|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.