Book Reviews,  Christianity

Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change

I am happy to announce that my new book that I co-wrote with Heath Lambert has just been released. The book deals with issues that readers of this blog have seen me discussing for a long time—sexual orientation and change. In fact, the title of the book says as much: Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change (P&R, 2015).

This book is different from other Christian books about homosexuality. First, the book isn’t focused on the ethics of homosexual behavior but on the ethics of homosexual desire. Some people believe that homosexual behavior is sinful but that homosexual desire is not. For that reason, they believe and teach that homosexual orientation and same-sex attraction are morally neutral concepts. We argue from scripture against that perspective.

Second, this book isn’t just about ethics. It’s also about ministry. Given what the Bible teaches about the ethics of desire, is change possible? We believe that change is not only possible but also necessary. The title Transforming Homosexuality comes from Paul’s language in 2 Corinthians 3:18:

But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

The Bible teaches that God’s plan for all Christians is to transform them into the image of Christ. It’s a process that takes a lifetime to complete. But this transformation is nevertheless what the Holy Spirit is doing inside of all Christians—not just some of them—including those who experience same-sex attraction. The change that God wishes to accomplish in same-sex attracted individuals is not necessarily heterosexuality but holiness. For this reason, our book opposes reparative therapy as a Christian approach to change.

We know that this book will be controversial, but we believe the controversy is necessary. Many evangelicals have not thought their way through to biblical clarity on the issues of sexual orientation and same-sex attraction. Meanwhile, there are many brothers and sisters who need clarity. We are hoping to start a conversation that will make plain what the scriptures actually teach. We are confident that when the truth is clear, God’s people will rally to it (John 10:27).


Endorsements of Transforming Homosexuality:

“Denny Burk and Heath Lambert have written a clear, compassionate, and thought-provoking book on how the gospel brings transformation to those struggling with homosexuality. Our hope is not the heterosexuality-or-bust shtick of reparative therapy, but the wondrous prospect of growing in holiness and Christlikeness that comes through repentance and faith. This is essential reading for every pastor and for any seeking to bless and minister to those with same-sex attraction in our churches.”
Sam Allberry, Author, Is God Anti-gay?

“In Principles of Conduct, John Murray reminds us that ‘the line of demarcation between virtue and vice is not a chasm but a razor’s edge.’ In Transforming Homosexuality, Denny Burk and Heath Lambert shine scholarly and pastoral light on that razor’s edge, helping Christians to discern the difference between sexual temptation and sexual lust as it bears on same-sex attraction. This is a bold and provocative book. It will also likely be a controversial book. But it is predominantly a loving book that seeks to help people with unwanted homosexual desires be transformed by the full knowledge that God’s grace for us in Christ is sufficient for all our various struggles and sins.”
Rosaria Butterfield, Author, The Secret Thoughts of and Unlikely Convert

“Many in the church… have adopted the position that homosexual desire may in some sense be ‘normal.’ … Denny Burk and Heath Lambert address that idea with biblical clarity and godly wisdom. This is an important book about an issue that has overwhelmed our culture.”
John F. MacArthur, Jr., President, The Master’s College and Seminary; Pastor-teacher, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA

“Denny Burk and Heath Lambert’s new book… is such a tremendous gift to the church. These men are scholars of the highest caliber with pastoral hearts. Further, in this book Burk and Lambert keep the hope of the gospel and Christ’s cross and resurrection at the very center of their counsel. Something as deeply entrenched as a pattern of sexual attraction is not easily changed—our doctrine of sin explains that—but we do know that with Christ all things are possible.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


  • William Birch

    As a believer who is same-sex attracted and traditional regarding Christian sexual ethics, I look forward to reading your book, and am especially grateful for your stated focus on transformation to holiness rather than to heterosexuality. If someone argued that my attraction must change in order for me to be saved, not only would I remain hopeless, but I would also think that the person was adding to the Gospel. Good on you, Burk and Lambert!

