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"Gay," "Christian," and “celibate” don't often appear in the same sentence. Yet many who sit next to us in the pew at church fit that description, says author Wesley Hill. As a celibate gay Christian, Hill gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to wrestle firsthand with God's "No" to same-sex relationships. What does it mean for gay Christians to live faithful to God whi "Gay," "Christian," and “celibate” don't often appear in the same sentence. Yet many who sit next to us in the pew at church fit that description, says author Wesley Hill. As a celibate gay Christian, Hill gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to wrestle firsthand with God's "No" to same-sex relationships. What does it mean for gay Christians to live faithful to God while struggling with the challenge of their homosexuality? What is God's will for believers who experience same-sex desires? Those who choose celibacy are often left to deal with loneliness and the hunger for relationships. How can gay Christians experience God's favor and blessing in the midst of a struggle that for many brings a crippling sense of shame and guilt? Weaving together reflections from his own life and the lives of other Christians, such as Henri Nouwen and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hill offers a fresh perspective on these questions. He advocates neither unqualified "healing" for those who struggle, nor their accommodation to temptation, but rather faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. "I hope this book may encourage other homosexual Christians to take the risky step of opening up their lives to others in the body of Christ," Hill writes. "In so doing, they may find, as I have, by grace, that being known is spiritually healthier than remaining behind closed doors, that the light is better than the darkness."


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"Gay," "Christian," and “celibate” don't often appear in the same sentence. Yet many who sit next to us in the pew at church fit that description, says author Wesley Hill. As a celibate gay Christian, Hill gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to wrestle firsthand with God's "No" to same-sex relationships. What does it mean for gay Christians to live faithful to God whi "Gay," "Christian," and “celibate” don't often appear in the same sentence. Yet many who sit next to us in the pew at church fit that description, says author Wesley Hill. As a celibate gay Christian, Hill gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to wrestle firsthand with God's "No" to same-sex relationships. What does it mean for gay Christians to live faithful to God while struggling with the challenge of their homosexuality? What is God's will for believers who experience same-sex desires? Those who choose celibacy are often left to deal with loneliness and the hunger for relationships. How can gay Christians experience God's favor and blessing in the midst of a struggle that for many brings a crippling sense of shame and guilt? Weaving together reflections from his own life and the lives of other Christians, such as Henri Nouwen and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hill offers a fresh perspective on these questions. He advocates neither unqualified "healing" for those who struggle, nor their accommodation to temptation, but rather faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. "I hope this book may encourage other homosexual Christians to take the risky step of opening up their lives to others in the body of Christ," Hill writes. "In so doing, they may find, as I have, by grace, that being known is spiritually healthier than remaining behind closed doors, that the light is better than the darkness."

