Costly Obedience

What We Can Learn from the Celibate Gay Christian Community

by Mark A. Yarhouse, Olya Zaporozhets, Wesley Hill

On Sale: 2019-06-25

Price: $17.99

Book Summary

Today’s church is characterized by casual Christian morality rather than the biblical call to radical discipleship. Through the stories of gay Christians who make the difficult choice to align their lives with biblical teaching on sexuality, this book helps reorient the church to reexamine the costly obedience required of all who follow Christ.

About the Book

Though we often hear about the "gay problem" today, there is an even deeper problem in the church today--one that we often overlook. The call to follow Christ is a call to costly obedience for all, not just for gay Christians. Far too often, the church has elevated homosexuality above other sins and required a costly obedience from gays that it is unwilling to demand of others. And yet, the answer is not to weaken the demands of obedience. Instead, gay Christians who make the difficult choice to align their lives with the biblical view of sexuality are a gift to the church, reminding all of us that spiritual growth and maturity is costly. There is a price to pay in following Christ and devoting our lives to the call of the gospel, and it is one that we all must pay--gay and straight Christians alike.

Through the stories and struggles of gay Christians who are reorienting their lives around the costly obedience required to follow Christ, Mark Yarhouse and Olya Zaporozhets call the church to reorient as well, leaving behind the casual morality that is widespread today to pursue the path of radical discipleship. Unlike any other book on homosexuality and the church, this is a call to examine your life and consider what God is asking you to lay down to take up your cross and follow him.


Following nearly two decades of research, Mark Yarhouse and his colleagues have brought to light a growing body of believers who identify as gay, experience enduring and stable same-sex attractions, and firmly believe that same-sex behavior is morally impermissible. They are highly religious and desire to carry their faith into all aspects of their lives. In this newest work, Costly Obedience, a simple question echoes throughout: 'Is there a place for these individuals within the church?' The authors answer in the affirmative but point out that the church has not always been well prepared to assimilate these fellow believers. Throughout these pages the reader will learn much about this group, but more importantly he or she will be presented with a challenge that goes beyond merely 'accepting' celibate gay Christians into the church community. These believers offer a fresh perspective and model a costly obedience often lacking in today's Western church. This important book will have value not only to pastors and lay leaders but to the church at large, as parishioners seek to create the kind of community that models a costly obedience for all.

In a culture that views sexual activity as a right, the idea of choosing celibacy because another value, namely, one's faith, supersedes that right is unthinkable. Yet celibate gay Christians believe this is what God has called them to do, and they have chosen to obey--despite the cost. Yarhouse and Zaporozhets help us to better understand these Christians, the path they walk, and the sacrifices they make, all for spiritual gain. This willingness to enter into the submission and suffering of Christ for a deeper experience of grace stands in stark contrast to the cheap and easy faith for which too many of us settle. What a beautiful, and hard, testimony this costly obedience is to the church.

Christians almost universally agree that we are called to love our nonheterosexual (LGBTQ+) neighbors. Yet the widespread perception is that we're doing a poor job of it, first and foremost because we do not listen. Informed by first-of-its-kind research among those followers of Christ who often call themselves 'celibate gays,' this book is essential reading for church and parachurch leaders concerned about the integrity of their ministries and the witness of their congregations and organizations. This book can inform and guide church leaders toward deeper empathy and more effective ministry in a truly marginalized portion of the communities that they serve (and the much larger circle of those who care about them). At a time when the church is on trial before a watching secular world--and often regarded as a bastion of hatred and homophobia--this book offers real solutions and challenges. You will not be disappointed.

Costly Obedience makes a significant contribution to broader LGB research by considering often neglected aspects of diversity at the intersection of sexuality and religion/spirituality. Sound research on chosen celibacy and/or mixed-orientation marriages is almost nonexistent in the professional literature. This kind of rigorous and reflective study is long overdue! In their scholarship, Yarhouse and Zaporozhets give voice to the lived experience of courageous persons who are negotiating the worlds of faith and same-sex attraction, often caught between a suspicious general culture and an agitated Christian community. In the end, this research narrative speaks to both, calling for deeper understanding of persons who have been largely denied or overlooked. Even more, Yarhouse and Zaporozhets help us understand that we all need to know these colleagues, friends, and family members. Their experience speaks to us.

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780310521402
  • ISBN 10: 0310521408
  • Imprint: Zondervan
  • On Sale: 2019-06-25
  • Pages: 240
  • List Price: $17.99
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication Date: 2019-06-25
  • Trim Size: 139.000mm x 213.000mm x 16.000mm
  • Weight: 226.000gr
  • Category 1 : RELIGION / Christian Life / Social Issues
  • Category 2 : RELIGION / Christian Church / General