Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill


What a unique (and desperately needed) book!  In Washed and WaitingHill is earnest, honest, and incisive. The book is part autobiography, part practical theology, part self-help: and all of this in 150 pages. 

Chapter 1 alone is worth the price of the book.  After the Prelude, where Hill, sets up the book on an autobiographical level, he digs into the practical theology as it relates to homosexual practice.  This book isn't the place to look for a robust defense of the orthodox theology on homosexual practice (which Hill holds to).  There are plenty of other places to look for that (I would recommend Sam Alberry's Is God Anti-Gay? and Kevin DeYoung's What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?). 

What Hill does do in this section is confront head-on what to do with the fact that for those with homosexual inclinations, if they are committed to following a biblical Christianity, there will always (on this side of eternity) be an unsatisfied longing.  What do we make of this?  How could God not want his children to be happy and to experience love?  Hill carefully lays out an argument that, as Richard Bauckham puts it, "Biblical commands are not arbitrary decrees but correspond to the way the world is and will be."  He frames this in light of the gospel and the question: "how does the story make sense?"

Hill points out that nearly every admonition in the NT to not practice homosexuality is connected directly with an expression of God's extravagant grace and mercy for those very people (and all other sorts of sinners as well!).  Hill reminds us that "Christianity's good news provides -- amply so -- for the forgiveness of sins and the wiping away of guilt and the removal of any and all divine wrath through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (64).  The gospel -- the story of Christianity -- is one in which God has not only recognized us for who we are (those who have sinned against him), but has paid the price for that sin himself and provides continued grace as we struggle and fail in our Christian walk.  We are God's "twice over -- first because he created us and second because he redeemed us" (69).  This twice over belonging feels constraining, Hill admits, but it is this belonging that gives us our true identity and purpose.  It is this fact that frames the inevitability that we, as humans, will have unfulfilled desires in this life.  Desires that we will strain against and be frustrated by.  But ultimately it is this very strain, this very incision (as Nouwen puts it), that will call us to God himself, and to the greatest expression of love he has offered us, not marriage, but the body of Christ.

Washed and Waiting is courageous and timely.  It's a book I hope many Christians will pick up and read -- those who both struggle with homosexuality and those who inevitably know someone who is struggling with it.  I hope it's a book that will provide pastoral encouragement, gospel grounding, and a call to the church as a whole to be a place where people who struggle with every stripe of sin will be accepted as brothers and sisters in Christ, engage in transparent relationships full of gospel exhortation.


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