Thursday, February 17, 2011

Washed and Waiting book review

Washed and Waiting: reflections on Christian faithfulness and homosexuality by Wesley Hill - published by Zondervan 2010

Many people would find it impossible to place the two identities, Christian and homosexual, together in the same sentence. Wesley Hill does not. In fact, Mr. Hill not only places these two identities in the same sentence, he also locates them in the same person - himself. He does this in much the same way as an alcoholic going to AA would. “Hello everyone, my name is Wesley. I am a homosexual. I’ve been clean and sober now for 15 years. I thank our Lord and God every day for giving me the strength to resist temptation. My God is faithful and He washes me clean from all my sin. I also thank each one of you for your support and help whenever I feel weak.”

“Thanks for sharing, Wesley”, the listeners respond.

Mr. Hill places homosexuality firmly on the list of sins. In doing so, he grapples with all the tensions that ensue within himself. He discovers as a young man growing up in a conservative Christian home that he has no sexual desire for women. Instead, he is attracted to men. At first he just ignores it and pretends that he is like all the other guys he knows. After a while he finally and painfully admits to himself that he is homosexually oriented.

After this admission to himself that he is indeed homosexual, Mr. Hill tries to figure out why. Here too he finds no answers that fit or satisfy. After years of effort to rid himself of these sinful desires, he concedes and then begins to look for outside help. This at first proves fruitless. He finds no one who actually speaks or writes to his situation. His questions remain. How can I follow Jesus? Will I always have these unwanted homoerotic desires?

In Mr. Hill’s pursuit of answers I find something that is simply amazing. Not that he finds good answers along the way, which he does. But how often he was given these answers and by such a variety of people. After he opens up to a professor at college, Mr. Hill continually finds friends, teachers, counselors, books and articles, that consistently point him in the same direction. Homosexuality is a sin. You sin only when you give in to its temptation. Sex is not the most important part of life. Loving and serving Jesus is. Find wholeness in following the Lord in purity and celibacy. Mr. Hill never notes how unusual this is, although he is very thankful for their input.

In the gospel Jesus is seen casting out demons and healing the sick. In this context He is questioned concerning the coming of the kingdom of God. In Luke 11:17-20 NIV Jesus said "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Here Jesus identifies the present activity of the Holy Spirit as the finger of God revealing the kingdom of God.

Similarly I see God’s fingerprints everywhere in Mr. Hill’s life story. At every turn God seems to supply the right person, the right book, the right incident to shape Mr. Hill into a disciple of Jesus. If this isn’t clear evidence of the kingdom of God, what is? Our God is faithful. Amen.

Mr. Hill carries this topic to the arena where I agree it should be discussed - into the arena of discipleship. He tears down the notion that sexual fulfillment is necessary to being a disciple. Marriage is good, but serving God is best. He points out that we Christians have drunk too deeply at the well of worldly wisdom and have become blinded to the sacrifice necessary to follow Jesus. This insight applies to all, not just people with runaway desires. The sex addict can refrain from giving into temptation, follow Jesus, and we applaud. The drug addict and alcoholic can refrain from fulfilling their temptations, and we applaud them. Why not the person tempted by homoerotic desires? Can’t they fight the good fight too? With Mr. Hill I say of course they can!

But why not go further? Can the bitter person overcome the bitterness that plagues them day in and day out? Can the impulsive shopper avoid malls? Can the sharp tongued speak kindly? Can someone forgive themselves for aborting their child? All of these and more must live with the continual tension of knowing what is right and true yet have to deal every day with contrary desires.

It took me 10 years of struggle with daily depression to find one day that I hadn’t been depressed in a while. I rejoiced in the grace of God! Yet it took years of a daily turning my mind away from thoughts that depressed to the truth of the constant love of Jesus. In the same way I’ve learned to resist panic attacks. Jesus is the answer.

We all have some weakness somewhere. Some people cannot drink any alcohol without becoming a drunk. Some people cannot have a credit card without topping it out and going broke. Each of us has a struggle tailored to us. Yet we all can be victorious in Jesus. Even the person tempted with homoerotic desires.

Does this mean that Mr. Hill will find the day where he will just notice that he hasn’t had to battle these desires for a while? I sincerely hope and pray so. But if he doesn’t? I pray that Mr. Hill be faithful to Jesus.

I agree with Mr. Hill that we do not always need to know the cause and reason for our assorted weaknesses. But through the power of the Holy Spirit we can all live a life pleasing to our Lord and God.

Thanks for sharing, Wesley.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful review Steve. Thanks for sharing!