Hot Best Seller

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate

Availability: Ready to download

As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed "God Boy" by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events—his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the "ex-gay" movement, and his in-depth study As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed "God Boy" by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events—his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the "ex-gay" movement, and his in-depth study of the Bible—that led him, eventually, to self-acceptance. But more than just a memoir, TORN provides insightful, practical guidance for all committed Christians who wonder how to relate to gay friends or family members—or who struggle with their own sexuality. Convinced that "in a culture that sees gays and Christians as enemies, gay Christians are in a unique position to bring peace," Lee demonstrates that people of faith on both sides of the debate can respect, learn from, and love one another.


Compare

As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed "God Boy" by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events—his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the "ex-gay" movement, and his in-depth study As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed "God Boy" by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events—his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the "ex-gay" movement, and his in-depth study of the Bible—that led him, eventually, to self-acceptance. But more than just a memoir, TORN provides insightful, practical guidance for all committed Christians who wonder how to relate to gay friends or family members—or who struggle with their own sexuality. Convinced that "in a culture that sees gays and Christians as enemies, gay Christians are in a unique position to bring peace," Lee demonstrates that people of faith on both sides of the debate can respect, learn from, and love one another.

30 review for Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shaney

    No matter what your theological convictions on gay relationships, you need to read this book. If you think "gay Christian" is an oxymoron, you need to read this book. If you know someone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you don't know anyone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you think gays have an "agenda," you need to read this book. If you think the church knows how to show grace to gay individuals, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. If you are aware that the church is failing in thi No matter what your theological convictions on gay relationships, you need to read this book. If you think "gay Christian" is an oxymoron, you need to read this book. If you know someone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you don't know anyone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you think gays have an "agenda," you need to read this book. If you think the church knows how to show grace to gay individuals, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. If you are aware that the church is failing in this area, you need to read this book. Basically: You need to read it. It's not a book defending the morality of gay relationships. Less than one chapter is spent describing Justin's perspective on the passages in the Bible dealing with homosexuality. Rather, this book is his story, and his thoughts on how the church has failed to show grace to gays, and how Christians of all theological persuasions can change this. Don't read this as a theological treatise. Read it as a story, because that's what it is. I cried when reading how people in the church have failed to show grace to gay individuals, and how they have even told celibate gay Christians they're going to hell for their "sin". This is not showing grace to gay people. We (Christians) need to be aware of what gay individuals are going through, we need to be educated on the issues, we need to stop looking at this issue with a "Christians vs. gays" mentality, when there are many people who are both Christian and struggle with same-sex attraction. And this book is a most excellent starting point. Though I don't agree with Justin's theological conclusions, I still recommend this book wholeheartedly.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mathew

