Book Review: Hope For the Same-Sex Attracted

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Over the past few years, I have realized more and more how poorly the church addresses the issue of homosexuality and same sex attraction.  I have known that for a while, but it has only been in the past few months where I have finally decided to do more reading and honest looking at the issue.

I feel strongly that the church needs to A) be more educated on the topic, B) have true love, grace, and humility on the topic, and C) have more outreach and ministry toward Christians and non-Christians alike who have same-sex attraction.

Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted by Ron Citlau was published just this year and was a valuable resource to me.  The author has personally dealt with same-sex attraction and approaches the issue with the love and gentleness necessary.

Toward the beginning of the book, Ron discusses the issue of identity and how nothing, not our attraction, urges, or gender, identify us.  Our identity is in Jesus as His children.  Sexual identity is not the same thing as sexual desire.

The book is divided into three parts.  The first is about obstacles, the second is about gifts, and the third is his final thoughts.  It is clear throughout the book that the author truly is seeking a way for the same-sex attracted to flourish and have a abundant life as Jesus describes.  At the same time, he is firmly committed to the authority of God’s word and recognizes that there are specific ways that believers need to live, whether in a homosexual or heterosexual relationship.

Pros: I appreciated how the author never set up homosexuality as the worst sin ever as so many Christians and churches seem to do.  In fact, in several places, he mentioned how his points were not limited to same-sex attraction and relationships, but they were applicable in opposite sex attraction and relationships as well.  Secondly, I appreciated how in the gifts section, Ron talked about the gift of singleness for the same-sex attracted and also the gift of opposite-sex marriage for the same-sex attracted.  I appreciated how he put both out as legitimate biblical options, as well as specific ways to know if you are called to one or the other.   Finally, I appreciated how Ron repeatedly called the church to have ministries, healing spaces, and vulnerability.  Whether the issue is same-sex attraction or some other issue, the church needs to be open and vulnerable.  That is where true growth can occur and community can thrive.

Cons: There were one or two instances where it seemed like the “rules” Ron was putting forth were not necessarily Biblical.  One thing that I am not sure what I think about is how multiple times he mentioned that a person dealing with same-sex attraction must be in a close, godly, mentoring relationship with someone of the same sex.  I will be honest and say that I mostly don’t know what I’m talking about as, again, I am only recently starting to learn more about all that encompasses this issue.  But it seems a little inconsistent.  Women are told all the time not to counsel or mentor with men because of the potential for stumbling.  Then again, I’m not sure how I feel on that as a hard and fast rule either, but that is a nuanced issue for another time.

In the conclusion, Ron talks about how throughout it all, he hopes that the reader’s takeaway is that there is hope.  He recognizes how easy it is to feel hopeless, like there are no paths, or at least no good paths, to take. But there is hope.  And you can tell on just about every page that the author is truly on the reader’s side and wanting to bring hope through Jesus.

The front cover says, “Biblical direction for friends, family members, and those struggling with homosexuality.”  I do recommend it for anyone in those categories!

Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.

 

Book Review: Is the Bible Good for Women?

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Over the past year or so, I have been searching the Bible for better understanding on issues of gender and women’s roles.  This book, Is the Bible Good for Women? by Wendy Alsup is one of the latest books on the scene.  Just released last month, it is a small book but in my opinion a helpful contribution to the discussion.

is the bible good for women

Overall, I greatly appreciated the author’s humility and graciousness.  She approached a hot-button issue in a calm, helpful way.  While she is fully convinced of her opinion, she started off by talking about the need to come to this issue with a heart willing to seek and learn.  Personally, I felt she spent half the book setting up an introduction, although I do see why she chose to do.

Wendy starts off by pointing out the scarlet thread that is all throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testament.  The scarlet thread that points to Jesus’ and His atoning work.  She then moves into the goodness of God for women from the beginning of time at creation.  I love the phrase she used a few times, “Personhood preceded womanhood.”  Describing the creation of humans, she reiterates how both men and women are equally created in the image of God.  Both genders are image bearers. (She also includes a great section debunking the myth that is in the church, purposefully and subconsciously, that marriage is the ultimate goal of a woman.)

Moving forward a few chapters, the author starts to get into specific “problem passages” related to the gender discussion.  Her refrain is “let the Bible interpret the Bible.”  In a few instances, she detailed several different interpretations before ending with her personal belief, which I appreciated.  I learned some interpretations I had not heard before.

While I did not agree with all of her conclusions, the book was thought-provoking.  You do leave the book seeing that yes indeed, the Bible is good for women.  I did have a couple critiques, however.

In a few instances, I do believe the author unfairly represented the other side of the gender discussion. She made reference to how the other side is merely proof-texting and coming to the discussion looking for verses that support their already made up minds.  This does not do justice to the discussion.  While there are indeed people like that, there are also scores of people, men and women alike, who are coming humbly to the topic, searching the Scriptures with prayerful hearts, and still arriving at different conclusions.

Secondly, I found it interesting that even while the author said it is best to be careful taking outside historical context into consideration (she posits that the best historical context is that which is found in the Bible….letting the Bible interpret the Bible) and she said that people on the other side are quick to play the historical context card…she herself pulled from extra-biblical historical context in some of her arguments.  Personally, I think that there can be great benefit in learning about historical context, even if some of that context comes from outside the Bible.

