GLBT Persons in the Church: Bibliography for Further Study
A Bibliography for Further Study:
There are far too many books on this subject to read them all. I highlight ones that have been helpful to me. In an attempt at fairness, I will include a list of the best “NOT affirming” books at the end of this post.
I. Anthologies that Cover Diverse Views:
Jeffrey S. Siker, ed., Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994).
Sally B. Geis & Donald E. Musser, eds., Caught in the Crossfire: Helping Christians Debate Homosexuality. (Abingdon Press, 1994). (Most of those in this book are participants in the debate within the United Methodist Church.)
Michael A. King, ed., Stumbling Toward a Genuine Conversation on Homosexuality (Cascadia Publishing House, 200&). Participants represent the debate within the Mennonite Church, USA.
Timothy Bradshaw,ed., The Way Forward? Christian Voices on Homosexuality and the Church. (Eerdmans, 2003).
Dan O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views. (Augsburg-Fortress, 2003). A debate between two well-known NT profs, with Via arguing for the revisionist/inclusive view and Gagnon arguing for the traditionalist/exclusivist view.
II. Revisionist Views:
A. Biblical Arguments:
Alice Ogden Bells and Terry Hufford, Science, Scripture, and Homosexuality (Pilgrim Press, 2002). A collaborative effort between a biologist and a biblical scholar.
Jack B. Rogers, Jr., Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church. (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2006). Rogers is an evangelical theologian (formerly prof. of theology at Fuller Theological Seminary; later president of San Francisco Theological Seminary; still later, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, USA) who describes his journey from the traditional to a revisionist view.
Walter Wink, ed., Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for Christian Churches (Augsburg-Fortress, 1999). More than most revisionist collections, this anthology contains several essays by prominent evangelicals including Ken Sehested, Lewis B. Smedes, Peggy Campolo, and others.
Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality. (Augsburg-Fortress, 1983). Although, I now see that Scroggs overstated his case on Romans 1, this was the first book on this topic to be a major help to me. Scroggs’ basic argument is that the NT condemnations of same-sex behavior have a different focus than our current debate and, thus, are being misused in most of the debates. I think that broad argument still stands.
Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response, revised and updated edition. (HarperOne, 1994). Significantly stronger than the first edition. When the first edition was published in 1978, it was almost the only revisionist book from a Christian perspective, and definitely the first written by evangelicals. (Later, Mollenkott herself came out as lesbian, terrified that her friend, Letha would reject her as her home congregation had.) The original edition was written before the dominance of the Religious Right in North American evangelicalism–the book got a somewhat positive review in Christianity Today. (The CT review did not accept the thesis, but recommended it as a conversation starter in all churches!)
John J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual, 4th edition. (Beacon Press, 1993). When published in 1976, this was one of the first studies of its kind–possibly the first revisionist study in English by a Catholic priest. This was the book that converted one of my heroes (and a deeply biblical Christian), Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S. J., to a revisionist view. In 1987, Fr. McNeill was thrown out of the Society of Jesus for refusing to stop ministering to gays and lesbians. Later, he was thrown out of the priesthood, despite having remained faithful to his vows of celibacy.
B. Testimonies from GLBT Christians:
Mel White, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America. (Plume Books, 1995). Mel White began as a member of the Religious Right. A ghostwriter and film maker for Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell (his “autobiography”), Pat Robertson, and a speechwriter for Oliver North! He worked for years to be “cured” of his gayness (and save his marriage), but eventually had to admit he was always going to be gay. He also came to a different view of Christianity. Today, White is the founder of Soulforce, an organization which uses nonviolent direct action to confront Religious Right and evangelical churches and leaders with the harm they do to gay and lesbian Christians. (In recommending the book, I am not necessarily agreeing with all of the tactics of Soulforce.)
Michael Glaser, Uncommon Calling: A Gay Christian’s Struggle to Serve the Church. (Westminster/John Knox, 1994).
Gary David Comstock, A Whosoever Church: Welcoming Lesbians and Gay Men into African-American Congregations. (Westminster/John Knox, 2001).
III. Best Books from the “Not Affirming” Perspective
Stanley Grenz, Welcoming but NOT Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality. (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998). Written by a Canadian Baptist theologian and ethicist who died unexpectedly. The hardest part for me with this book is that I support Grenz’ wider views on sexual ethics–which are so much more Christian than much of what is sold as “orthodoxy.”
Thomas B. Schmidt, Straight & Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate. (InterVarsity Press, 1995).
Marion L. Soards, Scripture and Homosexuality: Biblical Authority and the Church Today. (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995). Written by a former Southern Baptist who became a Presbyterian to escape fundamentalism, but still sees the revisionist/inclusivist view as a threat to the health of the church.
Paul A. Mickey, Of Sacred Worth. (Abingdon Press, 1991). Argues against the Religious Right’s singling out of gays and lesbians for persecution, but also against revisionism on ordination or same-sex marriage.
More could be added from all perspectives. This is the tip of the iceberg where this literature is concerned.
See also the books recommended or cited in earlier posts in this series.