The Way of Hope: A fresh perspective on sexual identity, same-sex marriage, and the church
By Melissa Fisher
As a follower of Christ whose brother is gay, I have a heart for the LGBTQ+ community. I desire to strengthen my heart to both grow in love towards those in a lifestyle far different from my own as well as expand my biblical knowledge in regards to same-sex attraction, transgenderism, and the like.
It is far too easy to be persuaded by culture’s influence, belief and perspective. Likewise, we are doing no one any favors when we simply throw up our arms in exasperated surrender and basically declare, “I believe they [those with same-sex attraction and/or gender confusion] are born that way and when I get to Heaven I’m going to ask God why He made them that way!”
Can we please stop the ignorance and avoidance and instead consult God, His Word, and the wisdom of biblically-trained professionals?
Understanding the LGBTQ+ community is one of the things I began pursuing shortly after same-sex marriage became legalized in the United States. It was about two years after my brother came out to me and the reality that my children will grow up in a world unlike one I did made me consider how I will defend my faith [through apologetics] while raising children who will love Jesus and all of God’s created people. It was the summer of the rainbow-colored flag when I was listening to a podcast from The Village Church in North Texas. In the podcast episode, my former pastor, Matt Chandler, was interviewing a UK pastor, Sam Allberry, about same-sex attraction. Sure, same-sex attraction was a hot topic that summer but do you want to know what made this podcast episode red hot to me? Sam Allberry was not only a pastor but was also a victim of same-sex attraction.
Are you tracking that? This pastor, while having never acted on the attraction, was admitting to being attracted to individuals of the same sex as him. This was incredibly fascinating to me so I purchased his book via Amazon. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it! It is called, Is God Anti-Gay?
After flying through that short book (honestly, I couldn’t get enough of it and it was such an easy read!), I became determined to learn more about same-sex attraction and the LGBTQ community. I pursued listening, reading and researching anything and everything I could get my hands on. Ultimately, I wanted to know how to interact with these beautiful humans of God’s creation but also I wanted to know how to show them love without any conditions or judgment. Remember, my own brother is gay and he himself told me when he came out that this is a choice he would never wish upon anyone. It was fascinating to me that Sam Allberry said the same thing, as well as how the struggle was very real (yet, the difference between Sam and my bro is that Sam never gave into the temptation).
Ok, after that long lead in, let me tell you about the book I read back in 2017 titled, The Way of Hope: A fresh perspective on sexual identity, same-sex marriage, and the church by Melissa Fisher.
I was interested in this book because of the subtitle, however, I feel that the subtitle was completely misleading. Yes, The Way of Hope was a consistent theme throughout the book but I was hoping the subtitle would go into more depth in regards to the church and same-sex marriage. However, it was all a matter of perspective from one woman’s experience and journey to and from faith that detoured into a same-sex lifestyle and then back into heterosexuality and a relationship with God.
Was it refreshing to learn yet another story of someone who claims “the struggle is real” and “I never wanted to feel this way”? Yes – absolutely! I was very intrigued in the beginning chapters as I learned about this woman’s life struggle, but towards the middle of the book I started wanting more. Once she “came out,” the content appeared repetitive and the flow of the book stagnant. There was an abundance of scripture, which I could connect with in my own life, but I guess I was hoping she would have included more perspectives from other Christ-followers with same-sex attraction. She did, however, include a Q&A at the end of the book where she interviewed her ex-wife. I would have liked to have seen more similar dialogue throughout this book.
The Way of Hope is more of a memoir than it is a deep, theologically sound book on the topic of homosexuality and the Church. Knowing that, I would still recommend this book. It is especially beneficial for anyone who is seeking hope for (or as) a Christian who identifies as same-sex attracted; there is a way to live with sin without acting on the sin, regardless if culture affirms or accepts the sin. Likewise, I’d recommend The Way of Hope to anyone who desires to understand a former lesbian’s perspective on homosexuality and present involvement within a local church.
As always, I encourage Christians to seek out content referencing same-sex attraction that involves both scripture and wise, biblical counsel. (Sam Allberry is a fantastic voice for same-sex attracted Christians while Preston Sprinkle and his organization, The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender offer a plethora of resources and support systems for the LGTBQ+ community.) Study, learn, ask questions, get to know those who are “different” than you. I had the opportunity to live directly across the street from a same-sex couple over the summer of 2017 while vacationing in Michigan and without going into another story let me just say that showing love to others really is the “end all/be all” in this life.
All you need is love and love truly conquers all. Love doesn’t anger. Love doesn’t judge. Love doesn’t hate. Friends, please, please, please, for the love of God’s creation and our fallen world will you please invest in your heart and seek wisdom as you continue to seek Jesus. Each one of us is guilty of falling short of the glory of God and we all are in desperate need of grace. May this be our way of hope as we are reminded we are all created equal in the eyes of God.
*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review