30 review for Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I read this book as part of a church book group in which we are comparing Wes Hill's experience to that of Justin Lee in Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. Justin and Wes are both gay Christian men. Our book group is made up of straight Christian women. While I found Justin's book more compelling, the ultimate conclusions I've drawn from reading both of these perspectives are: a. Figuring out the intended meaning behind many scriptural passages that appear to address t I read this book as part of a church book group in which we are comparing Wes Hill's experience to that of Justin Lee in Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. Justin and Wes are both gay Christian men. Our book group is made up of straight Christian women. While I found Justin's book more compelling, the ultimate conclusions I've drawn from reading both of these perspectives are: a. Figuring out the intended meaning behind many scriptural passages that appear to address this issue is not simple--it's complex. b. Since I am not gay, it is not up to me to judge a gay person's struggles and conclusions about what is sexually moral under Christian theology (in terms of whether gay people should stay celibate or find a healthy partnership). I applaud these brave men for coming out in public as gay Christians and opening up urgently needed dialogue in both the church and the secular world. c. Gay people, perhaps especially gay Christians, have enough struggles in our society without having the rest of the Christian community adding to their pain. Christians, of all people, need to have compassion and understanding for those who are struggling with feelings they can't help and don't want, as well as those who have accepted their feelings and come to a different conclusion than Wes. It was interesting to me that in Torn, initial reactions to Justin's coming out were largely negative--the section that stands out to me is the pastor who told him that he could be in their church as long as he was celibate, but if he slipped up he would be kicked out (really loving, right?). Wes, on the other hand, seemed to have developed more supportive friends sooner than Justin had. I'm not sure if those differences influenced their eventual conclusions in any way. One thing that bugged me in Wes' book was that he kept repeating the terms "homosexual" and "homosexuality" over and over again. Justin pointed out in Torn that the word "homosexual" has come to be used by groups who actively fear, hate, or try to "cure" gay people. It's become a clinical, dehumanizing term best confined to the scientific world. Therefore, it disturbed me when Wes constantly referred to himself that way. Personally, I felt a deep sadness and loneliness reading Wes' book, but it appears he has found some meaning in choosing to stay celibate. I don't think it is up to anyone else to tell him he's wrong, or to tell Justin he's wrong either. It sounds like a difficult life either way--I certainly don't envy Justin or Wes, and I'm glad to know more about this issue in hopes that someday it will not be so politically polarizing in the church or in our country.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Deeply personal and honest, Washed and Waiting is not an argumentative book. If you are looking for ammunition in the so-called culture wars, look elsewhere. Hill spends little time trying to convince anyone that the path he has chosen is the right one; instead, he writes to show other celibate gay Christians that they are not alone. The pain of the path he has chosen is laid bare, and there is no posturing. Despite the harshness of the life Hill leads (or perhaps because of it), this is a kind b Deeply personal and honest, Washed and Waiting is not an argumentative book. If you are looking for ammunition in the so-called culture wars, look elsewhere. Hill spends little time trying to convince anyone that the path he has chosen is the right one; instead, he writes to show other celibate gay Christians that they are not alone. The pain of the path he has chosen is laid bare, and there is no posturing. Despite the harshness of the life Hill leads (or perhaps because of it), this is a kind book. There are few recriminations here. There are no vengeful stories about other Christians who rejected him for his sexuality (though he must surely have some). There is sympathy for gay Christians who find a life of celibacy too hard to bear. Hill is a man trying to find his identity in Christ above all else, and through that, find meaning for his sexual orientation. The result of that endeavor is a humbleness that shows in every word. And Hill's book is ultimately about more than sexuality. This is a probing into the nature of suffering and grace. Anyone who has faced overwhelming temptation or dark nights of the soul will find something here.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Is is possible to be "gay" and a Christian? "Yes!", answer the many Christians who openly practice their homosexuality and condemn conservative Christians as intolerant homo-phobiacs. Is it possible to be a Christian and wrestle with homosexual attractions, with no end in sight, no prospect of "healing"? Wesley Hill's painfully honest book, Washed and Waiting, shows that this is indeed a reality for many gay Christians. Let me admit that I took some time to open up to Hill's perspective. I come Is is possible to be "gay" and a Christian? "Yes!", answer the many Christians who openly practice their homosexuality and condemn conservative Christians as intolerant homo-phobiacs. Is it possible to be a Christian and wrestle with homosexual attractions, with no end in sight, no prospect of "healing"? Wesley Hill's painfully honest book, Washed and Waiting, shows that this is indeed a reality for many gay Christians. Let me admit that I took some time to open up to Hill's perspective. I come from the Jay Adams, "Nouthetic Counseling" approach, informed by testimonies from the ex-gay movement exemplified by Exodus International and writers like Joe Dallas and Anne Paulk. My research so far has encouraged me in the belief that the people I know and love who are struggling with homosexuality can find healing and release from what I believe is emotional and sexual bondage. Then I read Hill's moving book. Hill confesses his long struggle with homosexual attractions, and shares some of his victories (and his defeats). But he says repeatedly that he is still "waiting." For him, the temptations are still present and the daily battle is intense. I think what finally won me over was Hill's brutal honesty, as well as his unrelenting search for answers. Although this is Hill's first book, he is not a lightweight. There is plenty of theological substance here to wrestle through (he is pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament at Durham University). I really appreciated how he did not simply pull out a few proof-texts against homosexuality. Rather, he showed how sexual desire, longing, and brokenness are part of the New Testament narrative of fall and redemption. He writes: "In the end, what keeps me on the path I've chosen is not so much individual proof texts from Scripture or the sheer weight of the church's traditional teaching against homosexual practice. Instead, it is, I think, those texts and traditions as I see them from within the true story of what God has done in Jesus Christ--and the whole perspective on life and the world that flows from that story, as expressed definitively in Scripture ... I abstain from homosexual behavior because of the power of that scriptural story" (pg. 61). Hill powerfully argues for celibacy, as the only option for gay Christians who are waiting for healing. In our sex-saturated culture, this is one of the most helpful parts on the book. We sometimes forget that Jesus Christ lived and ministered as a single, celibate man. I'm very thankful for Wesley's willingness to share his struggles with the world. Anyone who wants to understand how to better minster to those struggling with sexual brokenness needs to read this book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: An updated narrative of a celibate, gay Christian man, including thoughts about the recovery of the place of celibacy and the importance of spiritual friendship. Wesley Hill was one of the first to articulate a distinctive perspective in discussions on homosexuality and Christian faith. At a time when people on one side were simply advocating against same-sex intimacy, and for ministries helping gay and lesbian persons develop opposite sex attractions, and those on the other side were af Summary: An updated narrative of a celibate, gay Christian man, including thoughts about the recovery of the place of celibacy and the importance of spiritual friendship. Wesley Hill was one of the first to articulate a distinctive perspective in discussions on homosexuality and Christian faith. At a time when people on one side were simply advocating against same-sex intimacy, and for ministries helping gay and lesbian persons develop opposite sex attractions, and those on the other side were affirming LGBT persons in their identities and choices of who they would love, Hill took a different stance. He admitted that he was attracted to men and self identified as gay in orientation, but that as a Christian he was committed to a celibate life, the only option he believed open to him. When Washed and Waiting was first published in 2010, it gained a great deal of notice for its honest and painful narrative of Hill's growing awareness that there was something "different" about him, even as he also became aware of God's call to ministry. He narrates how hard it was to "come out" to a trusted professor who responded with grace, and connected him with a counselor who began to help him sort out what to do with this. He learned the importance of having people in his life wherever he went who knew his story and were willing to share his journey. He describes the peculiar sense of loneliness and shame he believes many LGBT people feel, even while seeking, and often finding community. In the original work, he explains why, not seeing a change in orientation likely for him, he chooses celibacy. For him, it is not just the prohibitions, which he believes are clear, but also the larger story of creation, fall, and redemption he finds himself in, and the place given to marriage in that story. He also sees his own condition as emblematic of life between the already and the not yet, where we are washed in the waters of baptism (1 Corinthians 6), but living in what can be the painful tension of embodied life touched by the fall, waiting for the redemption of those bodies spoken of in Romans 8. He punctuates his story with vignettes of Henri Nouwen and the poet priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, both who experienced homosexual attractions and chose celibate lives. One has a sense in reading of both the real pain these men knew, and yet the real gift their lives became as they lived within the washed and waiting tension. Hill's afterword takes on the challenge of his critics of writing such things as a young man with much life ahead. In "Washed and Still Waiting" we hear more mature reflections ten years after the original manuscript. Hill's focus is on the celibate call. He contends first, in a society where you are thought not to be fulfilled without sexual intimacy, for restoring the dignity of the celibate calling, noting the biblical commendation of celibacy including the examples of Jesus and Paul as well the honorable instances of celibacy in church history. He also thinks there needs to be frank discussion of stewarding one's sexuality while refraining from sexual intimacy. Finally, he discusses the importance for the celibate of living in community, and enjoy within that "spiritual friendship" (an idea he develops more fully in his book Spiritual Friendship, also reviewed on this blog). Hill's work is helpful in several ways. He helps us understand something of the journey of gay persons -- the unsettling awareness, feelings of loneliness and shame, "coming out," and growing in a Christ-shaped acceptance of himself. It strikes me that his was an instance where Christians around him got it right, lavishing grace rather than shame, and giving him the space to come to his own convictions within caring, yet hardly perfect communities which is the most any of us gets. Finally, he challenges us with the reality of the struggle any of us faces who truly tries to live into the tension of the already and the not yet--those of us who refuse the Christian success dreams of white suburbia and the prosperity gospel. He writes: "More and more, I have the sense that what many of us need is a new conception of our perseverance in faith. We need to reimagine ourselves and our struggles. The temptation for me is to look at my bent and broken sexuality and conclude that, with it, I will never be able to please God, to walk in a manner worthy of his calling, to hear his praise. But what if I had a conception of God-glorifying faith, holiness, and righteousness that included within it a profound element of struggle and stumbling? What if I were to view my sexual orientation, temptations, and occasional failures not as damning disqualifications for living a Christian life but rather as part and parcel of what it means to live by faith in a world that is fallen and scarred by sin and death." While I do not share Hill's sexual orientation, I identify with every other word in this paragraph. Who of us cannot, if we are honest with ourselves and before God? The calling Hill speaks of here is both gift and challenge to us all, and the only way for any of us to life. We stand together, washed and waiting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    Wesley Hill is gay. However, he has committed himself to celibacy because he accepts the demands of Scripture and two millennia of orthodox Church tradition. This is the story of his wrestling with Scripture and his situation. Despite the potential to slip into gloominess and despair, he gives gay Christians a vision of hope. As a straight single guy, I picked up this book because I have been concerned that we as the Church have not been loving to our homosexual brothers and sisters. Any discussi Wesley Hill is gay. However, he has committed himself to celibacy because he accepts the demands of Scripture and two millennia of orthodox Church tradition. This is the story of his wrestling with Scripture and his situation. Despite the potential to slip into gloominess and despair, he gives gay Christians a vision of hope. As a straight single guy, I picked up this book because I have been concerned that we as the Church have not been loving to our homosexual brothers and sisters. Any discussion on the topic is about (rightfully) condemning homosexual behavior, but there is nothing about the cross that the condemnation of same-sex intimacy requires gay Christians to bear. I have seen how the Church hurts single Christians (of any orientation) by affirming our culture's belief that the greatest love between people is sexual (in marriage, for Christians). How much more pain does this teaching cause gay and lesbian Christians? However, Hill points out that Scripture does not portray marital love as the greatest human love, but rather the love between fellow believers in the community of the Church. The Church needs to reclaim an affirmation of celibacy and learn to love in community. This book is not just for gay and lesbian Christians; this book is for every Christian. Singles (both gay and straight) will find encouragement to continue to fight the good faith. By pointing to examples such as Henri Nouwen and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hill shows his readers that ultimate fulfillment is not in sex or anything else in this world, but is by focusing on Christ and his Glory.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I've read a lot of books in this vein (I was in a book club about faith and sexuality for about 6 months), and while I knew going in that I wouldn't agree with Hill's conclusions, this is cited often enough as a classic in this genre that I thought I should eventually read this. Specifically I had heard that just as Justin Lee had a gentle, story-based approach to the "Side A" position in Torn, Wesley Hill did the same in this book for the "Side B" position. It was clear immediately that the book I've read a lot of books in this vein (I was in a book club about faith and sexuality for about 6 months), and while I knew going in that I wouldn't agree with Hill's conclusions, this is cited often enough as a classic in this genre that I thought I should eventually read this. Specifically I had heard that just as Justin Lee had a gentle, story-based approach to the "Side A" position in Torn, Wesley Hill did the same in this book for the "Side B" position. It was clear immediately that the book's language is quite dated; I'm not sure if that's because the terminology has changed so rapidly in the past decade, or because Hill runs in circles where referring to being gay as "experiencing homo-erotic desire" is still typical. He also references several times the now widely debunked orientation change therapy. In any case, I was hoping for a thoughtful explanation of the case for celibacy, an explanation of how the author has embraced this part of his identity, and an encouragement for churches to better support their single and celibate members. I've read more of this sort of thing in recent years and was open to hearing the positive case for a Side B life. I was disappointed to find that Hill ran through the "clobber passages" using the very questionable face-value English translations and extrapolating them to broader applications, with no mention of alternate interpretations. He then concluded that it was obvious that "homosexuals" had to be celibate, and proceeded to talk about the soul-rending difficulties of living that out. He talked about being so lonely all the time that, like Henri Nouwen (another gay celibate), he would often call friends in the middle of the night to process his feelings and extract promises that they would always let him call them at any time, even when they got married. There isn't a happy ending where Hill talks about embracing his orientation and the call to celibacy. His main consolations, it seems, are that 1) being a Christian means "taking up your cross" and that his struggles therefore make him more like Christ and 2) in heaven all will be made whole and he won't be gay anymore. The contrast to me was clear between the people I know who feel called to celibacy and those like Hill who feel like they have no choice, no matter how painful it is, because faith means trusting that God knows best. I just don't agree with Hill that it's that obvious what God wants.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zane

