Why Did I Write Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk?

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by Brad Hambrick /

It might be more helpful, at least at first, to explain why I didn’t write Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk. I didn’t write this book because I believe homosexuality is the most important or pressing issue of our day. Actually, to the contrary, I wrote this book because it is my perception (accurate or not) that part of what complicates the subject is that only people who are very passionate about it have the courage-boldness-audacity (whatever you prefer to call it) to speak or write on it.

Please note: This book will be released in January. Review copies will likely be available sometime in December. Email reviews@cruciformpress.com to reserve your copy. Preordering and other information can be found on the book page.

It’s my belief that someone needs to be part of the conversation who doesn’t feel as though history hinges on homosexuality. This is why in the opening chapter I try to be clear about my general perspective.

I do not consider homosexuality my “hill to die on” issue. I don’t believe the probability of experiencing the Third Great Awakening or whether America remains a geo-political superpower hinges on the moral-political issues surrounding homosexuality. Neither do I believe that gay rights as a cause is the logical extension of women’s suffrage or racial equality.

If your position on homosexuality is approximated in the paragraph above, you may be uncomfortable with this book. When the subject is framed in either of these ways, the answer becomes so immediately “obvious” that only an idiotic or evil person could disagree with you. Even if this is where you are, I hope you’ll keep reading.

There is a second reason I wrote this book: I was asked to—both directly and indirectly. This book was not on my radar until a friend came to me and said, “Would you be willing to write a book on how conservative Christians can have gay friends without compromising their own convictions? I think that kind of book is missing and it’s not something we handle effectively in the church. I think you have a tone in dealing with sensitive subjects that could navigate the topic well.”[tweet “New book: can conservative Christians have gay friends w/o compromising their own convictions?”]

My initial answer was, “Thank you for the encouragement, but I don’t think I’m passionate enough about the subject to write a book on it.” But the request was sticky and I began to listen a bit more closely to the debates in the Christian blogosphere. That is when I began to realize my non-passion for the subject might be an asset instead of a liability.

When I listened to the debates, my assessment (feel free to disagree) was that “conservatives” typically come across as if they have never cried with a friend who experiences same-sex attraction and wonders what this means, while “liberals” typically come across as if the only way for such a person to be authentic is to embrace a gay identity—that is, as if sexual attraction trumps every other aspect of personhood. I couldn’t imagine being someone who experiences same-sex attraction, would like some help thinking through that reality, but finds only these two polarized sources of guidance.

Then I began to reflect on the number of pastoral counseling conversations I’ve had with individuals who have experienced unwanted same-sex attraction. I thought about one of the primary sticking points in these conversations: the absence of authentic friendships in the context of which these individuals could 1) be fully known (honest about their struggle), and 2) be fully loved (without placing a strain on their Christian friendships), yet 3) without embracing a gay identity and joining the gay community.

Counseling can provide relief, but only community can offer hope. As I say in chapter two, “Counseling without friendship is like being stranded in the ocean and given a raft for one hour a week but asked to swim the other 167 hours.” In the absence of a church that understands, having a counselor who cares merely creates an impasse: there is hope (“God doesn’t hate me because I experience same-sex attraction”) but no clear direction (“I am still incredibly alone and the church doesn’t seem willing to help alleviate this significant part of my struggle”).

So I said yes and began the process of writing Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk. My enthusiasm for the value of the project has grown. But, honestly, I don’t look forward to the controversy it may bring. Who can write 100 pages on homosexuality and not upset some people? That grieves me. Not because I am thin-skinned and anxious about people not liking me, but because in the current climate “debating the topic” usually excludes the person who is struggling.

Do Ask, Do Tell, Let's Talk; Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends, by Brad HambrickMy greatest prayer for this book is that God would use it to equip the church to build bridges of friendship in order to care well for two groups: Christians who experience unwanted same-sex attraction, and non-believers who did not find the fulfillment they hoped in embracing a gay identity. When those conversations are being had in living rooms and coffee shops, maybe it could even change the tone of conversation on social platforms and debate panels.

Regardless of whether that latter, lofty objective is achieved, I will be elated if Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk results in same-sex attraction no longer feeling like a sentence of “solitary confinement” for individuals looking for hope and direction from the church—more specifically from individual Christian friends—in the midst of their experience of same-sex attraction.

Read the second post in this series.

Brad Hambrick (M.Div., Th.M.) is Pastor of Counseling, The Summit Church; Adjunct Professor of Biblical Counseling, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Council Member of The Biblical Counseling Coalition.

Brad Hambrick (M.Div., Th.M.), is Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church, Adjunct Professor of Biblical Counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Council Member for The Biblical Counseling Coalition. He has published numerous titles in P&R’s Gospel for Real Life series.

