Book Review: 4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers

I wrote this review for the magazine ‘Progressive Voices’, but as one of the authors is Affirm’s own Gemma Dunning, it seemed appropriate to reprint it here.

4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers

Shelley Donaldson, Gemma Dunning, Nick Elio, Eric Woods (Mark Ostreicher, General Editor)

The Youth Cartel

This is the first in a proposed series of books, published by the Youth Cartel, presenting different views on contemporary topics. Each author presents their thoughts in an individual chapter, which is then responded to by one of the other authors.

Don’t pick up this book expecting a unified view on the subject matter. Whilst it is apparent that each of the authors has a passionate and caring heart for young people who are exploring their sexuality, it is equally clear that they don’t always agree with each other’s position. Their responses to each other are compassionate, thoughtful and well presented – most of the time.  They each have a clear view of their own thoughts and debate strongly with each other, at times it turns into a bit of a bun fight as each seeks to examine their writing partner’s thoughts in the light of their own views and experience. I suppose that is what this book, and this series of books, is all about. LGBTQ teenagers need loving, caring, thoughtful pastoral care and each author has their own ideas about that.

Each author comes from a different background and brings their own personal understandings and religious background to the game.  Three of the authors are American, whilst Gemma Dunning, a London based Baptist minister, is the sole UK representative. Liberal and (marginally) conservative views are represented. Three have a holistically inclusive viewpoint and, in sometimes differing ways, want to support and accept all young people into adulthood, whatever their gender identity or sexual orientation. One author takes the view that ultimately sexuality can be ‘remade’. A position that many readers will find distasteful to say the least, but at least his position is represented here.

Editor Mark Ostreicher sums up with final thoughts and some useful appendices that provide practical advice and resources. The book as a whole is at times inspiring and at other times exasperating. You, as a reader, will inevitably find material here that is helpful and supportive, alongside some that is frustrating, but on the whole, it is a book that will promote debate and discussion within churches, among youth leaders, pastors and counsellors and this debate can only be healthy and promote a deeper understanding.

Andy Long