bill Campbell

Steven Ganz said...

Well Bill, the only difficulty I have in bringing up this topic is that in Portland I would still be considered something of a caveman in my view, which seems nearly identical with yours. Many Christians I know would not apply the scripture the same way I would, so I don't raise this topic with them. But in our church I have no such problem.

Anonymous said...

I recall JESUS weeping over Jerusalem. He loved them so much, and yet He never compromised the Word and the will of His FATHER. We must love all people. But it is not our love that will gain entrance for others into heaven. Repentance from sin and faith in JESUS, is a must. Faith in JESUS involves a whole life commitment to obeying CHRIST. Sin is sin, and we must be against all sin and for all righteousness.