Sometimes in our big-picture discussions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage, we lose sight of the person in the middle of the struggle.
That single sentence convinced me that Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted: Biblical Direction for Friends, Family Members, and Those Struggling with Homosexuality by Ron Citlau was a book I needed to read.
Before I go into my review, I have two disclaimers. First, I am reviewing this book through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program. That means that I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. Second, this post also contains an affiliate link (full disclosure here).
Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted was written by Ron Citlau, a senior pastor at Calvary Church. Citlau is uniquely qualified to write on this topic both as a pastor with knowledge of the Bible and as someone who has dealt with same-sex attraction.
The book seeks to answer “How can someone with same-sex attraction be faithful to Jesus? And how can everyone else support and encourage them in this pursuit?” The book “encourages readers to think deeply and biblically about heterosexual marriage, singleness, celibacy, and more.” It encourages the reader to “Discover the remarkable gifts God provides to the same-sex-attracted Christian who desires to faithfully follow Jesus. And learn how others can come alongside them with love, encouragement, and grace.”
Citlau did a phenomenal job accomplishing what he set out to do in a caring way. I enjoyed this book because of its goals, content, and tone. The goal of this book wasn’t to present a Biblical argument against same-sex relationships; the goal was how we a Christians can walk with those experiencing SSA. Two quotes that stood out to me were “Our goal is the same, I am sure: We want same-sex-attracted Christians to flourish in their relational lives.” and “If we believe that same-sex strugglers must refuse to act on their same-sex desires for the sake of following Jesus, then I think it is up to the church to show the ways they can find relational fulfillment in Jesus and his church. Until we do this, the good news will not be very good to the same-sex struggler.” I think these appropriately set the stage for how he wanted to address it.
The content was great; it was well-supported and presented in a clear way. Some highlights were his descriptions of gender from a Biblical perspective, Biblical lament, making it clear the goal should be Jesus and not trying to get people to be straight (which isn’t possible) and calling out attitudes against homosexuality that stem from negative emotions rather than Biblical motivations.
What truly made this book special, however, was the tone. Citlau retains a humble and approachable tone while staying firm on his points. He acknowledges different opinions and the fact that what works for some may not work for others. His confidence in his points is informative, but the humility he expresses makes the reader want to listen.
Opportunities for Improvement
This book was really, really good, but there were a few opportunities for improvement. I’ll be honest here, I’m getting really picky here, so please don’t put too much weight on these.
One issue I had was there were some points that applied human emotions to God like desire. God does not experience human emotions. At the same time, I recognize that it is possible CItlau was using these more as an illustration rather than theological fact.
I really liked the testimonies he included, but I wish he would’ve shared more. We don’t have a lot of Christian voices from people who experience same-sex attraction and are trying to follow the Biblical description of marriage (which also happens to be what natural law encourages).
He did a good job listing some resources for Christians who are attracted to members of the same sex, but I think he should’ve brought up Courage .
Since this was coming from an evangelical pastor, I wasn’t sure how it would align with Catholic Church teaching. I am happy to report that I didn’t see anything that conflicted Catholic teaching. In fact, it is rather consistent with what I have heard the Church say about this issue.
I noticed that Citlau frequently talked about what Protestant churches were doing, but I’m not sure if that was just his focus or if he was differentiating between Protestant and Catholic churches. If that was the case, it was actually a compliment to how the Catholic Church has stayed consistent with its teachings on marriage.
Even if that wasn’t intentional, he did talk about some Catholic theologians, specifically Christopher West and Saint John Paul II. They were short points, but it is still encouraging to see them mentioned in this book.
This was a great book, and I think any Christian could benefit from reading it. Citlau does a great job charitably laying out a path for Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction and people who want to support them.