The final critique is actually more of just a point of confusion.  There were several instances where the author referenced certain things but didn’t go into detail on how she arrived at that conclusion.  One such instance was when she referenced Junias. There is much debate as to whether Junias was in fact Junias (a woman) or Junia (a man).  Most translations, including the translation the author uses, render it Junia.  Rather than using Junias as an example of a woman in the Bible, I wish the author had gotten into that a bit more and explained how she came to that conclusion, especially since that is a conclusion different from the translation she uses.

Overall, I appreciated the book.  Again, I probably would have taken her points a bit farther, but at the end I do agree with the conclusion: yes, the Bible is good for women.  “Is God then a feminist?…If feminism in its purest sense is the quest for justice and equal rights for women, then, yes, God was the first feminist.  God created woman in His image and bestowed on her equal dignity with man….By a woman’s mere existence, God has bestowed on her dignity and privileges that transcend race, economic status, and physical ability.”  – page 191

Visit Waterbrook Multnomah for more information.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book List – January through March

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Well I am off to a good start for reading this year!  I slowed down the last half of March, so I am hoping to pick up speed again and keep going with about 4 books a month!

-January –

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery

She Reads Truth by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams

How We Love Our Kids by Milan Yerkovich and Kay Yerkovich

-February-

You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Psalms of Lament by Ann Weems

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

-March-

Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb by Jessalyn Hutto

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

Book Review: Fading Starlight

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Kathryn Cushman’s latest novel, Fading Starlight, was just released in May of this year.  It was a sweet story and an easy read.

After having a huge accident in her career, Lauren Summers heads to a private community to live for the summer.  She attempts to regain what she can of her career, invest in her hobbies, and reach out to her neighbors.  One neighbor in particular is not interested in her friendship.  Lauren must decide if she wants to pursue her old career or become the hands and feet of Jesus to her neighbor.

I appreciated how the main character has to grapple with personal pain and disappointment while also attempting to do right by her cantankerous neighbor.  In so many books, it seems that Christian characters don’t really struggle that much.  Lauren does have some things that she is working through.  I did, however, think that one of the key verses that she kept going back to was taken out of context.

While not a new personal favorite, I did think that Fading Starlight was a sweet story.  It was a fun addition to the books I took on our recent road trip.

Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.

-Bonnie

Book Review: Hope Unfolding

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I first discovered Becky Thompson’s blog when a post of hers went viral on Facebook.  As a result, I started following her and quite a few of her posts were very encouraging. When I discovered she had written a book, I was excited to get a chance to read it.

hope unfolding

Her book, like her blog, is easy to read but oozing with encouragement.  It is so obvious in every chapter that her heart truly cares about her readers even though she has never met us.

Overall, it was a little too conversational for my taste.  Each chapter started with a personal anecdote or some sort of story.  The anecdote was literally half or more of the chapter.  So for me personally it was a little too drawn out.

When she got to her main point…it usually wasn’t earth-shattering or revolutionary.  But it was just a whisper of something that my heart needed to hear as a Mom.  There were a couple chapters in particular that were great reminders for me and brought me so much encouragement.

If you are a Mom who wants a friend to sit down over coffee with you and encourage you to persevere in motherhood…this is a great book!

Read Becky’s bio here and join her online at her web site or on social media.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

-Bonnie

Book Review: Counted with the Stars

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Counted with the Stars is a wonderful historical fiction book.  As I have said before, I am a harder sell when it comes to fiction, but I have really enjoyed this book.

Connilyn Cossette writes about an Egyptian girl, Kiya, who is sold into slavery by her father.  She is right in the thick of it when suddenly her beloved homeland is struck by terrible plagues.  Hearing rumors about a man named Moses, she tries to piece things together as she wrestles with what kind of terrible god would do such a thing.

I love this book because it is not predictable.  It immerses you into the story as if you were truly experiencing it as one of the Egyptians.  I have read the story in the Bible numerous times.  It’s an incredible story.  But to think of it as if I was experiencing it made the fear and terror come to life.  It made me think about the account in new ways.

Kiya eventually is able to leave her mistress and escapes with her family after the final plague.  They travel with the Hebrews, following Moses and God.  She is faced with questions about just who this Yahweh is.

The only criticism I would make is a minor one and that was with the Hebrew girl Kiya befriends.  A pet peeve is when Christian authors paint the Christian characters as habitually bubbly, happy, and smiley.  Joy does come from knowing God, but joy doesn’t always equal bubbly or happy.  But as I said, minor detail and does not detract from the whole story.

I will definitely be keeping this book for a re-read later!

Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.

-Bonnie

Book Review: The Mapmaker’s Children

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The Mapmaker’s Children is an easy-to-read yet intriguing book intertwining present day and Civil war history.

I have always enjoyed Civil War history and I have read quite a few historical fiction pieces on the Underground Railroad.  Sarah McCoy does a great job getting her readers into that world.

The book goes back and forth between Eden, a woman in 2014 going through infertility and marriage difficulties, and Sarah Brown, the daughter of the famed abolitionist John Brown.  At first I didn’t appreciate how much the author jumped back and forth between the two, but I quickly became engrossed in the story.

I appreciated the history, the dialogue, the descriptions, and the character and plot development.  There is some language that some readers might find distasteful (one instance of s— and several instances of d—) so I do want to point that out so that no one would be caught off guard.

mapmaker's children

I enjoy fiction that is not stereotypical and predictable, and this book was far from it.  Read more about the author, Sarah McCoy, and her other books here.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for free in exchange for this review.

-Bonnie