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One Man & One Woman

By Paul Smalley
December 2016 | Review by David Baldwin
  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
  • ISBN: 978-1-60178-474-2
  • Pages: 86
  • Price: 8.00
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Book Review

This little book makes a compelling biblical case for heterosexual marriage over against same-sex unions. It is a theologically robust response to the sexual obsession and gender confusion of contemporary Western society.

The book comes from a US Reformed church context and references the Westminster Confession, Larger Catechism and Heidelberg Catechism. It seems mainly directed at Christian believers, to bolster their gospel confidence and strengthen their grip on scriptural teaching that they, perhaps, used to take for granted. The present climate makes this a legitimate aim.

The book is also written with non-Christians in mind, that they might discover the gospel that brings freedom from sin, whether sexual or otherwise. The foreword by Rosaria Butterfield provides a striking example of the authors’ aim here. Rosaria was drawn to Jesus Christ, who replaced her mistaken former ‘identity’ as a lesbian with a new identity as a created, fallen, forgiven and deeply loved woman.

The concept of ‘identity’ is a recurring theme and insightfully treated. Rather than fall for the contemporary suggestion that human identity is somehow wrapped up in our sexuality, Beeke and Smalley emphasise that, although sex is important, it was never intended to define us. We are defined as created beings by the God who created us.

‘The call to repentance is the call to reject the lie that our sexual desires define us, and to submit to the authority of God’s Word in order to learn who we are and what we must become’ (pp. 25-26).

As for the word ‘orientation’, it is given short shrift! Rather than ‘gender’ being a modern social construct, the notion of ‘sexual orientation’ is outed as nothing more than a recent and fragile social invention itself. From the beginning of creation, we were made male and female (Genesis 1:27), with binary concreteness; man for woman and woman for man. Modern notions of ‘orientation’ and ‘gender fluidity’ simply do not feature.

As well as sound, Reformed exegesis of the Bible, there is also pastoral sensitivity here. The authors urge churches not to be judgmental towards LGBT people. Sometimes evangelicals act self-righteously towards these people, rather than recognising them as fellow human sinners needing a loving Saviour.

The authors show awareness of Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction and who are quietly seeking God’s help to overcome temptation. Like all of us, they need the loving support of God’s people, not a cold shoulder.

David Baldwin

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