The Grace of Shame: 7 Ways the Church Has Failed to Love Homosexuals
Tim Bayly, Joseph Bayly, and Jürgen von Hagen
This is a book about repentance, and it is also—fittingly—a book of repentance. In it, Tim Bayly tells the story of a man under his ministry years ago, struggling with homosexual temptations. He was challenged repeatedly to abandon his homosexual liaisons, but he was never charged to abandon his general effeminacy. “I had utterly failed him, and this book is a small part of my repentance” (Loc. 2288).
To get right into it, the heart of this book revolves around a right translation and understanding of 1 Cor. 6:9-10. Here that passage is, in both the KJV and the ESV:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9–10).
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9–10, ESV).
The KJV translates two terms with two terms—malakoi with “effeminate,” and arsenokoites with “abusers of themselves with mankind.” The ESV collapses this into just one generic sin, “men who practice homosexuality.” This rendering means that it is primarily about a particular sexual act, with both the active and passive partner condemned in the same sweep. To the contrary, this book argues that effeminacy culminates in the bedroom, but starts a long time before that. The sin involved culminates in the bedroom, but starts long before.
“Unlike the next word in the Apostle Paul’s sin list, arsenokoitai, the usage and meaning of malakoi is thoroughly documented in ancient literature” (Loc. 542).
The Grace of Shame argues, pointedly and cogently, that it is “impossible to separate God’s truths from God’s words in Scripture” (Loc. 78).
“Many pastors today have decided the best way to conserve God’s truth is to dispense with the words God uses in Scripture” (Loc. 73).
“The Bible doesn’t talk about gender identity. It doesn’t speak of homosexuality and heterosexuality. The Bible talks about male and female, man and woman, and it warns us soft men will not enter the kingdom of God” (Loc. 811).
The same thing goes for the opposite sex. Confusion there is every bit as deadly.
“Hard women will not enter the kingdom of God” (Loc. 816)
Because the general movement of the evangelical world has been toward a particular kind of sexual reductionism, we are left ill-equipped to deal with the climate of our sexual rebellions. And so, “we speak about ‘gender’ which has no reference to body parts” (Loc. 424). “We have refused to confess our manhood and womanhood outside the home” (Loc. 442). The sin of effeminacy “exists independent of homosexual intercourse” (Loc. 487). “Cultural gayness is something that can and does exist apart from homosexuality” (Loc. 483).
Denial of these things is what sets up “the sin of the ‘gay Christian’ identity movement” (Loc. 662).
“There’s a hidden premise here: the gay Christian who says he isn’t going to have gay intercourse is counting on Christians to give him a pass on his effeminacy and the direction of his sexual desires” (Loc. 977). “All that’s required of gay men is that they avoid touching” (Loc. 979). “Men burning in their desire toward one another—what we liltingly refer to as ‘the desire for same-sex intimacy’—is not morally neutral. By itself it is evil” (Loc. 991).
“Thus we are to obey our sexual identity. Yes, in our sexual coupling; but no less so in the way we live our lives” (Loc. 822).
We tend to talk as though orientation were a thing, as though we might somehow see it someday under a microscope. But the reality is the nature of temptation. Orientation just refers to the way you are pointed. Temptation refers to the immoral choices you find yourself wanting to make.
“‘Homosexual temptation’ brings back the very moral judgment ‘homosexual orientation’ so preciously works to exclude” (Loc. 1392).
So from front to back, this book is a battle against sexual reductionism.
“Sure, it’s easy to say these body parts do or don’t go with those body parts. It’s easy to condemn homosexual intercourse because the body parts don’t fit together. But God designed sex to be much more than body parts” (Loc. 830).
But the answer is not reductionism in the other direction either. The answer is not to buy a pick-up truck with a gun rack—although some who struggle with this temptation probably ought to include that. Doing that is not the answer, but the resistance to that many would have to that suggestion is most certainly part of the problem.
What is the center of the problem?
“Once we catch a vision for living out our manhood by faith as a command of God, then we begin to see that the real essence of manhood isn’t having a buff body. Rather, it’s taking initiative and responsibility for others. It’s saying no to our lusts and pleasures. It’s having faith to do things that look like they are going to absolutely destroy any future of us getting jobs or having a church. It’s calling others to follow you by faith on that same crazy path. It’s taking weight on yourself, and carrying it for other people. In a word, it’s fatherhood” (Loc. 890).
Some of his critics might say that the men who wrote this book are not very good men. It would be better to say they are not very good soft men.
“John the Baptist and Jesus were hard men—but not hard in the sense that they lacked compassion and were impossible to please” (Loc. 807). “They had their manhood and they never took it off. Or rather, they never stopped putting it on” (Loc. 810).
“Hard men build civilizations” (Loc. 897).
“Hard men preach; soft men wonder and suggest” (Loc. 898).
Just a few words about the title. Shame and guilt are God’s nerve endings for our moral system. Without the feedback of pain when we are being foolish, we would very quickly wreck ourselves. “God gave us physical pain to protect our bodies and shame to protect our souls” (Loc. 1930). “Shame is a central theme of Scripture” (Loc. 1905). “It can’t be said too often that shame is God’s grace” (Loc. 1935).
Everyone who is paying attention can see that the evangelical world is taking on water fast. Those who care to do something about it need to get this book and master its contents.