Sunday, June 26, 2011

LHP Review: Love One Another

Eckstein, Tom. Bearing Their Burden (Galatians 6:1-2): Speaking the Truth in Love to People Burdened by Homosexuality. Jamestown, ND: Lulu, Inc., 2010. 370 Pages. pdf. $15.99. (Paperback also available for $29.99.) (LHP)

In a time of headlines like this, pastors need a trustworthy resource grounded in Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions to equip themselves for pastoral care and inevitable questions. Bearing Their Burden is that pastoral, compassionate, Biblical, Lutheran resource to help Christians speak the truth in love to those caught up in sin.

Some respond with hatred to people who struggle with same-sex attraction and teach that homosexuality is the unforgivable sin. Others affirm homosexuality by stressing either that Bible passages thought to prohibit homosexual behavior have been misinterpreted or that the clear biblical prohibitions against homosexual behavior simply have no authority over us today. In this book Pastor Eckstein shows how Scripture clearly condemns even consensual, monogamous homosexual behavior and that the biblical prohibitions against homosexual behavior still apply to us today. However, Pastor Eckstein also stresses that homosexual behavior is no worse than any other sin and that those who agree with God's Word that their homosexual behavior is sinful and trust in the forgiveness provided for all sinners through God's Son, Jesus, are holy in God's sight and will receive strength from the Holy Spirit to say "No" to their homosexual desires and "Yes" to God's loving plan for our sexual lives. (Publisher's website)
Unfaith is the unforgivable sin, according to the Bible. While homosexual behavior has unique consequences and cultural support, it is one sin among many, including countless other forms of sexual immorality. 
Lutherans in the LCMS have had to be more clear about their affiliation and beliefs since the August 2009 votes of the ELCA national assembly. Hundreds of congregations have voted to disaffiliate with the ELCA. Others have had overwhelming votes repudiating blessing same-sex unions and also non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy. This is a book for our time.
About the author:

Greetings in Christ! My name is Tom Eckstein, and I'm an ordained pastor in The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. I serve Concordia Lutheran Church ( ) in Jamestown, North Dakota. I am married and have three children.
My book, Bearing Their Burden, is the result of many years of ministry with people who struggle with same-sex attraction as well as years of research regarding Scripture's teaching on the issue of homosexual desire and behavior.
This book is scholarly and yet very accessible to the layperson. I carefully explain what Scripture clearly teaches about God's gift of sex and I respond thoroughly to pro-gay arguments that twist the meaning of Holy Scripture. But most of all, I point us to the forgiveness, love, peace and hope we have in Jesus, God's Son, and His death and resurrection for us.
Pastor Eckstein focuses our attention on Galatians 6:1-2 as motivation for speaking the truth in love. We are given to love one another, Jesus "new mandate" of the Gospel of John. He keeps his readers' focus on Christ as the Savior from all sin. And he deftly handles both secular (22-24, et al) and religious (201, et al) objections, many based on misunderstandings of Scripture, or deliberate misinterpretations of God's Word. He examines common arguments against Biblical sexuality and points out inconsistencies, contradictions, and outright falsehoods. 

In addition, Rev. Eckstein calls His readers to repentance (223ff.), renewed faith in Christ, and care and compassion for those who struggle with same-sex attraction (e.g., 281) founded on a solid Scriptural foundation and an unique Lutheran identity. 

Appendices deal with related issues, including psychological treatment, the connection to the ordination of women to the pastoral office, creation and evolution, testimonies, and recommended resources. An extensive Bibliography compiles recommended resources from his very helpful footnotes. 

I especially appreciated the Nagel reference early in the book (31), urging readers to "Let the Lord Have His Say!" I, too, was equipped by that Holy Baptism class. "....the Christian life is defined by daily repentance and faith in Jesus" (6). Amen! 

Bearing Their Burden will be of great help to pastors and other Christians in providing Biblical care in Christ.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.