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Book review: "Satisfaction Guaranteed"

I’ll tell you something encouraging. It has taken a long time, but the evangelical church has finally begun to get to grips with the sexual revolution. For many years, the only response we seemed to be able to find was moral outrage. We knew the Gospel, but somehow we didn’t know how to speak it into the new situation. Thankfully there are now models, ministries and resources that can help us to engage much more constructively. This book is one of those resources.

I like this book. I like it a lot. I think you should read it.

The style of the book is easy, informal and conversational. It blends together relevant autobiography, popular culture references, good biblical exposition, accessible theological reflection, and wise, practical, pastoral counsel. It does a lot with a light touch.

That pastoral focus is central. The book is aimed at helping same-sex attracted believers to hold on to a biblical, orthodox view of sexuality, and to walk that narrow way. The book does this by showing that Christ is our greatest treasure and that no life lived with him is a half life, or a lonely life, or an impossible life. The way may be narrow, but he walks with us, and it leads to abundant life.

The first half of the book sets out the ‘narrow way’. It is a good exposition of sanctification contextualised to this specific issue. It goes deep; getting under the surface to address the issues of the heart. It is real; addressing our fears that maybe we have sinned too much to be restored. It is wise; sharing pastoral instruction on living by grace in the midst of ongoing temptation and failure. It is uncompromising; sensitively making the case that God really does say ‘no’ to same sex relationships. It is Christ centred; giving us a vision of the sufficiency of Christ in his divinity and humanity and redeeming grace, and, crucially, emphasising our union with Christ and our new identity in Him.

The second half of the book picks up several ways in which we can enter into abundant life even while we are on the ‘narrow road’. There are liberating things said about body image and about God using us in our weakness. There are powerful things said about pursuing intimacy with God, and important things said about friendship. An especially important chapter for every church to take to heart is the one on singleness entitled ‘the gift of being unmarried’. The final chapter is an important reality check that manages our expectations for the ‘here and now’. It is about the fact we live in the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ of 1 John 3.2. It warns of the dangers of an over-realised eschatology.

My favourite aspect of the book is the autobiography and testimony that runs through it. Both authors have struggled with same sex attraction and been involved in same sex relationships. They write with honesty, insight, humility, wisdom, power and courage. Their stories give us a lot that is helpful, but that is not the best thing about them. They are also modelling something: being so secure in Christ that you are able to make yourself vulnerable before others, for their good, and for his glory. That is a powerful thing to be able to do. It would good if we learned from them how to go and do likewise.

This review first appeared in the May 2017 issue of Affinity’s theological journal Foundations and is reproduced with permission.