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A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics Hardcover – November 1, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Stacy Johnson is Arthur M Adams Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he is also an attorney at law and editor of a collection of H Richard Niebuhr's previously unpublished writings.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; First Edition edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080282966X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802829665
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,352,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
William Stacy Johnson is an attorney-at-law, an ordained Presbyterian minister, and professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. This book evidences his clear and dispassionate legal analysis, his deep concern for the church, and his insightful theological thought.

The first half of the book is devoted to religion and the second half to law and politics. His expertise and broad reading in all three areas blends these issues into one sustained and persuasive argument. I continually found gems of information cropping up in all three areas.

Johnson outlines seven different ways of viewing same-gender relationships theologically from prohibition to consecration. He is careful to describe the merits and weaknesses of each argument before presenting any conclusions. Johnson believes that the way to resolve the present conflict over same-gender relationships is to be welcoming, affirming, and also ordering of those relationships.

He sets the whole of his position in the context of a three-part exposition of the Christian story of creation, reconciliation, and redemption. He develops a biblical position on marriage that shows it to be a nurturing context for companionship, commitment, and community. He believes that gay and lesbian couples can embody all three of these purposes of marriage. In the process he deals in detail with texts of Scripture used to prohibit same-sex relationships, carefully examining the original languages and their historical context. In the end he finds: "The immorality, debauchery, and licentiousness about which Paul complains bears no resemblance to the exclusively committed same-gender relationships we are being asked to assess today" (p. 154).
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Format: Hardcover
I teach at a Christian university which takes an official position that marriage is only between a man and a woman. All in our university community do not agree with that position, and debate continues.

This book fleshes out all the different positions that are taken within the Christian community. Johnson, as a Princeton Theological seminary professor, takes seriously the biblical passages cited against homosexual relationships and provides thoughtful exegesis of those passages, concluding that they cannot be used to oppose homosexual relationships.

Drawing upon his background as a lawyer, he then analyzes the legal basis for same-sex marriage, and ends with a thought-provoking discussion of what it means to live in a "welcoming democracy", drawing upon the work of political scientist Amy Guttman (president of the University of Pennsylvania) and Harvard philosophy professor, Dennis Thompson, who have written about deliberative democracy.

Christians who swear by Robert Gagnon's The Bible and Homosexual Practice should balance it with Johnson's book. Although Johnson's exegesis of the biblical passages is not necessarily new, the connection of it with a discussion of what it means to live in a democracy is unique.

The selected bibliography is extensive and the footnotes are extremely detailed.
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Format: Hardcover
Theologian William Stacy Johnson is a compassionate and committed Christian whose argument for legitimation and consecration of gay and lesbian unions is not only creative and convincing. It is based on thoughtful, careful and extensive research encompassing every aspect of society from Scripture to social and political activity. Johnson sets the stage for his reader by drawing on past cultural trends to demonstrate that opposition to gay unions rests on a fragile religious and political basis. He presents various positions on this subject while providing the reader with compelling logical arguments concerning the pros and cons of each of these positions.

In discussion of what the Bible does and does not say about same gender commitments,Johnson quotes pivotal biblical passages and creatively advances his argument. "Learning the reason for an ancient rule helps us reformulate what that rule might mean in a new day with a new set of moral issues."

And as it concerns the Law, Johnson is equally as competent, creative and convincing. In addition to the author's expertise, because of the way in which it combines religion, law and politics, this book is certain to become a definitive work dealing with a most controversial topic of our time.

carolyn h. manosevitz, mfa

visiting lecturer, Austin Presbyterian T heological sSeminary/ Wesley Theological Seminary
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Format: Hardcover
As a pastor who currently has 47 books in my library on sexual ethics, sexuality, and the like (yep, I counted them!), this book will now be the one that I will recommend to others who are interested in a thorough, theologically sound and accessible study of the various issues that arise when we discuss same-gender relationships.

The first reason is that it passes the "fairness" test. William Stacy Johnson examines critically all of the various ways that people of faith might approach homosexuality. We tend to think in bi-polar ways about gays and lesbians...either we are for or against ordination; or we see it as an abomination or celebration; yet Professor Johnson examines seven different possible viewpoints, and he is fair to all of them. Though he makes a very effective case for his stance, (one which I have come to agree with after a lifetime of questioning, changing, and hopefully growing) he views all of them critically, pointing out the biblical and theological basis for each, but opens each one up to thoughtful critiques.

The second uniqueness to this book, and another reason why it is so valuable, is that it contains not only the religious aspects of same-gender relationships, but also puts forth in a very clear manner the legal and political implications that the judiciary and legislative branches of government have established, including the very latest in court cases. As a non-legal type, I found Dr. Johnson's analysis quite helpful. (He is uniquely qualified to write on both aspects, as a lawyer and seminary professor.)

Finally, I found this book accessible to those who are genuinely interested in discerning where the church might be led in these issues. This is a book written for the religious and the legal community.
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