    Justin Lee not only choose the most controversial topic of the day but his title didn’t provide much wiggle room--“rescuing the gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christian debate.” I mean if you’re rescuing the gospel from something or someone then everything about the book has got to be perfect, right? Justin starts with the war weary statistics that suggest most people identify the church as anti-gay. I’ve seen this study so many places I stopped counting. My question is always: Is that a result of the Justin Lee not only choose the most controversial topic of the day but his title didn’t provide much wiggle room--“rescuing the gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christian debate.” I mean if you’re rescuing the gospel from something or someone then everything about the book has got to be perfect, right? Justin starts with the war weary statistics that suggest most people identify the church as anti-gay. I’ve seen this study so many places I stopped counting. My question is always: Is that a result of the church bringing up the subject with provocation? Or is it because gay activist are constantly badgering the church and the church is responding? (pp. 1-4) He also takes a step further and says the church is hostile towards gays, 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. (p. 3) However, Linda Hirshman recently published Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution. David Murray offers a review which is insightful. In it, Murray reports that Hirshman discussing the early development of the gay movement says Standing firmly on this “moral foundation,” gay activists identified four major obstacles to achieving their strategic objective: (1) The churches considered them sinful; (2) The state criminalized their sex acts; (3) Doctors – mainly psychologists – thought they were crazy; and (4) The military feared they would be traitors to the nation. With that being said, it’s fair to say that church has mainly been in defensive mode as the gay activists have continually volleyed attack after attack on the church for even daring to consider practicing homosexuality sinful. This misstep aside there was much I learned in the book and Justin does make some great points. I want to look at those next. The Good What Justin does extremely well is convey his story. He understands this. Justin says, But why should anybody listen to me? I was a nobody. I wasn’t a preacher or a theologian or a scholar. There were lots of things about the Bible I didn’t understand and lots of theological questions I didn’t have answers to. I did have a different take on the Bible passages in question, but I wasn’t ready to go public with that yet. There was just one thing I had that qualified me to address this subject, and it was something no one could take away from me: my story. (pp. 210-211) His writing flows and is relatable. The struggle in understanding sexuality is familiar to me as an heterosexual male growing up in a very conservative environment. I could empathize with the complexity of having to deal with same sex attractions on top of that. My own environment was one where it was hard to develop a healthy understanding of heterosexuality. Also, I appreciate that Justin sought to understand his attraction in the context of what Scripture says. This struggle plays prominently in his story and he spends considerable time in two chapters examining the relevant passages and larger hermeneutic issues. And he appears to understand what’s at stake (p. 204). Finally, he provides the church with a resource for understanding and communicating with people who identify as gay and especially those who grow up in the church. This may be the largest benefit of the book. He strongly urges Christian to reject pseudo-science and methodologies that are less than honest. By being so quick to endorse “gay cures” the church has hurt it’s testimonies and lost its credibility amongst the gay community. Also, anyone who might have to speak about this issue in a public platform should read this book to understand the issues and what’s stake. So that’s the good. The Bad What you might quickly notice in my list of concerns is that many of them parallel the strengths I underscored. For instance, the strength of his story and the prominence it plays in his urging churches not to assume all gay’s participate in perverse sexual activity--which is good. But it seems Justin may be normalizing his experiencing and may be forgetting that his might be the exception. He even mentions at one point how out of touch he felt in the gay community. He says, I had hoped that the outing to the club would help me feel connected to the other gay guys. But instead, it had the opposite effect. I felt more alienated than ever. It seemed like everyone in the gay world spoke the same language, and no one had ever taught me. Worse, their language felt fundamentally at odds with everything I had been taught in the church, everything that made me God Boy, everything that made me me. I wasn’t like the other gay people I had met. I wasn’t having sex. I didn’t want a hookup. I didn’t drink. I didn’t smoke. I didn’t like to dance. I was just a sheltered Southern Baptist boy who wanted to serve God and couldn’t help being attracted to other guys. (p. 164 also see pp. 158-160) He does make a point to argue for the diversity within the gay community when he says, “Couldn’t gay people be just as diverse as straight people?” (p. 158). Justin doesn’t interact much with studies that suggest that STD’s and sexual promiscuity is higher within the gay community and typically what you get from the political juggernaut for gay rights is scorn for even suggesting that might be true instead of actual interaction (see the witch hunt against Mark Regnerus). Also, Justin as stated above rightly is critical of the church in the way it communicates its message. Many of those who speak on this topic know very little about it. He’s also roundly critical of ex-gay ministries. He points out many of the hypocrisies of those who are leaders within the group who have fallen into homosexual interactions after professing to be ex-gays (see chapter 6). I’ll make two points. First, if those who are promoting ex-gay agendas are truly advertising that they have a high success rate of completely removing same sex attractions while still struggling with them and often succumbing to those urges then the church must reject those ministries and their underhanded tactics. It’s a bait and switch to promise a high probability of the attractions being removed when many of those same people are actually still struggling with them. But Justin seems to imply through the book as he’s speaking about these ex-gay ministries that if one has same attractions then one must identify as gay. As if the attraction itself immediately requires identification within the larger gay community. However, if the traditional understanding of the Scripture is correct and gay sex is wrong then why should those who struggle with same sex attraction (SSA) be “required” to identify as gays. For instance, let’s assume someone who is married struggles constantly with attraction and lust for people who aren’t their spouse must they identify themselves by their struggle? Or for those who struggle with the temptation to steal must they identify as such even if they are fighting against such urges? Justin seems to imply that those who don’t identify as gay but struggle with SSA are being dishonest and underhanded. I couldn’t disagree more. He’s assuming his position by doing this which leads to my final and largest concern. Justin as I said takes the Bible seriously and looks for answers in the Bible through the book. As he examines the passages that address homosexuality for him it’s a stalemate. He understands most of these passages as discourses against pagan idolatry which may have included gay sex and says the language of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 seems at best unclear. He doesn’t find a convincing argument to made against monogamous Christ-centered gay relationships (his term). He relays his struggle, After going through all the passages, I felt like I was back where I had started, confused and frustrated. Once more, I reviewed the evidence. I was torn. On one hand, yes, there was a potential explanation for each of these passages that meant it wouldn’t apply to a modern-day committed gay relationship. On the other hand, every explicit mention of homosexuality in the Bible was negative. Taken together, the most obvious sense of the passages was to condemn gay sex in all contexts. Even if there were other explanations, at some point it just started to feel like looking for loopholes rather than accepting the plain sense of Scripture. I wasn’t interested in looking for loopholes. (p. 191) Where he lands next is concerning. He attempts to argue that the command to love your neighbor positively allows Christ-centered monogamous gay relationships from Romans 13:8-10. He expounds, I thought about every example of sin I could come up with. In every single case, Paul was right: Truly living out God’s agape love for others always led to doing the right thing. Sin always resulted from selfish desire in one form or another. Surely, I thought, there must be more than that. In the past, I had thought of the Bible as a rule book for life. Yes, we’re saved by grace, but I’d usually thought of righteous living in terms of following rules about what you could and couldn’t do as a Christian. (p. 197) He proceeds to examine the application of that command in the life and ministry of Jesus and here’s where it gets really muddled. He discusses Jesus healing the man on the Sabbath. He rightly notes that breaking the Sabbath was a big deal but then says Growing up, I always assumed that Jesus wasn’t really breaking the Sabbath by healing someone, because perhaps God didn’t count supernatural healing as “work” on the same level with cooking or heavy lifting. If I had been Jesus, that’s the argument I would have made: “The Bible says not to work on the Sabbath. I’m not working; I’m healing. This isn’t work for me.” Jesus doesn’t make that argument. Instead, he asks something that seems like avoiding the question: Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (Mark 3: 4) This used to puzzle me. . . . From a rule-following perspective, Jesus’ argument makes no sense. But from a love-your-neighbor perspective, it makes perfect sense. What’s the most loving thing to do: to help someone in their time of need, or to pass them by? If given the choice between the loving option and the unloving option, isn’t it always right to do the loving thing? If love is the fulfillment of the law, shouldn’t that take precedence over everything else? (pp. 199-200) According to Justin, Jesus actually broke the law but stayed within the spirit of the law. You see he’s setting us for the finale. But he’s assuming that the Pharisees interpretation of the law was the letter when Jesus’s point was love your neighbor was the letter. If Jesus had actually broken the law he would have been a sinner and unable to save sinners. He’s missed the point of these passages entirely. We all understand the principle Jesus is making in our every day life. For instance, I will teach my children that lying is a sin. But if someone were to breaking into my house and I hid my family and they begin demanding I tell them where my wife and children it’s not sinful in the least to send them on a wild goose chase. The lying is not breaking the law because they’re not lawful recipients of the information they are demanding. Jesus’s point is it was always OK to heal and do good on the Sabbath. He argues the Pharisees have made their traditions the law (see his response when Pharisees ask why his disciples don’t wash their hands before eating). Justin says, Over and over, Jesus provides examples of the spirit of the law superseding the letter of the law. It’s clear that pulling a child out of a well is work; there’s no getting around that. It’s equally clear that it would be the right thing to do, even on the Sabbath. What loving parent would allow their child to lie in a well overnight in order to follow the letter of the Scriptures? (p. 202). But the point is the parents who leave their children in the well aren’t fulfilling the letter or the spirit. He goes to say, I believe the Holy Spirit functions in that capacity for us as Christians. Christians usually understand the Holy Spirit as the “Helper” Jesus promised to send, the indwelling of God in the hearts of all believers. The Holy Spirit knows the purpose of God’s laws and can guide us in interpreting and applying them to our situations, superseding the letter of the law when appropriate, and helping us to fulfill God’s ultimate desire for us on earth: not to be slaves to a set of rules, but to live out God’s unconditional agape love in every moment of every day. (p. 204) So the Holy Spirit will show us when it’s OK to break the letter of the law and conveniently for Justin he’s done just this as it relates to monogamous Christ-centered gay relationships. Justin wraps it up with this, But suppose two people loved each other with all their hearts, and they wanted to commit themselves to each other in the sight of God— to love, honor, and cherish; to selflessly serve and encourage one another; to serve God together; to be faithful for the rest of their lives. If they were of opposite sexes, we would call that holy and beautiful and something to celebrate. But if we changed only one thing— the gender of one of those individuals— while still keeping the same love and selflessness and commitment, suddenly many Christians would call it abominable and condemned to hell. (p. 205) There’s a huge failure in hermeneutic here and even larger misunderstanding of