Welcome to the Ex-Gay Watch Bookshelf, a new feature and an opportunity for the XGW staff to share books we’ve been reading that may be of interest to our readers.
First up, Gay Christian 101 by Rick Brentlinger. A former Baptist minister, Brentlinger is more theologically conservative than most pro-gay apologists. Although no book, no matter how persuasively written, is likely to sway those whose opinions on this topic have already been set in stone, Brentlinger’s conservative approach may gain him an audience among some who have dismissed other pro-gay authors as “too liberal.”
Brentlinger addresses all of the biblical passages commonly cited in this debate (Gen. 1-2; Gen. 19; Lev. 18:22 & 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10), examining the cultural and linguistic contexts of each one in depth. He also addresses – and dismantles – the complementarian theory that has become popular in some evangelical circles.
Having addressed the standard anti-gay arguments, Brentlinger turns his attention to arguing for a gay-positive interpretation of several biblical passages: the story of Jonathan and David (1 Sam. 17 and following), the story of the Roman Centurion (Matt. 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10) and Jesus’ mention of eunuchs (Matt. 19:12). Though Brentlinger, by his own admission, cannot make as solid an argument for his interpretations of these passages as he can for the others, he does present a stronger case than any I’ve previously seen for the idea that the Bible contains gay-positive stories.
Gay Christian 101 was self-published by Brentlinger, which possibly explains the lack of an index. Readers who want to refer back to a specific argument or citation will have to skim through the book to find it, a task lengthened even further by the lack of page numbers in the table of contents. Brentlinger’s habit of repeating key points (not counting summaries) may also be distracting to some readers.
Aside from those minor complaints, Gay Christian 101 is a useful resource for those in the process of examining what the Bible says about homosexuality, and a well-researched counterpoint to the books and articles promoted by groups like Exodus and Focus on the Family. Whatever conclusions one ultimately reaches, Brentlinger’s case is worth considering.