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Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships Paperback – February 3, 2013


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Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships + God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships + Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (February 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802868630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802868633
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In an outstanding presentation of academic scholarship to general readers, Brownson, a New Testament professor, does indeed, as the subtitle avers, reframe biblical debate about same-sex relationships. In the first of four parts, he states his intent to reinvigorate “the imagination of the church . . . so that we discover the scriptures’ wisdom in the presence of new questions” and points out the shortcomings of both traditional and revisionist positions on the Bible and homosexuality. The second part educes the “broad forms of moral logic”—“patriarchy, the ‘one flesh’ bond of marriage, procreation, and celibacy”—with which the Bible addresses sexuality; the third assesses the boundaries scripture imposes on sexual practices. The last part summarily returns to the heart of the matter—the biblical passages concerned with same-sex relations (e.g., Sodom and Gomorrah, Paul denouncing men who lie with other men)—and analyzes what serious textual scholarship has revealed about those passages ever since gay civil rights activism emerged in the 1950s. Out of rigorous inspection, then, Brownson establishes that what the Bible condemns is same-sex abuse, and that the moral logic that applies to abuse doesn’t speak to the “committed, loving, consecrated same-sex relationships” we see today. Demanding focused but not labored reading, this strikes to the heart of the Bible-versus-homosexuality fracas. --Ray Olson

Review

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson (from foreword)
"Instead of being trapped in shallow debates over the meaning of a few isolated biblical passages, James Brownson grounds his approach in foundational biblical understandings of gender and sexuality. He takes the Bible seriously, engaging it faithfully and deeply, and he encourages the reader to do the same. . . . The church needs this book."

David G. Myers
-- author of A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists
"With gentle wisdom Brownson reveals an implicit moral logic beneath scriptural teachings about sexuality and same-sex relationships. His insights -- which are both prophetic and pastoral -- build a much-needed bridge across the sexual divide that separates people of shared biblical faith."

Brian McLaren
-- author of Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words
"Jim Brownson has written what I believe is a 'game-changing' book on the hotly disputed topic of same-sex orientation and relationships in light of the Bible. He approaches the biblical texts with no less care and respect than the most conservative or traditional scholars, but he makes overt and clear what many seem unconscious of -- the moral logic that operates in a text. By surfacing and grappling with that moral logic, Brownson can explore the why behind the what of biblical prohibitions. In so doing, he provides not only a masterful work on human sexuality in light of Scripture, but also a model for the kind of robust and faithful biblical hermeneutic that our churches desperately need at this point in our history."

Peggy Campolo
-- speaker, writer, and editor
"If ever a book spoke the good news of the gospel with biblical authority to those children of God who happen not to be straight, it is this book. Brownson addresses with clarity an issue that is tearing the church of Jesus Christ apart, as he gently insists that all of us allow new facts and insights to illuminate our understanding of what Scripture has to say to gay and lesbian Christians."

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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants learn more about this topic.
You Don't Say
Brownson's book "Bible Gender Sexuality" does an excellent job of tackling the Biblical objections most commonly presented in the conservative Christian arena.
Kathy Baldock/Canyonwalker
He does so while being respectful, yet authoritative in his dismantling of the harmful arguments brought forth by anti-gay theologians, like Robert Gagnon.
Emily

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Emily on September 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've read many books, essays, and academic articles on the topic of the Bible and homosexuality. As passionate as I am about this issue, I've struggled to finish most of these books, as they're either too clinical, too academic, written too poorly, or written without emotion. Finding James Brownson's "Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships" was an incredible relief. Not only was it written at a level that non-seminary students can understand, but it was engaging, thoughtful, and thorough of it's examination of every area of this debate.

Instead of just offering yet another translation of the five-seven verses used in the debate on the Bible and homosexuality, Brownson goes deeper. He looks into not just the verses, but the whole of the creation story, the differences in gender, the issue of procreation, and the argument that being gay is just "unnatural." He does so while being respectful, yet authoritative in his dismantling of the harmful arguments brought forth by anti-gay theologians, like Robert Gagnon. This book manages not only to answer any questions you might have had about whether or not it's a sin to be gay and a Christian, but does it in a way that will make you want to reach out to the LGBT people in your life. I cannot emphasize enough how important this book is, and how valuable it is to any and all Christians who want to know where to fall on the issue of whether or not you can be gay and a Christian.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Baldock/Canyonwalker on September 14, 2013
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Over the past eight years of reading books in this genre, I have read dozens of books. Brownson's book "Bible Gender Sexuality" does an excellent job of tackling the Biblical objections most commonly presented in the conservative Christian arena.

