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TORN November 23, 2012

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TORN
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 EXex-gay category.]  Yes, these are a minority within a minority, but I’m finding there are more than one might expect.

Moving on.

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 informedrational 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.

– df

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.

– Stephen Covey reminds us…”seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  We can’t skip the first step in order to get to the second.
Buy the book.  Click HERE.


Related Links:

Through My Eyes

GCN Online Teaching Videos

For The Bible Tells Me So

A Time To Embrace

Fall To Grace

Give A Damn: Faith

For some of my related experience, read

Tribbles

and

Here I Am

 

Here I Am August 2, 2012

[“This post is now part of the July 2015 synchroblog that invited bloggers to write about “Gay Marriage”.]

Never. Never in a million years would I have imagined being anything resembling a gay-rights activist. Never a God-worshiping, Jesus-loving gay-rights activist. Yet, here I am.

If we’ve learned anything from history, it’s that religious fundamentalists have rather consistently opposed the heart of God. From the crucifixion, to the stoning of the saints. From the crusades, to the Salem witch-hunts, to slavery and racism, to the oppression of women, to the opposition of marriage equality and gay rights.
The organized church has repeatedly been on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of truth.
Yet the lessons go unheeded, and history continues to repeat itself. The unimaginable cruelty, torture, oppression, and even bloodshed and death have always been justified with “Chapter and Verse.” The Bible and a bloody sword, one in each hand. Using the name of God, but being farther from God than the east is from the west. No matter how much people recognize that the Bible has been falsely used in the past, it’s always “Well, we’re not doing that this time.”
Yeah.
That’s what “they” said.

There is a civil war in this country. I don’t use those words lightly. We were once split between slave owners, and those who sought equality for all. We are again split in fight for equality.  And once more, sadly, it is brother against brother, and sister against sister. Often with both sides praying to God for victory.
Despite the rhetoric, this has nothing to do with “free speech,” anymore than having separate drinking fountains was a matter of free speech.  This is a matter of equality in a multi-culture, multi-religion nation.
To paraphrase Senator Jamie Raskin, “People put their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution.  They don’t put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.” I fear the horrors that await if those who believe this is a “Christian” nation have their way. So, here I am. Taking my stand for marriage equality, and LGBT equality in general.

I’m one of those who, as a former fundamentalist, knows the issue from multiple viewpoints.  I know the faulty arguments and misuse of scripture because I used to preach and teach them.
Some friends have been lost.  Some bridges burned.
Accusations of deceiving and being deceived.
I’m sure there will be more of the same. (As an Ex ex-gay, in a mixed-orientation marriage, I get flack from “fundamentalists” on both sides of the isle.)

Mel White has said “Becoming an activist is simply a matter of putting love into action.”  For me, that’s easier said than done.  But being silent is not an option. I’m surprised at where life has taken me; at where the journey has led.  But it is what it is.  By the grace of God and the strength of Christ, I will continue to speak out against this religiously induced injustice.  I will make my small contribution.

Standing with my LGBT brothers and sisters, Here I am.

—————— Additional resources:
More About My Journey /
Freedom Indiana   /   Give A Damn / Indiana Equality   /   Holy Terror / Human Rights Campaign /   Crazy For God / A Time To Embrace / Fall To Grace   / For The Bible Tells Me So / Through My Eyes /

 

Morality: Why I Am Better Than You June 28, 2009

(from “Searching For God Knows What” by Donald Miller)

        A great concern for those who defend a propositional gospel over a relational gospel is morality.  Some feel that if we do not emphasize morality, people will have too much fun and refuse to play by the rules the rest of us who know God have to play by.  [But] the Bible is not structured as a moral code.  It does not have all the answers on right and wrong.  A book containing a complete moral code would require all pages in all books.

         Lately, however I have been thinking of morality in less conceptual terms, less as a system of rules and regulations and more a concept very beautiful and alive.  Basically I am a simple sheep, having very little idea of what is right and wrong, and Jesus is going to pull me out of the ditches when I screw up, and protect me from spiritual enemies.

          I wonder if the idea of morality is just another ramification of the Fall.  Paul even says that the law was given to the Jews to show them they couldn’t follow the law.  Morality exists only because we are fallen, not unlike medicine exists because people get sick.  The hijacking of the concept of morality began when we reduced Scripture to formula, and a love story to theology, and finally morality to rules.  It is a very different thing to break a rule than it is to cheat on a lover.

          The moral message I have heard is often a message of bitterness and anger because our morality, our culture, is being taken over by people who disregard our ethical standards.  None of that is connected, relationally, to God at all.  Morality as a battle cry against a depraved culture is simply not a New Testament idea.  Morality as a ramification of our spiritual union and relationship with Christ, however, is.

          I was the guest on a radio show recently that was broadcast on a secular station, one of those conservative shows that paints Democrats as terrorists.  The interviewer asked what I thought about the homosexuals who were trying to take over the country.  “Which homosexuals are trying to take over the country?” I asked.  “You know,” the interviewer began, “the ones who want to take over Congress and the Senate.”  “Well,” I said, “I’ve never met those guys and I don’t know who they are.  The only homosexuals I’ve met are very kind people, some of whom have been beat up and spit on and harassed and, in fact, feel threatened by the religious right.”

Think about it.  If you watch CNN all day and see extreme Muslims in the Middle East declaring war on America because they see us as immoral, and then you read the paper the next day to find the exact same words spoken by evangelical leaders against the culture here in America, you’d be pretty scared.  I’ve never heard of a homosexual group trying to take over the world, or for that matter the House or the Senate, but I can point you to about fifty evangelical organizations who are trying to do exactly that.

          I continued, “As a Christian, I believe Jesus wants to reach out to people who are lost and, yes, immoral – immoral just like you and I are immoral; and declaring war against them and stirring up your listeners to the point of anger is only hurting what Jesus is trying to do.  This isn’t rocket science.  If you declare war on somebody, you have to either handcuff them or kill them.  But if you want them to be forgiven by Christ, you have to love them.  So go ahead and declare war in the name of a conservative agenda, but don’t do it in the name of God.  That’s what militant Muslims are doing in the Middle East, and we don’t want that here.”

          A moral message, a message of us versus them, overflowing in war rhetoric, is not the sort of communication that came out of the mouth of Jesus.  Some Christians, when considering immorality in culture, consider two issues:  abortion and gay marriage.  Moral ideas presented in the New Testament, and even from the mouth of Christ, however, involve loving our neighbors, being one in the bond of peace, loving our enemies, taking care of our own business before we judge somebody else, forgiving debts even as we have been forgiven, speaking in truth and love else we sound like clanging cymbals (turn on Fox News to hear what clanging cymbals sound like).

          Morality, in the context of a relationship with Jesus, becomes the voice of reason and calm in a loud argument, the voice of life in a world of walking dead, the voice of Christ in a sea of self-hatred.

Buy “Searching For God Knows What” at:
http://astore.amazon.com/lifewalk_store-20?node=2&page=5

 

 
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