Chapter 7: Homosexuality

This is post eight in a twelve-part series reviewing and critiquing Dan Boone's book, Human Sexuality. Read more: Intro / Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 Chapter 5 / Chapter 6

I was pleasantly surprised with Boone’s treatment of the complexity of sexual attraction and orientation. He talks about sexual attraction as a spectrum, and as fluid and flexible over time. He presents Mark Yarhouse’s “three-tiered distinction” of attraction, which is not chosen; orientation, which may or may not be chosen; and identity, which is usually chosen. I think this can definitely be a helpful way to talk about sexuality. And I love that Boone encourages us to “treat persons individually rather than as a single group assumed to be at the same place” (84). Each person is unique, and experiences their sexuality in their own unique way.

Which is why it is troubling to me that Boone assumes that any gay person who is also a Christian would automatically come to the conclusion that they should live a celibate life. Certainly some may. Some heterosexual people may come to that conclusion as well. And all of Boone’s critiques of the church and how it is failing to support and live alongside our celibate friends are so valid and so important. We absolutely need to do better—not to pity them or console their “loneliness,” but to love and respect them as the whole persons that they are.

Additionally, Boone includes several hypothetical questions and an extensive fictional letter from an imagined gay Christian. I wonder why he wouldn’t solicit questions or thoughts from an actual gay Christian. This bit of rhetorical roleplaying is irresponsible in that it erases the existence of the very people he is supposing to address. And furthermore, this imaginary gay Christian believes that “to be sexually involved with a person of the same sex is an affront to God” (85-86). Boone takes the same stance as Wesley Hill, whom he quotes, that he’s only really talking to “gay Christians who are already convinced that their discipleship to Jesus necessarily commits them to the demanding, costly obedience of choosing not to nurture their homosexual desires” (90). I think this is a damaging belief in the first place,[1] but especially so when considered as an immediate assumption with no alternatives. At this point in the book, Boone is less “starting a conversation” and more following a scripted soliloquy. One that has been shown to be harmful to LGBTQ+ Christians.