    3.5 stars The layout of this personal memoir of Hill, a celibate gay Christian, is straightforward and sensible. The flow and vocabulary of the book are intelligent and cognizant, as well. In fact, I rather enjoyed the book overall in most regards... except for the actual substance. I tried (God knows I tried) to agree with the things Hill was saying. I would follow his train of thought, verify each premise... and in the end, still disagree with him on the final point (specifically, the points tha 3.5 stars The layout of this personal memoir of Hill, a celibate gay Christian, is straightforward and sensible. The flow and vocabulary of the book are intelligent and cognizant, as well. In fact, I rather enjoyed the book overall in most regards... except for the actual substance. I tried (God knows I tried) to agree with the things Hill was saying. I would follow his train of thought, verify each premise... and in the end, still disagree with him on the final point (specifically, the points that gay people should be celibate, and that practicing homosexual people are committing sin). I disagree because I've read the same verses he uses in his arguments, and I draw completely different conclusions from them. But I'm not about to get into all that; frankly, I don't have the time to type out an entire book in response to this book. What I will do is say that, as a Christian that finds most of what he says to be absolutely and painfully true, I pity Hill. I pity those who think (incorrectly) that they have to ask the Holy Spirit to crush a key component of their beings because that inherent part of them is still somehow sinful. Just because it's there doesn't mean it's a sinful aspect of yourself. (By the way, I know that Hill addresses this in the book.) In conclusion, I give "Washed and Waiting" a total of 2.5 stars. Great diction, smart layout, erroneous content.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    My full review can be read at Blogging Theologically: There are few subjects touchier than the question of homosexuality and Christianity. In recent years, in order to shift the portrayal of Christians as vicious homophobes, many mainline denominations have fully embraced homosexual practice as compatible with Christianity, as have some in “post-evangelical” circles, such as Tony Jones. Given the enormous pressure to affirm and embrace homosexual practice, it can be really tempting to go along wi My full review can be read at Blogging Theologically: There are few subjects touchier than the question of homosexuality and Christianity. In recent years, in order to shift the portrayal of Christians as vicious homophobes, many mainline denominations have fully embraced homosexual practice as compatible with Christianity, as have some in “post-evangelical” circles, such as Tony Jones. Given the enormous pressure to affirm and embrace homosexual practice, it can be really tempting to go along with it, or worse to give unsatisfying, pat answers to hard questions about Christian faithfulness and homosexuality. So what do you do if you earnestly believe that God’s Word is true, and what it says about homosexuality is in fact the truth? What if you truly believe that homosexuality is a serious sin as outlined in Scripture? And what do you do if you believe it—and you’re gay? Wesley Hill seeks to answer that question in Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. What qualifies him to do so? It’s his struggle...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bob Hayton

