REVIEW Winter 2018

The Grace of Shame: 7 Ways the Church has Failed to Love Homosexuals by Tim Bayly, Joseph Bayly, Jurgen von Hagen (Warhorn Media, 2017), 165 pp.  

 by Dr. Ralph Blair

(PDF version available here)

Tim Bayly’s dad was the late Joe Bayly, IVCF editor, author of The Gospel Blimp, and, for a quarter century, a popular columnist at Eternity magazine.  In 1979, he wrote: “Most evangelical churches are very uptight about homosexuality, relatively very accepting of adultery, and the concomitant problems of desertion and divorce.”  Noting, “there is such a crusade against homosexuals”, he asked: “Why?”  His perceptive reply: “I think it’s because homosexual sins are their sins, heterosexual sins are ours.”  Tim Bayly included this wise observation in his collection of his dad’s columns, The Best of Joe Bayly (1993).

But now, with his co-authors, his son and another pastor, he’s who’s “very uptight about homosexuality” (i.e., others’ sins, not ours).  Indeed, their new book is a moral panic.

They obsess over “effeminate sodomites”, their label for gays.  But Ezekiel said that the sin of the real Sodomites was that, having plenty for themselves they arrogantly refused to help the poor and needy. Then, these Sodomites appeared at Lot’s door, intent on self-righteously raping despised sojourners into submission.  They weren’t looking for dates.

Tim Bayly has castigated what he scorns as the “scandal” of “effeminate worship [at] the hole of Redeemerism”, i.e., Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in America and he’s mocked Keller’s “effeminate” evasion on “sodomites”.  Bayly’s left the PCA and now heads a “manly” church, a branch of which, his son, Joseph, is planting.

Their book’s title is a phrase that can refer to God’s grace that alerts us to our sin and our need to repent.  But, in sensing shame, one must discern if it’s biblically based in true guilt or in a conscience twisted by false teaching.  Luther counseled: “God does not save imaginary sinners.  So, be a sinner of real sins, but let your trust in Christ be even more real.”  This is no excuse to sin willfully; it’s good counsel to take real sin seriously.

   Bayly et al rail against same-sex couples for meeting their intimacy needs with mates of their mutual choice while Bayly et al applaud themselves for meeting their needs with mates of their mutual choice.  Ignoring the Golden Rule, they rationalize their reviling as a “gift” of graciousness to the reviled.  Their logjam looms so large that it blinds them to their lack of love.  Their first line of “Acknowledgments” is all in caps: “FIRST, WE THANK OUR WIVES” – an all-too-familiar insensitivity from writers of antigay books.

They attack the “Errors” of homosexuality, starting with “The Sin of Effeminacy” and cite the cultural “gayness” of David Bowie:  “Whether or not David Bowie committed sodomy [he didn’t] live in submission to his manhood”.  Their attack isn’t about his drug-fueled sexploitation of underage girls; it’s about his signature drag schtick!

Their “Bible” alibi against “effeminacy” is a Greek word for “soft” in a vice list from Paul.  Epictetus used it for softheaded and others read it as spineless.  But the NIV’s Ed Palmer used to ask his Westminster students: “How do you turn a porcupine into an owl?”  His punch line: “By translation!”  Bayly’s proof-text list includes swindlers and revilers.  Hmm – hucksters of “ex-gay” hoaxes, maligners of same-sex marriage?

“MEN WHO ARE EFFEMINATE WILL NOT BE IN HEAVEN”.  That’s the all-caps scare line of the authors’ cocksure addendum on “effeminacy”.  They recall Jesus’ noting that John the Baptist was not dressed in “soft” garments.  They object to pictures of Jesus in a “long flowing gown that’s pressed and clean” and they assure readers: “Jesus was not a mama’s boy.”  They shame by stereotype: “Hard men are in the kingdom of God.  Soft men are not”.  They add: “By necessary implication, [a woman’s body] is soft in receiving man’s initiative”.  So, “hard women will not enter the kingdom of God.”

Back in 1970, refuting a legalist ditty, “A Would-Be Lady”, Joe Bayly discerned that all false gospels, “anti-smoking, anti-communism, anti-anything else, is ‘another gospel’ if it claims to solve the problem of this life and bring us a single step closer to heaven.”

Tim Bayly et al bully even the celibate gay Christian.  Each, they claim, is “counting on Christians to give him a pass on his effeminacy and the direction of his sexual desires”.  But, he no more chose his desires than Bayly et al chose theirs.  Still, he chose celibacy.

Against the biblically based wisdom that “Godliness is Not Heterosexuality”, they take another swipe at Keller for his saying: “Heterosexuality does not get you to heaven, so how in the world could homosexuality send you to hell?”  Citing a celibate gay pastor’s repeating this, they retort by false analogy, smirking: Suppose he’d “announced he was a ‘pedophile Christian’ stipulating that he didn’t have sex with, or even touch, children.”  They ignorantly conflate homosexuality and pedophilia and conjure pedophilic disorder.

On “The ‘Sexual Orientation’ Error”, they gripe: “Some within the church have begun to claim there is something more to sexual identity than male and female.  They call this category of sexuality ‘sexual orientation’.”  But this term has been in the psych literature for over 70 years and refers to the direction of sexual attraction – what led Bayly et al to wed wives and other men to wed husbands.  They fault Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler for saying he was wrong to deny the fact of homosexual orientation.  But by their idolatry of “manliness”, isn’t he just being “man enough” to admit his mistake?  Will they “man up” and admit they are mistaken about sexual orientation?  They’re upset with “born that way”, but didn’t they sense their sexual desires the same “born that way” way?

Under “The ‘Reparative Therapy’ Error”, they note Mohler’s changed his mind again – after the “ex-gay” fiasco.  They impugn his motives. Yet, in Golden Rule empathy, they should confess they couldn’t switch their sexual attraction from women to men.  Are they not “man enough” to admit this, even with assistance from the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors that’s “manned up” to revise its reparative goal?  Bayly et al reduce “reparative” to a “manly” willed repudiation: “Repudiate homosexuality and embrace heterosexuality.”  They claim: “This is pastoral care.  This is love.” This is pathetic!

They say, “The Church has failed to love homosexuals”.  It’s true.  But in bearing false witness and mocking “loving monogamous sodomy”, they resemble Sodomites of old.

Perhaps they’d not have written such a bigoted book had they paused for a moment to learn from old Joe Bayly’s good sense and Christian compassion, shared with his readers in 1974.  But this wisdom from his dad was left out of Tim Bayly’s collection of his dad’s columns. Joe Bayly had long pondered and so, cautioned, now over forty years ago: “For years I have been troubled [over the] total judgment of the homosexual person [and] about a precise identification of every person of this type with the biblical model.”

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