One Less Lonely Person

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.

Print

Amazon: Here

Barnes & Noble: Here

Official Site: http://www.tornbook.com/

Twitter Debates and Free Will

Social networks are brilliant creations. They keep the world connected in ways that people never thought possible. They’ve created new venues of getting your voice heard, your talent noticed, and a plethora of other great things. They also have a downside. Scandals get out quicker. If you mess up at a concert, expect it to immediately be up on YouTube. That’s just part of the culture we live in. You know what one of the best parts of these networks is? They’re voluntary.

You’re not forced into a social network online. You exist in one daily, through human interaction, but that’s something that’s incredibly hard to get rid of; short of isolation or death. The online one? Those are something you have to choose to join. Also, you get to choose the people you follow, friend, and generally connect with on these networks.

I am a member of a bevy of social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare; I love ’em all. I also love debate. I love figuring things out, forming an opinion, and then voicing/defending it. Robert A. Heinlein once said, “I never learned from a man who agreed with me.” I see debate as a way of sharpening your own beliefs. If you’re right, it gives you a chance to teach. If you’re wrong, it gives you a chance to learn. All men do both.

Social Networks are a platform that can utilize these debates. If someone tweets something I can tweet back at them and reply until we figure something out. I love this. Anyone who follows us can see the debate and potentially learn something from it as well. Anyone can voice their opinion in the debate. It’s FANTASTIC.

A lot of people apparently feel differently, and that brings me to an earlier point; participation is voluntary. You don’t have to follow me. You don’t have to friend me. If you don’t like what I say, you can hide/block it. I don’t screen my followers. There are so many different options to utilize before you get to, “Twitter debates aren’t cool.” It’s a public forum that’s completely participated in by choice. My self-esteem can take you not following me.

If you don’t like what someone is saying, that’s perfectly fine, but take a second to think about what Mr. Heinlein said. Surrounding yourself with “yes men” isn’t the way to go.