    Homosexuality. The word stirs many reactions today. Many Christians who don't know homosexuals personally, remain puzzled and scared by this term. Many suspect the word does not picture a reality, only an intentional perversion of God's created order. Pat answers are easy, and when it comes to homosexuality a simple Bible-based condemnation seems all that is in order. It is easier and more convenient for us to file the word, and whatever reality it represents, away into a tidy corner -- far away Homosexuality. The word stirs many reactions today. Many Christians who don't know homosexuals personally, remain puzzled and scared by this term. Many suspect the word does not picture a reality, only an intentional perversion of God's created order. Pat answers are easy, and when it comes to homosexuality a simple Bible-based condemnation seems all that is in order. It is easier and more convenient for us to file the word, and whatever reality it represents, away into a tidy corner -- far away from our experience. But in today's world, we can no longer afford to ignore homosexuality. It is all around us, and if we open our eyes, we'll see it is affecting people we rub shoulders with at work, it's in our children's schools, and even has entered our churches. The debate is here, and more. It's not just a debate, there is a secret battle being waged in countless hearts around us. A battle to believe in Jesus despite personal homosexual attractions. When the church takes a very public, vocal and aggressive stance against homosexuality and perceived encroaches on the church's favored family ideal, we inadvertently make it hard for those among us struggling with identity questions of their own. On the other hand, when churches change their message, dismissing Biblical statements condemning homosexual practices outright, or employing some cunning and inventive "exegesis", the core of Gospel truth is betrayed. And any message left over is spiritually bankrupt. What is needed is a careful balance between a Scriptural approach to homosexual practice as sin, and a gracious acceptance of sinners who are struggling to follow Jesus. That balance is hard to achieve and frankly, quite rare today. Consider the words of an anonymous Christian who struggles with homosexuality: What if the church were full of people who were loving and safe, willing to walk alongside people who struggle? What if there were people in the church who kept confidences, who took the time to be Jesus to those who struggle with homosexuality? What if the church were what God intended it to be? (pg. 113) This perspective may be new to many of us. When is the last time that you or I have known someone struggling with homosexuality? Not one given over to it, but one who professes to be a Christian yet openly admits to struggles in this area? What would it be like to be a Christian struggling with this? Can you even be a Christian if you experience homosexual desires? Isn't Jesus supposed to miraculously heal you of such a warped perspective? In a new book from Zondervan, Wesley Hill bravely steps forward to share his own journey with us. In Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality Hill tells the story of his life-long struggle with homosexuality. He shares the hopes and struggles, the loneliness and longing, the despair and perplexity that is life for homosexual Christians. What Hill has to say needs to be heard throughout the church today. His honesty and candor, and his gospel-centered, graceful, hopeful perspective make the book a joy to read. He offers hope for all who struggle against sin this side of the resurrection. The book is well-written and captivating. Hill finds the right balance in conveying what it is like to think like he does, and feel like he feels, without dragging the book down into a cesspool. He keeps the story moving and intersperses reflections on the testimony of other self-professed Christians who struggled with homosexual desires. Hill grew up in a Christian home, went to a Christian school and went to a Christian college (Wheaton). He even pursued Christian ministry. He would appear a typical conservative-minded Christian from a loving home. But he learned as a young teenager that something was different with him. He had no sexual attraction for women, at all. Instead, his feelings were directed toward the other sex for apparently no reason that he has yet been able to discover. One story he tells captures his reality well. He was attending a dance at a friend's wedding. A friend, set him up to dance with a gorgeous girl. And yet even in close quarter with this stunning beauty, he felt no attraction. Instead his eyes were wandering against his will to a man across the room who he couldn't help but notice. Hill's story goes on throughout the book. He is still young (in his late twenties) and realizes he doesn't have all the answers. But he hopes his story helps others like him come to grips with who they are, and the calling Christ has for them. Hill realizes that some homosexual Christians do experience a healing of their broken desires. But many do not. He writes for "homosexual persons who have tried -- and are trying -- to 'become heterosexual' and are not succeeding and wonder, for the umpteenth time, what exactly it is that God wants them to do." (pg. 19) Hill's testimony of the struggle and perplexity that surrounds homosexuality, helps explain the attraction of homosexual accommodation by the Church. It's surely easier to remain connected with one "soul-mate" than to struggle against one's natural impulses. Hill observes: Occasionally it strikes me again how strange it is to talk about the gospel -- Christianity's "good news" -- demanding anything that would squelch my happiness, much less demanding abstinence from homosexual partnerships and homoerotic passions and activities. If the gospel really is full of hope and promise, surely it must endorse -- or at least not oppose -- people entering into loving, erotically expressive same-sex relationships. How could the gospel be opposed to love? (pg. 56) Hill goes on to challenge this "easy way out." He explains how and why abstinence from forbidden pleasures is essential to upholding the true Gospel. "One of the hardest-to-swallow, most countercultural, counterintuitive implications of the gospel is that bearing up under a difficult burden with patient perseverance is a good thing." (pg. 71). Hill's struggles bring alive the hidden suffering of Christians struggling with this sin. There is an intense loneliness. First, it is hard to share with other Christians that you struggle with this issue. Second, if you agree that abstinence is God's will, you will pull back from non-sexual relationships with others of the same sex for fear of temptation or rejection (if they knew the real you). Finally, for those who cannot just "switch" their inbred sense of attraction, for those who cannot just "become heterosexual", or those who through long years of effort find they cannot, these are faced with a lonely future with no possibility of waking up next to the one you love and sharing life together. Hill shared some of his personal diary notes on this point: "And don't you think we're wired (Genesis 2!) to want the kind of companionship that can only come through marriage?" (pg. 106). An even more devastating point comes in Hill's discussion of lust. He quotes Dallas Willard to the extent that to merely look (or see) and desire someone sexually is not wrong. Rather, looking to desire someone is wrong. The second glance is the one with evil intent. Hill shares what it feels like to "look and desire" in a homosexual way, and how this is even more hopeless than those who struggle against inordinate heterosexual desires: For me and other gay people, even when we're not willfully cultivating desire, we know that when attraction does come -- most of the time, it could be as unlooked for and unwanted as it was for me that day on the dance floor at my friends' wedding reception -- it will be attraction to someone of the same sex. And in those moments, it feels as though there is no desire that isn't lust, no attraction that isn't illicit. I never have the moment Dallas Willard describes as "looking and desiring" when I can thank God that he made me to be attracted to women... Every attraction I experience, before I ever get to intentional, willful, indulgent desire, seems bent, broken, misshapen. I think this grieves [God], but I can't seem to help it. (pg. 136-137) This experience of brokenness and uncontrollable desires is not uncommon. Hill speaks for many when he writes these words. Hill quotes Martin Hallett of True Freedom Trust, "There are probably nearly as many Christians with homosexual feelings who do not believe that homosexual sex is right for Christians as there are those who are advocating its acceptance." (pg. 16) The beauty of this book is that Hill not only describes the struggle, he also explains how he has found peace with the burden. His "life as a homosexual Christian... has simply been learning how to wait, to be patient, to endure, to bear up under an unwelcome burden for the long haul." (pg. 50). Rather than seeing his struggles and shortcomings as "confirmations of [his] rank corruption and hypocrisy", Hill has gradually learned to view his journey "of struggle, failure, repentance, restoration, renewal in joy, and persevering, agonized obedience -- as what it looks like for the Holy Spirit to be transforming me on the basis of Christ's cross and his Easter morning triumph over death." (pg. 144). His insights on sanctification deserve to be quoted in full: The Bible calls the Christian struggle against sin faith (Hebrews 12:3-4; 10:37-39). It calls the Christian fight against impure cravings holiness (Romans 6:12-13, 22). So I am trying to appropriate these biblical descriptions for myself. I am learning to look at my daily wrestling with disordered desires and call it trust. I am learning to look at my battle to keep from giving in to my temptations and call it sanctification. I am learning to see that my flawed, imperfect, yet never-giving-up faithfulness is precisely the spiritual fruit that God will praise me for on the last day, to the ultimate honor of Jesus Christ. (pg. 146) What Christian cannot say amen to that? I found Hill's honesty and frank discussion of his wrestlings against the sinful pull of his soul, inspiring and hope-giving even for broken heterosexuals like me. We could learn a lot from listening to homosexual Christians who are fighting to follow Jesus with a pure heart. Hill encourages others struggling with this sin to be open about their struggles with others, to seek help, and find a church community to be a part of. Hill's message also challenges churches today to be a community of Christ-loving people who minister with His gracious hands and loving heart to all those in need around them. This book packs quite the punch for 160 short pages. It has opened up the struggle of what it means to be homosexual to me in a new way. It gives me hope and confidence that the Gospel of Jesus Christ does work, even for those with such a burden to bear. I pray and trust this book will make a wide impact among churches of all kinds, but especially the more conservative churches. I have but one small reservation with this book. Hill details both a Roman Catholic's and Greek Orthodox's struggle on this issue with no caution about the deficient theology of those churches. There may be genuine Christians who are RC or Orthodox, but they are the exception not the rule. Perhaps those faiths are more open to the struggle for faithful celibacy and so have something he can identify with. As a Protestant, I fear the Gospel can be at stake in so easily recommending Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy with their denial of justification by faith alone. One brief personal note, too, if I may. As I read the acknowledgments, I was delighted to find many names I recognized from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis where I was a member for four years. It's a joy to think that my former pastor John Piper and the apprentice program he and others have poured their lives into was blessed to make a positive impact in Wesley Hill's life. It shows that conservative evangelical churches can and do minister to struggling homosexual Christians. I pray more churches would avail themselves of resources like this book and aim to think through what a full-fledged, Biblical perspective on homosexuality really means. I cannot recommend this book any more highly. Disclaimer: This book was provided by Zondervan for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review. Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon.com or through Zondervan direct. An expanded version of this review, with additional resources, will also be available at CrossFocusedReviews.com.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Havener

    A helpful perspective from a man who struggles with same-sex attraction and is endeavoring to walk in obedience to the Scriptures. Asking myself, how can we better support these believers in our churches?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Kann

