Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 121

VOLUME 11 NUMBER 1 2015 A Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church By Wendy Vanderwal-Gritter. Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2014. 273 pp. $16.99 paper. Two things can be said quite confidently about Wendy Vanderwal-Gritter’s book A Generous Spaciousness. The first is that it is required reading for anyone who wants to intelligently engage in the discussion around same-sex relationships in the church. The second is that it will not satisfy those who approach the issue from an open-minded but more conservative theological perspective. The book is a living document in that it presents a personal theological journey that moves from what the author describes as an untenable beginning to a more realistic future. That is, it reflects Vanderwal-Gritter’s journey from the handed-down belief that gay people all choose their sexuality to her current position that gay people are gay for a multiplicity of reasons. The book is a tracing and examination of the theological struggle that accompanied this change of position. At the heart of the book is VanderwalGritter’s lived reality in the trenches of this issue as the executive director of New Directions Ministries of Canada. For more than a decade, she has dealt directly with the issue of Christianity and homosexuality. As a result, her voice should not (in fact cannot) be dismissed. Disagreed with? Certainly, but not dismissed. What the book argues for is not the “right” answer or solution for the church on the topic of homosexuality; rather, it seeks to explore the dynamics of what it means for the church to wrestle through the issue of homosexuality in a way that will be constructive and spiritually formative (26). This is a noble purpose and one that the church desperately needs as it engages with what has become the issue of the day. That said, Vanderwal-Gritter’s book has a clear position on the issue, and despite the author’s demurring on providing “the answer,” the book does offer an apologetic for a pro-gay vision for the church. Whatever else the book accomplishes, it is primarily about trying to create a “generous spaciousness” in the Evangelical church when it comes to the discussion of homosexuality. By “generous spaciousness,” VanderwalGritter means that taking a black-and-white, either-or position on the issue is not constructive. That is, if you take a particular position on the issue of homosexuality, you are forced to address homosexual people in one of two DOI: 120