Rescuing The Gospel From The Gays-Vs-Christians Debate.
– Justin Lee
I’ve read a number of books and articles concerning “gays-vs-Christians.” (I found Mel White’s “Holy Terror” to be very informative.)
Anyway, when I heard that Justin Lee was writing a book about the subject, I thought “Well. That’s nice.”
I figured it would be an OK book. I mean, I’m a fan and promoter of his ministry. Still, with all I’ve read, I didn’t really expect anything, well, “special.”
Let me say now, this book is special.
I read one reviewer who said that, much of the time, it was like he was reading his own story. There are strong marked differences between Justin’s story and mine. Still, there is much here to which I can relate.
This is an incredibly intimate, raw, real testimony of an amazing young man (nicknamed “Godboy” as a youth) who’s heart for God is primary to his being. [The Force is strong in this one.]
“Torn” is a memoir, but it’s more than that. It’s also an expose on misinformation. And, it’s a call, not to arms, but to peace. It’s written, not with animosity, but with truth spoken in love. Love towards those whom, greatly due to a lack of understanding, continue to cause damage, oppression, and heartache to God’s LGBT children.
We’re told many personal stories. If this were a work of fiction, the first chapters of “Torn” would be considered “character development ” It’s like we really get to know Justin. He tells us of his realization of being gay, coming out to family and friends, the rejection and hostility from those who should be providing help and support, and later, his experience with the ex-gay movement ( a movement with which I also have first-hand knowledge.)
Speaking of which…
If I have one “fault” to find in “Torn,” it’s that, while discussing the “ex-gay” myth, Justin more than once mentions gay men stuck in “straight” marriages they are not happy with.
That’s fine. It’s a common occurrence.
But he doesn’t seem to acknowledge that there are those who, while reconciled with and accepting of their same-sex attractions, are happily married and genuinely sexually attracted to their opposite-sex spouse, with that spouse being the only opposite-sex attraction. [Many may fall into the EX–ex-gay category.] Yes, these are a minority within a minority, but I’m finding there are more than one might expect.
In the 5th chapter, “Why Are People Gay,” the theories, research and science of why people are gay is addressed. If you’ve never really looked at the facts that we have (and what we don’t have) this is good introductory material.
In the mid 70’s, someone in our youth group would jokingly say to another, “You know the way you are? Quit being that way!”
In the chapter “South Park Christians” we examine the reality of that flawed philosophy. We see that all too often, Christians end up imitating Job’s “comforters” rather that Christ. Sometimes, sadly, a Christian friend is the last person you can trust. Well-meaning people, generally loving people, can sow seeds of discord and hate when they think they know things that they really don’t know.
At one point, Justin discovers “The Other Side,” and gets to see what the “party” life is like for many gays. The thing is, gay or straight, that kind of life is a dangerous road. It’s a life that Justin knows simply doesn’t mesh with his belief system.
In “Back to the Bible,” we examine the historical, cultural, and “translational” context of the so-called “clobber passages” which some Christians are so anxious to quote (misquote). Mr. Lee is by no means the first to offer this study, but I must say his presentation is one of the best I’ve read. Again, his love of God and commitment to truth shine through.
We glean truth from “The Princess Bride, and later from “Fiddler On The Roof.” Justin quotes from Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” which is a book I also highly recommend. (Actually, I used that to teach a Sunday School class years ago. It was that book that provided one of the first steps that led to my “coming out” of right-wing fundamentalism.)
Justin is also honest enough to show that he, too, is not immune to stereotyping the “other.”
There are many insights that Justin gives on how to relate gay friends and family members; material very much needed in the evangelical community.
We’re given suggestions on how to create a better world and “see the church become what God has called her to be.”
One very important factor to remember here is that Justin was not sexually active. He was not looking for any justification of his actions. He did and does believe in committed, monogamous relationships. He was seeking God for whatever God wanted of him, no matter where that would lead. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more “Bible-based,” Christ-centered approach to the subject matter than you’ll find in “Torn.”
As you read “Torn,” and as Mr. Lee shares from his heart and life, one of two things, I think, will happen:
Either your heart will soften, or it will harden. I can’t imagine it would remain unchanged.
I check my blog stats often, so I know I have had hundreds of readers from all over the globe. Most of them, of course, I’ve never met. Many are now facebook “friends.” I’ve no idea how many “non-virtual” friends or family members read my writings. But to all reading now, near and far, known and unknown, if you ever considered reading a book I recommend, make “Torn” that book.
Wherever you stand on gay equality, or the Christian/gay “debate,” if you’ve the slightest interest in having an informed, rational discussion of the subject, if you honestly seek understanding, if you want to be a part of reconciliation instead of alienation, you owe it to yourself, and really, to the gay and lesbian friends and family you may not even know you have, to read “Torn.”
I ask you, I encourage you, I implore you, please, read this book.
Buy the book. Click HERE.
“The most important book I’ve read in years.” – Rachel Held Evans
“This is the book that every Evangelical, Charismatic, and Roman Catholic Christian should read on the question of homosexuality.” – Brian D. McLaren
“This book is full of three things that are not always much in evidence in our debates on sexuality; fresh air, common sense and manifest love of Christ.” – Dr. Rowan Wilson, Archbishop of Canterbury
Buy the book. Click HERE.
A few quotes:
– Though none of them knew it, they were talking about me. Laughing at me. condemning me. And it was getting to me.
– Dialogue means we must set aside our own prejudices and language preferences for the sake of communication…
gracious dialogue is hard for a lot of people. It feels wishy-washy to them.
– The church’s “antihomosexual” reputation isn’t just a reputation for opposing gay sex or gay marriage; it’s a reputation for hostility to gay people.
– Because of the way Jesus read and applied Scripture, I could no longer justify condemning a loving, committed, Christ-centered relationship based solely on gender.
– More than anything in the world, I wanted to represent my God well, and I prayed every day for the opportunities to do so.
Buy the book. Click HERE.
– Some parents have kicked their kids out, disowned them, and written them out of their wills. Some have even told their kids they wished they were dead.
– Gay…straight…bi-sexual…These words don’t tell us anything about the person’s behaviors, beliefs, or plans for the future; they only tell us to whom the person is generally attracted.
– I believe our goal should be truth, not ideology.
– Outsiders say our hostility toward gays–not just opposition to homosexual politics and behaviors but disdain for gay individuals–has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith. (Kinnaman/Lyons in “unChristian”)
– I knew things were going to be okay. And God was going to be with me. The church, however, was another matter.
– A little information can alter our entire understanding of a situation.
– No one wanted to wait tables on Sundays…[Christians were] usually the most demanding, and they’re always the worst tippers…
if you see your table praying before a meal, you can mentally subtract a third from your tip. [To see how this relates to the subject matter, Buy the book. Click HERE.]
– So when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath, it was a big deal. Here he was, claiming to represent God, and yet he wasn’t even following one of the most important of all God’s commandments.
– The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ. Christ did not come to lead us to the law…
everything in the Bible points to Jesus.
– What if we were turning people away from God by misapplying the Bible?
– It is possible to live in loving, Christian community in the midst of significant theological disagreements.
For some of my related experience, read