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Book Casts New Light on Gay Rights-Church Clash

Contact: Debbie Thurman, 434-929-8002

MONROE, Va., Feb. 9, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Are gays winning the decades-long cultural and spiritual clash with Christians? Have we entered an inevitable "post-gay" era, where Main Street society and the Church are accepting homosexuality as normal and healthy?

Not yet, says Debbie Thurman, Christian author and founder of Sheer Faith Ministries. She offers an updated response to this old dilemma in a new book, "Post-Gay? Post-Christian?: Anatomy of a Cultural and Faith Identity Crisis" (Cedar House Publishers).

"Accepting that one side must inevitably 'win' forces us to make a false choice," Thurman says. She asks those inside and outside the Church to consider looking at the debate in a new light. Her book takes up the challenge of demystifying and humanizing homosexuality in a way that elicits compassion, but within a Christian apologetics (faith-defensible) framework.

After spending the past few years conversing with gays and lesbians from all walks of life, Thurman says she has learned a lot. "Many same-sex-attracted people raised in the Church tell heartbreaking stories of being cast aside like lepers," she says. "In effect, we have pushed many toward the secular gay community as their only option for support."

Having gay family members or friends has softened many people to the human side of this conflict. At the same time, people of faith are justifiably nervous over the moral poverty of the gay-rights movement and its advances into our cultural institutions.

"How do we separate the wheat from the chaff?" asks Thurman. "Many Christians have difficulty distinguishing the movement from the individual. It is as if the most effective Christ-like response to one is at odds with the other."

Asserting there is no authentic Christian witness without Scriptural truth, Thurman says too many Christians have taken love and grace out of the equation, intensifying the Us. vs. Them battle. "Christ said we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. That is not an option; it is a commandment. Must we fight gay pride and anger with righteous pride and anger?" Thurman asks.

There is a deeply personal side to Thurman's ministry. Her desire to bring a greater understanding about homosexuality to the Church grew out of her own former struggle with same-sex attractions. "I have felt what many gays and lesbians feel," she says. "At the same time, I know what God's grace can do. Homosexual longings are complex and are not guaranteed to go away completely. Hearts can be healed and reconciled to Christ, nevertheless."

Thurman wants her fellow Christians to realize that among their gay neighbors are prodigals who want to come home, to their families and to the Church. She also asks wounded gays to forgive those who have hurt them and to curb their angry responses.

Thurman's ministry website (www.debbiethurman.com) lists 10 Dos and Don'ts for people who want to take the lessons she is offering into their churches and communities. "Christians have been charged with the ministry of reconciliation. It is my hope that we can heal old hurts, one person at a time," she says.