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Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life Paperback – December 9, 2015

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Same-Sex Attraction and the Church is a must-read for all Christians. Pastor Shaw lives out what it means to apply faith to the facts of unwanted, unchosen and sometimes unshakable same-sex attraction. This powerful book meets readers at the heart level, manifesting a positive understanding of the sacrifices of the Christian life. And because it is so disarmingly positive about the Christian art of dying to self, it sings a clarion call shedding new light on this sacred truth: the real gospel imparts a will-influencing, heart-changing light into the souls of men and women and the community that we create together. . . . I love this book." (Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert)

"Our culture places sex at the heart of identity and fulfillment. But Ed Shaw has discovered in the God of the gospel a pleasure that is greater and an identity that is richer than anything we can create for ourselves. Over against the false choice of embracing homosexuality or ignoring it, he gives us the category of 'same-sex-attracted-but-in-Christ.' In doing so, he shows the power of the gospel to direct us all away from both indulging our sins and denying the reality of our temptations. The fidelity to truth and loving wisdom in this book is exactly what we all need right now." (Michael Horton, professor of theology, Westminster Seminary California)

"As a Christian who also knows same-sex desire firsthand, I would put a few things differently than how Ed Shaw does here. But that doesn't stop me from applauding this biblically thorough, evangelistically zealous, humbly self-disclosing and pastorally compassionate defense of traditional Christian sexual ethics. Ed Shaw's life and teaching are an inspiring variation on what the church throughout history has celebrated as consecrated, holy virginity. May his tribe increase!" (Wesley Hill, assistant professor of biblical studies, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and author of Washed and Waiting)

"The big idea of Ed Shaw's book is simple: the church must make the biblical commands on sexuality seem plausible again. He calls all of us to repentance and wisely shows us a better way to battle sin, to understand sufferers and to proclaim truth with grace. Even those who don't agree with every jot and tittle will find something to be challenged and encouraged by on nearly every page. I highly recommend this clear, courageous and compassionate book." (Justin Taylor, coauthor, The Final Days of Jesus, blogger, "Between Two Worlds")

"Read this book to learn about the faith and life of a devout celibate man. Readers will surely vary in their response to Shaw's theological views, but all will deepen their understanding and respect for celibacy as a spiritual practice and will come away challenged to build stronger supports for all people, married and single, in their local churches." (Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology, Messiah College, author of The End of Sexual Identity)

"Ed Shaw identifies the primary obstacle to a Christian sexual ethic in today's culture. It is not that the culture weighs Christian arguments and finds them wanting, but rather that the culture cannot imagine any alternative to sexual autonomy. In this book, Shaw pastorally and wisely shows how to apply a Christian vision of marriage and sexuality to those with attraction to the same sex. The book is a welcome vehicle for discipleship for the whole church to help us to bear one another's burdens." (Russell D. Moore, president, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission)

"Ed Shaw has written winsomely and helpfully about what I consider to be the biggest discipleship issue facing the church: sexuality and identity in Christ. This is a book for the entire body of Christ, not just those who are same-sex attracted. Shaw accurately diagnoses nine false beliefs prevalent in our churches that have undermined a biblical view of sexuality and made it seem implausible. Yet the book left me hopeful and optimistic that the church can and must replace false beliefs with life-giving truth and love." (Betsy Childs Howard, The Gospel Coalition, "TGC Editors' Picks: Top Books of 2015," December 2015)

"As a pastor, a counselor, and a church member I can think of no other book that is more important for the church to read today! It is sensitive, direct, practically-oriented, fresh, and thought-provoking." (Dave Dunham, Pastor Dave Online, July 24, 2015)

"In Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life (IVP, 2015) British pastor Ed Shaw says giving "Just Say No" advice to those with same-sex attraction (which Shaw himself has) is insufficient. He rightly says evangelicals must show that the celibate life is plausible and reasonable and that those with SSA can attain satisfaction abiding within God's rules instead of by breaking them, or else young Christians especially will fall for emotional appeals from gay advocates. . . . He offers ways of gaining true intimacy apart from sex, and true godliness by overcoming suffering rather than avoiding it." (Marvin Olasky, WORLD, March 19, 2016)

"Ed Shaw shares his story and perspective in this book with deep sincerity, conviction and honesty. He makes a profound contribution to the conversation about same-sex attraction. I am so glad I read this book and I wholeheartedly recommend it." (Amy Orr-Ewing, Director of Programmes for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) and UK Director for RZIM Zacharias Trust)

"Shaw unpacks nine missteps the church needs to correct to convey the plausibility of the faithful and celibate lifestyle. This is the best book available on helping the church minister more intentionally to those among us who struggle with same-sex attraction." (David Dunham, Leadership Journal, Winter 2016)

"This book is an important one because of two reasons: a) (Ed) is a man who experiences same-sex attraction, though refraining from same-sex relationships. Thus, I believe he has much to offer in the conversation. b) In identifying nine missteps that surround this important modern-day discussion, Shaw lays out one very important misstep on both sides: believing our sexuality determines our identity. I agree wholeheartedly!" (Scott Lencke, The Prodigal Thought, December 29, 2015)

About the Author

Ed Shaw was educated at Durham University, the Cornhill Training Course and Oak Hill Theological College. He is the pastor of Emmanuel City Centre in Bristol, England, and part of the editorial team at livingout.org. He has worked for churches in Durham and London and was the student minister at Christ Church Clifton for six years before joining Emmanuel in 2009. He loves his family and friends, church and city, music and books.

