I must admit the review phase of releasing a book like Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends intimidated me. It seems nearly impossible to write 100 pages on a subject like this and not come under significant scrutiny. It was not the scrutiny, however, that concerned me. It was the potential that controversy would make the desired outcome of my book – friendships of influence – less likely instead of more available.
With that said, I have been very encouraged by the initial reviews that have been posted on Amazon. Some like the book more than others, but as I’ve read them, each reviewer seemed to get what the book was intended to be. The critiques have been very fair and accurate.
In the space below, I will reflect on excerpts from four of the reviews. My hope is that this will provide another way for you to know what the book is about and whether it might serve you well.
Exceprt from Review One
“This is not a book about the church as a whole, but primarily is a book for individuals who want to know how to honor Christ in their relationships with those who are SSA.”
Yes, that is accurate. This is not a book that develops a program or corporate ministry strategy. It is a book for individual Christians who want to learn how to navigate their own internal obstacles. It wrestles with some of the misunderstandings of Scripture that would prevent them from developing quality friendship with individuals who experience same sex attraction (SSA).
Excerpt from Review Two
“Where I feel that Hambrick fell short in his work is in the focus of the book. He seems to be overly concerned about making friendships with people of differing lifestyles, without offering guidance for where those friendships should lead – back to Jesus Christ. He seems to assume that if we as Christians are simply friends with many people, our lifestyles will be enough to win people over to Christ. That may be the case in some instances, but I don’t see any urgency on Hambrick’s part to share the gospel…
Overall, I feel this book is a great starting point, and is wonderful reading if you’re willing to be more Christ-like in how you relate to people that are different from you. It just doesn’t go far enough down the path of the friendship.”
I can understand why this reviewer would say there was a lack of urgency in my book. While I think Chapter Five provides a framework for how to build conversations towards a clear presentation of the gospel, I caution against moving too quickly and getting ahead of where your friend is on their faith journey. For some readers, this patient approach may feel too passive. I can appreciate their evangelistic fervor, but hope having a framework for assessing where someone is on their faith journey will allow their evangelistic conversations to be more tenured with those who are further from making a personal faith commitment.
I agree that my book does not go far enough down the path of friendship. Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk is intended to help Christians navigate their internal and theological obstacles to friendship with those who experience SSA. In the introduction, I recommend Jonathan Holmes’ book The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship as a needed supplement for those who realize their approach to friendship is more casual than Scripture prescribes.
Excerpt from Review Three
“Brad Hambrick states simply at the beginning of his book that the goal of the book is to ‘help the church better embody the gospel we proclaim and be the family of God,’ and while some may be frustrated by the lack of a polemical stance he takes, but the more I read the more I was captivated by his approach, and found it effective – especially in this context. The point is not to win a debate in our interactions with others, but to simply engage with them…
By far I found the most helpful chapter to be the final one, where he condensed much of the contents of his book into an imaginary conversation, where he invited us to listen in to how he would have a conversation and be a friend to those who might be hurting, and ultimately, how to “help the church better embody the gospel we proclaim and be the family of God.” In this section, Hambrick shows how we can be honest, but kind, and careful, but open, and ultimately, how we might be effective for Christ and loving towards others.”
I appreciate how this reviewer understood why I chose the content I did (and did not) include in the book. I don’t believe that deconstructionist polemics (i.e., picking apart the other person’s beliefs) is the most effective or Christ-honoring way to do ministry in this instance. Instead, I hope as this reviewer found, that building trust through understanding is the best way to gain a hearing for the gospel. Many who experience SSA are already Christians and are seeking a safe relationship in which to think through how to honor God and find community in the church in light of their unwanted SSA.
I was surprised by this reviewer’s comment about chapter six. I think this final chapter will vary from “most liked” to “least liked” by most readers. It was hard to condense extended conversations into a single hypothetical dialogue in a way that did not seem forced or stereotyping. I hope other readers will have a similar response to this final chapter.
Excerpt from Review Four
“I finished the book with a great deal of regret. I can list only three people I have interacted with and had the knowledge that they experienced same sex attraction. I had only three people and I did not make myself a person that any of them could feel comfortable enough with to share their hearts. How sad that I missed out on my chance to get to know some really amazing people. How sad that I did not share my own brokenness with them. How sad that we did not journey towards God’s grace together. Never again will I knowingly let that opportunity pass me by.”
This review left me with mixed emotions. I don’t enjoy being the prompt for regret in anyone’s life. But the fact that this reader also felt compelled and equipped to be a better steward of future relationships is very encouraging to me. This is what compelled me to write Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk. My prayer is that this reader and many other Christians will be more effective ambassadors of Christ. I hope my book can:
(a) help break the silence for Christians who experience unwanted SSA but feel very alone in the church, and
(b) help Christians be more loving embodiments of the gospel for non-Christians who experience SSA or have embraced a gay identity and believe that a biblical sexual ethic is hateful because they have not yet experienced friendship with a Christian who contradicts this belief.