Jesus Christ summarized the Torah and prophets by commanding us to love God with all our hearts, minds, and soul and to love our neighbor as ourselves. So, at first sight for a Christian there cannot be discussion on whether or not to love our neighbor. That neighbor may have very different opinions, convictions, lifestyle or attitude. In Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth, Glenn T. Stanton (Focus on the Family) takes a deep dive in questions regarding the relationships between straight Christians and their LGBT fellow believers or unbelievers.
Strong positions on homosexuality and conclusions based on first impressions and undereducation on the topic do harm people at both sides of the spectrum. Though Stanton seems to start his quest with deliberate toe stepping positioning himself as strong defender of straight marriage, marital sex as only option and no discussion about the biblical verses on homosexuality, it’s worthwhile reading on. Stanton addresses lots of questions. He explains the current scientific knowledge on nature / nurture, and whether we’re talking of an attraction, orientation and/or identity. You can’t generalize, speak of ‘the’ LGBT community or ‘that LGBT person’. Some boast, others struggle. Some are confident, others figuring out. And we are all looking for love and acceptance, like we are all sinners in need of grace.
And that’s where lines become blurry and many answers will not be black or white, yes or no, but depending of a broader context. The author uses many examples from his own friendships. He offers advice to parents, church and ministry leaders and general public. Some book parts still need refinement, such as Stanton’s positions of completeness as a human being, and arguments based on single Bible verses, while rejecting others that are based on single verses as well.
The truth must be told, yet grace is abundant. Relationships should be authentic and without a hidden agenda. By maintaining relationships we resemble the holy relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Friendships and faith, built on mutual respect and understanding, can outlast different positions and are worth investing in. I highly recommend this book because of the many unexpected thoughtful answers.
About the author
Glenn Stanton is the Director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family and a research fellow at the Institute of Marriage and Family in Ottawa. He debates and lectures extensively on gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting at universities and churches around the country. He served the George W. Bush administration for many years as a consultant on increasing fatherhood involvement in the Head Start program.
He and his wife Jacqueline have five endlessly growing kids and they all live relatively happily in the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado.