Here's what I don't like about Preston Sprinkle's book People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality is Not Just an Issue: the fact that it had to be written. That's what I don't like about his major point: that it has to be made. Sprinkle takes on one of the most pressing issues in church life today, homosexuality. He argues that "If the church is ever going to solve this issue, it needs to stop seeing it as an 'issue.' Homosexuality is not an issue to be solved; it's about people who need to love and be loved."
Christians have gotten worked up about legalizing gay marriage. Some talk about a homosexual agenda. They boycott Disneyworld on gay day. It has gotten to the point that some outside the church identify an anti-gay stance as the chief characteristic of the church.
Sprinkle plays a little coy about his stance on the "issue" but he is assuredly within traditional Christian teaching. He's uncomfortable with the way we talk about homosexuality within and without the church. Is it the act? The inclination? Attraction? It's too simplistic to try to categorize people as "gay" or "homosexual" without caveats and explanations. He reinforces his major point, that a person can't be reduced to an issue, and that relationships should come first.
I think he's right, that we should work toward a day when Christians will be "known more for their radical, otherworldly love for gay people than their stance against gay sex." We should follow the example of Jesus. He "doesn't lead with the law. He leads with love--love without footnotes."
Sprinkle's treatment is solidly biblical and deeply pastoral. People to Be Loved shouldn't have been necessary. But it is. Any Christian who knows gay people in his or her community or church--and that covers just about all of us--would be well-served to spend some time reading and reflecting on Sprinkle's book.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!