church history, the new covenant (law/gospel), and the character of God (love/holiness). My answer to his question is yes if you change something that Scripture requires even the smallest part then yes we should call that sin and damnable. Quick side note: part of the progress of the argument was a misunderstanding love and marriage through out the book. Yes part of marriage is attraction but a large part is covenantal love bounded together by Christ. Justin’s view of marriage and love through out the book is centered around sex and sentimentality (see pp. 101-103) Finally, this discussion jump starts the final chapters which deal with the organization Justin founded for “gay Christians.” Again there’s a strong preference for any one who struggle with SSA even those who are B side (believing gay sex would be sinful and that Scripture requires celibacy) to identify as gay. It perplexes me that those who are side B (p. 221) would be able to associate with those who consider themselves side A (Justin’s position above). Justin believes this is a matter of meat offered to idols and Christians should agree to disagree (in non-essentials unity, right?). But what he fails to grasp is that those who believe gay relationships and sex are sinful cannot disregard their belief. If they are right and it is a sin then to not say so and to associate with those who believe otherwise in an official church capacity would be sinful. And that’s the crux. In the End In the end, Justin doesn’t rescue the gospel from anything. The gospel doesn’t need rescuing. I’m sure it was just a marketing spin to attract readers but it’s an awfully poor choice of words and the book doesn’t deliver on the promise. It’s still important book to read because of the ongoing social, political, and religious conversation happening around this topic. Setting aside the fact it’s a poorly developed argument, it should also be asked secondarily how his hermeneutic might be applied to a myriad of other topics. He’s arguing for a libertarian understanding of Scripture where if there’s no victim and every one is consenting and filled with “godly” love then go for it. The Spirit might just show you that the letter of the law is wrong and can be adjusted. The church would do well to treat homosexuality as it treats other sins (no special treatment for good or bad) and encourage those who struggle with it to identify primarily as dead and risen Christians united with Christ into his body--not within the larger gay community. She should urge them to dive into the covenant community for the strength and accountability to overcome their urges and desires as other single Christians do (whether the SSA go away permanently or not. I mean if Paul prayed for his temptation to go away three times and God said “no” we might just learn from that). And we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss those who struggle with SSA who decide to marry someone of the same sex. Justin all but dismisses this as an impossibility. It’s almost treated as treason (pp. 91, 101, 235 the last reference may be the worst “In most cases, even those who have married a member of the opposite sex will admit that they haven’t actually gone from gay to straight, that even if they never act on their feelings, they remain attracted to the same sex.” As if the the category of calling oneself straight, if that’s what they choose to do, should solely be based on the primary and maybe solely on their SSA and the positive, daily actions of these men should be disregarded as a sham. So for instance, for men who strongly and daily fight off lustful thoughts about other men and I’m not just talking about your once in a while average staying the course. I’m talking about people who might be considered sex addicts by the secular world. These kinds of people who struggle with this kind of sexual addiction who are faithful to their spouse and put to death these attractions every day, should we not call them monogamous because clearly their primary sexual urges might be for multiple partners although they may never give into that lust or allow it grow in their life?). All of this is pushback and fuel for a conversation that must be had as this becomes an issue we cannot ignore in our current cultural and religious climate.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    In a Gays-vs.-Christians world, admitting you're gay makes you the enemy of Christians. Sadly, with this single sentence, Justin Lee sums up one of the biggest issues in Western Christianity today. Or maybe the biggest. It's extremely unfortunate (or maybe criminal is a better word), that we've allowed two or three misread passages to completely overshadow God's message of love in the Bible. Torn is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand better what's holding back the love and compas In a Gays-vs.-Christians world, admitting you're gay makes you the enemy of Christians. Sadly, with this single sentence, Justin Lee sums up one of the biggest issues in Western Christianity today. Or maybe the biggest. It's extremely unfortunate (or maybe criminal is a better word), that we've allowed two or three misread passages to completely overshadow God's message of love in the Bible. Torn is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand better what's holding back the love and compassion of Christians for the LGBT world. It's a good read for anyone: Christian, non-Christian, gay, straight. (Caveat: I say this as a straight Christian, but I'm trusting Lee's experience to overcome that, since this book is about him and his experiences.) I would recommend this to anyone not wanting to keep their head in the sand from such an important discussion. This is something the whole Christian community needs to be thinking about. If you don't personally know anyone who's gay, you're probably wrong in that assumption. You just don't realize it. This is something that will impact each and every one of us, probably sooner than we expect. There is a lot of history to overcome - a lot of hate, a lot of misunderstanding. The sooner that we begin to understand, the sooner we can begin reconciliation. In a Venn diagram, Gays and Christians aren't mutually exclusive - in fact, there's much more overlap than most people would imagine. Justin Lee enlightens us to that fact, and helps us understand how we need more compassion, more dialogue. This book is a simple read - it's accessible to anyone, and I think important for Christians, simply because his statement is so true: I believe our goal should be truth, not ideology, and that we must have the humility to admit that we still don't have all the answers. We would be better Christians in all aspects of our lives if we could admit this. Justin Lee does a great job in discussing ex-gay movements and explaining how they might be able to help you change behavior (if that's what you want) but they cannot change the fact that you're gay. In fact, he cites many of the founders of the movement (and ex-gay poster children) and describes how they've returned to previous gay lifestyles. Reparative therapy doesn't work. Focus on the Family lied to you. His words are better than mine: Focus [on the Family] then sent me a pack of resources promoting the same ex-gay groups I already knew didn't work, featuring testimonies from many of the same people I already knew weren't really straight. Of course, this book is going to be controversial to conservative Christians because it's not anti-gay. Lifeway won't even carry it (I guess I shouldn't be surprised). On the other side, it may also be controversial to some on the LGBT side, because Justin Lee is tolerant of those gay Christians who believe the Bible teaches that they need to remain celibate (even though he does not subscribe to that). He wants more than anything for everyone to come together with a discussion of love, so that we can all understand each other - and replace the long-standing hate with compassion. Read this book. If you're a Christian, read it to overcome your LGBT prejudices. If you're LGBT, read it to understand that the truth is that Christians shouldn't be fighting this war they have been fighting, and to understand the love and compassion we should be having. Side note: I "won" a prize in our local library's 2012 reading contest. I got to pick one book to be added to to the library. I felt like this was important enough to add. So if you live in the Huntsville area, you can literally "check this out" at the Huntsville library.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    This is an issue I have struggled with. I know that I want to follow the commandment to love my neighbor and I also know that I (with my whole heart) want to support my gay family members. I want them to find the same kind of love that I have found, and I want them to feel welcomed, rather than rejected by the church. At the same time, I struggle with the debate about sin, and how my fellow Christians respond. Before reading this book, I had decided that loving was my command, and that examining This is an issue I have struggled with. I know that I want to follow the commandment to love my neighbor and I also know that I (with my whole heart) want to support my gay family members. I want them to find the same kind of love that I have found, and I want them to feel welcomed, rather than rejected by the church. At the same time, I struggle with the debate about sin, and how my fellow Christians respond. Before reading this book, I had decided that loving was my command, and that examining others for sin was NOT my command. I felt peace in that, but still wondered if I was copping out. Reading about how Justin Lee examined his own life and this issue while living through the isolation and loneliness that he felt blew me away. This book is an honest and raw examination of what many gay Christians struggle with and was truly inspiring. I was inspired by his great faith in the face of such tremendous opposition. I was inspired by his true desire to follow God no matter what it cost him. I was inspired by his courage in speaking up at such a young age and when it cost him so much. I was inspired by the love he felt from his family, even when they too were struggling with their own confusion. But most of all, I was inspired by his conclusions and the way he has turned this "debate" into his life's work. He has become a bridge builder, and is accepting of viewpoints that differ from his. Not only does he offer a safe haven for all Christians but he demands that same acceptance from both sides and has found a way to turn a very controversial and painful debate into an environment for building love and compassion and acceptance. His organization and his work is an example to all of us. This should be required reading in any church...we all need some lessons in how to love our gay neighbors, and that lesson can be found in this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    This whole book is just kind of ironic to me in some ways. I almost didn't get it, because I thought it was just a religious book and just the usual Christian stuff and as I am not a religious person, I threw it back into the promo bin at work (We get promo books for free and we can get whichever ones we want from the bin). Then I glanced back at the bin later and saw the word "gay" on it and was like, "Wait, what?" and actually read the whole subheading. Even then I was still a bit skeptical bu This whole book is just kind of ironic to me in some ways. I almost didn't get it, because I thought it was just a religious book and just the usual Christian stuff and as I am not a religious person, I threw it back into the promo bin at work (We get promo books for free and we can get whichever ones we want from the bin). Then I glanced back at the bin later and saw the word "gay" on it and was like, "Wait, what?" and actually read the whole subheading. Even then I was still a bit skeptical but I had an hour to kill for my break and so I started reading it and I loved it enough that I took it home and today I finally managed to finish it (I would have devoured it in a day had I not been so busy with school/work). As I said before, I'm not a religious person. I personally don't believe in the bible but I kept an open mind and was genuinely curious to see how a Christian boy who discovered he's gay, would react to the whole situation. I found his story to be very interesting and it did make me reflect alot on instances I've seen where gays or Christians would treat one another badly because of their differences in beliefs. And I'm also partly at fault because I've put Christians as a whole before into just the category, "Anti-gay". I don't do that now but I have before. Thats not what pushed me from Christianity, but it certainly didn't help because I was so pro-gay (but there were many other issues that are part of the reason I would not be in the Christian faith). All that said, the scriptures and such that were brought about in this book didn't bother me. The author does use religion alot but it wasn't something that bothered me and he never preached that he was the right one, or that the Christian faith is the right one and everyone else is wrong. I find it remarkable that he truly wants people of all sides to get along, even if they disagree with one anothers beliefs. I think that can be extended past the gay/christian debate and that if that was extended to every political issue, or every religion, things would be very different. While I'm probably not going to change my own religious beliefs, I hope that religious groups (Christian, Islamic, etc) can change their ways to be more tolerant of LGBT people. That would be a good step to stopping some of the hate, the suicides, and other things gays face daily.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ka