As I was reading Brownson's book, I was thrilled to see that a biblical scholar was taking a serious approach at tackling the controversy surrounding faith and sexual orientation from a point of view of gender. Being a female advocate in this conversation, it is apparent to me that the conservative church even today struggles with gender-based discrimination.

Brownson clearly and methodically presents new questions and information the church has not productively considered in the last 40 years. The lazy approach to understanding the verses in the Bible used to create dogma about gay Christians has relied heavily upon what the black-and-white words on the page say. We have neglected to understand what those words mean.

Brownson does a great job of explaining the difficult verses in context and history. Over the years, as I have had conversations with conservative pastors in hopes that they would consider broader understanding of biblical texts, it is apparent that many of these pastors have relied heavily upon the writings of Robert Gagnon. Prof. Brownson tackles Gagnon's objections with ease. Gagnon is masterful at taking a verse, making a supposition, calling that a fact and creating a "biblical truth." Brownson skillfully confronts those assumptions.

If you are a church leader, or a pastor, and know that a shift is coming, and you do not know how to handle it or even how to have a conversation in your church, make this the first book you read to help you understand objections you have held.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By P. Creekmore on September 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Given that this book treats a topic that is presently very controversial, the reviews are going to be polarized. But Brownson does a great job of speaking to all Christians where they are in an insightful, humble and sensible way about some ideas that have serious and important implications for the church at large. If you are the slightest bit open to re-examining the church's assumptions about homosexuality, this will be a great read for you.

Brownson takes a very careful and thorough approach but manages to keep the content accessible at the same time. The book draws directly on the available body of scholarly literature but isn't at all in the "monotonously academic" vein. Brownson instead takes this information and synthesizes it very well and expands upon it with his own valuable contributions.

My favorite aspect of the book is its aforementioned sensibility. Brownson's arguments call for some serious change in the church's teachings on homosexuality, but he doesn't throw the baby out with the bath water. His ultimate point (as far as I see it) is that our fixation on gender as a moral seat is not biblical. But beyond that, he leaves Christian sexual morality intact, calling for us to champion monogamous, long-lasting relationships and stand against promiscuity and other forms of excess. In all things, Brownson reveres and reaffirms the value of Scripture. If you are uncertain of your own stance on same-sex relationships, you may be surprised how much you already agree with James Brownson right out of the gate.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Curtis R. Gruel on May 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished Jim Brownson's book, Bible, Gender, and Sexuality. I will begin by saying that I know Jim Brownson. I studied under him at Western Seminary, and found him to be both an astute, critical thinker and a deeply spiritual Christian who listens to his heart as well as his head. He not only studies Scripture; he prays it. So when he wrestles deeply with an issue, I'm inclined to listen. That's what I see him doing here - wrestling, struggling, trying to come to terms with this most troubling, divisive situation tearing our denominations, churches, and families apart - and what greater, more urgent impetus could there be than to reconcile God's will with your own son's dilemma?

I've read the other reviews and will not rehash their depictions of Brownson's arguments, which I find both concise and accurate - particularly John Byron's. I'll content myself with describing what Brownson is trying to do in general terms. While claiming neither any real expertise in this area, nor a broad reading of the pertinent literature on my part, I am familiar with the usual arguments from both sides and I have read Gagnon's book. I disagree with J. White who claims that "there is honestly nothing new here." The newness in Brownson's book is that he really does not choose sides; his book is not polemical, and, to me, that does feel new. Brownson takes kind of a "dialectical" approach, the traditionalist view constituting the "thesis," the revisionist view the "antithesis," Brownson attempting to find some sort of "synthesis" to guide us in our corporate quandary. He seeks to accomplish this through discerning the "moral logic" of the writers of Scripture for their own times, then extrapolating what that logic might imply for our own.
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