Boyce College professors challenge evangelical response to homosexuality in new book
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — The gospel demands change, write Boyce College professors Denny Burk and Heath Lambert in a new book, Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says About Sexual Orientation and Change. Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, and Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and visiting professor of biblical counseling, recognize the truth of the gospel is for homosexuals because it is for all people. They argue that while homosexuality might be an uncomfortable subject to talk about, the Bible sets clear boundaries that need to be pervasively championed.
“If we withhold that truth from them out of fear of offending them, then we don’t love them. We cut them off from salvation,” they write. “The only way for them to be saved is to receive Christ. The only way to receive Christ is by repentance and faith.”
The book originated from Burk and Lambert sharing stories, essays, and experiences about how evangelicals were responding to the homosexual conversation.
“[Burk] was sorting through issues of ethics regarding sexuality and I was sorting through issues of ministry regarding sexuality — counseling people,” said Lambert, executive pastor of Discipleship and Community Life at First Baptist Church Jacksonville in Florida, in an interview. “And so these two things are perfect complements to one another. We had the same set of concerns about some developments we saw in evangelicalism and, being friends and going to church together, it seemed like a natural thing to do.”
Written for an audience with an interest in what the Bible says about sexuality, the main goal behind the book is to be persuasive about the truth found in Scripture, specifically relating to homosexuality. Burk and Lambert accomplish this by combining a discussion on ethics and ministry to provide biblical truth and practical application.
Expositing Ephesians 5, the book challenges readers to consider the depth of their sin and to “humbly confess this reality is the only way to experience the full, saving love of Jesus Christ.” The book argues that holiness is the pursuit for sinners made possible only through the repentance and belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
“In place of sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness, Paul tells us to put on thanksgiving,” they write. “As same-sex attracted men and women walk the path of repentance toward change, one of the most practical things they can do is to be thankful. … Be thankful for God’s unflinching purpose to make you like Christ. … God will never waste your struggle. He is sanctifying you. Be grateful.”
The book argues that the goal for a person who struggles with same-sex attraction is not opposite-sex attraction, but to “seek to honor Jesus with their sexuality.”
Lambert and Burk also make a clear distinction that sin is not only a choice, but it is part of being human; it is innate. This affects the depth to which people understand their fallen nature and the distortion of being image bearers of God.
“There is the thought that sin can only be those things that we choose to do. And that’s a misunderstanding of the way the Bible talks about sin,” Burk said in an interview. “We don’t just sin in our deeds but we sin in who we are. Our nature is corrupted by the fall. Sin is not just what we choose, it’s what we are, and so the choices that we make and sometimes the things we do emerge rather spontaneously from our nature.
“Those are biblical categories that are foreign to people who are thinking in your standard, ‘well if I didn’t mean to do it, it can’t be a sin,’ or, ‘if I was born feeling this way, it can’t be a sin,’ or, ‘if it feels natural, it can’t be a sin,’” Burk continued. “Scripture teaches that there are a lot of things that feel natural to us that are sinful, and so we’re not really saying anything new in this book; we’re saying old things about a topic that Christians are now just grappling with in a serious way. But this is just Christian Anthropology 101. It’s the doctrine of original sin, now being applied to the issue of sexuality.”
The book also encourages believers to minister to people who struggle with same-sex attraction by speaking the truth of the gospel in love and humility. Transforming Homosexuality offers hope for sinners by reminding them of the grace of the gospel that provides the power to change through the process of sanctification.
“Christians talk about sin, we talk about sinful behavior, we talk about sinful desires, but we also are the people who are never allowed to talk about sin without talking about the grace of Jesus,” Lambert said. “We also are the people who understand that all of the sins that everyone struggles with out there are the same sins that people struggle with inside the church house. We have to talk about this like that. These people are in our number, the grace of Jesus is available to them.”
The book is available for purchase on Amazon.