Staff Picks: People to Be Loved

January 5, 2017
Note: This is the first post of what will be a recurring series called “Staff Picks.” Throughout this series one of our staff members will be giving you a recommendation and/or a brief review from the world of music, movies, TV or literature. Hopefully this will serve as a way to see inside the head of our staff members and direct you towards some listening, viewing or reading material for your own personal growth and enjoyment. Today’s post is from our youth pastor, Dave Hallahan, on a book he read recently.

BOOK: People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just An Issue
AUTHOR: Preston Sprinkle

This book had been on my “To Read” list for quite some time. Homosexuality has been a snowballing topic of conversation that has showed no signs of slowing down. All throughout Christianity, from pulpits to coffee shops, denominational conferences to kitchen table conversations people are grappling with how, both as individuals and the church, we should regard LGBTQ peoples. As a youth pastor, I have been a part of this grappling. Struggling both in my personal beliefs and as a pastor to our young people.

I think the issue of homosexuality is one of the starkest dividing lines in belief between the older and younger generations. If you’re over 45+ years old, you grew up in a different atmosphere than anyone 21 or younger when it comes to the LGBTQ community. Even where separate generations agree, their language is different and blurs the lines. Generalizing this difference, those of older generations will state in no uncertain terms, “Homosexuality is a sin.” They are addressing an issue. Many from younger generations hear, “Jennifer is a sinner.” “Eric is dirty.” “I’m a mistake.” They are seeking to address people they know and love. There is a gap, if not in belief, then in language.  Jesus’ example is clear. He was not soft on sin. He did not hide behind cultural expectations. In fact, no before or after him has held to a stricter sexual ethic than Jesus did. Yet, he also never left anyone feeling like they were not welcome. The church has, to varying degrees and at varying times, fallen short by being soft on sin, hiding behind cultural expectations, and/or making others feel unwelcomed. And as the church, we need to wrestle together to honor God’s Word without dishonoring people.

In his book, Preston Sprinkle seeks to help us do that and as the preview of the book says, “Preston Sprinkle moves the topic from an often hostile, knee-jerk, ‘us’ versus ‘them’ debate to a respectful, loving and truthful exchange. Focusing on Scripture…Sprinkle challenges those on all sides of the discussion to lay aside their assumptions and genuinely seek to not only know what the Bible actually says about homosexuality, but evaluate how we treat people behind the word.” Evangelicals tire of being told to embrace ‘tolerance.’ And there’s nothing wrong with that, we were never called to tolerate. But we were called to love. Lesbian Christian, Julie Rodgers said in an interview, “Tolerance is a social mandate. Love is a sacrifice.” In his book, Sprinkle calls us not to tolerate, but to something deeper. To love.

I would encourage people from all sides of the discussion to pick up this book. I know that not everyone will come out agreeing with Sprinkle’s conclusions, but it will be hard to walk away disagreeing with the example he sets in his posture. Never have I read or heard a stance that comes from such a place of humility. Sprinkle offers a deep look into a controversial issue that honors God’s Word as the ultimate source of truth and honors everyone’s humanity, regardless of sexual orientation. Sprinkle, and his book, offer a fresh voice to an often frustrating conversation. The book is strongly recommended to anyone interested in bridging the gap between a lost world and a loving Savior.