    Justin Lee's Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-the-Christians Debate is a must read for anyone who cares about anyone who is gay, or knows anyone who is gay, or knows anyone who knows anyone who is gay. If you are a Christian, who has any opinion on the matter, you should open your heart and read this book. If you disagree with someone in the Church about any portion of "gay politics," you should read this book. Regardless of your current thoughts and opinions, you should read this boo Justin Lee's Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-the-Christians Debate is a must read for anyone who cares about anyone who is gay, or knows anyone who is gay, or knows anyone who knows anyone who is gay. If you are a Christian, who has any opinion on the matter, you should open your heart and read this book. If you disagree with someone in the Church about any portion of "gay politics," you should read this book. Regardless of your current thoughts and opinions, you should read this book. Gay or straight, you should read this book. Lee has the ability to bring compassion and understanding to the table, to help people see into the hearts of those who are being hurt by the debates that are cutting across churches and communities throughout this country. With compassion and kindness, he breaks through the barriers and shows real love, the kind of love that Jesus practices, the kind of love that sits at the table with tax collectors, prostitutes, and those whom Christians keep calling "sinners," which he so gently points out includes all of us. Lee demonstrates how to love unconditionally, how to reach beyond what we think we know and really practice agape love. Opening with his own story, Lee courageously walks readers through the turmoil he experienced as "God Boy," a kid who truly wanted to be a model Christian but discovered he was attracted to boys. He shares his commitment to remaining true to his biblical ideals, his truth, and his morality. He tells us how he didn't fit in with his friends at Church or his new friends in the gay community. He remains ever the gentleman while he explains how he was torn as he tried to discover what to do with his life, how to live, what was right for him. He moves on, though, and gives an overview of how so many are caught up this divide and how all are being hurt, and deeply so. Lee has an amazing ability to truly bridge the gap - to talk sense to those on both sides of what this country has come to see as an "issue." He LISTENS, he HEARS, and he UNDERSTANDS what it is to want FAITH, to love God, and to have to come to peace with the person who does not fit the cookie-cutter ideal s/he may have grown up with. Lee is the ultimate peacemaker and his book should read by every Church leader and worker, by every Christian, and by every person who professes to have an opinion on anything related to the so-called debate, which shouldn't be a debate at all.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Schaeffer

    Eye opening. Certainly will never look at the Christian/Gay debate the same again. In fact, I'm not sure I even know where I stand anymore. I don't think I have any right to decide one way or the other. I'm called to love and serve, I'll just stick to that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alsie

