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The Plausibility Problem: The Church And Same-Sex Attraction Paperback – 20 February 2015
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Ed Shaw shares his story and perspective in this book with deep sincerity, conviction and honesty. He makes a profound contribution to the conversation about same-sex attraction. I am so glad I read this book and I wholeheartedly recommend it. -- Amy Orr-Ewing ― Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA)
Ed Shaw writes with the insight of a pastor, the boldness of a prophet, the integrity of a true disciple, and the warmth of a friend. This is a hugely important book with a vital message for the whole church. -- Sam Allberry ― author of Is God Anti-Gay?
Why would I endorse this book? Simply in the hope that as many people as possible might read it. Ed Shaw’s compelling honesty, vulnerable testimony, transparent compassion, rigorous submission to Scripture, and, above all, his thoroughgoing personal commitment to Christ make it so captivating and instructive. -- Terry Virgo ― founder of Newfrontiers
Ed Shaw’s book The Plausibility Problemis not simply for those living with same-sex attraction, it’s for all of us. The ‘just say no’ approach to human sexuality does not work anymore; it’s left the church sounding like the Jesus way is a poor substitute for a good life. Ed calls us all to a ‘better way’ as radically inclusive church families who find our identity first and foremost in Christ, not in our sexuality -- Steve Clifford ― General Director at Evangelical Alliance
In this personal and emotionally honest book, we’re invited to listen to Ed’s story as someone whose primary identity is in Christ, and who finds himself attracted to other men. Ed explores the plausibility problem – the missteps in current Christian approaches to homosexuality – and challenges Christians to form more biblical communities in which celibate, same-sex attracted people can flourish. -- The Rt Revd Tim Dakin ― Bishop of Winchester
As a same-sex attracted person, I’m delighted to recommend this passionate and compassionate book by my friend Ed Shaw. Ed shows that the kind of celibate singleness he himself lives out as a same-sex attracted man is both plausible and fulfilling, and thereby offers hope and encouragement to others in his situation, and courage and wisdom to pastors who want to be equipped to support them. -- Sean Doherty ― Tutor in Ethics and Director of Studies, St Mellitus College, London
This is a must-read book. It is a must-read for students and young people thinking through these important issues, a must-read for preachers, teachers and Christian leaders with pastoral responsibility, and a must-read for all those who are experiencing same-sex attraction and wondering whether and how they can live biblically holy lives. This book is written with great warmth and yet is robust in exploring truth. It is understanding and empathic, and at the same time challenging in its vulnerability and honesty. Ed’s nine ‘missteps’ address key questions and issues that are raised again and again. His survey of Scripture (Appendix 1) is clear, thorough and richly rewarding to study. I will be buying a number of copies and giving them away to family, friends and church leaders – I hope you will do the same. -- Revd John Dunnett ― Chair of the Evangelical Group on General Synod (EGGS)
Reading Ed Shaw’s new book moved me to tears. It moved me to review how and what and why I think what I do about homosexuality, marriage, family and the church. It moved me to repent over the many pastoral and theological missteps I’ve thoughtlessly bought into that have led us to where we are today. And it moved me to thank God for a Christian brother practising what he preaches, writing with grace and truth, poignant honesty and gospel hope. I doubt a more important and timely book will be written this year on the topic. -- Dave Gobbett ― Lead Minister, Highfields Church, Cardiff and Word Alive trustee
This book gives a glimpse of what is possible if we dare to live out what the Bible teaches. It is warm, honest, intellectually robust and seriously challenging. -- Susie Leafe ― Director of Reform
Essential reading in our current context ... Shaw presents his case with a personal integrity that it is difficult to be unmoved by. In the end, the book awakened in me a fresh passion to live by the radical and yet plausible demand to follow Christ with renewed commitment and energy.
Shaw’s book is just the latest in a number of excellent titles pushing Christians to better understand and serve those who experience same-sex attraction. It helpfully identifies specific concerns and shows how the Bible calls us to meet them in God’s way. It does all of this with a firm grounding in Scripture and without an ounce of compromise. I highly recommend it.
