William Barclay on Christian Conversion and Sexual Purity

3 weeks ago ReddingProphet1 0

A little gem of a book by William Barclay entitled “Turning to God” is an incredibly rich source of basic Christian discipleship lessons 101.



Originally published in 1963 for his talk on “Conversion” at the A.S. Peake Memorial Lecture.

‘Conversion,’ writes William Barclay in his foreword, ‘is a subject which very much needs our thought… Very certainly, conversion is a word which can never be eliminated from the vocabulary of the Christian, but equally certain the means towards it and the results of it must alter from generation to generation.’ Here is an important, introductory study of the subject from the biblical viewpoint and of the means and results which attend it. To these has been added an previously unpublished Epilogue in which the Christian way is carefully described, high-lighting the demands of discipleship which makes ideal reading for young Christians.




William Barclay (1907-1978) is known and loved by millions worldwide as one of the greatest Christian teachers of modern times. His insights into the New Testament, combined with his vibrant writing style, have delighted and enlightened readers of all ages for over half a century. He served for most of his life as Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow, and wrote more than fifty books–most of which are still in print today.

Sexual Purity and Homosexuality

“The Christian convert must abstain from all unchastity. It is the simple truth that Christianity brought in the world a new idea of sexual purity. The ancient world attached little stigma to sexual relationships either before marriage or outside marriage. They were indeed the customary and the accepted practice.

In the period which is the immediate background of the New Testament, Seneca could say that there were Roman women who were married to be divorced and divorced to be married, and who distinguished the years, not by the names of the consuls, but by the names of their husbands (Seneca, On Benefits, 3.16.1-3). ‘Innocence,’ he says, ‘is not rare; it is nonexistent’ (On Anger, 2.8).

Later Clement of Alexandria was to describe certain women as the personification of adultery, ‘girt like Venus with a golden girdle of vice’ (Clement of Alexandria, Paedogogos, 3.2-4).

Juvenal tells how Messalina, the Empress wife of Claudius, used to slip out of the royal palace at nights and go down to serve in the common brothels. She was ever the last to leave, and would return to the imperial pillow with all the odours of the stews (Juvenal, Satires, 6.114-32).

As for homosexuality, is was what Döllinger called ‘the great national disease of Greece’ (The Gentile and the Jew, ii.239).

J.J. Chapman says that it had become ‘racial, indigenous, and ingrown like a loathsome fungus spreading steadily through a forest’ (Lucian, Plato and Greek Morals, 132, 133).

Into a world of sexual anarchy Christianity came with this new demand for absolute and uncompromising purity, insisting that a man must keep himself ‘unstained from the world’ (James 1:27)”




The Enigmatic William Barclay

William Barclay, Remarkable Communicator