The subtitle of Preston Sprinkle’s People to be Loved is “Why Homosexuality is Not Just an Issue.” It’s a good subtitle for a few reasons. First of all, it’s not exactly easy to understand, so it encourages people to pick it up and at least read the foreword if they want to see what the whole thing is about. Second, as you read the book, you start to understand what he means: homosexuality is not just an issue, or a talking point, or a debate; it’s about people. Any discussion of the “issue” or “phenomenon” is sorely lacking if it’s divorced from the fact that there are real, actual people whose real, actual lives are defined by their sexual orientation and lifestyle. Sprinkle’s mission with his book becomes crystal clear: since we Christians are called to love sinful people, as our Christ came to this earth to love sinful people like us, we need to primarily see people in the LGBT+ community as people to be loved.
I think Sprinkle accomplishes this mission beautifully. He does talk in great detail about the “issue,” but he attaches the entire discussion to names, faces, and stories of people to be loved.
The thing I appreciate most about Sprinkle’s book is his ability to keep a level head and walk a middle ground. He has a “high view of Scripture,” which has become the shorthand for “viewing God’s Word as inspired and authoritative.” If any author wants to write on a doctrinal topic but they don’t see the Bible as the authority on the subject, then those of us with a high view of Scripture will not find much value in what they have to say. Sprinkle’s posture is one of submission to the Bible and what God has to say, so he has the correct starting point, and establishes himself as someone worth hearing out.
From that starting point, Sprinkle dives deep into the relevant Bible passages concerning homosexuality, including the so-called “clobber passages” that have been used to do a lot of damage to LGBT+ people by the church throughout the years. He confronts the passages humbly and honestly, challenging traditional interpretations by digging into the original languages. There are some traditional preconceptions that Sprinkle does dismantle, such as the use of the Sodom and Gomorrah story in the homosexuality discussion. In the end, he does end up with the traditional, so-called “non-affirming” perspective of homosexuality, and he doesn’t shy away from it or apologize for it. But while he does not affirm homosexuality, he goes to great lengths to make sure that the people are always still to be loved. A mantra he comes back to repeatedly is that even if we do not affirm someone’s homosexuality, we should always be affirming of their humanity. They are still people to be loved.
In this book, Sprinkle resists the urge to boil an extremely complex issue down to a Tweet. It’s almost hard for me to summarize the book in review format when his points demand to be fleshed out in the full breadth of the work. If you have read this review and find yourself tilting your head, questioning my conclusions or the author’s, or nodding along, I wholeheartedly recommend picking it up and reading it for yourself. ROA Members, just ask me and I can either loan you my copy or pick one up for you.