About the Author
- Publisher : IVP (20 February 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 178 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1783592060
- ISBN-13 : 978-1783592067
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 0.97 x 21.59 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 242,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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I have learned a lot from reading his story and the pointers that he gives to a largely opposite-sex attracted church. The 9 or so loving and much-needed criticisms he nails on our door have direct implications for how the church should not only be serving the gay community, but also for completely different demographics who have could have many issues with sex, love and attraction that we are in danger of ignoring: the widow and widower, the childless trying parents, the homeless, the addicted, the grieving, the mentally disabled, straight voluntarily celibate. The love of Jesus goes like a magnet to these people, and if Ed did nothing else but remind us to listen and be with people, even our theological and societal 'enemies, then his story will have been worth sharing.
Churches aren't clubs, Ed reminds us, where you need 2.4 kids and a white picket fence in order for God to come to you and be with you in your plight. The single word I may have invented that I will take from 'The Plausibilty Problem" is 'familiolatry', the idolatry of the family, a idol whose temple is typically filled with the religious right, an idol of a god who is useful and wrathful in the culture wars.
I am reminded of Richard Rohr's observation that the cause of the outsider (here, the same-sex attracted Christian) is the cause of everybody. The voice of those on the margins contain the key for the integration and health of the whole community. Shaw is right in reminding us that listening to and simply being with the perceived outsider is never something Jesus is NOT going to call those who bear his name to throw all their efforts into.
Making your mind up about what the Bible says about issues of sex and attraction is only for you to do, whatever you end up confessing. But I would encourage you to read Ed Shaw's story, see the sincerity, sacrifice and joy that God is guiding him into, in the midst of his particular worldview and challenges. Ed's choice of celibacy has a good precedent in both in both Paul and Jesus. I don't think Jesus was a stranger to the 'kitchen floor' moments that Ed discusses, I think Gethsemane was the kitchen floor moment to end all kitchen floor moments.
However, while I (the jury) am still out on some of Ed's conclusions and opinions, I love the bravery and servant-heartedness he has in his testimony, and the direct benefit Christians on both sides of the political aisle will have if they simply listen.
It is also interesting to see the way in which Shaw, writing from an evangelical perspective, is led to value some things – e.g. the positive case for celibacy – that have been the concern, more traditionally, of other branches of the Christian faith. He also rejects the idea that religion should be expected to satisfy our tastes and emotions.
Shaw’s central concern – the problems facing those who are conservative evangelical Christians, yet experience same-sex attraction, and in a contemporary cultural setting – is an important one, and I would have thought that his way of addressing this issue would be found very helpful. In particular, his stress on the need for churches to think about how these – and other – issues might need to be addressed as issues for the community in question, seems particularly valuable. I also thought that an important thrust of his argument: that it is problematic to simply re-interpret a religious tradition in terms of what one would personally like it to have taught, is particularly valuable. There may, indeed, be a case for a re-evaluation of traditional teachings in the light of developing scholarship. But wishful thinking about what one would like them to have been, has no legitimate role in this.
The questions that he is addressing seem to me of wider concern than just among traditionalist Christians: similar issues face, for example, conservative Jews and Muslims, too. There is, I’d have thought, a need for work parallel to that my Shaw, within those communities. (They cannot simply replicate Shaw’s arguments, just because of the role, in them, of the Christian doctrine of original sin.) But Shaw’s work looks to me to be something that it would be interesting to see re-worked from those perspectives.
This, in turn, seems to me to lead on to a need for further work – for example, about how issues of education are to be addressed in a society in which the kinds of relationships that Shaw is arguing should not be embraced by conservative Christians, are given full parity with others. As things stand, there is a risk that those who hold traditional interpretations of the Abrahamic tradition, are faced with the problem that if they stand up for the importance of their children being educated in ideas in which they believe, they might seem to be engaged in discrimination against children who have grown up in such households, or to be condoning bullying. This issue, and what exactly might be done in the face of it, would seem to me to merit work by someone with the kinds of skills and sensitivity that Shaw brings to this volume.
However, this book really helps put the focus on Gods sovereignty, our sinfulness, and how same sex desire is just another way we fall short of God’s glory. The author is honest about the heartbreak of living a celibate life, but shows it is only through abstaining from his desires and trusting God’s design that he can have life to the full with Jesus.
A great read for any Christian looking to explore this topic. Really easy to read and a challenge to continually put God first.
I recommend this book to all Christians who are looking to lovingly support same sex attracted or single brothers and sisters in their church, in encouraging them that the single life does not need to be one of loneliness but one of deep intimacy that can be found in Christ and his followers; an intimacy that is not routed in sex, as the world would have us believe, but genuine friendship.