[This post was never pushed out publicly. It was originally posted on Amazon and exists here as a record that I can link to when needed.]
I’m taking the time to post what I realize is a lengthy review: to be a strong counterbalance to Brown’s ideology, to alert those who may be tempted to give this book to LGBT persons as a “loving” action, and to expose Brown’s poor academic research.
Before addressing Michael Brown’s “Outlasting the Gay Revolution,” I need to lay some groundwork as to how I approach all books I would term as Christian and anti-gay and anti-trans.
As I wrote in recent review of another what-God-REALLY-says-about-gays book — with Brown’s latest entry as no exception, this genre of books ignore a simple foundational truth. What is referred to in the Bible in each of the passages used to bolster the avalanche of modern anti-gay ideological writing is not homosexuality.
What IS examined are biblical passages depicting violent, abusive, lust-filled, same-sex behaviors performed no less than two millennia ago in cultures where the social and sexual status of men and women were entirely different from what we have known in the past 60 to 70 years.
All such authors, Brown included, base their entire ideological theology upon the foundational presumption that people have historically participated in same-sex relationships with some semblance to the relational structure we see today.
No. Not true. At all.
Some background social and cultural history that was neglected by Brown
Until the beginning of the 20th century, gay relationships — as we now them now: equal status and mutually attracted — were virtually unknown in ANY previous culture. (What WAS seen was relationship with large power and/or age differentials.)
The perception and cultural response to same-sex behavior between males has intractable roots in the social and sexual status of women throughout history. Because same-sex acts placed one male in the submissive, penetrated role of a woman, one male was invariably looked upon as if he were a woman.
Until women began to gain minimal upward status in the late 19th century, for a man to be treated sexually as a woman was both shaming and humiliating.
Before about the early 1900s, the sexual interaction between men and younger men or older boys included significant power differentials. The younger, submissive partner took the sexual-social role of a woman – again, a demeaning position for any male throughout history.
It was only as recent as 1879 that Karl Kertbeny first noticed there were men of equal status who were mutually attracted to one another. This newly witnessed notion made slow inroads to American culture. In fact, it was first mentioned in a medical journal in 1911. Before that, if a man was attracted to a male, all was fine in man-land as long as he maintained the dominant role of penetrator.
Until this period, people were defined by the role they played in sex, not by the sex of the person to whom they were attracted.
This monumental shift of identifying the sexual roles of people at the start of the 20th century started the transformation of how same-sex relationships came to be viewed.
As women rose in status, as cities formed, and as men began to explore sexual attractions, the interaction, which had always been associated with excess, lust and the reduction of one partner to the role of a woman, came to be seen differently.
The dynamic began to change in the 1920s; it would have been the first time in history that there was a minimal cultural understanding that people of the same sex were mutually and equally attracted.
The word “homosexual” first appeared in an English translation of the Bible in 1946. No theological documents at the time support this shift. This was clearly a cultural response to the most perverted sexual act translators could imagine to insert in the New Testament passages.
In fact, Derrick Sherwin Bailey, an English Anglican theologian, wrote Homosexuality and Western Traditions (1955) in which he closely examined the cultural and legal response to gays. Together with a team of theologians, historians, anthropologists, lawyers, and legislative leaders to study homosexuality and the sodomy laws, Bailey produced a groundbreaking work that should have been the primer for all theological writers after him. But, it was ignored.
The conservative American church and authors had been so unconcerned about gays that no one bothered to write a book addressing this most “abominable sin” until LaHaye’s The Unhappy Gays in1978.
Gays, while certainly scorned in the culture from the 1930s, were ignored for the most part in Christian writings.
As gays were finally rising out from under cultural and medical oppression in the early 1970s, unfortunately, the conservative religious and political groups merged right around that time in the late 1970s. A smattering from within the unholy alliance saw the polarizing potential the “abominable gays” could have on amassing unregistered and uninvolved conservative voters.
And thus the deluge of modern negative conservative writings on homosexuality and faith, followed by gender identity and faith started.
That was a quick overview of modern events. If ignore them, as Brown does, you are bound to get the rest badly off-kilter.
So, how does this all relate to the Bible?
There is no possibility that Apostle Paul, or the author of Leviticus, or Deuteronomy, could have had an inkling that over time, with the radical shift in views of women as equals and other social and cultural modifications, people could possibly engage in same-sex sex as a natural, healthy expression of love and mutual attraction. Additionally, the concept of gender identity could not have been more remote in ancient cultures.