    Before I start this review, I want to quickly talk about what brought me to this book. For ages, I have never understood why a committed, loving relationship between the same gender was wrong. Yes, the Bible seemed to say it was, but I'm the type of person that ABSOLUTELY NEEDS to know the reasons why. I needed to dig deeper. Plus, I was sick of the hate I had seen in churches, both from what I'd read of Christians commenting about the subject and what I had heard myself. I'd read stories of how Before I start this review, I want to quickly talk about what brought me to this book. For ages, I have never understood why a committed, loving relationship between the same gender was wrong. Yes, the Bible seemed to say it was, but I'm the type of person that ABSOLUTELY NEEDS to know the reasons why. I needed to dig deeper. Plus, I was sick of the hate I had seen in churches, both from what I'd read of Christians commenting about the subject and what I had heard myself. I'd read stories of how gay people were treated, both in churches and schools, some showing hate towards Christianity because of the pain they went through. It saddened me deeply. Jesus wouldn't treat gays like that, right? He would be compassionate and loving. Why was everyone making homosexuality seem like the worst sin ever? I ended up making internet searches, such as 'Why are people gay?','Why is being gay wrong', and other such questions. One reasoning that the net offered was that it was lustful attraction. But how does that work? As far as I was concerned, I had seen many examples of gay couples that had been together far longer than how long lust lasts for. You couldn't base a relationship entirely around lust. I had also heard people say that being gay was a choice. I knew, from my own experience that you didn't control who you were attracted to. Yes, you could choose to be in love with someone, and you had to choose to stay committed to them, but attraction wasn't a choice. There was many other reasons that apparently caused it, like bad parenting (as Justin Lee went over in the book), and sexual abuse, but that knowledge didn't satisfy me. Something told me there was more to it. I decided to go to books about Gay Christianity, and that's where I found Unconditional: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-Vs-Christians Debate. by Justin Lee Justin Lee offered everything in his book that I had been searching for. His own story of being a Christian and discovering he was gay absolutely touched my heart. It was like I was experiencing every part of his story through Justin's eyes. I understood his pain and confusion. I was able to relate to his story so easily. One thing that surprised me is that ex-gay ministries don't work. 'Straight conversion' has only been possible for a very small percentage of gays. I always felt bad that gays felt they had to change to be accepted, but I always figured that was the best way to go. To take it slowly and find a way to being straight. It had to be possible, right? Obviously not. Justin gave evidence by telling many stories of people that had tried their hardest to become straight, even getting married when they didn't actually feel attracted to the person, let alone be in love with them. But they figured that soon enough they would fall in love with their spouse. But it never happened, and they ended up searching elsewhere outside their marriage for more, and that tore apart the marriage even more. The feeling that they would never become straight brought them guilt and frustration. They would feel like they hadn't trusted God enough. Or they would feel like they hung on to a false hope, and that would bring them down greatly. It would even turn people away from Christianity completely, thinking they either had to become straight and then get back to the church, or accept themselves and leave Christianity. Justin left a small percentage of the book to his Bible study of the verses condemning homosexuality. Because that was a part of his life, he needed to know how he was to live as a Christian. He used every Bible verse mentioning homosexuality and studied each one deeply. I applaud him for looking into the Greek words on the verses, and his study was very thorough. He was able to prove the Bible isn't actually 'anti-gay', rather than simply trying to justify his orientation with the Bible. This book wasn't necessarily a book trying to convince you that being gay is right. It was written to bring understanding between the Christian and Gay community. So people are able to understand the struggles of being gay and Christian. Stories have power to change lives, and Justin was able to reach people through telling his. Unconditional is about loving people unconditionally no matter who they are, and showing compassion to the gay community rather than the hate that a good few Christians have shown. Justin talks about how it doesn't necessarily matter which side you are on - anti-gay or pro-gay - as long as you love people no matter what.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    The real-life nuance and struggle of a Baptist boy discovering and coming to terms with his homosexuality makes for an interesting perspective on the culture wars, and I appreciate the biographical element and how the middle ground perspective can help people on different sides of this issue understand and respect each other more. However, the title is misleading, because this book primarily emphasizes how Christian culture influenced the author's life, saying nothing about how the gospel can tr The real-life nuance and struggle of a Baptist boy discovering and coming to terms with his homosexuality makes for an interesting perspective on the culture wars, and I appreciate the biographical element and how the middle ground perspective can help people on different sides of this issue understand and respect each other more. However, the title is misleading, because this book primarily emphasizes how Christian culture influenced the author's life, saying nothing about how the gospel can transform someone's identity and perspective on sexuality. Justin Lee attempts to reconcile two competing cultures, but is silent about the promises, demands, and transformation inherent in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lee does not articulate Scripture's redemptive narrative throughout his book, much less explain how one can "rescue" the gospel from the culture wars. He explained and illustrated how "ex-gay" treatments fail at their aim of transforming sexual orientations, and talked much about the importance of love and grace, but never addressed how someone can experience spiritual transformation that changes their sense of identity and worth even in the midst of their ongoing same-sex desires. All throughout the story, Lee repeatedly set forth his own abstinence and church upbringing as proof that he was all right; he wanted the people in his life to understand that just because he had homosexual desires did not mean that he was in unrepentant sin or opposed to the will of God. I understand his frustration with negative stereotyping, but I wish he could have experienced the liberation of knowing that his identity and wholeness rested exclusively in Christ's work on his behalf, not on anything he did to keep or make himself acceptable. Lee felt torn between his identity as "God Boy" and as gay, and wrote compellingly about those difficulties, but even though I respect his individual struggles and story, I must conclude that one will remain "torn" until they can put their identity in something far greater than an absorbed or adopted culture. Settling for some mixture of two cultures may feel comfortable and satisfying after a long and difficult struggle between them, but I believe that true identity is available in Christ alone. If Christianity is all about quitting bad habits and abiding by a set of rules, then it would logically follow that the fundamental desires of homosexual people preclude them from the faith. The author resented that implication, and many of his arguments were logical and effective. However, he had little to no basis in the gospel, which teaches that we are all messed up people who are incapable of following God's law and cannot restore the brokenness within, no matter how hard we try to treat the symptoms. Christ's righteousness, credited to one's account, is the only thing that can make someone clean and whole. This is equally available to all regardless of their temptations and sin, and makes them completely and fully forgiven by God, as well as enabled to pursue Christian faithfulness according to Scripture's commands. No matter what our struggles are, we all stand equal at the foot of the cross. While there are still many practical concerns to wrestle through regarding homosexuality, the gospel perspective upends bias, shunning, and self-hatred, and makes it possible for people of all different sin temptations to work towards holiness together. This book's emphasis on self-acceptance and community understanding is helpful, but even though it is grounded in typical Christian language, it is inadequate without a biblical understanding of the redemptive narrative and how Christ transforms individuals' abilities to die to themselves and follow Him. Justin Lee loved his church culture and loved God, but this perspective was wrapped around himself and his own efforts at meriting favor, wholeness, and peace. Torn between warring desires, he struggled to reconcile these two parts of his life, but it seems that he never learned how to lift his eyes to Christ to find transformation and healing outside of himself. As an alternative to this book, I highly recommend Wesley Hills' book "Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality." It grounds the homosexual struggle clearly in the story of the gospel and provides both ideological and practical help for dealing with same-sex attraction and understanding gay brothers and sisters in Christ.

  10. 5 out of 5

    M Christopher

    This is a pretty good book, not great, which has as its primary strength the winsomeness of its author. "Torn" is not very deep in its theology or psychology but gains an immediacy by being in large part the memoir of Justin Lee, telling the story of his sexual awakening, coming out, and personal struggle with the divide between cultural evangelical Christianity and the culture of the late twentieth century LGBT community. It would be almost impossible, it seems to me, to read this book and not f This is a pretty good book, not great, which has as its primary strength the winsomeness of its author. "Torn" is not very deep in its theology or psychology but gains an immediacy by being in large part the memoir of Justin Lee, telling the story of his sexual awakening, coming out, and personal struggle with the divide between cultural evangelical Christianity and the culture of the late twentieth century LGBT community. It would be almost impossible, it seems to me, to read this book and not feel a friendly emotional involvement in Justin Lee's story. This raises the stakes for his otherwise commonplace review of the "Gays-vs.-Christians Debate." Nothing in his review of Biblical, psychological and sociological arguments in that debate was new to me. But seeing it all through the eyes of someone who was having to live it out in his own life was compelling. It was one thing for me as a "straight ally" to have had to figure all of these things out. It's something else entirely to read about a similar struggle for a young gay man. I'm going to be recommending this book for people on both sides of the debate and for those who've found the blessing of God's love for ALL of God's children.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Delores

    "The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies that spew forth from the pulpit of the churches “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your straight children a license to verbally abuse, humiliate and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your straight children—having listened to mom and dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to the family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry himself to slee "The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies that spew forth from the pulpit of the churches “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your straight children a license to verbally abuse, humiliate and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your straight children—having listened to mom and dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to the family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry himself to sleep—feel justified in physically attacking the gay and lesbian children they encounter in their schools.… Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words." This book is one of the best I've ever read. It's helped me to see things that I was questioning. It gives me the permission I was seeking to feel the way I do and believe I can still be a good Christian, anyway. This book has quelled my fears and made me realise I am totally normal. Thank you Mr. Lee. Thank you.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    THIS. This is where Christians should begin to address gay issues in our society. THIS would help with healing and broken hearts and struggling lives. If we all would confront our own torn emotions and belief systems over this issue and every other modern 'culture war' issue with such love, compassion, and grace like Justin has showed in this book: the world would be a different place. I think every Christian regardless of your thoughts on the LGBT "argument" should read this book. AMAZING.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David

