Love Into Light | Critical Review

Posted on November 24, 2014


Peter Hubbard. Love Into Light: The Gospel, The Homosexual, and the Church. Ambassador International, 2013. (175 pages)


LoveIntoLight.comTim Challies review, Google Hangout with Peter Hubbard, Eric Metals review, David Schlock review at CBMW, Jim Anderson review, Josh Blount review.

I concur with the many reviewers, several listed above, that Hubbard’s offering is an excellent pastoral and counseling resource that is both compassionate and biblically committed. It affirms that homosexuals are people, and that addressing this issue in the Church requires patient listening, understanding, and love.

However, the book is also problematic in that its fundamental moral logic is disappointing, and what I would call “simplistically spiritualistic,” (that is, over-simplifying the issues and providing redundant pithy spiritual answers to real complicated questions). His content is modest on the scholarship, and heavy on the “sermonizing,” and is in many ways an unintended and subtle indictment on the Church for the ways in which theologies have been expressed throughout the Church’s history. It is telling (and flabbergasting) that Tim Challies would even mention Fred Phelps as a comparative example (in his review) essentially showing that Hubbard, Challies, and Phelps are really no different in “kind,” (theologically) only different in “degree,” or “expression.”

So, I am both thankful and disappointed in this book. Thankful, as this is a much needed counterbalance to the vitriol that exists in the Church, but disappointed that the Church needs to be reminded that homosexuals are people, and that love is our ultimate agenda. Thankful that Hubbard has developed relationships with members of the LGBT(QIA)+ community, but disappointed that his argumentation is recycled traditionalism and is, I opine, an anemic line of thinking and engagement. Thankful that Hubbard cares. Disappointed that the book recently includes misrepresentations, continues to posit rhetoric that is quite hurtful and painful, and is at times (unintentionally) hypocritical.

To the notes, and reflections:


It is wrong to be rude, even in the name of morality. (13-14)

[via: This is one of those statements that exemplifies my sentiments listed above. So glad he’s saying this. Ashamed that it has to be said.]

Chapter 1


Could the way we speak or don’t speak about SSA be an indicator of a deficient understanding of the gospel of Jesus? | Jesus often exposed people’s misunderstanding of his identity and mission by pointing to their relationships with the marginalized, rather than highlighting their score on a doctrinal exam. (22)

[via: So, in this chapter, Hubbard takes a stab at identity, and does a couple things that are disappointing. One, is the traditional, “all sin is the same.” He uses the phrase, “twisted,” but it is essentially the same sentiment. Next…]

We, the image-bearers of the King of the universe, mislabel ourselves “alcoholic,” “loser,” “workaholic,” or “homosexual.” But God refuses to leave us to worthless labels. (26)

[via: The problem with this line of argumentation is that being SSA (same sex attracted) or a “homosexual” (to use a clinical term), is not a “mislabel” of identity, even though many have posited it to be so. It is more a “descriptor” of one’s sexual identity or orientation. I can’t imagine that Hubbard would suggest that being “right/left-handed,” or “heterosexual,” are “identities.” It is disingenuous, and inaccurate, to equate any LGBT(QIA)+ labels with terms like “loser” or “workaholic,” as they are categorically different. It can also be insulting to suggest that one’s sexual identity or orientation is equal to a dysfunctional human characteristic. It hearkens back to the days when “homosexual” was listed as a psychological disorder in the DSM. We are past those days, and to continue to perpetuate this thinking is regressive. Let me be clear that I can affirm a “Christ-centered identity,” and that the gospel of Jesus liberates our souls to be “in Christ.” That identity is simply not in contradistinction to any sexual orientation or identity. One can be “in Christ,” and still be a “homosexual” (SSA) or a “heterosexual.”]

[via: It is also evident, at this point in the book, that the audience is an “already convinced” Christian audience. Just a note.]

