|Living in a Gray World, by Preston Sprinkle
This advance release copy was provided through NetGalley
in exchange for a fair and honest review.
(Disclaimer: I do not agree with everything stated in this book. However, the message of love and acceptance is very timely, necessary, and wonderful. My own views on the topic of sin and Bible interpretation are unimportant for my review of the book, since I agree full-heartedly with the message of love and the importance of educating teenagers on how to deal with a situation that still draws too much stigma and ignorance in schools and Fundamentalist Christian communities.)
In Sprinkle’s short and to-the-point book for teenagers, he explains his views on homosexuality – suggesting that although homosexual sex is a sin, Christians should show love and acceptance rather than hate, disgust, and venom. In a conversational format, Sprinkle educates the readers on the differences between being attracted to people of the same gender (homosexuality – which is not a sin in itself) and actually acting on those desires (which, according to his interpretation of certain Bible verses, is a sin). He also educates the readers on the nature of transgender and transsexualism.
Throughout his discussion, he asserts that although Christians should hate sin, they should not be the ones to cast stones. He points out that name-calling, or even incautious unaccepting statements, can cause great pain in a confused and vulnerable teenager – it can lead to self harm and suicide. The behavior of the Christian adults around Sprinkle’s readers might show disgust, but this hatred is not becoming of a Christian and is just as sinful as the sin they are judging. Sprinkle calls his readers to love without judgement. He points out that sinners more easily change their sinful behavior if they are gently called to the church by acceptance and love. Sprinkle also addresses homosexual and transgender teens themselves – urging them to build a support network of loving and accepting people, hopefully Christians. He even provides his own contact information in case the teen can’t find someone understanding to talk to.
At the end of his book, Sprinkle provides an appendix with Bible verses and discusses why these verses show that homosexual sex is a sin.
Sprinkle suggests that this book is aimed towards young teens through early twenties, though personally I feel the book was a bit to “young” for even older teens (unless they have lived a very “sheltered” life in the comfort of only a society of people with similar beliefs). Sprinkle has another book, People to be Loved, that might be more appropriate for older teens and adults, though I haven’t read it.
All-in-all, I loved the message of acceptance throughout Sprinkle’s book. As a person who works in a suicide hotline for teenagers, I know that there are a lot of teens out there who are just realizing they have homosexual desires. These teens can be confused, scared, and self-loathing. The reason they are self-loathing is often because of the rancor about homosexuality that they have been exposed to through a supposedly “Christian” living. But in my opinion, and apparently Sprinkle’s, it is more sinful to hate and judge than it is for a person to feel something that he can not control and did not choose. Next time I deal with such a teenager I will suggest this book as a way to know that he is loved.
11 thoughts on “Living in a Gray World, by Preston Sprinkle”
My compliments for your reading so thoroughly and reviewing objectively about the issues that you are confronted with on the 'hotline'.
Interesting that that the author emphasizes understanding of homosexuality while still arguing that it is a sin. I do know Christians who do this but it seems fairly rare. Most Christians I know are tolerant of homosexuality, but they just do not combine their tolerance to their theory on sin. This is also, in my opinion consistent with the words of the New Testament.
Thanks Nancy! I do try to stay objective when reading something like this.
I agree. It's very refreshing to see the message of love coming from someone who believes that homosexual sex is a sin. And I agree that the message of love and acceptance fits well with the message of the NT. I wish more people would read THOSE parts of the Bible.
The message of acceptance sounds great
It was. I'm glad I read it, despite disagreeing with some of the topics.
Like you, I appreciate that this author is advocating love and acceptance. This made me think about whether I'd be OK with people believing homosexuality is wrong if they still treated everyone with kindness and acceptance, without trying to change them. Personally, I believe that sexual orientation is biologically determined, so for me, this isn't any different than if someone wrote that being a particular race is a sin. I don't think someone can hold that belief and also truly believe that all people are equal, so while I think this book is a step in the right direction, I still think the beliefs the author articulates are discriminatory.
Thanks for a great review that made me think through my own beliefs! I'm still not sure I want to pick this up, but I do appreciate books that make me think about controversial topics more deeply.
The purpose of my review wasn't really to get people who agree with me to pick up the book. It was to encourage people who have very conservative beliefs to pick it up. I think it's better for people to believe it's a sin and still love than it is to believe it's a sin and to hate. And there are people out there (especially teens) who could be swayed by this book.
Also, there are a lot of things that are biologically determined that we discriminate against – pedophilia, psychopathy, etc. I'm not in the slightest trying to say that homosexuality is comparable to these issues, but that your argument that homosexuality is biologically determined therefore it's discrimination doesn't necessarily tread water. I DO believe that it's discrimination, but I can't put my finger on an argument that I can't find a counter-argument to. Not for the case of love and acceptance. I mean, this is a religious belief, not bigotry. Bigotry comes with ignorance and hatred.
It definitely seems as though the target audience is probably someone religious and conservative. I just tend to approach reviews in a self-interested way 🙂
You make a really good point about other things that are biologically determined that I think we can all unequivocally agree are wrong. I think the distinction to me is that homosexuality doesn't harm anyone, while the other things you mention can cause someone to harm others and/or live a less happy life. I think most people who think homosexuality is wrong wouldn't agree with me about it not hurting anyone though, so that might not be a convincing argument to anyone who didn't already agree with me. I'll definitely have to think about this more!
Very true – not everyone would agree with the “not hurting anyone” argument. I have an aunt who honestly believes everyone would be happier if they were Catholic and straight. 🙂
In fact, homosexual people have a higher risk of depression and self-loathing because of the culture they come from (surrounded by so much bigotry) – especially if they came from a conservative Christian family. I was surprised that Andrew Solomon, writer of Noonday Demon, admits that he still has self-loathing even after all this time. Here he is a highly educated, successful, amazing person and he hasn't gotten over the self-loathing that came from his mother's aversion to homosexuality (not that he seems to blame his mother).
So in today's American culture, a lot of homosexual people could be a lot happier. Which is a shame, because it's the culture, not the state of being that makes them depressed.