    Justin Lee was called "God-boy" by the kids in school. Everyone knew him as a Jesus-fanatic, an outspoken member of the evangelical Christian community. Yet Justin had a secret: he was attracted to men. The problem was that his Southern Baptist background considered being gay a sin, or more precisely a disease to be cured of. In this book Justin tells his story and it is an important story to hear. As I read, I could not help but recall being an adolescent, traveling through those confusing days Justin Lee was called "God-boy" by the kids in school. Everyone knew him as a Jesus-fanatic, an outspoken member of the evangelical Christian community. Yet Justin had a secret: he was attracted to men. The problem was that his Southern Baptist background considered being gay a sin, or more precisely a disease to be cured of. In this book Justin tells his story and it is an important story to hear. As I read, I could not help but recall being an adolescent, traveling through those confusing days of middle school and high school, trying to figure out your identity. What if Justin's secret had been mine? What if I was attracted to other guys, not through any choice of my own, but instead because I just was? How many other kids are out there like Justin - scared, feeling like they have nowhere to turn, moving towards hopelessness? Justin spends a lot of time talking about his encounters with "ex-gay ministries". What he writes about such ministries is revealing. He discovered that the success stories in these ministries were not really success; the men were still attracted to men, they had just made the choice to be marry women. Justin saw first-hand how often such choices ended up damaging the families of these men, as their attractions to the same sex never went away. Justin also spends a lot of time on the question of what makes people gay. As he came out to more people, and as he did more research, he found that the reasons given by Christians for why people are gay did not apply to him. Justin had never been abused, he had a wonderful relationship with his parents, overall he had a great upbringing. Nothing happened in his life to make him choose to be gay, he simply has always been attracted to men. Overall, this is a well-written, thoughtful, grace-filled and challenging book. It could ruffle feathers, for Justin is still "God-boy" - an evangelical Christian strongly committed to Jesus Christ. Yet he concludes that being gay is no sin and he is open to a monogamous relationship if the right person comes along. I think whether you agree or disagree with Justin's conclusions, you ought to give him a hearing because you can't disagree with his story. Too many Christians approach issues like this as, well, as issues. It is forgotten that these "issues" are about real people with hopes and dreams, fears and flaws. Maybe if we begin to approach others as people to love and not just problems to solve we'll be a little closer to the dream of Jesus.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    This book is important. If you searched for this title, I can already say you need to read this. I won't waste too much of your time on a book summary (it seems there are plenty of reviews that can give you that). In one sentence, this is an autobiographical, avant-garde storytelling of a man's struggle growing up as a gay* Christian boy who wrestles with the church through rejection and reconciliation; he provides palpable hope for the Christians and LGBT communities to embrace one another in l This book is important. If you searched for this title, I can already say you need to read this. I won't waste too much of your time on a book summary (it seems there are plenty of reviews that can give you that). In one sentence, this is an autobiographical, avant-garde storytelling of a man's struggle growing up as a gay* Christian boy who wrestles with the church through rejection and reconciliation; he provides palpable hope for the Christians and LGBT communities to embrace one another in love. If you are gay* this book seriously might change your life. If you know anyone who's gay and care about them, read this. If you are Christian read this. If you know more than 100 people, read this book (because chances are someone you know struggles with this). This book will better equip you to love people and challenge your thinking in a great way. Torn is funny, heart wrenching, thought provoking and very insightful. This review may seem oversimplified, but I don't want to say too much about Jusin Lee's story. His words are the start of a very important dialogue that hopefully will transform and heal the relationship between the church and the LGBT community. Pick it up and I trust you will soon be captivated and intrigued enough to breeze through this. Semi-spoiler warning: The biggest awakening I had from reading this book is that people do NOT become un-gay (literally almost never) and that Ex-gay ministries boast of success that is not true. If you are a Christian reading this review, please pick up the book and let it equip you to better love, affirm and care for your gay friends beyond trying to "pray the gay away". *When I use the word gay I mean attracted to the same sex

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenni Frencham

    Justin Lee's new book Torn chronicles his journey as an evangelical Christian who realized he was gay, and the conflict between his orientation and his beliefs. Lee is calling for the LGBT community and the Christian community to lay down arms and declare a cease-fire. Much of Lee's early experiences echoed my own: as a committed Christian, Lee was raised to believe that homosexuality is both a choice and a sin, but when he realized that he was gay, he had to revise his beliefs and come to terms Justin Lee's new book Torn chronicles his journey as an evangelical Christian who realized he was gay, and the conflict between his orientation and his beliefs. Lee is calling for the LGBT community and the Christian community to lay down arms and declare a cease-fire. Much of Lee's early experiences echoed my own: as a committed Christian, Lee was raised to believe that homosexuality is both a choice and a sin, but when he realized that he was gay, he had to revise his beliefs and come to terms with his desires and the reactions of those around him. In addition to telling his own story, Lee also explains the common "clobber passages" from scripture that are often used to condemn gays and provides some suggestions for closing the gap between the gay community and the Christian community. Lee is right that LGBT Christians are in a unique position - the Christian community, for the most part, is opposed to LGBT rights and is also naive regarding the true nature of the LGBT community. The LGBT community has been rejected by the church for so long that many will never darken another church door and often assume that anyone who identifies as a Christian must necessarily hate them. Lee's book does an excellent job of beginning to bridge the gap, and he uses the best resource available to him: his own story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Readnponder

    While I may not agree with 100% of Justin Lee's conclusions in this book, it is a much-needed contribution to the issue of gays and the church. Justin tells of growing up in a Southern Baptist church and a loving, intact, non-abusive home, yet realizing in adolescence that he had a same sex attraction. He always intended to go into ministry as an adult, but being gay created a complication. The title comes from how Justin internalized the culture war surrounding him. I appreciate the honesty and While I may not agree with 100% of Justin Lee's conclusions in this book, it is a much-needed contribution to the issue of gays and the church. Justin tells of growing up in a Southern Baptist church and a loving, intact, non-abusive home, yet realizing in adolescence that he had a same sex attraction. He always intended to go into ministry as an adult, but being gay created a complication. The title comes from how Justin internalized the culture war surrounding him. I appreciate the honesty and integrity with which Justin tells his story. There is no name-calling or vitriolic venting in this book. He seeks to build bridges and debunk misinformation. Early on, he defines his terms -- e.g. attraction vs behavior. New to me were some facts about ex-gay ministries -- their track record and how they can create unrealistic expectations, which in turn may lead to self-contempt and depression. He also explains why "hate the sin; love the sinner" is a hurtful thing to say. Thank you, Justin, for educating me. Justin spends time examining the various Bible passages mentioning homosexuality. He looks at the Greek/Hebrew of key words and the various interpretations given to these verses. I work on a church staff and this is a title I will readily recommend to those seeking to learn more.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    No matter your stance, this is a worthwhile read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    This should be required reading for every American Christian. Seriously. To quote another reviewer: "No matter what your theological convictions on gay relationships, you need to read this book. If you think "gay Christian" is an oxymoron, you need to read this book. If you know someone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you don't know anyone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you think gays have an "agenda," you need to read this book. If you think the church knows how to show grac This should be required reading for every American Christian. Seriously. To quote another reviewer: "No matter what your theological convictions on gay relationships, you need to read this book. If you think "gay Christian" is an oxymoron, you need to read this book. If you know someone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you don't know anyone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you think gays have an "agenda," you need to read this book. If you think the church knows how to show grace to gay individuals, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. If you are aware that the church is failing in this area, you need to read this book."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Justin Xu

    SO good! I was reading Romans with a good friend and lots of themes inevitably started to appear. Justin's story is so illuminating and did a great job of painting how much a Gay man dedicated to Christ can really feel so torn in today's Christian society. Definitely can hit upon some pretty heavy stuff at times, but really Justin's faithfulness shines through in every passage that he writes, and that powerful testimony is really what we need in our lives always. There really are no conclusive a SO good! I was reading Romans with a good friend and lots of themes inevitably started to appear. Justin's story is so illuminating and did a great job of painting how much a Gay man dedicated to Christ can really feel so torn in today's Christian society. Definitely can hit upon some pretty heavy stuff at times, but really Justin's faithfulness shines through in every passage that he writes, and that powerful testimony is really what we need in our lives always. There really are no conclusive answers to the question at hand, but that's also not really the entire point of the book (of course it's still a big part). There are so many things the Church can address even with differing viewpoints. And I think it would be a disservice to the queer community as Christians if we didn't consider these issues ourselves and dive into the word and stories like these :).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Poe

    Perhaps the most compassionate and accessible work on the subject I've ever read. I obviously read it for its take on LGBT issues in Christianity, but I was surprised how much I still related to it as a straight woman. "People don't marry for the right to have sex; they marry for love and the opportunity to build a life together with another human being. They marry because when everything goes wrong and life is most challenging, it's comforting to have a hand to hold. Because in the darkness of Perhaps the most compassionate and accessible work on the subject I've ever read. I obviously read it for its take on LGBT issues in Christianity, but I was surprised how much I still related to it as a straight woman. "People don't marry for the right to have sex; they marry for love and the opportunity to build a life together with another human being. They marry because when everything goes wrong and life is most challenging, it's comforting to have a hand to hold. Because in the darkness of the night, a bed feels a lot less empty when you are lying next to someone who loves you."