Chapter 2


This study and others like it clearly separate the genetic contribution to homosexuality from the genetic contribution to something like race, for example. … The evidence points toward an enigmatic merging of a variety of influences. Certain influences may be real, but not determinative. (36)

[via: A couple things here. First, it is not appropriate to make such a definitive statement regarding the genetic component. It is good that Hubbard references epigenetics as that is of great interest, but we simply still do not know what causes any orientation, homo- or hetero-. Second, I appreciate that Hubbard mentions that, “influences may be real, but not determinative.” What I’m not so keen on is that the next sentence puts the responsibility of those genetic expressions on us:]

Our hearts are both vulnerable and culpable. We are swept along, but our hearts are also actively making choices. And we are responsible for those decisions. (36-37)

[via: This is echoed a few pages later:]

…what appears if we begin to locate the core of SSA in the heart? (42) … This is where the Bible comes alive! God’s Word explains what was happening in Jake’s heart. (42-43)

[via: I must protest. First, God’s Word says nothing about the origins of SSA. Second, Jake’s story (on page 42) is his story, but not a prototype for deconstructing the genesis of orientation. Third, the example of Jake’s story could also perpetuate the misunderstanding that “being gay” is somehow synonymous with “homosexual behaviors and attitudes.” For more on this, read Torn, by Justin Lee.]

Chapter 3


The disease can be diagnosed only in light of knowing what it looks like to have healthy or ideal lungs. (46)

[via: I don’t think Hubbard realizes how offensive this is. Again, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973/1986. To use the word “disease” when discussing this issue is regressive and offensive. To be clear, I am not suggesting that Hubbard is intending to be offensive. I’m suggesting that this is an antiquated way of discussing the issue, and may point to Hubbard’s ignorance of our current cultural developments.]

Homosexual professor and researcher, Ritch Savin-Williams wonders if “our advice to same-sex attracted young people has been wrong, and that perhaps we should be encouraging them to not identify as gay.” One reason he ponders this dramatic shift is the “overwhelming evidence” of the “alarmingly high levels of depression, substance abuse, dangerous sexual activities, and suicidality among those young people who self-identify as gay.” In the past, depression, addiction, and suicidal tendencies among homosexuals were linked to sexual identity repression or oppression. However, this link is no longer clear since sexual expression and social acceptance do not always alter the levels of depression, substance abuse, and suicide. So maybe the “cure” (sexual expression) is actually part of the “disease.” (46-47)

[via: First, the term “gay” is actually an adopted term by the LGBT(GIA)+ community as the alternative to the more clinical term, “homosexual,” which was used by psychiatrists, etc. (See, God Believes in Love by Gene Robinson). Second, the claim that, “sexual expression and social acceptance do not always alter the levels of depression, substance, abuse, and suicide,” is in my opinion, dubious.]

Real change is found in new life in Jesus. (52)

[via: This is an example of the “simplistic spiritualism” I mentioned earlier. The next several pages discusses change as/through a spiritual regeneration, found in a myriad of Bible verses and Christian axioms. This is not only not helpful, it is misleadingly inaccurate, and quite harmful. Much more could be cited and stated, but suffice to summarize here, there are no studies to suggest that people can actually change orientation. None. In addition “new life in Jesus,” is not the “antidote” for sexual “orientation.”]

Chapter 4


One of the occupational hazards of pastoring a church is the necessity of delivering bad news. (69)

[via: I recognize that many preachers/pastors in our country fundamentally accept this premise, and believe that it is one of the pillars of preaching. I personally find it perplexingly disheartening. Most bad news is already known and experienced by the people, and our job is to preach good news.]

[via: On page 74, Hubbard misses the rabbinical interpretation of “abolish” and “fulfill,” an interpretation that would be highly informative hermeneutically.]

So how do we distinguish between provisional laws that served a specific function in Israel’s past and transcultural laws that are normative? One way is to compare these laws with the New Testament. (75)

[via: This common line of argumentation misses a whole host of ideas and concepts, mainly that of the “moral logic” that underlies all passages of the Bible. I commend James Brownson’s book, Bible, Gender, Sexuality as an in-depth discussion on these matters.]

Although the explanations vary, many people today are starting, not with God’s creative intent as revealed in His Word, but with a different authority. Luke Timothy Johnson, pro-homosexual professor of New Testament, explains:

The task demands intellectual honesty. I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, to appeal to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says. But what are we to do with what the text says … If we see ourselves as liberal, then we must be liberal in the name of the gospel … I think it is important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality. (81-82) Homosexuality and the Church, Two Views.

