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Straight & Narrow?: Compassion & Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate Paperback – June 23, 1995
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In summarizing with admirable thoroughness the predominant evangelical Christian view of homosexuality, Schmidt eschews theology in favor of the more empirical disciplines of textual Bible studies (his own field), the social sciences, medicine, and developmental psychology. Starting from the bedrock evangelical assumption that the Bible is the ultimate authority for Christians, Schmidt first forcibly states revisionist Christian ideas about why the church should accept homosexual behavior. Then he demonstrates that revisionists misrepresent the Bible's disapprobation of homosexual acts, marshals the evidence for the physical and psychological unhealthiness of typical homosexual behavior, and critically reviews "the Great Nature-Nurture Debate" over the "cause" of homosexuality. Despite an openly didactic manner (he tells us what he's going to do, then does it in apple-pie order), Schmidt states his case with exemplary clarity, conviction, and genuine goodwill. (The only major point he fails to put persuasively is that homosexual acts are per se injurious to marriage.) It seems unlikely that his book will ever be bettered; those who want the gospel, as it were, on evangelical Christianity and homosexuality must read it. Ray Olson
From the Back Cover
Too often, Thomas Schmidt writes, the charged battle over homosexuality and lesbianism generates slogans and accusations. These obscure the struggling persons at the center of the argument - it causes those who oppose homosexual behavior to "lose sight of individual struggles, pain and faces". Writing with both an evangelical Christian perspective and profound empathy, Schmidt addresses all the main points of the current debate: what the Bible really says (and means) about homosexuality, the health effects of homosexual behavior, whether or not people are born with homosexual orientations, and the cogency of recent progay reconstructions of history, including John Boswell's. With arguments thoroughly researched and up to date, Straight & Narrow? takes its place as the most comprehensive, persuasive and readable Christian book now available on the subject.
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First it should be noted that Straight & Narrow? is not really about gay marriage or any other policy debate. Those looking just for that content should look elsewhere. Schmidt's book is about homosexuality in general. Over half of his heavily foot-noted book carefully discusses the data regarding homosexual lifestyle and behavior in the U.S. Everything from the causes of homosexual desires to the physical, psychological, and spiritual effects of acting on them is covered in this 180-page book. Schmidt, being a professor at Christian college, has aimed his book primarily at Christians and therefore spends the other half of the book in full-fledged dissection and refutation of the revisionist interpretation of the Bible and Christian tradition which affirms homosexual behavior as either neutral or blessed by God.
I think every Christian who is willing to seriously think, discuss, and vote about issues surrounding gay marriage owes it to themselves to read this book or one like it. This book helped me understand my own heterosexuality better, not just the somewhat-removed-from-me topic of homosexuality, and I think it will help you too. Secondly, this book uses the word "compassion" in the title and I found it to be quite accurate for describing Schmidt's writing. It's kind of token to say, "I'm not racist, I have black friends," so it's also pretty insufficient to say you're tolerant or open-minded because you have gay friends. Real understanding relies on truth, not anecdotal experiences we have with a few of our friends. And in order to have deep and lasting compassion we need solid understanding, and understanding requires facts not anecdotes. Schmidt's book is extremely factual, but it is tempered with compassion from cover to cover. Pulling together a vast number of secular health studies we see a picture of homosexuality in his book that is brutally honest and pretty grim, but it is always handled gently and compassionately. I can't say the same about the ways I've heard the topic addressed at church. Can you?
Paul's point about homosexuality in Romans 1 is that the people's abandonment of God led to abandonment of their God-given sexualities. So, if homosexuality is on the rise in our culture rather than hailing it as a sign of the End Times shouldn't we Christians take it partly as an indictment against the Church for either not reaching our culture with the truth, or for pushing people away from it? How can we expect people who don't know God to embrace his sexual order? Schmidt sums this up well when he states that, "the first evidence of worshiping something other than the true God is that humanity will make of itself something other than true humanity." Christians should not be surprised when non-Christians embrace homosexual behavior--or any other sin--as something good. It should also not fill us solely with zeal to debate and enforce Christian ethics through legislation. It should fill us with compassion above all else. As Schmidt rightly points out, "the Gospel is ultimately not about changing laws but about changing lives."
[to read the rest of this review please visit: journeytowardjustice.wordpress.com]
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Most of the studies he cites to demonstrate the risky behaviour of homosexuals use sample populations who were actively...Read more