Iorg, Jeff. Ministry in the New Marriage Culture. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2015. 264 pp. $14.99.
On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court decided in a 5—4 decision that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry under the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This is a landmark decision that has and will continue to impact society and how churches will minister to people swimming in these changing sexual waters.
Ministry in the New Marriage Culture aims to address how Christian ministries, leaders and churches—who believe that same-sex behavior is sinful—can minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to lost and broken people who will inevitably be affected by society’s rapidly changing sexual norms. Editor Jeff Iorg states, “This book focuses on how to minister in the new marriage culture while upholding biblical convictions about gender, marriage, and sexuality” (8). Iorg makes clear that the book does not address how to oppose same-sex marriage, nor does it discuss the benefits of traditional marriage. Rather, this resource is to help practitioners do ministry with this shift in sexual ethics.
If a transgender individual signs up for the membership class, how do you respond? If a same-sex couple signs up for your marriage retreat, what do you do? If a child with same-sex parents comes to your VBS program, how will your people react? If teens in your youth ministry are sexting each other, how will you counsel parents? Each of these questions is complicated, and yet the truth of the gospel is clear and simple. In 15 chapters, Iorg and various writers address the biblical foundations, theological foundations and the models and methods for ministry in this new marriage culture. Many of the writers are faculty of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, which is located in Mill Valley, just 14 miles north of San Francisco. Chapter 14 is a fascinating account of how one pastor attempted to minister in truth and love to his LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in the heart of San Francisco. That chapter alone will encourage you to consider how to minister the gospel to your LGBT community.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
The back cover of the book states, “Same-sex marriage is here. So what do pastors and church leaders do now?” This book effectively answers that question. It will be unsurprising to most that pastors and Christian leaders must continue to teach and preach the whole counsel of God. Issues surrounding same-sex marriage, gender identity and sexual orientation will not disappear and go away. Rather, pastors, church leaders and Christian ministries must continue to be clear on truth, unafraid of those who disagree, gracious towards those without Christ and be continually tethered to the Scripture’s teaching on sexuality. This book provides a helpful framework and starting point for those wrestling with these issues in their churches, small groups and ministries.
This book is one that can help pastors, administrators, youth workers and counselors begin to learn about the issues that they will inevitably face. If churches continue to faithfully proclaim the gospel, our churches will see more and more sexual brokenness enter into our churches to find healing at the cross of Christ. Churches and pastors must begin to face these challenges with firm convictions from Scripture, clear thinking about sin, confidence in the transforming power of the gospel and a deep compassion for those entrenched in sinful patterns and lifestyles. Ministry in the New Marriage Culture is written with those same biblical convictions in order to help pastors and church leaders face these issues with truth and love.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
Ministry in the New Marriage Culture is an important and cutting edge resource for those seeking to minister the gospel to a society experiencing sexual confusion and brokenness.