While there is no shortage of books or resources available to the Christian community on the topic of human sexuality, there is, perhaps, a shortage of good, accessible books on the topic. That said, having reviewed several of the more recent offering over the past few months, resources are getting better, more holistic, and overall more helpful. I found this to be particularly true as I read Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan, 2010) as part of the Engaging Church blog tour.
Hill’s book is presented in three sections: (1) Washed and Waiting, (2) The Beautiful Incision, and (3) “Thou Art Lightning and Love.” The book is part theology and part memoir, driven by Hill’s own journey with his homosexuality in the context of his evangelical Christian faith. While Hill does not deviate from more traditional Christian understandings of human sexuality, his book is not about change therapy or repression of desires. Instead, writing from the realization that “[he] had a steady, strong, unremitting, exclusive sexual attraction to persons of the same sex,” Hill’s journey recounted in Washed and Waiting is about “how to live faithfully as a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction” (13).
More and more, I have the sense that what many of us need is a new conception of our perseverance in faith. We need to reimagine ourselves and our struggles. The temptation for me is to look at my bent and broken sexuality and conclude that, with it, I will never be able to please God, to walk in a manner worthy of his calling, to hear his praise. But what if I had a conception of God-glorifying faith, holiness, and righteousness that included within it a profound element of struggle and stumbling? What if I were to view my homosexual orientation, temptations, and occasional failures not as damning disqualifications for living a Christian life but rather as part and parcel of what it means to live by faith in a world that is fallen and scarred by sin and death? (144-145)
What I appreciated most about Washed and Waiting is that, while specifically addressing the question of homosexuality, the book speaks more broadly about relationships, identity, and fulfillment in the journey of faith. Hill is a brave writer not only because he so freely opens up his personal story as a gay Christian but because he speaks honestly about loneliness and the deep and profound human longing for relationships and fulfillment.
Washed and Waiting offers a great deal of honesty, empathy, and authenticity to a conversation which has, until recently, lacked these traits. I hope this book is read widely in the Christian community (and, perhaps, outside of the Christian community). As a launching point for conversations about sexuality, relationships, fulfillment, loneliness, expectations and identity, I believe it is a great resource, particularly (though not exclusively) for college students and young adults, whether gay or straight, married, single, or celibate.
Disclosure of material connection in compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: I received this book free from the publisher, though the opinions I have expressed are my own.