    This book was PHENOMENAL. First, it was a gentle, kind, thoughtful presentation of the challenges that face gay Christians, and I truly believe that I will be able to be even more compassionate and loving towards my LGBTQ friends because of having read it. But secondly, I did not expect this book to apply to me like it did - as the author described his feelings of loneliness surrounding his decision to live as a celebate gay man, I found myself in tears of understanding, having felt what he desc This book was PHENOMENAL. First, it was a gentle, kind, thoughtful presentation of the challenges that face gay Christians, and I truly believe that I will be able to be even more compassionate and loving towards my LGBTQ friends because of having read it. But secondly, I did not expect this book to apply to me like it did - as the author described his feelings of loneliness surrounding his decision to live as a celebate gay man, I found myself in tears of understanding, having felt what he described even as a heterosexual female. The best part of this book though was his call to the church to figure out what it means to be true community, true family, and offer genuine Christian intimacy to not only our gay brothers and sisters, but to all singles. I can't recommend this little book highly enough.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joel Pinckney

    Hill's treatment of Christianity and homosexuality is the best that I have read, particularly because it extends far beyond the realm of theory. Pastors and theologians have written exhaustively on the subject, many of which have been effective and helpful (Kevin DeYoung, for instance). However, the unfortunate reality is that the degree to which their words will be readily accepted by those questioning the issue within the church or those outside of the church is limited by their lack of direct Hill's treatment of Christianity and homosexuality is the best that I have read, particularly because it extends far beyond the realm of theory. Pastors and theologians have written exhaustively on the subject, many of which have been effective and helpful (Kevin DeYoung, for instance). However, the unfortunate reality is that the degree to which their words will be readily accepted by those questioning the issue within the church or those outside of the church is limited by their lack of direct, personal experience. Hill's personal experience is what makes his book so compelling, even as he asserts his personal experience is not ultimate. As a homosexual Christian, Hill immediately merits more credence from his readership. Crucial is the broad framework that Hill brings to the forefront: namely, that the Bible's words upon homosexuality don't work as isolated passages, but must instead be read within the broader context and reality of the gospel: "On the surface, the Bible and the church's demand for homosexuals not to act on their desires can seem old-fashioned, life taking, oppressive. But could it be that if I place that demand into a larger story, then perhaps...it won't seem as irrational, harsh, and unattainable as it otherwise might? Could the Christian story of what God did for the world in Christ be the framework that makes the rules...make sense?" Hill goes on to say, "I abstain from homosexual behavior because of the power of that scriptural story." Gratefully, Hill's words are not meant to downplay or distract from the immense struggle a homosexual faces in being a Christian. The solution is not denial, pretending the struggle is not as significant as it is. Hill is constantly referencing dark moments, days, or periods of his life marked by feeling that the path he's walking upon is impossible. These personal stories are mixed well with the stories of others who have experienced the same struggle. The image left in the mind of the reader of the life in front of the homosexual Christian serious about the teachings of scripture is an exceedingly difficult life, one of constantly dying to self. It is no downplaying that Hill presents, but rather a glory far greater than even a lifelong struggle against desires contrary to the will of God. That which the homosexual receives in pursuing holiness, ultimately the commendation of God our Father, is worth far more than even a lifelong struggle with homosexuality. Hill's story is powerful, and along with his clear knowledge of how difficult the life of a homosexual Christian will be, his devotion to scripture is clear throughout the book. The words, even as they relay struggle, are full of hope. I would highly recommend this book to Christians or non-Christians, those struggling with same-sex attraction or those simply hoping to better understand the issue and a develop a healthy biblical theology. Read this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leah Good

    I often struggle with how to shape my response to people with a homosexual orientation. Since it's not something I have needed to confront in a practical way on a daily basis, I typically shove it to a corner of my brain and move on with life. But this book has been on my mental to-read-list for a while and finally jumped to the top. When I noticed this book last year, it immediately stood out to me. In my sporadic efforts to deepen my perspective on the subject, I'd come to two conclusions. 1) I I often struggle with how to shape my response to people with a homosexual orientation. Since it's not something I have needed to confront in a practical way on a daily basis, I typically shove it to a corner of my brain and move on with life. But this book has been on my mental to-read-list for a while and finally jumped to the top. When I noticed this book last year, it immediately stood out to me. In my sporadic efforts to deepen my perspective on the subject, I'd come to two conclusions. 1) I couldn't accept the popular idea that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality and Biblical teachings on the topic are not culturally relevant, and 2) I wasn't comfortably with the large on theology but short on compassion approach taken by many Christians with a more traditional perspective. A book like Washed and Waiting seemed like it would give a new and unique perspective on the subject. Hearing a defense of sexual relations only in the context of a traditional, heterosexual relationship from the perspective of a man with a homosexual orientation definitely offered a unique look at the subject. It also offered a deeply compassionate view a gay persons struggles. I really appreciate the author's ability to write this book with a solid defense of a traditional Biblical interpretation of marriage while simultaneously calling for, asking for, fighting for all the depth of love and compassion the people of God can possibly offer to someone with homosexual desires. This book gave me a lot to think about and ponder, and I'd definitely recommend it to other Christian's who aren't satisfied with recognizing the problem without seeking an option for compassion as well.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short review: This is a short book (only 160 pages) but I think it does more to describe a right understanding of Christian sexuality than most marriage and sex books I have read. The first half of the book is biographical, describing how Hill became aware of his sexual orientation and then how he came to the place of understanding celibacy as the only option for him. I think the description of the struggle is important to his understanding. Many do not come to the same place, but I think he cle Short review: This is a short book (only 160 pages) but I think it does more to describe a right understanding of Christian sexuality than most marriage and sex books I have read. The first half of the book is biographical, describing how Hill became aware of his sexual orientation and then how he came to the place of understanding celibacy as the only option for him. I think the description of the struggle is important to his understanding. Many do not come to the same place, but I think he clearly describes how he came to the position. The second half walks through brief bios of two other celibate Christians and attempts to ground his understanding in something more than his 20 something experience. I think this is a good book both to understand one person's view of homosexuality and the issues it raises as a Christian, but also a takes a different look at the purpose and meaning of sexuality as Christians. As someone committed to abstaining from sex, Hill brings some fresh eyes. Full review at my blog http://bookwi.se/washed-and-waiting-r...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Travis

    Enormously valuable insights from a Christian striving to be faithful to Christ while bearing the burden of same-sex attraction. A must-read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Loraena

