There have been several books throughout history that did quite a bit for the church. I believe that Tim Otto’s Oriented to Faith: Transforming the Conflict over Gay Relationships has the potential to help the church love better, and therefore be more like the God we are called to worship.
As you saw in the subtitle, this book is centrally about the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality. However, no matter what your take on the issue is, or whether or not you even care, this book is for you. Otto doesn’t attempt to answer the question: “Is it wrong to be gay?”, one way or the other. Rather, he suggests how that is the wrong question altogether. Rather, we should be wondering what God is teaching the church through this struggle. He beautifully approaches the bible with integrity and makes suggestions for how both affirming churches (that is, churches accepting of homosexuality), and traditionalist churches (churches that believe same-sex romantic relationships are sinful), can create a Godly community for same-sex attracted individuals.
My biggest takeaways, however, really had nothing to do with this particular issue. Rather, there were two major statements that took my breath away and personally led me closer to Christ.
Otto correctly observed in this book that Christian conservatives are more united with secular secular conservatives, and same with the Christian liberals and secular liberals. This suggests that Jesus is not our main identity. Our non-essential beliefs have taken precedence over the fact that in Jesus we are family. This is not just true on the political spectrum. I am personally convicted now to love my brothers and sisters in Christ beyond all of our differences.
I am the queen of high horses and pride in my love for justice. Otto points out that sometimes our morality can become an idol. We are not to look to rules or morality, but to God. He states that beautifully on page 67 of the book:
We need to repent of this plan of salvation and relinquish the hero projects we’ve created to shape ourselves into mini-god. We need to recognize that we are finite, dependent creatures who are lost apart from God’s mercy and grace. Only then can we live gratefully into a humble obedience concerned with accomplishing God’s good purposes in the world. If we are going to live beyond death’s door, it will not be because we made ourselves important or ‘got it right.’ Rather, in spite of all the ways we get it wrong over and over again, God continues to extend grace to us
So, I strongly encourage you to read this book. For me, it not only reframed the discussion of homosexuality, but also that of creation vs. evolution, living simply, and many others that are dividing the church. I personally feel more in love with Jesus after reading this book, and I hope you feel the same.