This is a form of existentialism. (82) … A follower of Jesus willingly places his reflections and motives beneath the critique of the Scripture and invites the Holy Spirit to search, expose, and transform these thought patterns and desires. (83)

[via: Here is the most poignant portrayal of what is untenable with this (Hubbard’s) view and its implications. Hubbard posits that which is not philosophically possible. The “critique of the Scripture” and the “invitation of the Holy Spirit” cannot be divorced from one’s own “reflections and motives.” Admittedly, Johnson (quoted above) takes an extreme view (on the left) of the authority of Scripture. But this in no way substantiates the bifurcation of personal experience and objective texts that Hubbard proposes. In accordance with Hubbard’s line of thinking, we could accuse Hubbard of “Scripturalism,” and turn his arguments on their heads with the same level of validity that is postured in Hubbard’s reasoning.

In addition, existentialism is a debated philosophical construct (as most are), and even at the very base fundamental idea, that “existence” is the deconstructed foundation, Hubbard is required to assume that premise of existentialism to even make his point. In other words, existentialism is not one side of the equation. It is a posited premise upon which all other equations are developed. Add to that, the authors of the Scriptures were most likely themselves depending upon existentialist premises (even though they would not have had that language) in order to author the text in the first place. Finally, Hubbard does not engage with the other arguments in Johnson’s article regarding the church’s historical dependency upon experience for the purposes of developing new theologies and practices. It is important because the excerpt leaves the reader bereft of the full scope of Johnson’s argument. Which is why the full article is cited above (which, to Hubbard’s credit, is cited in his book).]

Chapter 5


God named Adam. Adam named Eve. (85)

[via: The one equivocation I would make here is that the Genesis authors, I think, are doing something tricky. True, “…she shall be called (יקרא) ‘woman’ (אשה) for she was taken out of ‘man.'(מאיש)”. But what is missing is the phrase, “הוא שמו”, (and that was it’s name) from Genesis 2:19. In other words, the clarification that “woman” was to “be her name” is missing from this passage. Her “name,” “Eve,” doesn’t show up until 3:20, which we would put as after “the fall.” This is important, I opine, on several levels, including gender roles and traditional complementarity, but we’ll have to leave that for another time.

When Jesus names us sinners, He is not simply pointing out a few mistakes. He is describing our deceitful hearts and the working out of our fallenness in our throat, tongues, lips, month, feet, and eyes. (Romans 3:13-18) (92-93)

[via: Sorry to quibble. The “naming” is again problematic here in Hubbard’s statement. First, Jesus does not “name” us sinners. Especially in light of Hubbard’s argument that naming is “a reflection of {one’s} character.” (85) And two, the quote here is Paul speaking, and he is quoting a bunch of Psalms in that passage.]

…I wonder if he and the rest of us who have been renamed by God need to own more fully our new identities.

[via: As alluded to above, I wonder if Hubbard would consider his “male identity” to mean that he is not owning his “new identity” in God. I also wonder if Hubbard, et. al., will ever understand that it is rhetoric like this that is the cause of so much hurt, pain, and departure from the Church. Choosing between sexual identity/orientation and God is not a choice. This is a destructive message, and needs to be excised from Church teaching.]

As for “sexual identity,” is it anything more than a label that we adopt in order to make sense of the rest?

[via: In a list of “examples of the unreliable nature of supposedly ‘fixed’ tendencies,” the answer is, “yes,” it is “more than a label.” Cf. Mark Yarhouse.]

Chapter 6


I am not suggesting that all Christians who struggle with SSA are called to celibacy. I am suggesting that all Christians, whether married or single, move toward a more biblical understanding of suffering and sacrifice, which for some will lead to marriage; for others, to celibacy. (109)

A new covenant theology of celibacy is much bigger and richer than simply saying no to sex. (110)

A church that believes that acting on homosexual desire is a sin must also provide a rich theology of celibacy. Otherwise that church is like someone who is pro-life, yet anti-adoption. (114-15)


[via: Let’s just be honest. Who ever said, “I saw her/him and immediately felt trinitarianism wash over me”?]

This does not mean that an infertile heterosexual couple is not truly married. … We are talking about design and direction, not necessarily achievement. This design distinguishes marriage from friendships or other partnerships. Also, within the covenant of a heterosexual marriage, sexual intimacy plays a variety of roles. Pleasure and purity are just as sacred as procreation. (118-119)

[via: Here is where the argument begins to break down and become unsustained hypocrisy. Hubbard cannot argue against same-sex relationships and that “pleasure and purity are just as sacred as procreation.”]

