An Ounce of Prevention: Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth, by Don Schmierer (Nashville: Word, 1998)

To some people in our culture, the title of this book is absurd and offensive. How dare anyone suggest that homosexuality is something that should be prevented! From the developmental perspective which its author Don Schmierer takes, however, it makes good sense to help young people who have questions about their sexuality and, in fact, to encourage home environments which preclude such questions ever being necessary.

The strength of this book is its second part, where Schmierer focuses on encouraging and facilitating healthy families and homes. Because same-sex attraction develops in part due to unmet needs and unresolved hurts during childhood, a healthy home environment in which a child’s needs for love, affirmation, and gender validation are met will go a long way toward preventing the development of such attractions. What is said here is of use to all parents, with some sections calling fathers to be more involved dads.

One of the book’s other strengths is the emphasis on how Christians and churches are to act towards those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who are actively gay. “Our first priority, then, is to reach out to others in Christian love … Our primary responsibility is not to condemn others or to be moral reformers.” He calls the church to account for seeking success instead of seeking those who are lost, outcast, rejected. The stories woven throughout the book effectively illustrate how Christians are to act and respond to others in real-life situations.

Ironically, the book falls short in its presentation of information about homosexuality itself. While Schmierer’s understanding of homosexuality seems similar to that of Exodus ministries, the book’s presentation of this lacks succinctness and clarity. For example, despite what the chart on page nine says, homosexual development does not start with a homosexual orientation but with contributing factors. The second stage of “homosexual condition” is vaguely defined.

Further on, the section with the statement “no one really is homosexual in essence” will result in some believing that homosexuality is nothing more than people having chosen same-sex behaviour.

Finally, readers should know that this book focuses primarily on early prevention (i.e., having good home environments). It does not say much about working with youth who think they’re gay when they’re not and youth who experience same-sex attraction.

Ideally, someone concerned for youth should first read a book like Thomas Schmidt’s Straight and Narrow to gain a solid understanding of homosexuality before reading An Ounce of Prevention, and then seek out additional information about working with youth who have questions about sexuality.