7 thoughts on “Why Did I Write Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk?

  1. Whew! Finally someone has the courage to venture into this messy conversation to help us navigate thru and around this very polarizing topic. I do not expect you to have the answer for me, yet I appreciate your willingness to offer your grappling so it might spark a discussion. Thank you.

  2. Kay – Based on your comment I think you sense the same void in the evangelical conversation I felt and many whom I counseled over their experience of same sex attraction felt. I agree, it would be far-fetched to consider this book the “last word” with “all the answers” on the subject, but if this book can help get this important conversation started well, it will have accomplished what I hoped for the book.

  3. Brad, I’m so thankful that you’ve taken the time to write and publish this book. As one who experiences unwanted same sex attraction, I agree that it’s so necessary. After battling and fighting for years it was only when I allowed my church community to come alongside and fight with me (in partnership with support groups and counseling) that I began to experience freedom. It’s been messy as we learn how to walk together, but the tangible love of Christ in my life through the body of believers with whom I walk daily has been overwhelming. I’m so thankful for the gospel-centered conversation surrounding this issue and only wish books such as yours had been written ten years ago!

  4. Jennifer – If God uses this book to multiply your testimony in the life of individuals and churches, I would be delighted.

  5. Dr. Hambrick:

    I’ve observed the life trajectory of persons involved in homosexual relationships up close and personal since growing up in the Southern California in the 1950s.

    Maybe my observations are mere antidotal glimpses at the situation. But I don’t see how any rational person could volitionally choose the “gay lifestyle”. Here are a few data points from my own observations that fortify my points:

    1. My best friend as I was growing up as a kid turned out to be gay. His life was tumultuous but after about the age of 30 he “married” his partner. This was back in about 1970 when gay marriage was not legal in California. I guess he is doing OK now as he has a stable situation and he works for the chancellor’s office for the University of California as something like “Director of Curriculum Development” for the College of Arts of Sciences. I have lost track of him since the mid 1990s. I don’t know how to evaluate this through a Biblical lens. This guy has a PhD in Anthropology from Cal Berkley.

    2. My wife’s niece always exhibited a bi-sexual identity from about the age of 12 until her untimely death. By any measure she had a horrible life. I don’t know if there is or isn’t such a thing as “being born gay”. All I can say is that many gay people are pathetic. I mean this literally based upon the Greek work “pathos” — meaning sick. When this girl wasn’t killing herself chain smoking she was getting hooked up in one crazy sexual relationship after another. This is a person who was totally amoral. She moved in with my wife and I for a few months back in the early 1960s. I finally almost literally threw her out of our apartment.

    3. In my first semester in College I took Psych 10. I was working on my BSEE but I had to take some “general ed” stuff because I attended school at a California State college and no matter what major you are you have to take some “bonehead” stuff. About half way through that first semester the prof committed suicide as a result of being caught in an illicit homosexual encounter. This was in 1965 in Long Beach, California.

    I don’t know much about dealing with gay people. Maybe they truly don’t want to change or they don’t feel it is necessary to change. Maybe God has not determined that there is a path forward absent the gay lifestyle. I don’t know. But I do know that for the most part no rational person would “choose” this lifestyle.

    My back ground is BSEE and MBA. I spent 40 years as a embedded firmware engineer in Silicon Valley. I used to work with and manage microcode development engineers. Some of them were “gay”. One of the “gay” guys I worked with in a sister department committed suicide. This guy had an advanced degree from Stanford and he was one of the stronger guys in terms of contribution in the whole development lab.

    I’m not a “touchy feely” person. I like to objectively look at stuff based upon tangible results.

    What a misnomer to categorize “homosexuality” with a “gay” lifestyle. For the most part there is nothing “gay” about it. Even the moniker that gay people use to describe themselves is delusional. I don’t think Christians are doing anyone a favor by glossing over the downward spiral that often accompanies the “homosexual lifestyle”.

    Maybe I’m old school. But from my own personal experience I’d say that the stuff Paul wrote in Chapter 1 of Romans still applies. This is tough stuff, “God gave them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. THEY EXCHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD FOR A LIE.” I don’t think any situational ethics is going to change the landscape. There is at least one similarity between the Bible and Howard Cosell. They both “tell it like it is”.

    Roger Simpson Oklahoma City OK

    1. Roger — Thanks for your thoughts! I believe you’ll find yourself in accord with this book, regarding both the “choice” of same-sex attraction and the matter of Romans one. Wait and see… 🙂

  6. […] Have Gay Friends. This is Brad’s third Cruciform Press post on the book, the first two being here and here. These two paragraphs from the introduction are why I believed a book like Do Ask, Do […]

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