Review – Washed and Waiting

I don’t know what it is, but at the moment there are a number of books on human sexuality coming out that I so wish I had written. This autumn saw Mark Yarhouse’s “Homosexuality and the Christian” which helped to move the debate in the Evangelical church on from simply the “better straight than gay” paradigm that a lot of ministry in this area has concentrated on. Now we have “Washed and Waiting” from Wesley Hill and it is another breath of fresh air.

Wesley Hill is a graduate of Wheaton College in the USA and currently studying in Durham. Openly gay and celibate, Hill explores what it is to have a sexual orientation that is at odds with your own moral/spiritual framework for sexual behaviour. He is brutally honest about the struggles and joys of such a life-style choice and shares with us aspects of his spiritual journey and growth. The pain of living celibacy and the consequent loneliness is never avoided and we are left we a very clear picture of the consequences of Hill’s decisions his life.

Key to the book is Hill’s engagement with two authors familiar to many. Henri Nouwen provides the model of (struggling) homosexual celibacy that engages with, and suffers in, the loneliness of celibacy. Rowan Williams is the foil against which Hill explores what appropriate intimate relationships should look like for those Christians with same-sex attractions. Through all this Hill draws to a conclusion that is heaven focussed and holiness oriented – an understanding that the struggle to live faithfully is the opening up of a journey of relationship with Christ that very few have the privilege (and the pain) to enjoy (and endure). Shades of Theresa of Avila.

This is a book that deserves plenty of time and careful contemplation. Less a handbook on how to cope and more a shared experience of how one man’s struggles with his fallen self has led to greater insight and deeper commitment. Highly Recommended.

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