Vaughan Roberts is rector of St. Ebbe's Church in Oxford, England, and author of God's Big Picture and Life's Big Questions. He is also a popular speaker at Spring Harvest and a founding member of "9:38" which encourages people to consider full-time gospel ministry.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (December 9, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830844511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830844517
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ed Shaw is a pastor in Bristol, England. He has same-sex attraction, but he believes that homosexuality is a sin and has chosen a life of celibacy. Same-Sex Attraction and the Church is about the struggle that he has as a same-sex attracted Christian, reasons that he has chosen celibacy, and possible ways that the church can help Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction.

There are points that Shaw makes that I have read or heard elsewhere: that same-sex attracted people can help alleviate their loneliness by having friends in church; that, even if same-sex attraction were genetic, that would not mean that homosexual sex is acceptable to God; that evangelicalism tends to idolize getting married and having a family, which alienates singles and same-sex attracted people who choose celibacy; and that the Christian life is not about people always getting what they want but entails self-denial. Shaw makes these points his own, however, by sharing his stories and experiences.

Shaw also wrestles with the question of why God wants marriage to be between a man and a woman. His main conclusion is that heterosexual marriage is a preview of the marriage between Christ and the church. Why does Shaw think that marriage needs to be heterosexual to foreshadow that? Because, for Shaw, God’s plan is about the merging of two parties that are different—-the divine and the human—-and heterosexual marriage is between two different genders. When Shaw makes the painful decision to be celibate for the rest of his life, therefore, he is not just thinking about God’s prohibition of homosexual sex; he is thinking about God’s broader plan, which gives him hope in life.
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Format: Paperback
Author: Ed Shaw
Publisher: IVP Books
Reading Level: Leisure
Pages: 172

"Church family is God's answer to his own observation that it is not good for a human being to be alone." (106)

There are certain topics and issues were people do not even feint neutrality. The growing discussions of same-sex marriage, homosexuality in the church, and the ethics of celibacy are lightening rods for ethical discussions. Close friends and strangers now broach these subject in both liberating and crippling ways. Unfortunately, lost in the culture wars and some of these discussions are the many individuals struggle within the church. The church needs resources to both engage the culture wars and their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Books like Ed Shaw's Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life (henceforth, SSA and Church) is one such resource.

Shaw is a celibate pastor who experiences same-sex attraction. His transparency makes for equally heartwarming and uncomfortable moments in SSA and Church. Shaw admits to moments of complete despair on kitchen floors. The liberal church begs him to change his mind on what the Bible teaches. The conservative church is confused on what it wants to say. Shaw has one principal thesis — the church must correct some of its missteps to regain a doctrine of celibacy. Celibacy has become an "implausible" position for heterosexuals and those who experience same-sex attraction because of the church's own direct and indirect teachings. In SSA and Church, Shaw provides pastoral stories and counsel to nine "missteps" that "haven't just damaged the same-sex attracted members of our churches, they've crippled us all" (22).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Awesome book written from the perspective of a pastor who has a struggle with same sex attraction. I love how he unpacked the Scriptures and biblical doctrine here as well as presenting some specific challenging scenarios for himself and others. Definitely a good read no matter your background and especially a good read if you are attracted to the same gender and wrestling with what the Bible says about how you should conduct yourself.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the best Evangelical books I've read in a long time. I believe it is a must-read for every Christian. Having experienced the same situation as the author it has helped tremendously. His application of steps to get the church back on track is by far the best critique I have read yet. His whole spiel is to get the church to love like a family again. As John in his first letter says over and over again we need to love our brothers as family. We need to show Christ's love to our brothers and sisters. I am looking forward to his next book.
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Format: Paperback
Same-Sex Attraction and the Church by Ed Shaw is an important book that is beneficial to the church and to individual who desires to stay true to the truth of what Scripture says about marriage being between a man and a woman. As a pastor I found this book to honest, helpful, and providing a promising way forward for the church in an area where their does not seem to a lot of promise.
I appreciated Ed's honesty in this book as he shared of his life long struggle to connect his deeply held belief in the truthfulness and authority in Scripture as defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only rightful place for sexual activity, and his same-sex attraction. I found his honesty refreshing and I appreciated the struggle and wrestling (kitchen floor moments) that he laid out clearly for all to see. I also appreciated Ed's honesty in his critique of the evangelical church in the ways in which we have contributed to making the celibate life look nearly impossible.
I found this book to be helpful. Ed helped me see the things that the evangelical church, (and I) are doing that makes the plausibility of the celibate life almost disappear completely. Our tendencies to focus on materialism, suffering free, marriage and family idolizing picture of the great life, among others, all showed ways in which the Evangelical church is doing harm towards those who are struggling to live a celibate life. Shaw states, "What will also help me get up off the kitchen floor is seeing other Christian sacrifice short-term happiness out of obedience to God's Word." Elsewhere he says, "So, do you want to make the life of Christians who experience same-sex attraction more plausible? Then do the same sort of counter-cultural things!
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