Preston Sprinkle — Living in a Gray World: Book review

Book review by Debbie Hemmens

The explanation on the front cover says this book is “A Christian Teen’s Guide To Understanding Homosexuality.

The book does just that through honest conversation, real-life examples and biblical research for people to find answers that align with God’s intent. The book is written primarily for students between the ages of 15-22.

Sprinkle seeks to do 3 main things in the book in order to educate his readers about homosexuality and other related issues. Firstly, he does a really great job of explaining the various concepts and terms that surround this discussion. He uses many personal testimonies from people who are gay. Secondly, he explains what he has discovered the Bible to say about homosexuality. Thirdly, he seeks to cultivate a heart for people which aligns with his first book entitled People to be Loved.

Christians have not always reflected the love of Christ in the ways they’ve dealt with the issue of homosexuality, and in the process many gay and lesbian people have been greatly hurt by the church’s unloving and judgmental posture. We need to be truthful, but we also need to be loving. We shouldn’t sacrifice the truth for the sake of love, or stop loving in order to be truthful. Jesus exemplifies both truth and love, therefore so should we. And that’s what this book is all about, how to be truthfully loving and lovingly truthful.

There are too many stories of people being made to feel less than human and painfully misunderstood. Sprinkle says we need to put flesh on this topic and stop talking about issues and start speaking about human beings. When we focus on truth with little compassion we can damage other people who are made in God’s image.

Some questions on this topic have simple answers, but many don’t. Most questions require a lot of thought and honest discussion. Another thing is that words really matter, they have the power to crush your heart. Words have the power to hurt and to heal, to build up and tear down. This book provides you with a great understanding of terms and words to help you to dump some words and blanket terms altogether and choose to rather build people up instead of tearing them down. This is not an us/them discussion but very much a “we” discussion. How can we best love people who are same-sex attracted. Too many people have felt that the church or the church’s god does not accept them and they do what thousands of LGBT people have done: left the church and tried to find love in the LGBT community.

Our identity in Christ is so super key in this discussion. We need to understand that the sexual part of us is just that, it’s a part of us, not the whole of us. We are so much more than our sexuality and we need to be very careful about defining our whole self by a part of ourselves. When we focus on who we are in Christ first, we create stability, wholeness and the strength needed for dealing with things that wobble our worlds.

Jesus always worked on acceptance first. Acceptance does not mean affirmation of all that person does. He also never worked on the assumption that if you love someone as they are that you let them live however they want. That isn’t biblical love, That isn’t Jesus-like love. He said: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” But he didn’t say: “If you keep my commandments, then I will love you.” Obedience comes out of being loved and accepted and your humanity being acknowledged.

Jesus hung out with prostitutes, but he didn’t endorse prostitution. The same goes for tax collectors and a woman caught in adultery. He accepts people as they are, develops relationship and loves them into the people God wants them to be. They certainly didn’t walk around wanting to kill themselves which is unfortunately the case for many same-sex attracted teens after they come into contact with Christians. We need to be more like Jesus. Some people will battle to experience acceptance by God until they are accepted by God’s people.

He encourages young people to find someone to talk to about what they are feeling. Many feel very alone and suicidal. He encourages them to draw closer to God and focus on their relationship with Him.
Three words he recommends when people open up about their feelings of same-sex attraction, are listen, learn and love. Express your ongoing friendship and that you are there for them. Keep listening, keep learning through open and honest conversation and keep loving.

Sprinkle ends the book by answering some common questions that Christians have about homosexuality. He also delves a little deeper into the question – “Does the Bible really say it’s wrong?”

As Christians, we would do well to extend grace and express the love of Christ to a world of people who need him.

I highly recommend this book to teens and adults alike. It is written in a simple and easy to understand style which will help anyone who is slightly unfamiliar with the topic.

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