The writings of Paul the apostle are front and center in the debates about homosexuality and Christianity. Certain verses plucked from his letters are atop the list of the so-called "clobber" passages often cited by conservatives, arguing their views about homosexuality and Christianity. Others, who promote gay clergy and marriage equality, suggest Paul's views are conditioned by ancient and outdated cultural attitudes, which are irrelevant in modern discussions on the topic.
A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the Apostle offers a provocative new perspective for issues of homosexuality and Christianity. What if Paul was himself a gay man, uncomfortable in his own skin, driven by his personal "thorn in the flesh" to speak harsh words of condemnation of "degrading passions" that invited "shameless acts"? This is the premise of the characterization of Paul, A Wretched Man. Certain to roil this discussion, the novel has been released to critical acclaim. "Agree or disagree," says one reviewer, "this book opens up the reality of the world of Paul and his contemporaries in a way no other work does."
Paul defined the idea of grace for untold generations of Christians, he taught the unconditional love of God--apart from the rigidity of the law-- and he offered acceptance to those deemed unacceptable. What shall be his contribution to this discussion? Shall it be the apparent harsh judgment of his oft quoted words? Or is there another view, a grace filled view, a view that understands the self-judgment that has long afflicted those deemed debased and disordered, according to the traditional view of homosexuality and Christianity? Can Paul yet bring a word of grace to the consideration of homosexuality and Christianity?
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