In First Steps Out: How Christians Can Respond to a Loved One’s Struggle with Homosexuality, Christy McFerron has written a powerful book about living the Christian life in a culture that is aggressively anti-Christian. She tells her personal story of the journey through a temptation to homosexuality and back to normal life. She shares her personal testimony of faith and shares what family and friends did that supported her and encouraged her and comforted her through the dark days. This author lays herself bare and invites close examination of her own experience of feeling a homosexual attraction. She explains the spiritual transformation that led her to return to a heterosexual orientation and marriage.
Along the way McFerron addresses the fractures in her family. Her journey was long and painful, and her family suffered with her. Yet both of her parents add their own testimonies at the end of the book, capping off the author’s message of hope and love with their own experiences.
Christy McFerron’s story is riveting. Even more riveting is her biblical teaching as she narrates her own journey from enslavement by a destructive emotional attachment to freedom through the power of the Holy Spirit. Readers will find her parents’ stories equally important. Anyone whose family is faced with the discovery that a loved one is entangled in the lure of homosexuality will be encouraged and enlightened by this book. The author never judges anyone whose journey or choices are different from her own. She shares her story with love and respect for everyone involved, modeling the kind of love Christ himself asked us to give to everyone.
I came to this book looking for help. I wanted to understand what could have motivated my church to declare that the Bible has nothing to say to us about homosexuality, and that the church has nothing to say to people dealing with that temptation. Christy McFerron has reassured me that the Bible has a great deal to say to families, and she has reassured me that there is hope for families fractured by both cultural and political activism in support of declaring homosexuality to be normal human behavior.
While McFerron did not develop any material on the widely publicized idea that homosexuals are “born this way,” her own story demonstrates that it is not the case. Her story is not opinion; it is experience.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants the inside story on homosexuality and who wants to know if there is hope for a family that is shattered by it.
I received this book at no charge for the purpose of writing a review. I was not obligated to provide a favorable review. This review is my own opinion.
When the cruise ship Costa Concordia grounded off the coast of the island of Giglio, it was reported at first that the ship struck a rock that was not on the charts. Mariners rely on their charts to tell them where hazards are located, and the captain of the Concordia repeatedly complained that the rock he struck was not on any chart. As a consequence, the ship’s hull was ripped open, and the ship eventually sank. This is not the way mariners hope that hazards will be discovered, but the discovery of that rock truly is a service to all mariners navigating in those waters. Until the Costa Concordia discovered this hazard, nobody knew it was there. The charts were deficient.
In 2009, the Church Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America alleged to discover that the Bible was missing a piece of information as vital as that previously unknown rock off the coast of Giglio. The document they wrote to announce this discovery is “A Social Statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” and in this statement the assembly said, “The scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and lifelong loving and committed relationships that we experience today.”
The ELCA is not the first church to go down this path. Episcopalians have been blessing homosexuals and ordaining homosexuals for some time. Other churches and denominations have begun to accommodate the cultural pressure from homosexual activists. Why is this decision a big deal? It is a problem, because statements like this completely negate a fundamental truth of Christianity: the Bible is the source for all guidance in faith and life. If God failed to address the issue of homosexuality in the Bible, then God left his children with a big problem. The evidence does not support that conclusion. The Bible does address homosexuality. Anglicans, Episcopalians and now ELCA Lutherans have thrown the Bible out with the bathwater in the name of accommodating contemporary culture.
If Christians were going to accommodate the culture, then why did they suffer so much at the hands of Roman emperors? The emperors simply asked for a small accommodation. Why didn’t the first century Christians follow the path of political correctness and bow before a statue of the emperor? Most of the emperors did not even think that act was about worship. They considered it a gesture of good citizenship.
For that matter, if cultural accommodation transcends biblical revelation, why do Christians today endure suffering and hardship around the world?
If accommodating the culture is a valid reason for changing the church’s position on prickly issues, why don’t North Korean Christians just go ahead and pretend to worship the Dear Leader? After all, they could simply say that ancient writers of biblical texts didn’t know anything about Communism. They just didn’t know how it would be for twenty-first century Christians in North Korea. The Bible doesn’t help us know what to do in this country. We have to make it up as we go.
If accommodating the culture is the foundation for faith and practice, then why do Christians in Bhutan need to suffer persecution from their Buddhist government? After all, Isaiah and Malachi were oblivious to the realities of the present-day Buddhists, and present-day Christians must figure it out on their own. They know things God didn’t tell ancient biblical writers. Contemporary Christians cannot rely on some old musty biblical prophet to tell them want to do when the Buddhists raise a ruckus about Christianity. Can’t they just use the Buddhist words and pretend to believe what the Buddhists believe and go on being Christians in their hearts?
Or in Nigeria, why should Christians suffer fire-bombings and torture? Their Muslim neighbors think that the very existence of Christians in their midst is like being infected with a disease. Nigerian Christians could simply say the words, “There is no God but Allah,” while meaning, “Christ above all” and explain to God that he must have left his approval of this strategy out of the Bible, because Mohammed came along after the Bible was finished.
Is it possible that Christians have actually outgrown the Bible?
Such a notion completely dissolves the principle of Sola Scriptura. The Bible has no credence as the source of Christian teaching if the revelation has such gaps in it. Nobody expects the Bible to teach contemporary genetics, but every Christian expects the Bible to provide the guidance for dealing with the discoveries of contemporary genetics. IVF, for example, results from knowledge gained through the study of genetics. There is no mention of IVF in the Bible, yet the Bible provides plenty of guidance about the blessing of children and the value of human life. People can find in the Bible the wisdom they need in order to make a faithful decision whether or not to engage in IVF. Not so, with homosexuality, if Episcopalians and Lutherans and other accommodating Christians are to be believed. No guidance there. All the apparent guidance is bunk.
The Costa Concordia may have sunk because of an uncharted rock. It may have been nothing more than an unfortunate accident, just one more tragedy at sea because of inadequate knowledge. However, discussions about the situation over the month or so that it was important news suggested that the accident was due more to an egotistical willingness to ignore known hazards than it was about a lack of information on the charts. The captain may have deliberately entered waters a responsible navigator would have avoided, despite any fuzziness about the exact location of this particular rock. The captain may have been engaged in frivolous social flirting instead of paying attention to the charts, in which case he was acting as if the charts were irrelevant. Ultimately, the disaster may not have been due to an uncharted rock at all. The disaster may have been due to an unwillingness to be limited either by the known hazards on the chart or by the responsibilities of a ship’s captain.
Many Christian leaders and Christian groups appear to be guilty of an unwillingness to be limited by the biblical revelation about homosexuality. If Martin Luther was right about the Bible, if two thousand years of Christian faith are right about the Bible, if the martyrs who died to preserve and propagate the Bible were right, then those who say that God blesses homosexual unions are wrong. Homosexuality is not an uncharted rock in the sea of moral choice; it is just another rock on the biblical chart that shows us both our unworthiness of God’s love and the price he is willing to pay to protect us from the rocks and shoals of life. We don’t have to make up strategies or wonder where God is when either culture or government assaults our faith. The Bible shows us all the rocks that can sink our ships, and it shows us the way to safe harbor in Christ, no matter where the rocks are.