After reading several reviews, I was very interested to pick up a copy of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill. The topic of homosexuality is certainly a relevant one in our culture, but I was especially intrigued by Hill’s struggle with being a “gay Christian.” Usually, those who use such terminology view homosexuality as perfectly compatible with Christian faith and practice. But as an evangelical, Hill affirms the biblical prohibition against homosexual practices. Yet, despite this affirmation, he still struggles with same-sex attraction. As such, he has concluded that the only biblically faithful course of action for a “gay Christian” is to remain celibate.
Washed and Waiting is largely memoir, and as such is both readable and engaging. Hill does devote some space defending the traditional Christian prohibition against homosexuality, especially against recent claims to the contrary. But the book largely explores Hill’s own challenge to be a faithful Christian despite his own inclinations. Especially poignant are his descriptions of his own fears about telling fellow Christians about his struggles. I think too often, evangelical Christians think of homosexuality as a problem that exists outside the church: that is, if homosexuals would just come to Jesus, God would remove their same-sex attractions and it would cease to be an issue. And as Hill notes, sometimes this does happen. But other times, like in his own case, he has not yet been delivered from those sinful desires. I think many Christians would benefit from reading this book to get a better perspective on fellow Christians - possibly within their own congregations - who live under the oppressive weight of knowing the reality of their own sin yet finding no relief; worse yet, they feel that the stigma of their sin is too great to share their burden with fellow believers.
Despite its specific focus, I felt Hill’s book spoke to many broader issues as well. All Christians struggle with the persistence of sin in their own lives, and parts of the book could easily have substituted a host of other sins for homosexuality. Hill does a good job explaining how Christians have been “washed” from guilt for their sins by Jesus’ sacrifice, and yet they still live a life “waiting” for God to completely remove sin from their lives. It is in this interim period that God’s strength is made manifest in our weakness. The book also had some great reflections on Christians and loneliness, and how we find our fulfillment ultimately in Christ (with assistance from His Body). While Hill’s own experience of profound loneliness is in many ways linked to his life as a celibate gay Christian, his reflections on the matter speak to a more fundamental need for acceptance common to all people.
All in all, Washed and Waiting is well worth the read. It’s actually a short book, but provides much food for thought, not only on the specific questions of homosexuality and Christian faithfulness, but also on the larger issue of how Christ’s people can best glorify Him in the midst of a fallen world.
(Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for writing a review, with no obligation to provide a positive assessment.)