Book Review: A War of Loves by David Bennett

David Bennett is from Sydney, Australia and is currently pursuing a DPhil in Theology from the University of Oxford. He is also a fellow at the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics and holds both Oxford and St. Andrews graduate credentials. This book tells the story of his early adult life, developed over more than a decade, and particularly his search for love. This book should not be viewed as one that will seek to tackle the many questions about what the Bible has to say on the topic of homosexuality nor a book on all the cultural and scientific considerations on this topic. Rather, it is an honest and heart-felt autobiography of sorts.

The author is someone who has been unthinkingly patronized by many who called themselves Christians and now is one who is often unthinkingly patronized by many in the LGBTQI community for not toeing the secular party line. But as N. T. Wright says in the foreword, the “real heroes of this story” are those Christians who “with no loss of integrity or biblical wisdom, continued to love him and pray for him through some dark and stormy times” (p. 12). David admits that his goal is modest and although he would like to say more, he has limited this book to the following:

  1. Describing his personal quest for truth as someone from the gay community who became a Christian.
  2. Provide insight into two worlds that often misunderstand each other.
  3. Discuss the universal questions of love that both communities ask. (p. 18)

As he undertakes these goals, he acknowledges that his terminology may not meet with everyone’s approval. He calls himself a “gay, celibate Christian” (p. 18-19). While he acknowledges that this may be off-putting to some, albeit for different reasons, he uses these terms both to stand with many in the LGBTQI community who are treated terribly in many parts of the world and also to express real desires and realities about part of his journey. At the same time, David is quick to make plain that he does not see these modifiers as his primary identity. Rather, he finds his primary identity in Jesus (p. 18-19). As he remarks: “this book is not essentially about being gay. It is about finding a greater identity in Jesus Christ and becoming a son of God” (p. 19).

The first section of the book recounts his search for love and coming to terms with his same-sex desires. Throughout these pages, one will easily catch the intense feelings he underwent during these times. Whether it was telling his parents of his newly realized desires (chapter 1) or his beginning to be interested in LGBTQI rights (chapters 2-7), the many conflicts and expressions of deep feeling are palpable.

In the second section (chapters 8-13), he recounts his realization that the gay community did not have the answers to the questions of love and longing that he was asking. Rather, he ended up finding these answers in the one person he most wanted to avoid – Jesus. But even this new-found relationship with Jesus did not solve everything, rather it brought about many other difficult conversations and turning points.

Section three (chapters 14-18) details his choosing to study the Bible to see what the position of Christians should be on this issue. Here the reader will feel the intense desire of the author for an intimate physical relationship but at the same time see how he felt torn between that desire and his growing relationship with Jesus. During this time, he received no quick and simple answers, nor does he give any. Rather, his conclusion came after many months of searching, personal study and asking questions. In these chapters, he points out that Jesus invited his followers into a life of pure intimacy, loving friendships and yet was single Himself and saw no contradiction in it (p. 129). As David aptly points out, this often flies in the face of well-intentioned Christians who can give off the impression that Christianity’s only message to singles is “just get married, have kids and buy property and you will be truly happy” (p. 128). David rightly points out the fallacy of this thinking and the radically different view that Jesus had.

The fourth portion of the book (chapters 19-23) recounts his coming to terms with Christian celibacy (chapter 19) and seeking to learn how to study the Bible and theology better (chapter 20). It also deals with important distinctions such as the difference between acceptance and affirmation (chapter 21) and how the culture often defines these ideas differently than the Bible.

The final segment of the book considers his personal conclusions and how he has chosen to live as a gay, celibate Christian today (pgs. 209-212). Here, some readers, either from the Christian community or the LGBTQI community, will not agree with some of the ways David chooses to describe himself. Yet, they should appreciate how he is clear on why he chooses certain descriptors and his thinking behind it. Furthermore, it is clear that part of the reason the author chooses to describe himself as he does is because he senses a clear calling by God to reach out to those who do not know or understand the love and closeness he has found only in Jesus. He summarizes it this way: “My identity is first and foremost in Christ, but those other two descriptors (gay & celibate) tell the redemptive story of God’s grace in my life” (p. 213).

Throughout this book, the reader will clearly see the heart behind the content. David strikes a good balance between dealing honestly with difficult topics while also showing love and consideration for those who might disagree with him from both ends of the spectrum. The reader will be confronted with a compelling autobiography that expresses a genuine search for intimacy and love and the author’s finding this only in Jesus. Regardless of the background of the reader, there will doubtless be some aspects of this story that feel a bit outside of the reader’s personal experience. Indeed, the unique experiences and God-ordained interactions given to David are such that it is difficult to wrap one’s head around all of these very different background elements that modern society say cannot go together. To this suggestion, David seems to clearly dispel such notions as artificial at best and downright harmful at worst. To those who are crying out for understanding of their identity and are seeking for true love, David offers a solution that has been largely ignored by both the LGBTQI and Christian communities. In so doing, he reminds all of us that we should find the love of Jesus (and the relationship it signifies) as our ultimate identity and only then will we find the satisfaction we desire (p. 230).

A few years ago, a helpful and impactful book by Nabeel Qureshi quickly reached the best-seller list. The book was titled Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and, as the title suggests, it tells the story of a young Muslim man who – while seeking the god of Islam – found only Jesus answered the questions he was asking. It just so happens that not only were Nabeel and David friends, but in many ways David’s book could be titled something like Seeking Real Love, Finding Jesus – for it was through his search for genuine love that he found the King of Love. All readers are bound to be surprised by this book, the question becomes whether they will allow themselves to be pleasantly surprised by Jesus as David was or whether they will settle for something less.

Type at least 1 character to search
Catch the AP315 Team Online:

The mission of Apologetics 315 is to provide educational resources for the defense of the Christian faith, with the goal of strengthening the faith of believers and engaging the questions and challenges of other worldviews.

Defenders Media provides media solutions to an alliance of evangelistic ministries that defend the Christian worldview. We do this by elevating the quality of our members’ branding to match the excellence of the content being delivered.