  • Christiane Smith

    yes, when you think about it, there has been no healthy ‘normal’ since The Fall, and all of us who turn to Christ do so in our broken state in great need of healing . . .

    in our blindness, we have too long looked down on people we labeled as ‘that other sinner’ but truly none of us is without need for Him

  • Alistair Robertson

    I think “homosexuality or bust shtick” is wrong, as is the idea that your attraction must change to heterosexuality in order to be saved. But to lay either of these charges against reparative therapy as opposed to some practioners of it is somewhat over zealous.

    I am happy with the controversial position that homosexual desire is sin, but I remain unconvinced that heterosexuality is not a goal within sanctification, even if not always attained. (There are many Christians who live with yet unsanctified desires in many areas). And the fact that there are Christians using RT as common grace insights within a orthodox theological framework to bring about even one example of change is certainly worth a rethink on that point.

  • buddyglass

    “The change that God wishes to accomplish in same-sex attracted individuals is not necessarily heterosexuality but holiness.”

    I thought your position was that same-sex attraction is sinful and is something that needs to be repented of? The above sentence makes it sound like you consider it possible for folks to be walking in holiness *and yet not be heterosexual*. Is that true? Did I misunderstand your earlier position w.r.t. the sinfulness of same-sex attraction?

    • Christiane Smith

      no sin is possible where a person has not willed to commit it . . . our human weaknesses in themselves are not sins, no . . . and we ALL have human weaknesses and need Christ

      there is no sin where someone has not willed to sin

        • Christiane Smith

          Hi DENNY,
          I expect you are right about it being a ‘very’ Catholic way of thinking about ‘sin’. The subject was written about by Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Tertullian, Eusebius, and others in the time when the Church was facing challenges from Gnosticism, Manichaeism, and Marcionism. I suppose that is when the Church took a stand on this issue that is today seen as very Catholic. I have a link about this. If you want for me to share it, just let me know.

          I was not aware that the Protestant faith was so far from the same understandings, so I appreciate you letting me know about these differences, which I can agree would be very serious and meaningful to those who held a different perspective.

        • brian darby

          I have tried asking this before but will again. First I ordered your book and will read it. If I understand you correctly a “desire” is a sin if it contradicts the bible? So when exactly does a “desire” become a sin, I E be angry but do not sin, dont let the sun go down on your anger, might mean a time frame for the anger or the intensity of it. What about folks who struggle with physical issues that cause personality changes such as increased anger or to swear etc. I am sorry this is not worded very well but I hope you get my question.

    • buddyglass

      I’m still trying to reconcile the above sentence with your previously stated views re: same-sex attraction. If same-sex attraction is a sin from which the believer needs to repent and turn away from then it stands to reason that God, as part of his sanctifying work, would seek to bring the believer to a place of victory over that sin.

      So what does it look like when God accomplishes “holiness without heterosexuality” in the life of a believer who was previously same-sex attracted. Is that believer still same-sex attracted? He can’t be exclusively opposite-sex-attracted or we’d call him “heterosexual”. So how does his state square with “holiness” given your position on the sinfulness of same-sex attraction?

  • Paul Dulaney

    Of course I’ll need to read your book to get the full scoop, but I am a bit confused.

    The position I have come to — but I am willing to be enlightened — is that same-sex attraction is a temptation, similar to the temptation that a heterosexual man might have to commit adultery with a woman. I wouldn’t say that same-sex attraction is normal, but I would say that it is a temptation, not a sin in and of itself. Please clarify and refute as necessary.

  • Doug Sloan

    • Same-gender sexual orientation (including identity, behavior, and attraction) and variations in gender identity and gender expression are a part of the normal spectrum of human diversity and do not constitute a mental disorder.

    • There is limited research on conversion therapy efforts among children and adolescents; however, none of the existing research supports the premise that mental or behavioral health interventions can alter gender identity or sexual orientation.

    • Interventions aimed at a fixed outcome, such as gender conformity or heterosexual orientation, including those aimed at changing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be part of behavioral health treatment.

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