I’ve honestly been avoiding books on the topic of Christian views on homosexuality because I’ve become so familiar and fatigued with the arguments over the past decade. But this one by Preston Sprinkle caught my attention and was on sale cheap at the time on Amazon, so I downloaded it to my Kindle app and gave it a go.
Sprinkle sets out to take an evenhanded look through the Bible at the various key texts that have been used to argue for both the Affirming and Non-Affirming positions regarding homosexual practice. I’ll give him credit – for the majority of the book he was even enough that I had no real inkling of which side he was going to come down on. Well done!
The beginning of the chapter seven wherein he finally reaches a conclusion (spoiler alert: he’s in the Non-Affirming camp) is where the shine started to come off. Not because of the conclusion he reached, but because of how he addresses 1 Corinthians 6. What do malakoi and arsenokoites really mean? How should they be translated? “Affirming scholars”, he tells us, “generally argue that these words are too ambiguous.” OK. A “brilliant New Testament scholar at Yale University” concludes that nobody can really know exactly what they mean. Later on about arsenokoites, he tells us that “[s]cholars differ widely on what this word means”. But after setting this scene of ambiguity, he essentially says what do these words mean? Let me explain it all to you in 20 pages in a popular-level book. He lost me at that point.
There is good stuff to take away from Sprinkle’s book regardless of which camp you find yourself in. I appreciate his focus on loving individuals rather than flattening them to “an issue”. And if you’re not familiar with the various approaches Christians have taken toward Scriptures related to homosexuality, there are worse places to start than this book to get an overview. I can’t find myself jumping-up-and-down-excited about People to Be Loved, but I can affirm (sorry, couldn’t resist) it as a solid, useful volume.