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The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: A Book Review

Updated: Jan 3

The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical's Change of Heart - Book Review

"This book is the story of a change of heart. In the middle 1990s I was a conservative church activist working hard to defend the 'traditional' teaching of my own Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) condemning homosexual practice…The following pages chronicle the journey with the Bible that took me from a personal stance of judgement and exclusion to a changed heart that longs for the day when the church will fully celebrate and participate in God's blessing of same-gender relationships."

--from the introduction

On the whole I’ve avoided books on the theology of sexuality and so this purchase was an unexpected gift.

In summary, it's a beautifully written and intelligent account of a pastor's journey into a new understanding of sexuality and marriage. The book was published about 9 years ago so I’m quite late to the party on this one. It's certainly caused a lot of debate looking online, polarising readers giving it often either a furious 1 star (‘OUTRAGE AGAINST CHRIST’) or a glowing 5 stars (‘Best I've read on this topic’).

I’m writing this short review as I want to commend the book to those people who want to engage, in an accessible way with, with what holy scripture might have to say on same sex partnerships. The book draws on contemporary Biblical scholarship as well as applying experience and some very fine compassion based logic. Chapters 4 & 5 explore the theology of marriage and Mark Achtemeier explores conventional wisdom, putting both natural law and gender complementarity in their proper place in light of the Pauline understanding of Christian marriage as an icon of Christ's self-giving love for the church (Ephesians 5:23). I particularly enjoyed chapters 6 and 7 where biblical textual fragments are examined in context and within the wider narratives of the bible. I finished these chapters both agreeing with St Paul and affirming gay marriage…..a novel combination that was quite unexpected!

The book tackles most of the difficult questions that a busy priest or Christian layperson might be asking right now about same gender marriage with kindness, grace, intelligence and pastoral sensitivity.

It's not a long book but the journey it takes you on is varied, exciting and rewarding.

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