    I found Wes Hill’s book Washed and Waiting incredibly compelling. He writes poignantly and with deep vulnerability. His voice is one we need to hear. Yet, the way he talks about himself as a gay Christian could be interpreted as an overemphasis on sexual identity. Because homosexual attraction has been his exclusive experience so far (as opposed to heterosexual attraction) it colors everything about his life and makes him feel separate from those who are opposite-sex attracted. I suspect at the I found Wes Hill’s book Washed and Waiting incredibly compelling. He writes poignantly and with deep vulnerability. His voice is one we need to hear. Yet, the way he talks about himself as a gay Christian could be interpreted as an overemphasis on sexual identity. Because homosexual attraction has been his exclusive experience so far (as opposed to heterosexual attraction) it colors everything about his life and makes him feel separate from those who are opposite-sex attracted. I suspect at the time of writing he was on a continuum of Christian identity that was perhaps not as grounded in union with Christ as he might become after maturing in faith over the years. One of my favorite parts of this book was the addendum, written ten years later, in which he discusses how absolutely vital it is that the Church work from a solid theology of singleness if Christians like himself are going to survive. He talks about the hurt and isolation singles experience when churches treat singleness as temporary, marriage as the norm, or singles as less mature, less equipped, less significant, or simply underestimate their need for deep fellowship. The way Wes talks about his same-sex-attraction reminded me of the way I think of our own infertility. At first, I battled shame and wondered where I had messed up to deserve infertility. Through God’s grace, I eventually came to view it as an effect of the Curse. Because we live in a world under the curse of sin, aspects of creation are broken. My body inexplicably cannot conceive a child and it is because of death. Our bodies don’t work “right”. Yet, we have a God who is good and has sovereignly ordained that the privilege of bearing children in my body be withheld from me (my daughters were both adopted). Wes seems to think of his same sex attraction similarly - something in him is broken because of a sin-cursed world and yet a good God calls him to resist temptation and live a celibate life. If I were counseling him, I don't think I would disagree. There is a space between attraction and lustful intent, it might be hard to delineate, but it's still there and this is a significant aspect to consider whether dealing with same sex attraction or heterosexual attraction. A believer struggling with same sex attraction needs to be comforted that they are not any more repulsive to God than anyone else. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 applies to those who are same-sex attracted and those who are not. No matter what the sin is or where it begins, we are all in need of redemption, atonement, and restoration. One day, someday, we will be fully restored. The sins we struggle with now, whether in our actions, flesh, mind, emotions, instincts or all of the above will be eradicated once and for all. Death will be put to death and there will be no more temptation, no more shame, no more separation, and no more loneliness. We will be whole. All things will be made new and the struggle with same sex attraction, as well as heterosexual lust and every other form of sin and suffering will be gone. Not only that, but God will dwell with us and we and will bask in full understanding that we are loved.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John Gardner

    “Is there a place for celibate, gay Christians in the church?” That is the question Wesley Hill, a self-described celibate, gay Christian, seeks to answer as he bares his soul in this deeply personal book, subtitled “Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.” Raised as a Christian in a conservative, fundamentalist church, Hill is convinced that the clear testimony of the Bible and the historical teaching of the Church – that homosexuality is contrary to the Creator’s sexual design, “Is there a place for celibate, gay Christians in the church?” That is the question Wesley Hill, a self-described celibate, gay Christian, seeks to answer as he bares his soul in this deeply personal book, subtitled “Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.” Raised as a Christian in a conservative, fundamentalist church, Hill is convinced that the clear testimony of the Bible and the historical teaching of the Church – that homosexuality is contrary to the Creator’s sexual design, and that homosexual actions are sins against a holy God – is true. However, despite many prayers that God would miraculously intervene to change his desires, he remains drawn only to men, both through sexual attraction and a desire for companionship. Because of his Christian convictions, he has made the brave choice to remain celibate, seeing this as the only option that allows him to remain faithful to the God he loves. This decision was not easy, nor was it self-evident. For men and women who, like Wesley Hill, struggle to reconcile their same-sex attraction with their desire to remain faithful to God’s design for human sexuality, the options are few and none of them are particularly desirable. This problem is compounded by the fact that it is virtually never addressed in books or church pulpits, leaving those in this situation (which is much more common than most Christians realize) to fend for themselves. Though not without flaws, this book invites readers to enter a usually very private world. Hill shares the sense of guilt, and the profound loneliness that Christians with homosexual desires often experience. Not only do they feel as if they are being “forced” to do without fulfilling one of the most basic human desires (to love and be loved in return); they feel that they are unable to rely on their brothers and sisters in Christ to help them bear their burden, because homosexuality is such a taboo subject. Everyone who has experienced homosexual desires – whether Christian or not – has experienced rejection and condemnation from friends and family, and often from the Church. Hill is brutally honest with his struggles to accept the teaching of the Church and the Bible. The counsel of many within the Church is to “simply” read in God’s Word that it is a sin, and “simply” stop doing it (as if the rest of us “simply” stop sinning just because we’ve read the Bible). There is nothing “simple” about it. The Bible is radically counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. As with anything else, sanctification comes only through an understanding of the gospel, which is the Father’s gift to Christians through the Word of the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The author found answers to many of his questions in the Bible’s story of redemption. He has come to see his broken sexuality as a consequence of mankind’s brokenness resulting from the Fall. While others have seen a miraculous changing of their desires after encountering Christ, Hill takes comfort in reading that Paul’s “thorn” (whatever it was) was not taken from him, though he had prayed earnestly for its removal. He also sees hope in the two passages from which the book’s title is taken. First was Paul’s writing to the Corinthians, when, after listing homosexuality among a list of grievous sins, he wrote, “and such were some of you… You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Homosexuality is obviously not beyond Christ’s saving power, for His blood is capable of washing even this away. As Hill writes: “Feeling that the guilt of past homosexual sins or present homosexual failures is beyond the scope of God’s grace should never be a barrier preventing anyone from embracing the demands of the gospel. God has already anticipated our objection and extravagantly answered it with the mercy of the cross.” The second passage comes from Romans 8: “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies… If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Hill acknowledges that there may be no relief from his temptation and unfulfilled desires this side of the new creation, but waits in the hopeful assurance that Jesus has already accomplished his ultimate deliverance. “When God acts climactically to reclaim the world and raise our dead bodies from the grave, there will be no more homosexuality. But until then, we hope for what we do not see.” Throughout the book, Hill anticipates and answers many objections that Christians often have to his story. Perhaps the foremost is the age-old “nature vs. nurture” question: Are we born with an inherent sexual orientation, or do we choose it? Are gay people born gay, or do they decide to become gay? For the most part, today’s popular culture teaches that one’s sexual orientation is an unchangeable part of our makeup, while the majority report among conservative Christians seems to be that homosexuality is a sinful choice. Hill’s position on this mirrors my own, though in the past I have been guilty of simplistically believing homosexuality to be a conscious choice – which undoubtedly caused hurt for some of my gay friends. What I now believe along with the author is that the origins of homosexuality are very complex. Most people who experience same-sex attraction do not remember a time (at least not once puberty hit and they had any sexual desires at all) when they weren’t gay. It is almost never a conscious decision that someone makes, but neither does God “make” someone gay. God is not the author of sin. He does, however, allow us to be tempted, and whatever particular temptations we face come only by His permission. Jesus was tempted; temptation is not sin. We cannot choose our own temptations, but giving in to temptation is a choice, for which God holds us responsible. This would be unfair if God did not promise us the ability to resist temptation by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hill summarizes it like this: “I know that whatever the complex origins of my own homosexuality are, there have been conscious choices I’ve made to indulge – and therefore to intensify, probably – my homoerotic inclinations.” Much of the latter half of the book is filled with encouragements for other Christians with homosexual desires. Hill comes alongside those whose struggles he can share, and points them to the gospel, the only hope for all sinners. My objections to this book (primarily regarding some of his terminology) were few and minor, and are far outweighed by the value it brings to this discussion. Though his stated audience is Christians with same-sex desires, this is something from which pastors, counselors, and laymen will all benefit. It is a helpful reminder to all of us that just like "being gay isn't the most important thing about [Hill's] or any other gay person's identity", our sexuality — no matter what it is — must never be what drives or defines us. It is but one of many of God's good creations that exists ultimately for His glory. Sin has tarnished every person's sexuality, but we can never let this become an excuse to withhold love and justice from our neighbors. I pray that many will read this book, and that there will be others like to to add to the discussion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Willis

