When it comes to publishing, a good title is vital for a book to succeed. Validating Committed Partnerships: A Still More Excellent Way is too vague to be compelling, which is most unfortunate, because once you start reading, you realize that author Jim Bowden is a gifted writer. Furthermore, his book on one of the hottest hot button topics in America right now — gay marriage — makes for fascinating reading.
In a work that is engaging and thought provoking, Bowden, a retired Presbyterian pastor, makes a persuasive case that Christian congregations need to reevaluate their positions on same-gender relationships while embracing the ultimate teaching of Christ (treat others with the love and respect you would give yourself). One way of doing this is to put the Bible under a microscope and look at what it has to say both textually and contextually, meaning what the words say on the page and in what context they are being used.
Bowden acknowledges that Jesus says nothing about homosexuality in the New Testament and that there are passages in the Old Testament and in some of the letters in St. Paul that condemn certain homosexual behaviors. At first blush, it seems to be case closed on any acceptance of homosexuality. Yet, the key word here is “certain.” Is it possible that Christians over the last two millennia have taken condemnation of forced sexual abuse as a blanket statement against all homosexual activity? Bowden’s analysis seems to catch nuances that many over the years have missed.
Bowden knows his theology well and, in general, he’s an intelligent and persuasive writer, but the book needs some tender loving editorial care. Numerous grammatical problems throughout and awkward phrasings impede his momentum. Fine-tuning (as well as a new title) is a must for this book to reach its full potential. Still, the ideas here are most provocative.