I recently joined a small group and had a meeting with the leaders. I shared my struggle with homosexuality, my ideas on how the Church can practically love Christians who struggle with it, and I shared with them the 4T'S website. Since that meeting, we have continually been texting and meeting up about this topic, especially about how to actually love Christians who struggle with homosexuality. Then I had this idea, I should lend him my books. Now I think I should just tell people what books would be best to read and get your mind going when it comes to the calling and the ability the Church has to practically love Christians who struggle with Homosexuality.
So here is my top 5 books I think Christians should read to get a very deep and holistic idea of the life of a Christian who struggles with homosexuality and how to actually (with practical ways) love them well.
Not every book I recommend talks about homosexuality, but I think it helps Christians who struggle with this (and don't) understand how to be Christians who are told by Christ to pick up their cross and follow him.
1. A Bigger World Yet: Faith, Brotherhood, & Same-Sex Needs by Tim Timmerman (It is a light read yet you learn so much from it, everyone should read it)
"Connection with our own gender is something we all require. Brotherhood and sisterhood is an innate element of being human...Why, look at Jesus; he touched and needed and enjoyed affection from his disciples. By no means are all of our needs the same - some require more touch, some require more time, some want a consistent buddy to go running in the morning, some want a listening ear to vent their frustrations to - but regardless of what our specific needs may be, men and have been made to, by their very nature, be a part of each others lives. We need our gender-mates. Part of being a man is coming to terms with what you need from your brothers and asking to get those needs met." Tim Timmerman
This book is my number 1! I really think every Christian should read it. It will open up your eyes to the needs of Christians who struggle with homosexuality. It goes through the writer's personal story (he struggles with it as well), he talks about needs humans have such as touch, time, intimacy within friendship and marriage, fears the church my have towards Christians who struggle with this, and how the Church can be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. It is full of encouragement, hope, rebuke, honesty, and a push for deeper intimate friendships. My friends who have read it end up learning a lot about themselves as well. As one author who also struggles with this said, "The Healing of a Homosexual is the healing for all men and women." Here are some of the chapter titles that can help you understand where the author takes you
Chapter 5 - A five year - old in a thirty-year-old body
Chapter 6 - Beloved Friend
Chapter 8 - Jesus with Skin on
Chapter 9 - The gift of being needy
2. Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships by Geoffrey Y Greif
No matter how they are defined, friends and Friendships are vitally important to men's lives and are based on being understood, trust and loyalty, dependability, and doing things together. Some men feel they do not have enough friends and want more of them. Others are torn between wanting more friends and believing their first obligation is to their families or their jobs - Greif
This book was one of my favorites to read because it is filled with tons of research regarding male friendships within America and the internal negative effects of having shallow male friendships. Many Christians have made their marriage their most important human relationship and this book with multiple sources of research, stories, and examples illustrate how that is a very unhealthy habit for a human. Besides, Jesus and The Apostle Paul taught the Church is the primary relationship that Christians have with each other. This book is a good read to understanding Male Friendships.
3. The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private by Susan Bordo
"Where do men get their ideas about how big their penises "ought" to be? Some, .......get them from a child's-eye view of their father's penis. Some get them from other guys in the locker room. Some become convinced they are too small because a partner has told them they don't measure up.....To be exposed as "soft" at the core is one of the worst things a man can suffer in this culture. - Bordo
This book has to be one of the most intriguing books I have ever read in my life. It was written by a female self-proclaimed agnostic who believes in evolution, but the thing is, she got it right! She accurately and articulately explained how men feel in their bodies in a culture where porn says how big your penis should be, how the environment effects your body image, and how men tend to be insecure about their bodies around other men. I have seen so much insecurity in the church concerning the body. We are a religion that believes the body is good and from God, yet it would seem we are the most isolated and insecure with it. This book takes you in depth about this and she isn't even a Christian and yet presents a reader, especially a Christian reader, with the idea that you need to be confidant with your natural body. This is related to homosexuality because Christian men need to be more secure with their bodies to love other men in a godly healthy way with their own bodies (hugs, kisses, locker rooms, physical affirmation etc).
4. Spiritual Friendship: Finding love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian by Wesley Hill
I imagine a future in the church when the call to chastity would no longer sound like a dreary sentence to lifelong loneliness for a gay Christian like me. I imagine Christian communities in which friendships are celebrated and honored—where it’s normal for families to live near or with single people; where it’s expected that celibate gay people would form significant attachments to other single people, families, and pastors; where it’s standard practice for friends to spend holidays together or share vacations; where it’s not out of the ordinary for friends to consider staying put, resisting the allure of constant mobility, for the sake of their friendships. I imagine a church where genuine love isn’t located exclusively or even primarily in marriage, but where marriage and friendship and other bonds of affection are all seen as different forms of the same love we all are called to pursue.
This book is amazing! He stresses the potential intimacy that friends (married and single) can have with each other within the Church. He tells the stories of C. S. Lewis and his childhood friendship, he talks about the same sex struggles the famous Catholic writer Henri Nouwen went through and he brings up the old Church traditions when monks would make vowels of lifelong friendship to each other.
He talks about these topics because he wants the Church to welcome back the value of friendship that was once praised within the Church.
I think the most important topic he goes over is the intense falling out of him and his friend. He also goes over the story of how Henri Nouwn went through the same thing. This is important because many Christians who struggle with this have a hard to keeping deep intimate friendships because both parties sometimes do not know how to handle them. There are rarely good examples of great deep well known friendships that many in local churches can model and experience together.
5. Crazy Love
Lukewarm People tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.
Lukewarm People don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and arent truly sorry for it; theyre merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one.
Lukewarm People will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give
This book is probably the most difficult to read because he simply brings this question up, "Do you really want to serve Jesus? and if it is a yes, are you really going to do it? And if you are, don't complain."
I think this is important to understand when walking together with Christians because each of us is called by Jesus himself to carry THEIR CROSS which leads to death than leads to life but it seems today that people don't want to do that. They want to skip the cross. And this book puts you back in the position to be asked are you willing to give up your sins and selfishness to love God and love others. And for Christians who struggles with Homosexuality, they need to understand they cannot complain about following Jesus and dying to their sins (not just homosexuality, they are more sinful than just that) and for Christians who don't struggle with homosexuality, the need to understand how to give up their free time, want for marriage, want for success, and devote themselves to helping others and loving God selflessly and in turn God will supply your needs according to HIS riches in by Christ Jesus, everyone needs to do that! This is a true thought I have, however God takes care of his Children in the Middle East who are being killed and tortured for the name of Jesus, he is definitely taking care of his Children in America.
Other books that are great to read are all of C.S. Lewis books, especially Problem of Pain. NT Wright's book Surprised By Hope, and Rob Bell's book ( you don't have to agree with everything you read, but we read to learn and think better).