    I was given this book to read by a student of mine, who had to read it as a textbook for a class. It's not a long read and overall is pretty engaging! I appreciate what Wesley brings to the table with this little, but important, book. One of the biggest weaknesses recently in the church as a whole in balancing grace with truth when it comes to people with same-sex attraction, is that we don't do a good job of providing people who are same-sex attracted with the kind of community, compassion, and I was given this book to read by a student of mine, who had to read it as a textbook for a class. It's not a long read and overall is pretty engaging! I appreciate what Wesley brings to the table with this little, but important, book. One of the biggest weaknesses recently in the church as a whole in balancing grace with truth when it comes to people with same-sex attraction, is that we don't do a good job of providing people who are same-sex attracted with the kind of community, compassion, and relationship that EVERY person needs, regardless of their sexual attraction. In other words, we have two sides at hand: 1) the side that everyone who even is mildly sexually attracted to others of same sex deserve judgment and are condemned already; and 2) the side that everyone is welcome to live and do whatever they want because Jesus has freed them from any kind of standard by which they should live. I consider myself a member of the sojourners in the middle of this spectrum. Yet it's in this middle camp, that people who are same-sex attracted feel excluded, ignored, and down right lonely. Wesley writes from the perspective of the same-sex attracted who understand and live their lives in active submission, as a living sacrifice, slaying the desires that surround them on an altar in exchange for something much better, the lordship of Jesus. Though they are sexually attracted to those of the same sex, they do not act on these desires. Wesley describes the loneliness he has felt (and quotes a number of other people in the same boat) due to the fact that though people like him agree with the historical Biblical position regarding homosexuality, the church doesn't know what to do with them and how to include them in as a genuine part of the family. I had hoped to gain a better sense of empathy by reading this book, and because of Wesley's great writing style and humble heart, I believe I have the workings of just that! I truly hope I'll be able to continue on this journey, growing in a way that will help me to see people beyond what 'sin' they wrestle with, to the inner drive/pain that they are so deeply enduring all alone. By God's grace I hope to become more and more like the hands and feet of Jesus that He desires all of us to be! Thank you Wesley for helping and contributing to the greater furtherment of His kingdom!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Homeschoolmama

    For some time now I've wanted to read first person accounts about what it is like to have same sex attraction. So I picked this book up at my church, and also checked out Boy Erased: A Memoir . Two different people, two different experiences, two different outcomes. Wesley Hill is a young Christian man who realized at puberty that he was unlike his peers who were chasing girls: he had strong homoerotic desires. His story is honest, painful, and courageous. He shares intimately with his audience For some time now I've wanted to read first person accounts about what it is like to have same sex attraction. So I picked this book up at my church, and also checked out Boy Erased: A Memoir . Two different people, two different experiences, two different outcomes. Wesley Hill is a young Christian man who realized at puberty that he was unlike his peers who were chasing girls: he had strong homoerotic desires. His story is honest, painful, and courageous. He shares intimately with his audience without being crude. Hill's conflict is that he wants to live a Christian life, and yet he has strong homosexual desires and believes that these two truths about himself are incompatible. He makes note of his options: 1) to live as a celibate Christian, 2) to seek out homosexual relationships and give up his Christian beliefs, 3) to adjust his beliefs and seek out same sex relationships. He makes reference to religious people in history who share his conflict , and tells how he finds encouragement in reading their stories. He finds strength in Scripture and the close fellowship of close friends. And his readings. And yet Hill is clear about one thing: his life is one of tremendous struggle and battle. Garrard Conley's story is also a difficult battle, one of terrible spiritual abuse, and is also very painful to read. His story is one of suffering, misunderstanding and guilt. Conley in the end chooses a different path from Hill. I highly recommend reading Hill's book, as well as Conley's. It's important to learn both sides, and, I think, imperative for Christians to listen well to those who have same sex attraction and not shrink away from relationships with people who think differently from us.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tanner Hawk

    Honest, compelling, and hope-filled. "'God created us physical-spiritual beings with deep longings for intimacy with other physical-spiritual beings. We're not meant to replace these longings with anything. We're meant to sanctify them'" (p. 130). "Perhaps one of the main challenges of living faithfully before God as a gay Christian is to believe, really believe, that God in Christ can make up for our sacrifice of gay partnerships not simply with his own desire and yearning for us but with his des Honest, compelling, and hope-filled. "'God created us physical-spiritual beings with deep longings for intimacy with other physical-spiritual beings. We're not meant to replace these longings with anything. We're meant to sanctify them'" (p. 130). "Perhaps one of the main challenges of living faithfully before God as a gay Christian is to believe, really believe, that God in Christ can make up for our sacrifice of gay partnerships not simply with his own desire and yearning for us but with his desire and yearning mediated to us through the human faces and arms of those who are our fellow believers...the New Testament views the church--rather than marriage--as the primary place where human love is best expressed and experienced" (p. 132). "gay and lesbian Christians need churches that will explore the intricate challenges and opportunities of [celibacy] with a view to the concrete specificities of daily experience...and begin to think more concretely and creatively about the specific forms of discipline, nurture, and guidance that will enable gay and lesbian Christians to flourish while embracing [celibacy]" (p. 190, 192).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Yari

    Amazing. This book, Wes' story, spoke to me in a profound way. First, he reminds the body of Christ that all believers struggle to live faithfully to His Word. And it is our duty to provide the support, friendship, fellowship and relationships we all desire and need. We are a community of believers that should so be bound by love that we "weep with those that weep." Second, Wes' reminds us that we can honor Christ even in our loneliness and that our struggles to remain faithful in a world that a Amazing. This book, Wes' story, spoke to me in a profound way. First, he reminds the body of Christ that all believers struggle to live faithfully to His Word. And it is our duty to provide the support, friendship, fellowship and relationships we all desire and need. We are a community of believers that should so be bound by love that we "weep with those that weep." Second, Wes' reminds us that we can honor Christ even in our loneliness and that our struggles to remain faithful in a world that accommodates and celebrates faithlessness is our groaning as "we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:23) Highly recommend. After saying all that - I must mention my hesitation in accepting Wes' labeling himself as a "Christian homosexual." If he is not practicing homosexuality does that make him a homosexual? I'm still struggling to understand. And if by homosexual we mean orientation then wouldn't we all then be considered "fill in the sin" oriented? What am I missing? I am thankful for the author's boldness in sharing his story and his humility in not holding back. I know he is helping so may people and for that I rejoice.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Teri Pardue

    I read this book to gain insight into one man’s experience as a gay Christian. It’s been on my to-read list for years - ever since I first heard about it and also realized I remembered seeing Wes Hill at Wheaton from time to time during the years my husband was studying there. What I didn’t expect was to get a book that hit me at my core about what it means to belong to God, and also what Christian friendship should look like. These were two theological issues, independent of homosexuality, that I read this book to gain insight into one man’s experience as a gay Christian. It’s been on my to-read list for years - ever since I first heard about it and also realized I remembered seeing Wes Hill at Wheaton from time to time during the years my husband was studying there. What I didn’t expect was to get a book that hit me at my core about what it means to belong to God, and also what Christian friendship should look like. These were two theological issues, independent of homosexuality, that came alive for me while reading Hill’s story that challenged my own faith.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steve Coombs