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Vance

    Wow... a way forward. This is every bit as gracious as the jacket says. The best book I’ve read on this. Now to start over...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I remember being told when I was 8, that if anyone brought up homosexuality in my sex ed class, I should use the word "dysfunction" to describe it. I remember saying "love the sinner, hate the sin" and thinking it was a fair compromise and a loving way to view someone who was gay. This is the way I grew up. As an adult, however, I have encountered actual gay people, ones I love, as well as fellow Christians who aren't offended by their lifestyle. After reading some books that delved into Paul's wo I remember being told when I was 8, that if anyone brought up homosexuality in my sex ed class, I should use the word "dysfunction" to describe it. I remember saying "love the sinner, hate the sin" and thinking it was a fair compromise and a loving way to view someone who was gay. This is the way I grew up. As an adult, however, I have encountered actual gay people, ones I love, as well as fellow Christians who aren't offended by their lifestyle. After reading some books that delved into Paul's words about homosexuality that poked a decent hole in the doctrine that homosexuality was a sin, black and white, my views have begun to change. Torn has tipped me over the edge. I knew that the modern church has been hostile to gay people, but I didn't realize how bad it was. And how shameful. Lee puts it well in saying that he doesn't have all the answers, but he is an expert on his own story. I was surprised by how effective just hearing his story was in opening my eyes to what's going on in the modern church, as well as all the ways Christians have failed the gay community. Lee basically tells his life story, but also includes some though provoking analysis of the verses typically used to knock the lifestyle. Best of all, Lee is extremely honest about the struggles of coming out, and he paints an excellent picture of someone who is gay but is also pursuing purity. That's a story that is rarely publicized and I dont know if I'd heard before (typically stories involve someone who is both promiscuous and gay). Lee is very clear that he understands that Christians who oppose homosexuality are doing what they think is right. He is very gracious and we could all learn a lot from him and his approach.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    If you are a Christian and you struggle with how to love people who are gay, read this book. If you are not Christian and you want to understand more about the divide in this issue, read this book. Basically, I think this is a super important book for the climate of us vs. them right now. Justin Lee writes about his story of being a gay Christian, but also how to move forward from homosexuality being a debate topic to being about how to love others. Lee has a nice writing style: balanced, comfor If you are a Christian and you struggle with how to love people who are gay, read this book. If you are not Christian and you want to understand more about the divide in this issue, read this book. Basically, I think this is a super important book for the climate of us vs. them right now. Justin Lee writes about his story of being a gay Christian, but also how to move forward from homosexuality being a debate topic to being about how to love others. Lee has a nice writing style: balanced, comfortable, with a strong narrative drive. When I sat down to read this, I had intended on just reading the first chapter, but I was hooked and read on until way too late in the night. Regardless of where you stand in this battleground, Lee shows you a compassionate way forward. I especially like Lee's chapters about how he first went through the clobber passages (those passages in the Bible some Christians tend to use to “clobber” gay people) in more detail to discover what they really mean for gay Christians today. I thought his exegesis there was displayed thoughtfully and clearly (no theology degree required). His chapter on looking through the Bible as a whole is also just a good way to read the Bible in general, but is also very convincing in showing us the way forward: love. I also appreciate the last chapter that gives very specific guidelines for Christians on how we can help gay Christians, no matter if you are Side A or Side B. Required reading for all Christians. Like so required, I’m about to buy a bunch of copies to hand out to friends and family.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adam Ross

    A fantastic introduction toward getting past the culture wars approach to this issue, and a great start toward loving your gay neighbors. Justin emphasizes the distinction between orientation and behavior, and moves past misunderstanding to a place of compassion and conviction. More than anything it is a personal journey, so footnotes are far and few between, but the personal sense of the book allows a small and brief window into the spiritual crisis which fear, mythology, ideology, and misinfor A fantastic introduction toward getting past the culture wars approach to this issue, and a great start toward loving your gay neighbors. Justin emphasizes the distinction between orientation and behavior, and moves past misunderstanding to a place of compassion and conviction. More than anything it is a personal journey, so footnotes are far and few between, but the personal sense of the book allows a small and brief window into the spiritual crisis which fear, mythology, ideology, and misinformation in the church put through young people who are gay, unable to "change," and love and want to serve God as best they can. It seems there are more kids in our pews struggling with this issues than we think, and our own behavior is forcing them to live in fear of their churches. I am not fully convinced by Justin's readings of the biblical passages, but he did show that the issue is more complex than we tend to think, and regardless of whether we think gay Christians should be celibate or can get married, more than ever, calm, compassion, and grace need to be extended to all. One if the most interesting chapters in the book was the chapter about the ex-gay movement and how the movement has completely failed to change sexual orientation. While ex-gay programs can and do have some success changing behavior, it appears to have utterly failed at reversing gay orientation. Even gay men now married with children admit their basic orientation has not changed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Miller

    Required reading for anyone who has ever openly strived to examine and reconcile faith and sexual orientation. Lee may not come to the same conclusions as you do, but he doesn't ask any readers to come to his conclusions. He simply (and eloquently) tells his agonizing story of being a wholehearted, fully committed, strident Christian who can no longer deny that he is gay. Lee offers personal stories and broader descriptions that expose the ex-gay movement as based on a framework of deception and Required reading for anyone who has ever openly strived to examine and reconcile faith and sexual orientation. Lee may not come to the same conclusions as you do, but he doesn't ask any readers to come to his conclusions. He simply (and eloquently) tells his agonizing story of being a wholehearted, fully committed, strident Christian who can no longer deny that he is gay. Lee offers personal stories and broader descriptions that expose the ex-gay movement as based on a framework of deception and unable to alter anyone's orientation. (Lee carefully distinguishes orientation from behavior--two aspects of sexual orientation he believes are normally lumped together by many Christians.) He describes in great detail his in-depth biblical studies as he tried to determine how Christ and the Bible guided him first on how to feel about his own attractions, and then on how to live as a gay man. And he offers his encounters with grace-less fellow followers of Christ, as well as stories of abundant grace. As I mentioned at the top, Lee does not write to convince. He writes to converse. What he wants is to start an open, honest conversation that can acknowledge differing interpretations of scripture and different ideas of how to live a faithful life, but one that acknowledges his experience for what it is--a diligent, faithful journey to reconcile who he is with the faith he retains.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Samantha H

    I enjoyed this book. I read it because I am so frustrated with the modern church and wanted to educate myself better on how to most effectively rebut the argument that being gay and Christian must be mutuallyexclusive. I am a faithful person but I do not subscribe to many of the teachings of my church, yet I hate the thought of leaving my religion behind because of my disagreements. The message of the book resonated with me because I also firmly believe that the truest interpretation of Christia I enjoyed this book. I read it because I am so frustrated with the modern church and wanted to educate myself better on how to most effectively rebut the argument that being gay and Christian must be mutuallyexclusive. I am a faithful person but I do not subscribe to many of the teachings of my church, yet I hate the thought of leaving my religion behind because of my disagreements. The message of the book resonated with me because I also firmly believe that the truest interpretation of Christianity (more specifically, following the teachings of Jesus) would allow for no exclusion, alienation, or endorse the marginalization of any group. This book is well written but not expertly written. It is personal, it is heartfelt, it very sincere. It's an important book, and Justin is a good messenger to others given his own personal struggle and plainspoken, logical approach. I felt the ending was abrupt but it is really a memoir. An important work that all should read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Allison Hurst

    THANKING GOD. Resounding, thoughtful, and circumnavigating! Praise for candid and courageous testimony AS WELL AS sound and carefully intentioned study of the tough scriptures and biblical points. This man was preaching, and I hope to hear more graceful dialogue on this in our local and global churches. Thankful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily Jusuf

