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Regardless of reality, Christianity in America is more known for being against gays than for being for people. For this and other reasons, massive pressure is being brought to bear on the faithful to surrender the same-sex marriage issue as a lost cause and move on. Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet say, No way. There's too much at stake. And they have produced an excellent guide for helping the faithful persevere—not because we are against gays, but because we are for people, including those who identify as gay. Theirs is an earnest call to clear thought followed by courageous action born of love and conviction.
Part One is about right thinking, and it examines the foremost relevant question, What is marriage? "Same-sex marriage should be legal," they begin provocatively, "if marriage is only a way that the government acknowledges feelings of love and affection between people." If, however, marriage involves essential purposes beyond state recognition (or appeasement) of people's feelings, then there may well be valid reasons for limiting marriage to those candidates whose prospective unions serve those purposes. McDowell and Stonestreet write as un-apologetic Christians but devote two full chapters to making the case for the traditional definition of marriage apart from any religious underpinnings or reasoning.
Part Two, addressed specifically to Christians, is about right acting—how to be faithful to God's intent for marriage amid people who consider it outdated, hateful, or repressive. The authors' approach is both sober-minded and refreshing: "[We] think the current cultural situation, including this particular issue of same-sex marriage, brings incredible opportunities for Christians to be 'salt and light' in our times." But being salt and light must begin in repentance—getting our own houses in order, accepting our share of responsibility for the decline in respect for marriage, and, where applicable, owning our own failures. To the Christian, the call is to the world, not away from it, and it is repentance that enables us to speak and act in truth and love.
To those outside the Church, the authors echo the approach of Chuck Colson, who said, "Christianity does not seek to impose; it proposes." The most important question, the authors write, is not "What are we going to do about same-sex marriage?" It is "What are we going to do about marriage?" The final three chapters address this question and offer, respectively:
An immediate to-do list (be people known for loving gays; tell and live better stories about love, sex, marriage, and family; prepare for the conversations that will come);
Suggestions for the long haul (seek healing for our own sexual brokenness; honor the creational link between sex, marriage, and procreation); and
Helpful guidance for imminent challenging situations (What if I'm invited to a same-sex wedding ceremony? What if my church leadership shifts its doctrine?).
Same-sex marriage is here. It will do us no good to pretend otherwise. This aptly named book offers a redemptive approach steeped in biblical truth and motivated by Christ-like agape love. "As Christians," the authors write, "we believe there is something more profoundly true than any and all cultural fads. We believe the kingdom of God, as initiated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the real story of history. Civilizations come and go. Governments rise and fall. Cultures change and change again. But the kingdom of God has no end." •
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