A healthy church points to Jesus in singleness and marriage. This is our calling. Singles picture the sufficiency of Jesus in His mercy and in their loyalty, community, and simplicity. Married couples highlight the sufficiency of Jesus in their creativity, intimacy, and humility. The “presence of both single and married people in the church signifies the fact that the church lives between the ages.” Jesus has come, so we rejoice that our relationships are transformed through His resurrection power. But Jesus is coming, so we struggle, suffer, and groan for the ultimate solution to our longings and loneliness. (121-122)

Chapter 7


Our vision of Jesus will define our practice as His church. (128)

In order to begin changing the climate of our churches, we must be willing to talk about homosexuality. Our culture certainly is! Our silence is leaving many SSA strugglers striving alone in the shadows. (132)

[via: Completely agree.]

We have this hierarchy of sin in our churches, as if one sin is worse than another. but that’s just not the case. The Bible doesn’t discriminate. Churches that judge you for being gay are wrong. They re not judging the guy who is beating his wife or embezzling from his company. That hypocrisy needs to be dealt with. – David Johnson

I agree; the “hypocrisy needs to be dealt with.” But what kind of church is “not judging the guy who is beating his wife”? The safest place on earth for women and children needs to be in the church. (134)

[via: What is missing in these discussions is first, that “identity” is different from “behavior.” These analogues are unfortunate, for “being gay” is far from the behavior of “beating” a spouse. Second, there is a hierarchy of behavior. Some sins are worse than others. In fact, religious judgmentalism and hypocrisy get quite a bit of air time (“real estate”) in the Scriptures.]

He is arguing, based on 1 Corinthians 6, that Christians should be fine with a fellow believer who is fine with living a lifestyle of homosexuality. Is that what the Scriptures teach? Was Paul find with the incest, homosexuality, drunkenness, and idolatry, of the Corinthian church? No. He commanded them to “purge the evil person from among you.” (136-137)

[via: Is Hubbard really suggesting that people who are same-sex attracted are “evil people?”]

[Justin] Lee is essentially arguing that love negates clear scriptural statements and God’s natural design for gender. (138)

[via: No. Lee is arguing that love is also a commandment and God’s “clear design.” Lee is pointing out that we all need to wrestle with these precepts, and ask what is ultimately required of us in light of this reality. (Cf. Torn)]

Conforming our lives to Scriptures’ difficult ethical teaching is precisely the way that we demonstrate that we’ve made our home in Jesus’ love. – Wesley Hill (138)

Hill is right on target. Truth and love cannot be divorced. (138) … Love is not portrayed in the Bible as the Ring of Power that makes us invisible to moral confrontation. The “if-you-love-me, you-will-affirm-my-lifestyle-no-matter-what” kind of love is a product of Glee, not God. (139)

[via: Hubbard is little off target. Yes, “truth and love cannot be divorce.” But the conflict is not about how to balance or prioritize “truth” and “love.” The question (and thus the potential conflict) is given that we know the truth about the Scriptures and the prominence of love that is “clearly” taught, and that we accept both premises, and that love is truth, what then, is our ethic?]

Chapter 8


In some ways, homosexuality is a friendship disorder. (145)

[via: It is here that we’ve completely lost any sense of Biblical or psychological integrity. This is demonstrably false, and exemplifies ignorance of the psychology behind sexuality. This is one of the fundamental problems with robust theological arguments that stand upon a pillar of misunderstanding. To quote Justin Lee, we desperately need to “fight the misinformation.”]

Chapter 9


This is also our country’s greatest need today. (155)

[via: Something about this statement hit me as a scosh grandiose.]

The way we live should raise questions, not just arguments. (155)

[via: Something about this statement hit me as a scosh ironic, of the “tragic” kind.]

Jesus’ story of grace transforms our story so that our story begins to reflect His. (157)

[via: Something about this statement hit me as so true, yet not quite reflected in this book, theologically.]

We need to remember the goodness and lovingkindness that God poured out on us. God should have looked at us and been disgusted. Instead, without condoning our sin, He loved us and saved us. And I want everyone to know that kind of love! (162)

[via: This is an example of why, in spite of my harsh critique, I am also thankful for this book. This is the sentiment that is often missed from “this side of the argument,” and that Hubbard is loving, gracious, and kind, is a welcome tone.]

Maybe our fear blinds us to the fear we produce. (163)

[via: Does Hubbard not see how this axiom could be applied to the line of argumentation he has just set forth?]


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