    Heartbreaking. To every one of my Christian friends, please read this.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    ***Given the controversial subject matter of this book, I fully expect that anyone or everyone of my Goodreads friends will dislike my opinions on the matter. However, my review is not an apologetic for my viewpoint; it is simply a statement of my response to this book. I hope it will be taken in that way. I also apologize for all the run-on sentences.*** I expect that there are many Christians who will automatically refuse to read this book because they assume that it is the author's apologetic ***Given the controversial subject matter of this book, I fully expect that anyone or everyone of my Goodreads friends will dislike my opinions on the matter. However, my review is not an apologetic for my viewpoint; it is simply a statement of my response to this book. I hope it will be taken in that way. I also apologize for all the run-on sentences.*** I expect that there are many Christians who will automatically refuse to read this book because they assume that it is the author's apologetic for his beliefs about homosexuality. I, myself, expected this book to be just that but opted to read it anyway for my own personal reasons. I was surprised to find that it was not an apologetic at all. The author does walk us through his experiences and the reasons he came to the conclusions that he did (which includes the idea that gay Christians can be in a committed same-sex relationship, the same as straight Christians can be in a committed heterosexual relationship; but that sex outside of that marriage/relationship is not a legitimate choice for a Christian, gay or straight); but that is not the focus. In fact he spends more time arguing for the acceptance of and support for those who hold a more conservative view than his, than he does trying to convince the reader that his view is correct. This book is simply his personal testimony, as well as his plea for the Church to learn to show love to one particularly villainized group of sinners--the LGBT community. The author is a man who grew up in a two-parent Christian home by his biological mother and father, with no divorce, adoption, abuse, or trauma; having plenty of one-on-one time with his father; having a mother who was not overbearing; bonding well with both parents; and whose only goal was to follow and obey Christ. Like any good unmarried Christian, he was a virgin, he was celibate, he fought temptations and never entertained lust. He makes a point to define "gay" as "being attracted to the same sex" as opposed to "having sex with others of the same sex". IOW, just because a person stops homosexual behavior, it doesn't mean they are "healed" if they are still attracted to the same sex; and to imply otherwise (or to use such a situation as "proof" of healing") is dishonest. An important "side" note: I think the author brings up very good points (not new, but still relevant) about celibacy in the (Protestant) church. Celibacy is an extremely difficult path. It can be lonely and disheartening. People (gay or straight) who believe this is God's call for them need tremendous support from their church families. Unfortunately, they don't get that support. The church often idolizes dating and marriage relationships and we make long-term singles or decided celibates feel like second-class citizens. Most churches don't seem to know how to support a single adult who isn't planning to get married, and we need to learn. I appreciate the author's honest critique of his exegesis on the relevant scripture passages related to homosexuality (Ch. 12, pp. 168-187). He raises the legitimate, reasoned points from both perspectives, but does not attempt to force anything where it is not clear-cut. Granted, for someone seeking an answer (as the author was), it doesn't help with any definitive conclusions; but it does help to offer a means of understanding the "other side's" point of view. Ultimately, I feel that his argument re. "whatever commandment there may be" (re. Romans 13:8-10) has some weight.... I have believed for a long time that gay sex is a sin. I have believed for a long time that homosexuality is probably most often (if not always) genetic (just as genetics plays a large, but not sole, role in alcoholism). I have believed for a long time that a secular government has no right to deny civil unions, or legal and financial marriage benefits, to committed gay couples. I also have believed for a long time that a person can be both gay and a Christian. I believe this latter point because I do not believe that there are any prerequisites to becoming a Christian, other than believing that Jesus is who He said He is and following Him. It is Christ and the Spirit Who transforms us, not ourselves. He loves us and grants us admission into His Kingdom "while we were yet sinners"; and it is afterwards, as we travel on this journey with Christ, that we are gradually changed and transformed by His grace and the power of His Spirit. Thus, just like a person can struggle with many things while still being a Christian, a person can also struggle with homosexuality while still being a Christian. Unless one wants to call the author a flat-out liar, I can't argue with the facts of his personal testimony. His life growing up was similar to mine. Probably even better, in some respects. There is nothing about his testimony that causes me to think "he's not a real Christian". But he happens to find himself gay. And much like the thorn in Paul's side (whatever that may have been), God has not seen fit to heal Mr. Lee of it. Further, correct or incorrect, I can't seem to ignore the question of whether it is people like Mr. Lee that God had chosen to use to call Christians to extend a more loving hand to the LBGT community. If one views homosexuality as a sin, then it seems that it would take a special person for God to place that calling upon. I do not envy him that. So again, ultimately, I feel that his argument re. "whatever commandment there may be" has weight. If the ultimate law of Christ is agape love, the way many Christians talk about gay people and treat them--probably especially gay Christians--is a failure to be the light and witness we are called to be. One might point out that there are 2 "greatest commandments", love of neighbor and love of God; and that even if love of neighbor argues for allowing gay sex, that love of God would deny it. Perhaps. But if in denying it one neglects to keep loving one's neighbor, are you still also loving God? It's a conundrum for me and I find my thoughts remaining on how that should work out in regards to this issue. I think for me, the answer of whether or not gay sex is a sin is not the important issue. I'm not saying it's a question to be ignored, but answering it doesn't resolve the problems we see today. First, most of the time the people I personally know arguing that it is not a sin, are arguing from a perspective that says sex outside of marriage is OK. For me, that is never OK whether the couple is gay or straight. So, that makes it a non-argument. If you want to debate with me whether or not gay sex is a sin, you need to focus on committed long-term, life-long relationships. If I were ever to agree that gay sex is a legitimate option for a person committed to living a holy Christian life, I would agree with the author that it should only be within the context of a committed relationship with one other person, the same as for heterosexual Christians. The whole divorce rate aside, that is still the ideal that Scripture calls us to. But there is one other reason why the "sin" question is not the main issue for me. I find even more weight in the author's discussion on Romans 14: "When everyone was in agreement, Paul encouraged the church to take action. But when there was serious disagreement within the Body of Christ, Paul encouraged people to follow their consciences and allow other believers to do likewise. I believe the situation we're facing today is the latter type." (p.247) If sincere faithful Christians find themselves disagreeing on this issue despite honest considered thought and prayer, perhaps it is appropriate for me to be willing to agree to disagree, and continue to pray for both sides. Perhaps, maybe, possibly, I need to consider whether or not his view might also be a legitimate Christian view. I can not now say that I do think so (I'm Side B); but I suspect it is something I will continue to pray about. Afterall, I've found myself on the controversial side many a time, and I frequently have found myself defending the legitimacy of my views as "Christian", or even defending my relationship with Jesus as real, because of a particular view that I hold. That is not evidence that he may be correct; but it is encouragement to not dismiss his relationship with Jesus because of his views. Which also means, I think, that it is encouragement to welcome him, and other gay Christians like him, into Church fellowship, possibly even regardless of whether they are "Side A" (gay sex is OK) or "Side B" (gay sex is not OK and gay Christians should remain celibate). That is a paradigm shift for me. To talk about Christian views on gay sex in the same way that I might talk about Christian views on "once saved, always saved" or "complimentarianism vs. egalitarianism" or any other such point of wide disagreement--where we have different views but we're all still members of the same body--that is something that I think this book has changed for me. If I'm honest, I'd say that right now, I'd have an easier time worshipping with celibate gay Christians than with gay Christians in relationships; but that I still can worship with gay Christians in relationships if I remember that they are simply weak, ignorant and sinful followers of Christ, just like me. Christians have no right to ostracize gay people. We lost that "right" when we refused to ostracize divorced people (especially those who remarried while their spouse was alive) or non-married couples living together or singles having babies out of wedlock. But *why* did we stop doing that? Because of grace. Because of love. Because we are the hands and feet God wants to use to show these things to people, and we decided ostracizing them was not the way to do it. So, why is it still "the way" with gay people? That doesn't make sense. The church is full of sinners and I am the worst one. Who am I to say another person seeking Jesus is "too sinful" to be allowed in? What I do know is that Tony Campolo is awesome (see the last two pages of the book), and I will strive to imitate him as he imitates Christ. And I will pray that God's Spirit will teach me how to love the sinner and hate my own sin. QUOTES: But the story [of Job] serves as an important reminder to all of us that sometimes, when people are hurting, they don't need our advice and theological theorizing as much as they need our understanding and comfort. As Proverbs 18:13 says, "To answer before listening--that is folly and shame" (TNIV). (Ch. 8, p. 114-115) --Talking about gay Christians seeking answers. Bit by bit, I was learning a painful lesson. In this Christian-vs.-Gays culture, Christians weren't such great people to be around if you were gay. They might lecture you, talk down to you, or quote the Bible at you, but they weren't very likely to make you feel loved. Quite the opposite. But all my close friends were Christians. I didn't have anyone else to talk to. (Ch. 8, p. 115) I was nothing short of astounded by this conversation. He wasn't just saying that I should try to become straight. He was saying it was my fault I was attracted to guys; that I had somehow made it happen; that even if I fought those temptations with every ounce of my being, never lusted in my heart, and never had any kind of sexual or romantic relationship for the rest of my life, I was still sinning just by admitting I was gay--something he acknowledged I might never be able to change. What sort of messed-up theology was that? And if that was to be the church's message to gay people--"Hey, we know you didn't choose to feel this way, but since you do, you're now in perpetual sin regardless of how you live or what you do"--where was the motivation even to try to live holy lives at all? (Ch. 8, p. 119) --I find this especially thought-provoking. All humans are ignorant, weak and sinful. A Christian can be a Christian while still dealing with some of the ignorant, weak and sinful aspects of his/her humanity. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to change; BUT I can still be a Christian even if I have anger issues with make it hard to not feel hate or rage. I can still be a Christian even if I am tempted by heterosexual pornography or lust. I can still be a Christian even if I'm rude or mean to those around me. For me, knowing I'm a work in progress but also knowing that God's Spirit can help me change, is a source of hope. *Seeing* a trend of change over the years--not in behaviors (those are easier to control), but in mental and emotional responses to my personal struggles--is a source of hope. So the question becomes, how would I perceive Hope if I couldn't expect or see those changes? If I was to always BE a particular sin label--how could I possibly respond? And what does the Bible say to that? Real compassion [from Christians toward gays] would mean teaching people how to be more sensitive to the needs of the gay people they encounter and helping them understand our struggles better. (Ch. 8, 123) --He's referring to his desire to talk to someone about what it was supposed to mean for him to pursue a holy Christian lifestyle despite having same-sex attractions; and wanting someone to listen to him talk about his struggles in doing so without simply shouting "Don't be gay!" at him. He didn't want to be gay--he had the "wanting" part covered; but just like someone dealing with anger issues, there is still the day-to-day reality. I believe Christians have a hard time doing this b/c they feel listening to someone talk about such a sinful struggle without acknowledging its sinfulness would be akin to condoning it. How can Christians learn a better way? Christians have learned to become "comfortable" about many sinful subjects (adultery, divorce, hate, pride, racism, etc.); what makes this one so much harder for us? It was hard for me to square my experience of Christians before coming out with my experience of Christians after coming out. My interactions with Warren, Claire, and those like them felt anything but loving. If this had been my first exposure to Christianity, I would have wanted nothing to do with it. (Ch. 9, p. 126) After the [Christian conference] session [on sexuality] was lunch. Mark [the speaker] invited me to sit at a private table with him. As we ate, he grilled me on every aspect of my childhood. Every detail was a potential cause of my gay feelings. At one point, he asked which denomination I'd grown up in. "Southern Baptist," I told him. "Well that could be it, then," he said, "because a Baptist church probably didn't give you opportunities for artistic expression, and if you were an artistic child, that might have created a form of defensive detachment." I tried not to laugh. I thought about how my Southern Baptist friends would respond to the suggestion that their entire denomination was making people gay. Even Mark didn't seem to buy that one, in spite of the fact that he had come up with it. (Ch. 9, p. 131) --LOL! File this under "People say the stupidest things". In an old series of Miller Lite beer commercials, two beer drinkers (both Miller Lite fans, naturally) would break out into an argument or even a fistfight over whether the beer was preferred because it "tastes great" or is "less filling." . . . Sometimes when I look at the church today, I feel like I'm living in that commercial. "God's Truth!" one side shouts. "More loving!" comes the response. . . . But there shouldn't be a clash between "God's Truth" and "more loving." In the Bible, Truth and Love are two sides of the same coin. You can't have one without the other. God's Truth is all about God's Love for us and the Love we ought to have for one another. We are being untrue to that Truth if we treat people unlovingly. And we are missing out on the full extent of that Love if we try to divorce it from Ultimate Truth. We Christians must work to repair this schism in the church. If the church is to survive much longer in our culture, it must teach and model the Christianity of Jesus--a faith that combines Truth and Love in the person of Jesus Christ, revealed to us in the Bible and lived out in the everyday lives of his followers. That is what we say we believe. It's time we start acting like it. (Ch. 10, pp. 146-147) You might think that the negative messages I heard from Christians would drive me away from Christianity. Indeed, many people I know walked away from the faith for that very reason. I couldn't do that. I had known God's presence in my life from a young age, and I couldn't turn my back on that. Nor did those negative messages make me straight. I don't believe they've ever made anyone straight; all they've done is give people a reason to lie in order to fit in. I refused to lie. What the messages did do was make me hate myself. (Ch. 11, p. 148) He goes on to talk about how this dichotomy of Gay vs. Christian makes people feel required to pick sides: Yes, there were gay Christians on campus. They were all over. But they had grown up, like me, seeing "Gays vs. Chrsitians" as the only option. You had to pick one or the other, and whichever one you didn't pick had to be squelched or hidden or forgotten. What a horrible choice: Would you be a good person, or be an honest person? Deny what you believe about God, or deny what you know about yourself? Condemn yourself to a lifetime of faking it, or condemn yourself to an eternity in hell? (Ch. 11, p. 156) --As I read this, Romans 14:13 kept coming to mind: "Be careful not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister." We are turning people away from the one Person they need the most. The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ (to paraphrase Paul), not to transform people. It is Christ and His Spirit that transforms people. If our use of the law is keeping people from Christ, we're doing something very wrong. Whether I was right or wrong in my interpretation of Scripture about gay marriage, one thing was clear: We Christians were failing to show grace to the gay community the way Jesus would. . . . I was sure most Christians were under the impression that they were extending grace. Nevertheless, even I as a fellow Christian was experiencing grace from them only rarely. If I, who was actively seeking grace from the church, wasn't finding it, then it almost certainly wasn't being felt by those gay people who had turned their backs on the church. (Ch. 14, p.210) Jesus radiated grace and compassion in such a way that people came to him to hear his views on things. (Ch. 14, p. 210) --When was the last time this could be said of the Church? Seven things the author believes we must focus on: 1. Christians must show more grace, especially in the midst of disagreement.-With every negative encounter gay people have with Christians, they are being pulled farther away from the church. 2. We must educate Christians. 3. We must move away from an "ex-gay" approach. 4. Celibacy must be a viable option. 5. We must shatter the myth that the Bible is Anti-Gay. -We many disagree with whether the Bible can be reconciled with same-sex marriage, but we should be able to agree that the Bible does not justify the unkind attitudes some Christians have become known for. It is not necessary to dilute or throw out the Bible in order to have a loving, welcoming approach to gay people. 6. Openly gay Christians must find their place throughout the Church. 7. We must learn how to effectively dialogue. BOOKS THE AUTHOR RECOMMENDS: "A Place at the Table" / Bruce Bawer "Stranger At the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America" / Mel White.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    My opinion of this book is, of course, colored by my own experience growing up within a fundamentalist Christian tradition that also excludes queer folk. I found Lee's description of his struggle to be touching and credible--with portions mirroring my own. Lee is clearly a very brave human and his desire to reconcile aspects of his identities that seem unreconcilable are, on the surface, quite beautiful. The "problem" with the book, and Lee's narrative and perspective, is that it is clear, from h My opinion of this book is, of course, colored by my own experience growing up within a fundamentalist Christian tradition that also excludes queer folk. I found Lee's description of his struggle to be touching and credible--with portions mirroring my own. Lee is clearly a very brave human and his desire to reconcile aspects of his identities that seem unreconcilable are, on the surface, quite beautiful. The "problem" with the book, and Lee's narrative and perspective, is that it is clear, from his own descriptions that, at the time of this book's publication, Lee has a LONG journey ahead from a sexual/gender identity development perspective. While older theoretical models of sexual, gender identity development tend to regressively tout a linear stage progression towards development, newer models take a, slightly, more fluid and complex approach (e.g. there are multiple ways that we develop our identity, so there can't really be "one size fits all"). However, even when we consider these newer approaches, it is clear that Lee is still in the very early stages of his development. As I read, I found myself wanting Lee to be mentored by someone like Alan Downs (The Velvet Rage), James Baldwin or Leslie Feinberg. I wanted Lee to be fully immersed in a paradigm and culture with far more potential for him to feel like he is "whole." I suspect that Lee would argue that he is whole and that his continued entrenchment within his culture of origin is a necessary component to his psychological and spiritual health. Lee's story illustrates some of the ways that some cultures systemically sexually abuse queer individuals (e.g. imagine the public outcry if a teenage boy was forced to attend a prom with another boy). Whether this abuse is justified from a religious or cultural perspective it is still abuse. Lee struggles with navigating a paradigm that permanently relegates him to a marginalized status. He will never be more than a "second class" citizen within the specific system that he navigates. He will never enjoy the "full" privileges of membership. He will always be suspect, always be less than. Certainly, he might find and/or create individual communities and individual religious leaders that "accept" him but this "acceptance" requires his tokenization and subordinate status. Perhaps most illustrative of Lee's subordination are the endorsements attached to his book. There are a couple of endorsements from secular literary periodicals (Kirkus review, Publishers Weekly, etc.), a couple more from Christian periodicals, a few from prominent Christian leaders (Rowan Williams, Brian McLaren, and Rachel Held Evans), and even a lesbian singer/songwriter. However, what is most glaringly absent is an endorsement from a gay man like himself. Still, Lee's journey is beautiful. I hope he continues to grow. I hope that someday he finds his way into the arms of a wonderful man who can give him the connection and love that he so clearly longs for. I also hope that he will allow himself to accept this love if, someday, it is offered. As for rescuing the gospel...if anything Lee's personal journey served to cement my belief that Christians do terrible things to queer folk. Despite Lee's hopes and dreams, at least for me, that reality isn't going to change anytime soon.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.