As one of my recent reviews reveals, there are many resources available for Christians interested in having a better understanding of what Scripture says regarding homosexuality, engaging homosexuals, and how the Church should respond to questions about issues related to the LGBTQ community. As I have written a fair amount in regard to engaging this topic, I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review Jeanette Howard’s Dwelling in the Land: Bringing Same-Sex Attraction Under the Lordship of Christ.
Dwelling in the Land is a very raw and vulnerable book. The author, a British woman who identifies herself as one who “has wrestled for the whole of her adult life with same-sex attraction,” powerfully shares her story. Howard’s story, a journey that includes becoming a follower of Jesus and engaging in the subject for many years.
What I appreciated most about Dwelling in the Land was the brutal honesty that Howard shares. Additionally, she goes to great lengths to qualify many of her statements and opinions as part of her experience and from her perspective. This made Dwelling in the Land enjoyable for me because when I did disagree with some of her thoughts, she gave me permission to keep reading, knowing full well that our “conversation” was not a monolithic rant. By and large, Dwelling in the Land is helpful in exploring the variety of ways to approach the question of “gay Christians” and how a Christian’s identity in Christ shapes how that question is answered. In fact, what’s really great is that Howard does such a great job of nuancing her thoughts.
My appreciation for this aspect of her writing filtered into the areas that I found somewhat helpful or outright disagreed with. For example, I think the author could spend a bit more time digging into some of the works of biblical scholars, such as Loader, Davidson, and Gagnon. I’m sure she’s probably aware of these authors, but their work didn’t filter out of her biblical interaction much. Moreover, I found her brief engagement with Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting. How she responds to Hill on the issue of “gay Christians” seemed to be guided more by her own preconceived perspective rather than really engaging with his work. As she acknowledges, Hill would likely disagree with her summary of his work, not to mention that I read him far differently as well!
With these disagreements aside, Dwelling in the Land is still an excellent resource and certainly a great work to engage. The work is certainly an excellent conversation partner and would serve as a great resource for folks reading Hill’s Washed and Waiting to also consider.