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Who Told You You Were Naked?: The Counterfeit Compassion of Culture Paperback – January 18, 2012
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But sometimes even those Christians who are on the vine continue to endure the terrible struggle of sexual brokenness ... sometimes the fruits of hope and restoration seem to dry and even wither, although our heart confirms our attachment to the vine. How can this be? Thom Hunter's book suggests that the basic reason for sexual brokenness is the effect that "the counterfeit compassion of culture" -- especially within the Church - has upon those who have fallen and are seeking redemption from the community but finding mostly rejection.
Fallen. Most things that are good or bad for healthy living in this world have their origin in the Bible. In the book of Genesis, we see the wisdom of God at work. After creating a beautiful garden for Adam, He commands him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." And in His magnificent generosity He then creates a woman for him. Along comes the serpent to tempt Eve to disobey the command, and she in turn tempts Adam, who also eats of the forbidden fruit. "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings."
God chooses to walk in the garden and is looking for the best of his creation. Coming upon the two fallen ones, he exacts from them the reason why they have hidden - they are naked. And He thus responds, "Who told you that you were naked?" The blame game begins, and God does what a Holy God must do. Expelled from paradise (but not before one final compassionate gesture of God's love in which He Himself "made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them,") our ancestors thus - through a single act of disobedience - introduced "brokenness" into the world.
Brokenness - our heritage from our first parents, if you will. Sin, with all of its fracturing capacity, its destructive nature, and the darkness of the evil within the human heart became the legacy of all mankind. Mr. Hunter's book focuses primarily on sexual brokenness, and specifically on homosexuality, his personal legacy from the fall. But this comment in no way should be seen as relating to an exclusively "gay" readership. For within its pages we see ourselves in the entangled web of adultery (straight and gay), pornography, masturbation, promiscuity, and all the related offences of the flesh.
Yet this is not just a book about sexual brokenness. It is also a book about the terrible damage that the Church, in its smug self-righteousness, can inflict on the sexually broken in their midst when they are "discovered" or "come out of the closet - any closet" and seek help.
Rejection is probably something that most human beings fear more than anything, preferring instead the rack or imprisonment. But not the horror of rejection - the stripping of self, turning it into worthlessness; the shrinking back from the broken one as if he/she were a leper; the finger pointing; the incredibly hateful remarks of condemnation from both pulpit and congregation; and ultimately the worst punishment of all - the "casting out" like Lady Macbeth's "damned spot." Alone. Not a tittle of compassion. And certainly accompanied by a shriek of the ghastly demonic hell that awaits the sinner who wants only God's grace, love, and the chance of repentance.
How many Christian brothers and sisters who have fallen know the experience of rejection, its descending darkness which scribbles failure on the heart and seems to brand the mark of Cain on the forehead? Mr. Hunter knows. His ex-pastor said to him, "You've sinned against all Christianity for all eternity." And to this very day some of own children refuse to speak to him.
On a brighter note, WHO TOLD YOU YOU WERE NAKED? is divided into four sections entitled Truth, Hope, Faith, and Grace. It concludes with a brilliant "Prologue" guaranteed to be the divine glue for any of the broken, especially the sexually broken, who read the book. It is a glue which not only mends, but acts as a solvent, exposing the presence of God in all of us as we limp along, seeking the truth, hope, faith, and grace denied us in our Churches. We begin to see the truth of our nakedness, what it means in God's eyes; this in turn engenders hope that we thought forever lost; we sense faith replacing the failure word on our heart; and, gloriously, we rejoice because we know the endless grace of God.
If you have read Hunter's previous book, Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do, then you know that his folksy and totally transparent style immediately draws the reader into the shock of recognition that he/she has been where the author was. Hunter is a gentle man, and it shows in his writing. His compassion for others overwhelms one, giving rise to that quartet of truth, hope, faith, and grace. He is not a man of pretense, seeking to become rich with his books. He writes because he must. He is a born poet, and those unexpected moments when he slips from prose to poetry are sheer pleasure. This is a source of amazement for me, as the man has suffered, and suffered greatly. But "By His stripes we are healed," yes?
There is also a plethora of Scripture included in the book, placed at just the perfect spots to illustrate the willingness and power of God to transform the sexually broken and renew the mind. Some uplifting examples from a section of the book entitled, "Consider Hiding These Verses in Your Heart":
~~And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11)
~~ For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25)
~~Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14)
~~Come now, let us settle the matter," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool" (Isaiah 1:18)
~~The third time He said to him, `Simon son of John, do you love Me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, `Do you love Me?' He said, `Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said, `Feed My sheep' (John 21:17)
~~If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1)
~~If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his live will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it (Mark 8:34-35)
~~In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6-7)
~~Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8)
~~"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28)
~~"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things (Philippians 4:8)
~~"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21)
This is a book written from a heart broken by rejection. There is no anger, but there is acceptance of God's will; there is pity for those who deny mercy; and, there is the glorious release of forgiveness. Most important, there is - through truth, hope, faith, and grace - the revelation of the love of Jesus Christ that will wipe away all our tears, put a white robe on our stooped shoulders, and transform our sexual brokenness into sexuality as His Father intended it to be . . . "The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, `This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.' For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed" (Genesis 3: 22-25).
Who told you YOU were naked?
Sin? The serpent? The Church? Perhaps.
But only God the Son can and will make garments to cover your nakedness. He stands ready with your new wardrobe, a wardrobe free of condemnation and carrying the restorative power of His blood.
Finally, if you have read this far, and if you are one who can no longer tolerate the rejection of the "counterfeit compassion of culture" in the Church (or anywhere else, for that matter), and don't know what to do, then let this book speak to your broken heart. After all, I suspect it was written for YOU. If all else has failed you, and you just want to run away or drive your car over a cliff, then this book is surely the key to the freedom which has eluded you all of these years.
Hunter doesn't walk the line of tolerance nor does he condone the judgmental attitudes that filter through our society from Christians and unbelievers alike. Speaking as someone who has been there, Hunter shares the truth about homosexuality and encourages those who are struggling.
If you are confused about how to respond to loved ones who are struggling with their own sexual sins, Hunter's book will show you how to open your heart with compassion. God offers restoration to all through His grace and mercy. How can we react otherwise to those who are not living out the truth of God's Word? Rather than speaking out harsh judgments, we should follow Christ's example of love and grace.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."