My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is a topic that has generated more friction and fire than hope and help. Foundations, families and fellowships are starting to experience the tension from within and without, which is resulting in either a wide-eyed panic or a willful lenience. Nevertheless it is a subject that needs to be fearlessly, but sympathetically, looked into. Adam Barr, senior pastor at Peace Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Ron Citlau, pastor of Calvary Church in Orland Park, Illinois, have provided churches and families a readable and reachable resource that is personal, courageous and considerate. “Compassion without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth,” is a 160 page paperback written for parents, pastors, and parishioners to strengthen the faithful, and steady the faltering. It is grounded on the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the culture wars; and it is shaped by the gracious love of God, not political expediencies.
“Compassion without Compromise” tackles more than just homosexuality, recognizing that when you point one finger at others, there are three more pointing back at you. Barr and Citlau look into the biblical beauty of human sexuality that is formed by God and his designs. The authors rightly acknowledge that in “an amazing, creaturely way, the husband-wife one-flesh union reflects the light of God’s eternal community, the Trinity” (28). If this is the design, then going outside of it to find fulfillment is to turn the beauty into brokenness. Part of our problem, as Christians, is that there are many who claim to follow Jesus who are spoiling the splendor of God’s design for sexuality, some who “are jumping feetfirst into the “hookup culture” so prevalent in our society” (31), and many who are using the “cover of grace as an excuse for immorality” (36). This brings the authors to not only encourage Christians to return to God’s design, but to approach other sexual-sinners with humility, which may be what “our standing for truth needs” because none of us “lives up to the standards our faith demands.” If we do so, then, maybe “this posture of humility will gain the gospel a fresh hearing” (35).
The bulk of “Compassion without Compromise” works its way through what God says about homosexuality and how it damages people. The authors further show, in very clear ways, that there is true hope for homosexuals and all sexual-sinners. Also Barr and Citlau spend some time explaining ways that churches and Christians should approach their gay neighbors, co-workers and family members, to help guide readers in what we should do; “when push comes to shove, how will we live in the new normal? ( . . . ) how can we really embody compassion without compromise” (116)?
Woven throughout every area of this book runs personal experience which adds muscle to much that is said. Citlau’s own struggles with same-sex attractions where his “life spiraled out of control—marked by teen drug use and promiscuous same-sex behavior” through much of his tens year and early twenties (15) cycles into many of the topics covered. The book is written out of real familiarities, not from on high or from afar.
“Compassion with Compromise” maintains a good balance of being candid and caring. Leaders of congregations, church members, parachurch outfits, and Christian school administrations will find this a valuable resource as they think about the present and the future. But also parents whose children have “come out” and people with gay friends should pick up a copy as a guide for thinking through what is happening and how they can be both compassionate without compromising. I seriously recommend the book.
For the free discussion guide and free videos head to the authors' website here.
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(Feel free to republish or repost this review; but as always, please give credit where credit is due. Mike)