Posted by Wallace Benn, 26 Oct 2018
Wallace Benn reviews Sean Doherty's revised and expanded edition of John Stott's writing on this subject for Churchman.
Same Sex Relationships (rev. & exp. ed.)
John Stott, ed. Sean Doherty
New Malden: Good Book Company, 2017 96pp £4.99pb
I am delighted to see this gem of biblical reasoning from John Stott being reissued again. It might have been possible, with the passing of time and the addition of new material written by people like Martin Davie, Kevin DeYoung, Jonathan Berry & Rob Wood, Ed Shaw, Sean Doherty, and others, for this wonderful little book to have been forgotten. Originally a chapter in Issues Facing Christians Today, this has now been gently and helpfully edited by Sean Doherty to bring some references up to date, and also to include three stories by those who have a homosexual orientation but are seeking to live by the teaching of “God’s Word written.”
Clearly and compellingly written, Stott deals with the underlying teaching on marriage in Genesis 1–2, which is the essential background to dealing with the prohibitions of Scripture against any sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage. The author is second to none in dealing with biblical teaching, and he also powerfully deals with the contemporary arguments against what the Bible teaches. It is written with compassion and love as well as uncompromising clarity, and advocates the gospel way as a different and better way to go, however challenging at times that may be. The stories add real-life application of this “better way” working in real lives now.
While being very clear that “true love is not incompatible with the maintenance of moral standards,” John Stott calls on the evangelical church generally to be a loving and welcoming local church family where close and meaningful friendships can be made, and support can be given to those struggling with sexual temptations, and all can learn and grow together as disciples of Christ. We must take that to heart and repent of our failures in that respect.
One particularly interesting bit of new information for me was that E. P. Sanders, the NT scholar, though himself liberal, has recently argued against people trying to reinterpret Paul and make him say something more palatable to modern ears!
Churches have been slow to get thoroughly informed about this whole area until recently, despite the battles raging in the Anglican Communion about it. Give people this book to read; it’s super, and will do them good!
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Wallace Benn is the former Bishop of Lewes and is an Honorary Vice President of Church Society.
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