The Best Book on Same Sex Marriage

I regularly get asked for reading recommendations on the issues of same sex marriage and of the inclusion of gays in the life of church and society.  Many books have been written on the subject, and I’m sure there are more in the pipeline.  However, to date, I think that one stands out above the rest:

A Time to Embrace: Same Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics by William Stacy Johnson

Johnson, a systematic theologian at Princeton, is a second-career academic.  Previously, he was a practicing attorney.  The confluence of those specialties makes this book particularly cogent and important.  Here’s what Walter Brueggemann says about it:

“When a senior theologian, based in a world-class theological faculty, toughened and informed by denominational struggles, thinks afresh on a great issue before the church, it is time to listen up! William Stacy Johnson here provides a statement on same-gender unions that is timely, clear, and daring. . . The sum of his argument is that God’s embracive love is decisive for human interaction and the time has come for this awareness. Johnson’s Time to Embrace warrants careful, thoughtful consideration and is sure to be important for future reflection in the church.”

If you’re on the fence about this issue, this is an invaluable resource.  Yes, Johnson does come down on the side of full inclusion and of legal same sex marriage, but he does so in an evenhanded way.  And he gives all sides of the issue their due.

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  • Charles

    Great recommendation, Tony! I’ve been handing out copies of “A Time to Embrace” since 2007. Lowell Erdahl recommended it to us. It’s my go-to book for all who question same-sex unions. Thanks for the positive PR.

  • Perfect timing for me.
    Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Frank

    Does Mr. Johnson in his book provide scriptural support that God blesses and condones homosexual unions? If not then there really is no reason to read it.

    • Frank, what can it hurt to give it a try?

      • Frank

        It wouldn’t hurt at all but if it’s simply a rehashing of already rejected exegesis then what’s the point really. So if the author has provided scriptural support that God condones and blesses homosexual unions, post it here and then it would be worthwhile to read.

        • Jake

          You know Frank every time I think Im ok with Christians somebody like you comes along and reminds me why I dont like them in the first place. Thanks for the update.

  • Zach Lind

    I’d also submit Andrew Sullivan’s Virtually Normal as a must read on the topic.

    • Jordan

      I agree. Sullivan has been in the trenches with this issue for nearly twenty years. Virtually Normal and his reader on same sex marriage are invaluable resources that have resulted not only from academic study, but also experience and activism.

  • Frank

    Be sure to read the few reviews that are critical of the sloppy scholarship put forth in the book.

    • Charles

      You can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.

    • Basil

      Your hubris is boundless. It is a sin on man levels and just a sad waste of life.

      • Basil

        Correction : many levels