Mark Yarhouse, a professor of psychology at Regent University, wrote the recently published Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends. In the book, Yarhouse offers a nuanced and empathetic voice to the difficult question many churches and Christians are facing regarding human sexuality. In its three major section, the book first covers the “big picture” topics (including theological questions of sexual orientation and psychological issues of identity, change therapy, and “causes” of homosexuality), then offers a section directed at families and closes by addressing the wider church on the issue. As a trained psychologist (one seemingly interested, educated and honest about current psychological research, both Christian and secular), Yarhouse offers a unique voice to a conversation that has often been dominated by abstract theological conversations.
Central to Yarhouse’s work is a “three-tier distinction between same-sex attraction, a homosexual orientation, and a gay identity” (55). This distinction is offered as a framework recognizing the diverse possibilities each individual may experience when dealing with their sexual identity. Particularly helpful was the second section of the book where Yarhouse offers guidance for those who adhere to traditional Christian understandings of human sexuality and have family members and friends processing same-sex attractions. I found these chapters helpful and balanced, recognizing both the theological/spiritual and psychological/family dynamic issues at play in such situations. Yarhouse concludes by calling the Christian Church to recognize how destructive and painful unloving reactions and interactions can be for those with same-sex attractions and encourages the Church to proceed in this area with humility and charity.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House.