God’s Gay Agenda?: a book review

The ‘gay agenda’ is a familar phrase to anyone who has imbibed their fair share of Christian radio. A 29 minute video produced in 1992 (entitled The Gay Agenda) fueled fear that homosexuals comprised an organized movement determined to undermine the values of society.  The original video used footage from gay pride parades as evidence of the subversive nature of homosexuality. It helped fuel homophobia among conservatives for decades. In God’s Gay Agenda, Sandra Turnbull argues for a different sort of gay agenda–God’s agenda for homosexuals.

Sandras Turnbull is a pastor with evangelical  and charismatic commitments. She speaks of the authority of the Bible and the reality of spiritual gifts and prophecy for today. She also happens to be gay.  She came out twenty-five years ago when she met her life partner through  YWAM in Amsterdam. Like all such stories of LGBT people from conservative religious backgrounds, she struggled with her sexual identity and tried to go straight. When she reconnected with the woman she fell in love with a couple years later, they both studied the Bible and came to the conclusion that homosexuality was not a sin but a God given identity.

In the pages of God’s Gay Agenda she shares some of her own journey,discusses relevant passages from the Bible  and argues for the full inclusion and acceptance of homosexuals in the church.  She has an extended discussion of eunuchs and describes herself as ‘natural-born eunuchs.’  While I did not find Turnbull’s exegesis compelling, this is an intelligent and passionate defense of homosexual inclusion. It is a worthwhile read. Too many pro-gay theologies undercut scriptural authority. Whether or not you buy Turnbull’s interpretation of particular passages, it is refreshing to see the care she takes in trying to understand these passages in their ancient context.

Whenever I review a book like this, I run the risk of alienating my readers. I have friends all across the theological spectrum and this is a divisive issue.  Conservative friends will not buy Turnbull’s thesis and may wonder why I would read this book. My more liberal friends will wonder why I do not endorse this book in every respect.  I think my conservative friends would benefit from reading this book if only to hear Turnbull’s story and know that there are gay Christians sincere in their efforts to live faithfully to the gospel.

But I do think some of her Biblical explanations are overblown. Linking all the homosexual prohibitions to idolatrous practices (i.e. temple prostitutes) is not a new approach, but I don’t think it does justice to the evidence. Other times, Turnbull’s word studies turn up suggestive approaches, but they remain inconclusive. On the other hand, I think her discussion of the sin of Sodom not being about homosexuality, so much as inhospitality and rape is fundamentally correct.

I  give this a three-and-a-half star review. Books like this are important and I think Turnbull does an admirable job of articulating her views in an irenic manner.  With marriage equality as a hot political issue, this is not a discussion that is going away anytime soon and I think knowing how different Christians approach the Bible on this issue is important. Turnbull writes:

Wherever you are with the issue of homosexuality, I would like for us to begin by agreeing on one foundational truth about the Gospel.  Is it not true that anyone who comes to Christ Jesus and believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that Jesus rose from the dead and is Lord a recipient of God’s grace?  After all, isn’t God’s love inclusive of all people and for the “whosoever?” (6)

Wherever we stand on the issue of homosexuality (sin, orientation, viable option), there are issues more fundamental to the gospel and Turnbull points the way to a more gracious discussion.

I recieved this book from the publisher via Speakeasy in exchange for my honest review.

2 thoughts on “God’s Gay Agenda?: a book review

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