The same-sexual behavior that biblical authors wrote about was the outcome of violence (Genesis), power dominance and social-sexual dominance (Leviticus and Deuteronomy), and lust and lack of self-control (Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy).
And people keep right on comparing yesterday’s apples to today’s oranges.
Christian anti-gay authors keep right on getting it wrong
The prerequisite of every single anti-gay Christian author, including Brown, is that readers must fully ignore social and medical histories of how we have come to understand the role of women and the progression of human sexuality.
Those are some darn big oversights we need to participate in to agree with their findings!
EVERY professional medical and mental health organization in the U.S. asserts that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality, though certainly less prevalent than heterosexuality, still, it is a normal, expected variation. These organizations also all agree that attempting to change a person’s natural orientation is damaging.
How can any truth, especially one presumed from God Himself, come out of such severely flawed foundational presumptions?
We are in a new place in history and understanding and are being asked to wrestle with concepts that have emerged over the last half-century, concepts our forefathers in the faith never could have imagined.
Stick to the topic and stop conflating issues Tweets, Facebook posts, and comments to blog posts do not constitute expert opinions from the other side It’s not all about Brown.
Much of the book is devoted to Brown’s personal “martyrdom” for the issue.
The use of academic resources could give Brown more credibility. These do not include WorldNetDaily, Barbwire or Charisma, or similar echo chambers.
(Yes, I read the footnotes too. I find FN quite telling.)
Don’t build “truths” on assumptions and presumptions.
Specifically, and as briefly as possible, really:
The purpose of this book, we are told is to: “encourage, strengthen, inspire, and informs laying out eight practical principle that will help us outlast the gay revolution, also explaining why, in many ways, the gay revolution has already failed and why it has is in itself of its own destruction.”
Consistently, as Brown raises each of the points or tells us how destructive “gay activism” is, he quickly follows the threat with a softening comment about the “nicer” gays – the ones who are presumably not activists. I am not sure where the defining line is between the activists that are destroying all in their path and those who are wanting/demanding equality and dignity.
The LGBT couples and families I know who want equal rights and treatment afforded other Americans I would presume are part of the “problem.”
Brown also repeatedly alerts the reader that they will now be put in the closet and be called homophobes and bigots. I am an advocate for LGBT equality and you would be hard pressed to find either of those words in my writings. I would most certainly use the term “ill-informed” however.
This martyrdom shtick has really played its course. If other people wanting equal rights cause the diminishment of the religious practice of Christians by no longer allowing them to discriminate, well, that is so severely flawed from the first prayer breathed.
Religious liberties and civil rights can co-exist. Sure, you may have to treat LGBT people equally in the marketplace, but my goodness, is that a problem for a Christ follower? Honoring the dignity of others should be emanating naturally from the Jesus team.
Brown’s recounting of the lifting of homosexuality from the DSM is just too riddled with myth. I cover it in detail in Chapter 4 of my own book, “Walking the Bridgeless Canyon.” For the love of God and truth, can we PLEASE move on from the “bullying tactics” narrative?
If you want to understand empathetically the oppression suffered by the gay and trans communities in the US before 1973, reading social, medical, legal and governmental history on LGBT issues from the 1920s through the 1970s should be required research. Sadly, in all the pages of text and footnotes of “Outlasting,” this understanding was absent.
It is difficult to engage the many problems with Brown’s ideology and conclusions when, as I stated, the foundation is so horribly flawed. My notes on the book are extensive.
Some stand outs though are – Brown recounts the 2011 event when he led Christians into Charlotte Pride “to engage in civil and respectful conversations.” He led about 175 people, about ¼ of them children, NOT 400, (yes, I was sitting right across the street counting and watching as they paraded off to pride.)
Yes, the water bottles DID say “Jesus Loves You” AND they, along with the matching red tee shirts and rainbow bracelets handed out, pointed to a reparative therapy site, Exodus International. So the message was actually — Jesus loves you and He wants you to stop being LGB or T. Now recall please, that EVERY professional medical and mental health organization in the U.S. asserts that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality, and trying to change that, they assert is destructive. So, was this a “loving” action? Apparently Brown thinks so.