    Moving and challenging. I'd heard of Wesley Hill for years and read several of his blog posts, but I didn't know what I was missing out on by not reading this book. It's far more than just a book about his personal journey (though he does share that) - Wes digs deep into the theology of suffering, sanctification, and our identity in God. He does this not just wish scripture (though he brings a fresh perspective on many passages previously overlooked), but also with beautiful poetry, biography, a Moving and challenging. I'd heard of Wesley Hill for years and read several of his blog posts, but I didn't know what I was missing out on by not reading this book. It's far more than just a book about his personal journey (though he does share that) - Wes digs deep into the theology of suffering, sanctification, and our identity in God. He does this not just wish scripture (though he brings a fresh perspective on many passages previously overlooked), but also with beautiful poetry, biography, and prose from other Christians who have struggled as he has. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    i've been really trying to only read books on this topic by actual lgbt people, as a lot of the time they can come across very disconnected/downright cruel when they aren't. and this one was very good, and very well done. i really appreciate how he comments on how he couldn't just mind over matter himself straight. also, his talks about loneliness was really relatable-i'm not gay, but i'm an older single christian, and his talks on that was actually really encouraging. really really recommend wh i've been really trying to only read books on this topic by actual lgbt people, as a lot of the time they can come across very disconnected/downright cruel when they aren't. and this one was very good, and very well done. i really appreciate how he comments on how he couldn't just mind over matter himself straight. also, his talks about loneliness was really relatable-i'm not gay, but i'm an older single christian, and his talks on that was actually really encouraging. really really recommend whether you are gay or want to understand more!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jordan J. Andlovec

    I don't know if there is any other book quote like this. It's equal parts courageous witness and gripping vulnerability, written from someone who has skin in the game. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to understand the call to Christian faithfulness that is not easy or trite, but full of the grace and candor of one who has "tasted and seen."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    In Washed and Waiting, Wesley Hill reflects on his life as a celibate gay Christian. The book this not focus on providing theological arguments about same-sex marriage, though Hill definitely has strong biblical arguments which he outlines in his chapter in Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church. Instead, the focus is on Hill's struggles to understand his life and his desires. This book is not only a strong reflection on Christianity and homosexuality, it is also a really good Chri In Washed and Waiting, Wesley Hill reflects on his life as a celibate gay Christian. The book this not focus on providing theological arguments about same-sex marriage, though Hill definitely has strong biblical arguments which he outlines in his chapter in Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church. Instead, the focus is on Hill's struggles to understand his life and his desires. This book is not only a strong reflection on Christianity and homosexuality, it is also a really good Christian living book in general, one of the better ones I've read recently. While I am heterosexual, I found myself identifying with and being encouraged by many of Hill's thoughts. He has really important things to say about singleness, grace, love, temptation, following Christ no matter ehat your life may look like.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Wishnew III

    I take it to be axiomatic that a community is dependent on persons who live the truth the community exists for — that is, Jesus Christ sends saints to witness to the truthfulness & power of God’s love for us — and one such saint is Wesley Hill. I take it to be axiomatic that a community is dependent on persons who live the truth the community exists for — that is, Jesus Christ sends saints to witness to the truthfulness & power of God’s love for us — and one such saint is Wesley Hill.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brad Hough

    5.0 // A wonderful book, full of both heartache and hope. Helpful for same-sex attracted/gay and lesbian believers and important for the rest of the church as well. I would especially recommend the afterward on the expanded edition for pastors looking to ensure their church is a place of flourishing for celibate believers (same-sex attracted or otherwise).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    A must-read for every Christian on this issue. Hill's story is compelling, his theology sound, and his thoughts on friendship in the church necessary for us to hear. Highly recommend!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Neil R. Coulter

    I was looking for books on the topic of Christianity and homosexuality. To be honest, I haven't had many personal encounters with this issue--I haven't known many openly gay people, Christian or not, nor have I been pushed to give an opinion on homosexuality and the church. However, events during the past year in America have forced the issue, and I feel that its irresponsible for a Christian to be uninformed. No longer can I get along with second-hand, half-formed opinions. So, as usual when I I was looking for books on the topic of Christianity and homosexuality. To be honest, I haven't had many personal encounters with this issue--I haven't known many openly gay people, Christian or not, nor have I been pushed to give an opinion on homosexuality and the church. However, events during the past year in America have forced the issue, and I feel that its irresponsible for a Christian to be uninformed. No longer can I get along with second-hand, half-formed opinions. So, as usual when I want to learn something, I turn to books (not exclusively, and not to aver that books are necessarily the best way to learn about a complex issue). And as I searched online for worthwhile books about homosexuality and Christianity, Wes Hill's Washed and Waiting appeared at the top of a number of lists. I expected to learn something from Hill about the experience of a gay Christian--and certainly I did get that from Hill. But I didn't expect to be personally challenged and inspired in how I live my own life in faith. Hill begins with his own life, but from his experiences he draws the reader into contemplation on the right way to live as a Christian. I especially enjoyed his thoughts on the idea of self, or personhood. Hill believes that the current discussion about the "homosexual lifestyle" and the choices open to a homosexual Christian is very much about where our concept of the self comes from. Are we autonomous, individual beings? If so, then it makes perfect sense to do what fulfills us as individuals; for the homosexual Christian, this most likely means living in a committed, monogamous same-sex relationship. But if our selfhood comes from our relationship to others, then we are accountable to a wider community, not merely our own individual desires. And as Christians if we truly believe that we belong to a loving God, then our identity comes from God's constant love. Out of this discussion, Hill wrestles with whether we as humans are most fulfilled in a marriage relationship, or whether there is another way of realizing fulfilled selfhood and identity. He concludes that it's wrong to idolize the marriage relationship as necessarily the ultimate fulfillment of human relationship needs. Rather, the New Testament seems to offer the church itself as the community in which we truly find ourselves. Still, Hill wonders why he has to live a life seemingly destined for loneliness, since he believes his homosexual desires are contrary to God's expectations for human love. His conclusion is that even though his preferences are confusing, contradictory, and seemingly unfair, a celibate life is his act of worship and obedience to God. Rather than pity himself, he considers that every person has inclinations that are contrary to God's law, and we all daily commit to living as we believe God wants us to, even when that goes against what our desires tell us. Homosexuality is an extreme and challenging cross to bear, but Hill is willing to make that difficult commitment. I admire him, and I'm grateful for the ways he challenged me in my own daily struggles. At the heart of Hill's musings is not a cold adherence to some set of impersonal cosmic laws, but rather a perspective of gratitude and love toward a God who always reaches out to us in love. I'm not expressing any of this very clearly, I know, but Hill puts his thoughts together in a logical, coherent way. Washed and Waiting is a pleasure to read (though achingly sad), and in its very short length (the whole book can be read in just a couple sittings) I was led through a great deal of contemplation and reflection. I know Hill's conclusions will be contested by other gay Christians who have made different choices, and by non-Christians who don't have a basis from which to understand what he is talking about (he was raised in a Fundamentalist background, attended Wheaton College, and has spent his early adulthood in a variety of ministry and church settings), but I hope it will be accepted as at least one valid viewpoint--and a challenging one, at that. One final thought: throughout the book, Hill references friends who spent time with him in conversation and written correspondence. He looks back at a number of moments as pivotal in his understanding of God's love. As I read excerpts of these letters from his friends, I was struck by how many wise and thoughtful people Hill has known. And I was challenged to try to be that kind of friend to whoever comes into my life. May I not be flippant or hasty, but may I always take the time to really think and pray with my friends, to truly be present with them.

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