Ed Shaw is a same-sex attracted church leader. He is committed to the path of celibacy, commending it as an essential component of a holy life for those who are not married to someone of the opposite sex. He is candid about the emotional and relational difficulties that this presents him, but he is convinced that changes in the Church’s culture could make his discipleship more doable.
Instead of mounting a defence of his interpretation of the relevant Bible texts (this is covered in the appendices), Ed identifies nine missteps the Church has made that contribute to making sexual abstinence seem unrealistic and unrewarding.
Some of the missteps are about ways of doing church that accentuate loneliness. Other missteps have their origin in the patterns of thinking we unconsciously adopt that owe more to secular trends than to sound theology. If we did church more authentically and relationally with renewed minds, living satisfying, celibate lives would, the author argues, be much more plausible for same-sex attracted people.
This is a brilliant book; required reading both for those who are troubled by their sexual identity, and for Christians generally who feel daunted or threatened by the whole issue of homosexuality in the Church and hope it will just go away.
JOHN LAMBERT is vicar of All Saints’ Preston on Tees and St Mary’s Long Newton