In the evening of April 16th, 2013, on a whim after having seen it on Amazon on a recommended list, I purchased the book “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate” by, Justin Lee. At roughly 5:40 a.m CST, as a thunderstorm raged and lit up my room with flashes of light, I finished the book whilst curled up in my blankets with my smartphone plugged into my charger as the Kindle app ran continuously. I couldn’t get enough of the book and the reasoning for this is pretty clear to me. Once again, in the middle of the night, God was letting me in on something; I am not alone.
I know, I know; simple right? You’d think so for most people, but as someone who is both gay and a Christian, this feeling is more prevalent than you would think.
Justin and I share much of the same story, though there are some deviations throughout. We both grew up in homes where both parents were incredibly loving. We both grew up in the South (in the good ol’ Bible Belt). We were both raised in Christian homes. The deviation comes when we take into account things like my being molested by multiple men in my life. Justin wasn’t (this is actually a discussion point in his book). Despite the differences, reading through his book was like reading a template of my life’s progression. As he chronologically ventured into each area of his life, I found myself becoming more and more captivated by what would occur, if only because I wanted to know how alike our stories were. I wanted to know if he encountered the same things I did. I again wanted to know that I wasn’t alone.
Justin eloquently delves through the journey of his life, pitting the traditions of the Church against the experiences of himself and others. He doesn’t do so in a way that is flippant of either side of the tracks. This isn’t a gay Christian lawyer versus the evangelical Christians of today. This is a man who has been making, and is still making, his journey through understanding how sexuality interacts with Christianity. There is no “Us-vs-Them” dichotomy in the book, merely an experiential outline and struggle. Justin’s views stated in the book aren’t easily come to. Though there are many gay Christians who decide that, based on experience, they can’t make themselves straight so being gay MUST be OK, (Justin addresses this view in the book) Justin isn’t one of those people. He fights with the scriptures and wrestles with them before forming and then elaborating on his positions in this debate.
I had known of Justin before reading his book, but only in a passing manner. Other gay friends of mine had mentioned him to me and had mentioned his network. I had read his stance on gay relationships through his page here and had agreed with much of it, but hadn’t gone much further than that. I was midway through the book before I looked him up on Google and was like, “Oh yeahhh. That guy.” What I had known of him before was good, but reading this book made me respect him.
As someone who loves a good debate, one of the things I can’t stand is when people hold beliefs that they can’t defend; or when they defend them in a flippant manner such as, “I just believe this.” I love hashing out ideologies and reasonings and listening to people’s apologetics. To me, it’s a sign that someone has come to their belief through good critical thinking and time. Justin is one of the people I would get along with in debates, for he is such a person. I can’t recommend this book to my friends enough. Especially with the way current events bear down on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, books like this shine a light in a really dark room.
Justin’s book takes a look at all sides of the debate whilst not painting anyone as a “villain.” There are people and stances he takes issue with, but never in a condescending or condemning way. Even if you don’t agree with the theology in the book, there’s no way you could read it and feel unloved. Justin is a shining example of Christ’s unconditional love for all, and that light shows itself throughout the pages. Pick up this book. Seriously.
Barnes & Noble: Here
Official Site: http://www.tornbook.com/