For several chapters of “Outlasting,” the moral decay in America is linked to those who are LGBT or those who support those who are LGBT. This is where researching social history would have been an asset to reasoning. Unfortunately, in their absence, presumptions became “truths.”
The core event that shifted the sexual and social roles of men and women in American was the feminist movement of the late 1960s. Oh hold on naysayers who would love to put the clamps back on women – I would suggest reading a few or even one excellent foundational history book about that period of history. ANYTHING by Stephanie Coontz is well researched and highly respected. Start with her work.
Amusingly, a hundred years before the feminist movement, social commentators were predicting the end of marriage and the family unit as the culture shifted from economically based (and sometimes political) to love matches. Again, Coontz gives a wealth of insight on this issue. Quoting 1927 studies done well before women had equality echoes Brown’s pervasive lack of understanding of the dramatic cultural shifts caused by women seeking equality in the U.S.
And what is with the term the conservatives keep on yammering on about “sexual anarchy”?
Being romantically, emotionally and sexually attracted to the sex which is NATURAL for a persons orientation is hardly “anarchy.” Anarchy is when things are OUT of order. Again, this seems to be a tough one for Brown to understand. EVERY professional medical and mental health organization in the U.S. asserts that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. It has been out of order to expect LGBT people to be solely opposite sex attracted – THAT is anarchy!
My goodness, Principle #3 lays and conflates all sexual immorality to gays. By merely offering the mess up together, it becomes a wonderfully mixed bag laid on the backs of gays. How deceptively convenient?
Principle #4 – again, read some social history. Marriage was radically redefined in the late 1800s when women started to crawl out of the role of a man’s property. THAT was the biggest shift in the definition of marriage in thousands of years of history.
I’ve written some well thought out posts on marriage, again, easily found on my blog. No one is ending marriage, or erasing husband, wife, mom, dad from vocabulary. We are expanding the right to those who wish to share in it. Why on earth should we deny gay people the benefits of stronger relationships and better protected families? It thought those were GOOD things for societies – all studies indicate stability is a benefit.
Then there are three pages with a poem from a sperm donor baby turned adult? Come on. There are about three times as many infertile people or those who have problems getting pregnant as there are gay people in the US. And some of those gay people HAVE had children the “natural way.” Keep the plight of the hard-to-get-pregnant folks in perspective as the condemnation for “not natural” families are formed.
#5 Gender distinctions — is it really THAT scary to consider that everyone is not cisgender male or female? Take it up with God; He is the creator. I offer a 78 minute audio chapter giving the latest understanding of sex and gender. It’s science and biology and that in my thinking would be God’s doing.
Principle #6 – tell the truth until the lies are dispelled. Believe me, I am TRYING!
Principle #7 – the God Factor. Psssssst – pay attention to the LGBT Christian movement. The grace and mercy I see in my gay and trans* brothers and sister may well be the seed of ushering in a movement of God. This ideology infused political/religious mess of the last 45 years has been the seed of destruction of the church. It is time to end the whorish alliance. Confused? Read Chapters 5-10 in my book. (To address those who WILL say “Oh, she just wants to sell her book.” To you I say, I am just as worthy of offering input as is Brown. The major difference is that I do not conveniently ignore history to support my theology or ideology.)
#8 – Write the Last Chapter. When people come back in a decade or two and order “Outlasting” on Amazon for a penny as part of their research to see how the conservative church got it so wrong and as badly as it has – “Outlasting” will be part of the record.
Why should we allow these anti-gay authors to influence us?
If any Christian author refuses to address the subject of the intersection of faith with sexual orientation and gender identity with academic integrity including acknowledging: the cultural shifts in the status of women of many millennia, the progression of understanding and input from experts in human sexuality, the merger of conservative politics and religion since the late 1970s with its destructive impact, each significantly influencing the ability to take an honest look at biblical translations, then why should that author’s opinions be respected or influential?
When Christians finally acknowledge the ignorance with which they formulated opinions and doctrine concerning the LGBT community and LGBT Christians in particular, they will then regret the harm they caused resulting from their ignorance.
Ethical reflection of such ignorance WILL come as it did on issues of women and civil rights for people of color. Brown’s writings will hold an embarrassing place in that legacy.
Here is the review on Amazon if you would like to up or down vote it and read the responses from Brown’s followers. Predictably, they will attempt to dismiss me rather than engage the content of the review. Brown encourages his followers to engage in attacks thereby keeping his “compassionate” hands clean.